On the Move: How to Cut Costs When Relocating
If you’re one of the thousands planning on relocating this year, you should know that one of the most challenging—and expensive—tasks involved is moving. If the move is job-related and your company is paying for it, consider yourself lucky. But if you’re footing the bill on your own, there are some ways to save money.
When hiring a moving company, know that costs for moves across state lines are based on the weight of the goods and the distance traveled. And rates can vary widely. Get at least three estimates so you have some bargaining room.
Watch your moving dates
Be flexible. You could save big if you can be flexible about your moving date. Movers are very busy from mid-May to mid-September, according to the American Moving and Storage Association, but are usually looking for work early and late in the year. Moving anytime other than summer could be less expensive. Also, try to avoid moving during the first and last weeks of any month—they are the busiest.
Another way to save is to give the mover some room when it comes to pickup and delivery dates. If possible, give the movers a window of three to five days when they can pick up the load and three to five days when they can deliver.
Pack it yourself
Packing most of your stuff yourself will generally cut costs, but leave fragile and expensive items for the movers to pack expertly. And use your own materials instead of purchasing them from the mover—buy boxes at a do-it-yourself mover like U-Haul or Ryder, or get them free at a supermarket or liquor store. Just make sure they are clean and solid.
Pare down your load
Now is the time for that garage sale you’ve been planning. Sell, trash, or give away as much as you can before moving. Get receipts when making charitable contributions so you can deduct them from your taxes, and don’t forget to save all of your moving expense receipts as well—some may be deductible.
Unfortunately, there are some areas where you probably won’t be able to cut moving costs. For example:
Additional transportation charges
Some geographical areas have higher labor charges, usually major metropolitan centers. These costs often range from $1 to $3 per 100 pounds but can be even higher in places such as New York or Los Angeles.
Advanced services and bulky items
If your mover needs to subcontract for specialized services, like disconnecting a gas main or disassembling a piano, you will pay more. You’ll also pay a premium to move heavy, bulky items like lawn equipment, boats, and the like.
Movers call it a “long carry”—if it’s more than 75 feet from their truck to your door, you’ll pay extra. Stairs and elevators add to the cost as well.
If the truck can’t access your house easily, you will have to pay for a smaller truck to shuttle your belongings to the big truck. Ask in advance if you think this may be a factor in your move so you know the score.
Your best bets: Do your homework, ask plenty of questions, and be prepared. Moving is never fun, but the better you plan, the easier—and cheaper—it should be.