Advertising Disclosure

How To Save Money When You Move

From finding free boxes to skimping on expensive packing materials, there are lots of ways to cut costs on everybody’s least-favorite part of a new home: moving.

young couple moving into a houseMoving this summer? Bet you’re excited. And stressed too.

Moving isn’t  cheap either, even if your new digs are just a few miles away. According to My Moving Reviews, the average cost of local move with two men and a truck is between $90 and $120 per hour.   Long distances moves vary based on distance and how much you’re moving (use this calculator to estimate a cross country professional move).

You can save hundreds or thousands by doing it all yourself, of course. But you’ll still have to pay for a truck (at U-Haul, in town moving trucks start at $19.95 per day plus gas) and buy your friends beer when they help you load and unload the truck.

Want to save on moving costs so you can spend more on new curtains? Try these ideas.

Track down free boxes (except for expensive stuff)

At Home Depot, 48 new boxes that are designed to pack up a medium apartment or three to five rooms in a house will cost you $129. But you can get sturdy big boxes for free. “Liquor stores, furniture stores, and bookstores are usually willing to give away boxes,” says Pamela Smith, a contributor to My Moving Reviews, the largest database of movers reviews.

For your big ticket items, like TVs, large mirrors or computers, pony up for special moving boxes.  Better yet, save the original box. “A new TV moving box can cost around $20 to $150 depending on the TV, but if you have the original box you will save yourself that expense,” Smith says.

Check Craigslist to find people who have just moved and want to get rid of their boxes and packing materials

Toss, sell, and donate pre-move

The more you move, the more it will cost you. “For interstate moves, movers charge by the weight,” says Smith. “Local moves are charged by the hour. Either way, reducing the overall amount of what needs to be moved will save you.”

If you’re moving yourself, you should still think about selling that turkey fryer. The more stuff you keep, the bigger the truck you’ll need to rent.

At Good Donor, you can find charities that will pick up your donations to save you some time.

Skip bubble wrap for some stuff

Wrapping fragile items in bubble wrap is your safest bet, but at the Home Depot price of $16.27 per roll, you’ll want to use it sparingly.

“Wrap your stuff in clothes, towels, or linens,” Pamela says. “Use crumpled newspaper to fill empty spaces in boxes.”

If you’re paying for movers, you can save a lot by packing your own items. But let them pack the most expensive items. “Movers limit their liability in relation to items packed by the owner,” Smith says.
So if your TV breaks during the move, but you packed it, the moving company won’t reimburse you. Don’t assume moving insurance will save you either. “If the damages are due to poor packing, you won’t receive any reimbursement,” says Smith.

Research, research, research your movers

You think Wall Street is full of scam artists? Wait until you enter the world of moving companies.

If you’re hiring a mover, get at least three estimates from different companies. Make sure the companies check out your stuff in person – DON’T fill out the online estimate forms. Unless you’re a professional mover yourself, chances are you’ll wildly underestimate how much there is to move.

Be wary of hiring the company with the lowest bid. I did that when I moved from New York to Chicago. On moving day, the movers said I had almost twice what had been estimated and that I’d have to pay more to get them to load more. This is a common tactic, according to Smith.  “Rogue movers use a ‘bait and switch’ to lure customers in, then charge them thousands of dollars more to release items.”

Of course, before signing on the dotted line, read reviews about your top choice everywhere from Yelp to My Moving Reviews.

And although you have a thousand things to worry about when moving far away, read the fine print of your contract to uncover any hidden costs. “Acquaint yourself with all additional charges the company may employ to avoid pricey surprises,” Pamela says. “There are often charges for disassembly, bulky items, packing, stairs, elevator, storage and fuel surcharges.”

Find out if you can deduct your move from your taxes

There are three basic requirements you have to meet to deduct your move come April 15th.  “First, the move has to be job related,” Smith says. “You have to move at least 50 miles away from your current home, and  you must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months.”

The IRS details their rules related to moving deductions here.

It can be difficult to save money on moving when you’re rushing to get it done as fast as possible. If you can, slow down your move so you can avoid unnecessary expenses.

What about you? What money saving moving tips have you used?

Published or updated on June 20, 2014

Want FREE help eliminating debt & saving your first (or next) $100,000?

Money Under 30 has everything you need to know about money, written by real people who've been there. Enter your email to receive our free weekly newsletter and MoneySchool, our free 7-day course that will help you make immediate progress on whatever money challenge you're facing right now.

We'll never spam you and offer one-click unsubscribe, always.

About Patty Lamberti

Patty Lamberti is a freelance writer and Professional-in-Residence at Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches journalism and oversees the graduate program in digital media storytelling. If she doesn't know something about money, you can trust she'll track down the right people to find out. You can learn more about her at And if you have any story ideas, or questions about money etiquette that you'd like her or an expert to answer, email her at


We invite readers to respond with questions or comments. Comments may be held for moderation and will be published according to our comment policy. Comments are the opinions of their authors; they do not represent the views or opinions of Money Under 30.

  1. Laura says:

    My husband and I are in the middle of a move for a job, about 300 miles. We’re saving money by packing everything ourselves, having a garage sale to sell stuff and make a little money, and renting and loading a u-haul ourselves. When we get to our destination, we’ll probably have family and friends there to help us unload, at the cost of some pizza and beer. So considering, this isn’t an expensive move.

  2. Speak Your Mind