A Frugal Long-Distance Move
Moving on a Dime
A Do It Yourself Move
I'm looking for some frugal ideas on my upcoming move across country. Paying a company to move my son and myself is very expensive. Any ideas?
A Do It Yourself Move: An Inside Report
I worked for a moving company's national headquarters. After what I saw there, I did not employ a company when I moved 1300 miles from home. I would make the following suggestions.
- Start by selling all of the stuff you don't want to move. You can make a lot of quick cash this way. Donate what you can't sell and get a tax receipt.
- Have one or two companies come and give you estimates on what you have decided to take with you. Be specific about what you want to take. Please note that they will only give an estimate, which won't be binding. I saw hundreds of moves where the estimate was much lower than the actually cost. I suspected that agents were giving low estimates to get business. They also charge high prices for packing, containers, and moving large items.
- After you see what the move will cost at a minimum, maybe you will decide that you should sell more items. I would not move any furniture that is not very special in some way. I would not move any large appliances. It will probably be cheaper to sell and then replace when you move. Anything that will need to be replaced soon should not be moved.
- If there is a chance you might move back if things don't work out, maybe you should store some things for awhile. Maybe a friend will let you store things with them that you can get on another trip when you come back to visit. My parents kept my piano until I was sure I was not moving back. My husband had it shipped to us for my birthday. Probably not the best move money wise, but it had sentimental value. You will have to make a lot of these types of decisions.
- Rent the smallest haul-it-yourself trailer you think you can get by with and fill it and your car completely. Keep getting rid of things as you pack.
- You can always mail items. My grandmother used to do this with clothes and linens when she traveled back and forth between winter/summer destinations. Also consider climate differences. For example, I owned 30 sweaters before moving to South Florida. I can barely wear two a season, so I gave my cousins the others. My mom keeps all my heavy coats for when I visit.
- Please note that I saw so many moves where items were lost, damaged, or delivered days or even weeks late. You are at the mercy of the company holding your stuff. Please don't send anything valuable or irreplaceable with a mover, or you may regret it.
Just remember to move as little as possible.
A Do It Yourself Move: Reevaluate the "Traditional" Way of Packing
One of the easiest ways to save money while moving yourself is to get boxes and packing paper from someone who has just unpacked. Make an announcement at church, send an email at work, or post a notice at a local grocery store that you are in need of boxes and packing paper, and watch the boxes roll in. I have been on the receiving end of boxes and paper and the giving end, and it was a great help each time. A great resource for boxes is also a liquor store. The inserts used to keep bottles from knocking are perfect for packing glassware.
As an alternative, reevaluate the "traditional" way of packing. Instead of packing all your breakables in paper, use the soft items already around your house. Clothing, bed linens and towels all make great padding for breakables. This requires careful unpacking, but since it is all going to the same place, why not?
Just as important as packing is deciding what not to pack. Do not wait to go through the piles of paper, the outgrown clothes or the worn out linens until you are in your new house. Take the time now to weed out the things that should not go with you. Included in this is meal planning and house cleaning. Take stock of your current cleaning supplies and pantry contents, and plan meals and cleaning accordingly.
A Do It Yourself Move: Go By (Buy) Bus!
My husband and I needed to move from TN to PA with a small house full of goods. We also needed short-term storage for three months once we got there. At that time, the lowest cost moving van that could accommodate our household would have cost $1000 for rental one-way and even more for gas. The rental units were a minimum of $350 on top of that. Plus, we would have to rent another truck to move into our permanent place!
The solution? We bought a "retired" school bus from a local school district for $800. We removed all but the front two seats and packed it up! We even were able to fit a motorcycle through the back door! Since this bus was transporting children just weeks before, it was in very sound mechanical condition. They retired it because it did not meet code for passenger safety padding. We were able to move and have storage for 2/3 the price. Plus, after this move, we used the bus for another cross-country move to AZ! We saved 1,500 in van rental.
While we were unloading in AZ, a man dropped by and offered to buy the bus for $400 on the spot! It is still being used as a storage unit at a job site today!
A Do It Yourself Move: More Energy than Money
Twenty-five years ago, when my brother-in-law found a new job in Tacoma, WA, he faced the expensive dilemma of moving his family from Connecticut. The family held a very serious yard sale and sold furniture through the classified and word of mouth. After sifting through belongings and choosing to only move what was of extreme importance, the remaining items fit into a horse trailer that he purchased. Because it is built strongly, he had no problem with weight. After he reached his destination, he rented a house, purchased used furniture, and sold the horse trailer for a little more than he paid for it. All in all, he put a lot of energy in his coast-to-coast move, but his cost was minimal.
A Do It Yourself Move: Send Books by Media Mail
When we moved 3,000 miles, one thing we did was pack all our books and sent them by mail at book rate, which is quite low. That took care of a lot of the stuff we really valued. Then we decided what we could probably get at a thrift store in the place we were moving to, and we held a big yard sale, because money is lighter than things like kitchenware. By the time we were done, we donated a couch and fit the rest in a medium rental truck.
A Do It Yourself Move: Get Several Quotes
ABF's u-pack move was cheaper than renting a U-Haul for my move from Arkansas to New Jersey. That was just "rental" on the U-haul, not even including gas or tolls. They have a website www.upack.com, where they give quotes.
A Do It Yourself Move: Packing at Its Best
What has worked for me is to drive a rental truck myself but hire movers to load and unload the truck. Movers know how to pack tightly, so you won't have to get a huge truck.
Take the Next Step
- Make sure you're not overpaying on your mortgage. If you haven't looked for a lower mortgage rate in the past year, use our simple tool that compares different lenders to see what your monthly mortgage payment could be. It's private, only takes a minute and could show you how to save thousands!
More Money-Saving Tips for Your Home
- Should I use a HELOC for home remodeling and repairs?
- Find the best mortgage rates in your area
- 3 ways to use a mortgage calculator
- Mortgage calculator: Calculate your payment and more
- Home equity calculator: HELOC vs. line of credit
- How much can additional payments save me on my mortgage?
- Who offers the most home insurance discounts?