Moving Costs: Tips for Saving Time, Stress, and Money

In the excitement of getting a new place, many people forget to budget for moving costs. Plan ahead and save time, money, and stress with these tips!
Family moving house

If you’ve never moved before, you might be surprised at just how much moving costs: Between boxes, labor, rentals, and other supplies, you’re looking at anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the size and distance of your move.

It might be tempting to try to white-knuckle your way through a DIY move just to save a few bucks. While there are certainly things you can do to save money on your move, there are other things that you might want to leave to the professionals (like lifting super-heavy furniture or re-installing all that AV equipment—unless that’s your thing).

Planning ahead and budgeting your moving costs is a great way to smoothly facilitate your relocation. As is often the case, the sooner you take action, the less likely you are to encounter expensive last-minute costs and overpriced rush services.

First: Do a proper purge

Moving house is a great opportunity to rid yourself of unnecessary belongings—but often we put off packing until the last minute, so we throw everything haphazardly into boxes and vow to go through it all when we get to the new place. Six months later, those boxes are likely collecting dust in a closet, taking up valuable space in your new home.

Taking some time to go through your belongings in advance will help you save time, money, and stress in two ways:

  • It’ll help you get a more accurate estimate of what packing supplies you’ll need so you don’t overbuy
  • You won’t spend money moving things you don’t actually want or need

Ideally a few months before your move, go through each room in your home and look for things you can donate, toss, or consolidate. As you’re doing this, keep notes of what kind of storage solutions you’ll need when it comes time to start packing, which might include:

  • Standard cardboard moving boxes
  • Specialty boxes for items like glassware, dinnerware, mirrors, art, and other fragile items
  • Vacuum-sealing, space-saving storage bags for transporting bulky items like duvets, blankets, and pillows
  • Plastic boxes for long-term storage

If there are certain categories of things you don’t need day to day, you might even be able to get a head start on some of your packing! If you have clothing or other items you can sell, starting way ahead of your move date will also give you a chance to sell your items and make some extra cash to use towards your moving expenses.

Then: Prepare for your move

Once you’ve gone through all of your belongings and purged yourself of the things that no longer spark joy, you’ll be in a much better position to begin the packing process.

Decide on your moving budget and whether to use a moving company

Although hiring a moving company to pack and carry your stuff might seem like an unnecessary expense, there are a few reasons why it might be a good idea in the long run:

  • Professional movers know how to safely pack and transport fragile items, which could be expensive to replace
  • Many moving companies offer moving blankets and other supplies that you might otherwise have to buy yourself
  • Packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking the entire contents of your home is not only tedious and chaotic, it’s also incredibly time-consuming; if you have to take off from work to move, you might be losing more money than if you were to hire a crew
  • Lifting heavy furniture and other household items can be dangerous and lead to back problems and other medical issues, which can be expensive
  • Moving is also mentally and emotionally stressful—you might decide that it’s worth it to delegate part of the work to someone else, so you can dedicate your effort to the details you want to take care of yourself

Most moving companies have online tools that allow you to estimate how much you can expect to pay. Be sure to shop around in advance (at least a few weeks before your move) so that you can compare your options without the added stress of time pressure (and so you have your choice of truck rentals).

If you’re moving more items and/or are planning a long-distance move, you’ll probably want to rent a moving truck. Nationwide chains typically have multiple depots, so you can pick up the vehicle in one place and drop it off in another.

Most companies offer guidelines to help you decide what size truck rental you’ll need. If you fall between sizes, it’s worth opting for the larger option. It’ll cost you a bit more money, but it will save you from having to Tetris your stuff into a too-small space or take multiple trips.

Get the right boxes for the job

A common moving hack is to head to a grocery store or liquor store and ask to use their old cardboard boxes for your move. While that’s a fine solution for those who are moving only a few items, if you’re packing up an entire house, you might want to splurge on proper moving boxes. Here are a few reasons why:

  • They are typically sturdier than your average grocery store box (and bonus—they won’t have unidentified liquids dripping down the sides!)
  • They often have extra features like lids and handles, making them easier to transport
  • They’ll all be uniform in size, making them easy to stack in the moving vehicle
  • Certainly specialty items (like glassware, art, and mirrors) will be way more likely to make it in one piece if stored in boxes made specifically for that purpose

This might be one of those instances where it’s worth spending a bit more money to save your sanity. Plus, if the boxes are in decent shape when you’re done, you may be able to sell them at a discount to another person on the move. (Tip: Check Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and any local Facebook groups around you to see if anyone has some gently used boxes from a recent move!)

Note: The moving company might not be the most cost-effective place to buy your boxes, if you’re not able to find someone to buy them from second-hand. Be sure to do some price comparison at local hardware stores, big box retailers, and online to make sure you get a good deal on your boxes.

Think ahead for long-term storage items

If you know you’ll be keeping some of your belongings in longer-term storage (like holiday decorations or sentimental things you don’t plan on displaying), you might consider buying uniform plastic storage boxes for them.

Think ahead about where you’ll be storing these items, so that you can get boxes that you know will fit in the new place. Then, when you’re packing, organize them the way you’ll want to store them and label them for easy sorting later on. This way, you’ll only have to sort and organize these things once (when you’re packing), and they’ll be ready to store once you get to your new place without any additional work.

Get organized with your packing supplies

You’ll need more than just boxes to pack up all of your stuff–other essentials include packing tape, box cutters, a few permanent markers, bubble wrap, and moving blankets. If you’re planning on using a moving company, call ahead to see if they will be providing you with any of these supplies.

Then, take inventory of what you already have before going on a supply run–you probably have Sharpies, tape, scissors, and other supplies distributed in various corners of your home. Before you buy an industrial supply of bubble wrap, look for old newspapers and magazines that you might be able to use instead.

As you’re packing, create a “command center” where you’ll keep all of your packing/moving supplies, and make sure everyone in your home knows that this is where all supplies should be when not in use. This will be handy as you’re packing, and as you’re unloading everything as well.

Keep items belonging to the same room together and label each box with its contents and destination (e.g., office supplies for a spare bedroom). When you’re unpacking, you can sort the boxes right away into different rooms.

Ask about move-in fees

If you’re moving into a building—particularly if it’s a newer one—be sure to ask ahead of time about move-in fees. These will vary from building to building. The fee covers expenses like wear and tear caused by bumping furniture into hallways and the cost of putting up curtains in the elevator or booking the elevator for your move.

Pizza and drinks

If professional movers are not in your budget, consider calling up your friends and cashing in on some favors. Nobody loves moving, but it sure is more fun with your buddies by your side.

Of course, you have to thank your friends for their help: Have pizza and cold beverages waiting at the new house so you can all refuel after a hard day’s work. And don’t forget to pay it forward and volunteer to lend a hand when it’s their turn to move!

Create a Goal in Simple for your moving costs

While you’re thinking ahead about the budget for your move… go ahead and create a Goal specifically for all of your moving costs in your Simple account. You can choose to automatically contribute to your Goal every day, transfer money into your Goal whenever you get paid, or manually move money into it whenever you have extra cash. The sooner you start, the easier it will be to set aside the funds you need to cover your moving costs.

In fact, if your move is a couple months to a year out, you could also open a Protected Goals Account and earn higher interest as you save!

Create your moving goal!

Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner bank, BBVA USA, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.