How to Save Money on Moving

There are no two ways about it: Moving is expensive. However, you don’t have to resign yourself to spending vast amounts of money during your move. By taking the appropriate steps, you can often get away with spending a lot less.

As with so many other things, enjoying a less expensive relocation is all about planning and patience. The willingness to do a lot of the work yourself helps too. Learn a few excellent strategies for saving money while moving below.

Sell or Donate Unneeded Things

The fewer belongings you have, the less expensive your move is going to be. With that in mind, you should do what you can to unload unneeded things in the weeks and months leading up to your move.

As far as nicer (unneeded) things go, you should try to sell them. You can use the money that you earn to finance your relocation. These strategies won’t just save you money; they will make your move easier and allow you to get a nice, fresh start at your new place.

Get Free Boxes

People are often taken aback by how expensive fresh, new cardboard boxes can be. After all, the only time they’re generally needed is during a big move. Before you fork over a bunch of money for moving boxes, try to find as many free ones as possible.

Solicit friends and relatives for unneeded boxes. Check with local stores to see if they have any handy, too. Don’t forget to check sites like Craigslist and FreeCycle. People are often anxious to unload their old boxes after moving. When your move is complete, you can return the favor.

Do Your Own Packing

As tempting as it may be to hire someone else to pack your belongings, it’s just one more thing that adds to the cost of moving. The key here is to start packing early. There are sure to be many things that can be packed long before moving day arrives.

Try to use inexpensive packing materials like old newspapers as much as possible. Things like bubble wrap can really add up over time. Be as organized as possible. Label each box so that you will have an easy time unpacking later.

Get Multiple Quotes

Do-it-yourself moves are the cheapest options. If you go that route, you’ll need to rent a moving truck. Don’t just go to the closest truck rental company and choose the first one you see. Request quotes from at least three different places. The same thing goes for moving companies.

If you need to hire movers, solicit quotes from at least three of them. You’re sure to be amazed by the huge pricing differences that you will encounter. Don’t just base your decision on pricing alone, though. Read the fine print to ensure that you get the level of quality that you need.

Hire Friends and Relatives to Help on Moving Day

As long as you’re willing to return the favor yourself someday, you should try to round up as many friends and relatives to help on moving day as possible. If cash is tight, you could always try bribing them with offers of icy cold beverages and nice meals.

Plan Ahead to Save Cash

The people who get away with spending the least amount of money on their moves are the ones who plan everything ahead of time. If you wait until the last minute to make the necessary arrangements, you are going to pay dearly for it. Furthermore, waiting too long puts you at risk of not having the help or equipment you need when the time comes. Moving trucks are often booked solid for weeks in advance, and hiring a moving company at the last minute is just about impossible. In addition to saving money, planning ahead will make the experience a lot less stressful. Before you know it, you’ll be settled into your new home with money to spare.


  1. It’s all about the network. I’ve helped friends and family move many times, turning what could be a difficult task into a great social event/party! 🙂 And when you all work together for free, nobody pays income tax on that. 🙂

  2. If somebody asked me to help them move and offered to pay me, I’d ask them for food & drink instead. It just doesn’t feel right to pay or be payed by a friend.

  3. I’m shocked by the price of moving boxes. It’s amazing how much some people are willing to pay for cardboard. The last time I moved, I picked up some boxes from a fellow Freecycler. Then, like you suggested, freecycled them when I was done. Before that, I’d hit up liquor stores for free boxes. Because they’re small and sturdy, they’re perfect for moving.

  4. A word of caution about getting multiple quotes on movers. I shopped around and found that the best deal was a smaller company. They said that they were able to deliver my stuff faster than all the rest, in about 2-3 weeks. Three months later, the stuff showed up, almost unannounced. I would recommend going with the bigger companies even after shopping around. But for me, next time, I’m renting a U-haul and never letting my stuff out of sight.

  5. But what about the other expenses? Moving the utilities, forwarding mail, etc…??? Any way to cut those expenses?

    • Usually shifting services like cable, electric, etc are free. For instance, when we moved, Comcast was super easy to deal with. Our cable and broadband were waiting for us when we arrived at our new apartment. The electric and water were also already turned on. My feeling is that these companies realized that if they made moving your services free and easy, you’re more likely to remain a paying customer.

