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How to Move on a Budget

Moving can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be! There are ways to save money when planning a move—from packing your belongings yourself to using a moving container. Whether you’re moving to a new state or just a few blocks away from your current home, here are 12 ways you can move on a budget!

Set Your Budget

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Before packing boxes and hiring a moving company, take the time to create a moving budget. Setting a budget lets you know how much you can afford to spend on the relocation, helping you consider necessary expenses while setting price caps. Use a moving calculator to help you estimate how various factors will impact your cost. And remember to account for additional moving costs like self storage, transportation, temporary housing, and moving insurance, as this will help prevent unexpected relocation expenses.

Avoid Peak Moving Season

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When moving on a budget, consider the time of year you want to move. Most people aim for the spring and summer months because of the weather and because it’s easier to move with kids when they’re out of school. However, avoiding peak moving season by scheduling your move between October through March can save up to 30% of your final cost. That said, if you have to move during peak season, you can still save money by moving during the week instead of on a weekend.

Compare Moving Costs

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Once you have created your moving budget and decided on a moving day, it’s time to start getting multiple quotes from moving companies. While the average cost of hiring movers is around $1,400, not all companies charge the same—and costs vary widely depending on whether you’re hiring movers or simply renting a truck. Don’t settle on the first moving company you find. Take your time and do your research. When talking with moving companies, ask them if they set their moving rate by the hour, the load, or moving truck size and mileage—or if they will negotiate a flat rate. Once you have multiple offers, compare costs and choose an option that fits your budget.

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Declutter, Sell, & Donate Items

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Before packing up everything you own, take the time to declutter your home so you don’t have to spend money moving things you no longer want. When sorting through your belongings, create “keep,” “throw away,” “donate,” and “sell” piles. You can get rid of items in the “sell” pile with a garage sale, or by posting on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Having a moving sale is a great way to part with clutter while also making some extra money to help pay moving expenses. If you have items that don’t sell, add them to your “donate” pile and take them to a local charity!

Find Affordable Packing Supplies…

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Looking for free moving boxes? Visit recycling centers and big-box stores, check Craigslist, and ask friends and family. Or, if you already have cardboard boxes, you can reuse them! As for affordable packing supplies, including packing paper, bubble wrap, labels, packing tape, and more, check out stores that sell moving supplies in bulk or at a discount.

. . . Or Use Your Own Packing Materials

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Cut down on the cost of moving materials by repurposing items you already have! Instead of packing things in moving boxes, use plastic tubs, suitcases, and hampers. You can also use trash bags for packing clothes and bedding. Wrap breakable items like dishes in newspaper, tissue paper, or plastic bags. To keep delicate items from tipping in their container, put towels and linens in between the items. And when you’re loading the moving truck, use blankets between furniture instead of buying moving pads.

Do Your Own Packing

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While hiring a packing service to put everything in boxes may be easier, you can save money by packing up your house yourself. By the time you pay for the material and packing service, a professional packer can cost an average of $1,000. Save this money and put it toward something else you might need by doing your own packing—and be sure to ask friends and family for help!

Pack Items Strategically

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As you start packing items, it’ll help you down the line if you know how to pack boxes efficiently. By being tactical with packing, you can condense the number of moving boxes and materials you need, while also saving space on the moving truck. To help with this, start with heavy items and put lighter items on top—or pack heavy items in small boxes and lighter items in large boxes. You can also nest some items inside each other, such as stacking smaller dishes inside larger ones, so you can fit more in a box.

Hire Reputable Movers

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If you plan on hiring outside help for your move, be sure to check the Better Business Bureau to help ensure you’re choosing a reputable, trustworthy moving company. Even though you’re trying to save money, it can be worth it to spend a little extra for a reliable service. Hiring a significantly cheaper moving company could put your items at risk of being damaged, lost, or never delivered, resulting in more money spent on trying to repair or replace items. If a company’s quote is well below market rate, it could be a moving scam.

Or Hire Out for Large, Heavy Items Only

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If you’re staying local and you want to save some money, consider a DIY move! Instead of hiring a moving company for all your belongings, rent a moving truck and equipment and have friends and family help you load and unload the majority of your items. You can save a lot of money by hiring movers to transport only the oversized, heavy items that would be difficult to move on your own—like large furniture, artwork, appliances, pianos, or pool tables.

Use a Moving Container

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If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to move cross-country, rent a moving container! With a moving container, you load your belongings into it yourself, and then a moving company picks it up and delivers it to your new home. One of the biggest advantages to renting a portable moving container is that you can pack and unpack at your convenience.

Be Ready on Moving Day

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Once the big day has arrived, stay on schedule with a moving checklist. Have all your boxes properly labeled and ready to go in an easy-to-access area like the garage to help expedite loading. Make sure you load oversized items first, to help safely distribute weight. By being prepared and staying on schedule, you can avoid getting charged for extra time!


Looking to store items while you move? Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage locations across the country that can help with your move. Find affordable storage near you!