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Saving Money on Moving Expenses

Updated on May 7, 2008

Moving can be one of the most stressful things a person ever does. Usually it is exciting though, so that helps take the edge off the stressfulness. One of the reasons it can be so stressful is the money. Moving is expensive, there is no way around that. There are ways to save though.

Moving yourself would be the least expensive way to move. When we moved cross country we found that Penske was the cheapest for truck rental and from our experiences they are more reliable than U-Haul. Prices will vary of course, but don't automatically go with the most well known truck company. The truck rental for us, including a dolly and blankets, was under $900. Gas of course was extra, which can really add up - those trucks can hold a lot of fuel. The total for us for the truck and fuel was about $1200.

There is a company that will drive the truck for you. The company is called U-Pack. They were much cheaper than paying a moving company to do everything, but more expensive than renting our own truck. U-Pack works a little differently than anything I had heard of before. They drop a truck at your house and you have a couple of days to load up. You pack everything and you load the truck. U-Pack then comes and picks up the truck and drives it to your destination. You have to meet it there on a certain day (or range of days) and they drop off the truck there. You unload it yourself and they come back and pick up the truck. When we looked into this option it was around $3000. Over double the total do it yourself route.

The drawbacks for us were that we had to be there a certain day to meet the truck. Actually they gave us a range of three days. Traveling with small children, we didn't know how long it was going to take us and we couldn't guarantee that we would be there the first day they needed us to be there. On the other side, we could have gotten there first and been without all of our stuff, which would have meant extra nights in a hotel. Another drawback was that the trucks they give you are smaller than what you can rent from U-Haul or Penske. Not by a whole lot, but we needed that extra space.

Portable On Demand Storage (PODS) is another way to move. I know people that have used this for local moves and had great success. The company drops the pod (a large box) in your driveway, you take your time to fill it and they come pick it up. PODS can either store your pod at their site or just move it to another location. When we looked into this option for our cross country move it was the most expensive of the three options and therefore immediately ruled out. A drawback is that you are not in control of when you move your stuff.

Of course there are other aspects to a move than just the truck. You will need lots of boxes and bubble wrap for sure. It shouldn't be hard to get boxes, just ask your local grocery store. You might have to make some late night or very early morning runs to get them, but stores are usually willing to give away the boxes after they unpack them. The only money we invested in boxes was for 3 wardrobe boxes. Get the heavier duty boxes though, they hold up so much better. The place we bought ours from only had one heavy duty one, so I bought it and two of the flimsier boxes. Guess which one survived the move? The sturdier one of course. You do get what you pay for here.

Craigslist and Freecycle are great places to find moving materials. Bubble wrap, dish protectors, and boxes are frequently found on these lists. If you don't see them listed right off, post a wanted ad. I bet you will get plenty of responses. The great thing about this is that you are reusing instead of buying new. This is cheaper and saves a lot of trash from filling our landfills.

How are you going to load up and unload? Friends and family come to mind, although many people don't like to do it this way. I guess the younger you are the better chance you have in getting friends to help. Beer and pizza go a long way in getting people to help you. That only worked in CO though, we didn't know anyone in OH when we moved in and ended up just doing it ourselves. It worked out just fine. Another option is to trade helping with a friend. Do you know anyone that is moving around the same time? Help each other and both of you will benefit.

Plan ahead as much as possible for food and drinks. Keep a cooler full of ice and water, Gatorade and soda. Staying hydrated will help keep energy levels up, ensuring that you work quickly to get the job done. Try to plan easy meals for the days you are moving. I knew that we wouldn't be able to cook for a couple of days during our last move. I did plan to eat out some, but I also planned to eat in as well. I didn't want to resign myself to eating out three meals a day for three days. I made a couple of batches of muffins and made sure I had fresh fruit, cereal and milk on hand. This at least took care of breakfast.

Think outside the box when you can. The day we moved in here was my daughter's birthday. I wasn't sure how to handle it, but she wanted to grill hotdogs over the fire, so we did. I had made a cake ahead of time and we grilled our hotdogs, had cut up veggies and cake and had a great time. If you have a grill, this would work too. Keeping sandwich fixings on hand is a very easy lunch or dinner. Ordering pizza is also pretty cheap.

Moving is a very stressful time! It can also be very expensive. Planning ahead, looking at all the options and saving money any way you can, will help keep the costs down and your stress level too. Good luck!


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    • themovingdiva profile image

      themovingdiva 8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Wardrobe moving boxes and Shorty Wardrobe moving boxes are awesome - and worth the money! I used these moving boxes for my last move and ended up keeping them for storing seasonal clothing in out attic.

    • profile image

      dianado 9 years ago

      Hi Jennifer, just read through your article - I'm just beginning to make my budget and plan for a move up the northwest coast. I love the change and excitement of it and got a lot out of your advice and story as to the movers part in it all. I would have been drawn to the U-Pack idea as I don't like to drive. There are options though. Thanks for writing on this. -dianado

    • donnaleemason profile image

      donnaleemason 9 years ago from North Dakota, USA

      It sure is stressful and travelling with little kids is definitely no picnic. Thanks for the reminder.


    • rodney southern profile image

      rodney southern 9 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      Very Cool and Important Information here. Great job Jennifer!