      My one piece of advice would be to be very clear with the companies about the date you want services switched. You don’t want them to turn on your electric and water and cable at your new home two weeks early, thereby charging you for an empty house.

    • I agree with you alcohol boxes are useful but we can get boxes from recycling center,hospitals and laboratories where double-walled boxes are easily available.

  6. Selling or donating unused things is a good idea, but you might not really get anything in return. Even when selling, since used items can only be sold for a fraction of the original price. I personally prefer bartering. You get exactly what you want in return and still get rid of what you no longer use. Plus you recycle! Try since I believe online bartering is a lot more convenient.

  7. I’ve made many moves with rental trucks for my family and friends. I’ve found it rather easy to bargain down first quotes when calling for rates. While Uhaul does not give discounts for AAA or likewise they usually make an attempt to match competitor rates when you tell them “Penske quoted me a rate about 15% cheaper. Can you match it?” Or if using Penske’s online site, enter all your info including phone number and desired locations etc., but do not follow through with the rental. A salesman will usually call in the next few days, tell him Penske’s rate was too high and shazaam!, a new rate will follow.
    A little gamesmanship will almost always save you 15-20% easy!

  8. I also did the most of you mentioned above..

    except for the expensive movers I had hired a lorry to shift the furniture and other heavy stuff in two rounds and had asked two labors from a nearby building construction to move thing to the apartment for a minimal charge…

  9. There’s a company out there call “uship” that I used before when moving. You give them the details of your move and the movers on there will “bid” for your business. It’s like a reverse auction, but for moving. YMMV, but the furthest I’ve used them was from San Diego, CA to Fresno, CA.

    Another way to save money when moving is using large garbage/kitchen bags for clothing if you don’t want to pay for boxes (or make the trip to the local supermarket).

  10. What I am surprised by is how *cheap* moving boxes are. Small boxes are 75 cents, medium about 1.25, and large 1.50 bucks or so at the big home improvement chains. Even at truck rental places they’re only twice that. How much Stuff does everybody have that it won’t fit into $100 or $200 worth of boxes? Not nothing, and sure I love to save a buck as much as the next guy. But you can hardly fault someone who chooses not to drive all over town or move a couple thousand tiny liquor boxes just to save two hundred bucks, at a time when time is at a premium.

  11. Steve, you can even get moving boxes for free. If you’ve lived in a place long enough, I’m sure you know people at any convenience store. They have huge moving boxes which they give away to friends and family. Larger stores and supermarkets have contracts whereby they cannot distribute their boxes – but smaller shops are more than willing to help out a familiar face that is leaving the area. Why pay even a small amount for something you can obtain for free?

    I love the idea of recruiting your family and friends to help you pack. It’s a perfect way to say goodbye, if you’re leaving the region you’re living in. If you’re moving somewhere nearby, you might indeed need to bribe them with some goodies.

    Thanks for the tips. They are extremely helpful.


  12. If you go to Walmart when the stocking is being done (usually between 10pm and 7am), you can get the shipping boxes for free. If you go during the day, they will have already bundled the boxes for recycling. Just walk around the store until you find someone unloading the same size boxes you are looking for and ask (very politely) if you can take some of them. Bring a cart in with you to carry the boxes out.

  13. Rental trucks are helpful, but expensive. If someone we know is moving and they aren’t moving too far we just usually ask a few friends who own trucks and vans to help out, most the time people don’t mind and we order pizza or something for everyone. When I moved last summer I packed the things I don’t use on a daily or weekly basis a month or two ahead in totes so it was really easy to just pack them up and it made the packing seem less tedious and overwhelming. If I ever do need to hire movers in the future though I will definitely try the bargaining that someone mentioned above and get different quotes. Thanks for the tips!

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  15. Great tips on moving! Many people don’t realize how the cost of boxes for moving can add up – and I also like to share that you can put textiles and clothing in garbage bags (heavy duty!) to cut down on the need for boxes and also to help flexibly squeeze extra items into the moving truck! Moving is a stressful time, but with little tricks like the ones you shared it can be much easier! 🙂 Moving tips are the best!