Moving can be expensive. Here are some strategies for saving money—and stress.

By Wendy Rose Gould
Updated November 19, 2019
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Whether you’re going across town or across the country, moving is one of the most exciting adventures you can embark upon. It’s also easily one of the most stressful, not just from a logistical standpoint, but in terms of budget. According to Zillow, the average cost of a move is $80 to $100 per hour when moving within the state, and $2,000 to $5,000 when moving interstate.

Though some moving costs are unavoidable, it is possible to save money in a few areas. To help you do just that, we enlisted a handful of pros to share their best money-saving advice for your next big move.

1

It may feel like an added item on your to-do list but getting rid of everything you don’t want to take with you before you move will ultimately save you time, space, and money.

“Go through all of your belongings, from cookware, clothing, and even furniture, and take inventory of what you no longer need or want. Marie Kondo before packing and you will be surprised by how much you own,” says Sara Skirboll, the shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot. “Depending on how much you have downsized, you could save hundreds of dollars, as one of the big costs of moving is the hourly expense of the movers themselves.”

Beyond that, you can actually make money on the things you’re getting rid of and allocate those funds toward moving costs. Take furniture or nice clothing to consignment shops, throw things onto websites like eBay and Poshmark, and hold a garage sale if you’re feeling ambitious. If you don’t want to mess with selling stuff, you can schedule a donation pickup or drop off.

2

If you’re hiring movers, you can save lots of cash simply by scheduling their services for a weekday versus a weekend, off-season versus on-season, and mid-month versus end of month.

“Weekdays are typically less expensive because fewer people move on those days. If you can take off work, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays tend to have the highest availability and the lowest cost,” says Luke Marklin, the CEO of digital-based moving service Bellhops. “Also, try to avoid the last weekend of the month, as those days tend to be busiest and are more expensive.”

As for season, Skirboll says that the months between fall and spring tend to be the busiest for moving. (This may vary depending on where you live, so figure out when the busy moving season is in your area.) If you’re able to schedule your move for the off-season you can save more on moving costs that way, too.

“In general, you can expect to save 20 to 30 percent if you can move on less popular days,” Marklin says.

3

Double paying for your rent or mortgage, utilities, internet, and/or cable at two separate locations is going to cost you, so avoid this if you can. Do your best to align begin and end dates for accounts, which usually means calling your provider and discussing proration. Additionally, take advantage of new account specials offered by internet and cable companies in your area, and speak with utility companies about waiving installation/activation fees. Some will waive these costs if you can demonstrate a history of timely payments elsewhere, or if you’ve been a longtime customer.

4

The cost of moving supplies—which include boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and padding—adds up very quickly. Instead of spending hundreds on the aforementioned, think outside of the box (literally).

“Before you purchase any other packing material, make sure you are utilizing all of your own suitcases, hampers, and baskets. And instead of bubble wrap, use towels to pad delicate items and socks for the smaller ones,” says Skirboll. “If you end up needing boxes, hit up local businesses or big-box retailers for their old cardboard boxes, or ask friends and neighbors.”

Depending on how much you’re moving, you can save between $50 and $400. Not to mention, you’ll also benefit the environment.

RELATED: Stop Buying Moving Boxes for Every Move—Do This Instead

5

If you can muster it, packing everything (or at least most things) yourself can save you tons of money on your move. This takes the longest amount of time and is therefore one of the most expensive aspects of relocating. You can compromise by hiring movers to pick up your packaged boxes, or even just your furniture.

6

Another one of the more expensive aspects of moving is hauling your stuff across a long distance. This method costs the mover (and therefore you) lots of time and resources. One way to cut costs is to use a shared load moving company, which is essentially a freight trailer that carries multiple households’ goods to cut the cost for everyone. It can take you slightly longer to get your belongings, but this method can cut costs by half. Examples include ABF U-Pack, PODS, and COWs (Containers on Wheels).

7

If you’ve amassed a healthy collection of books, an easier way to get them from A to B is to ship them.

“Books take up more space than you would think as they are not foldable and don't collapse to save space,” says Skirboll. Books are also exceptionally heavy. “Go to FedEx or the United States Postal Service (USPS) to ask about moving books so you can free up space in your moving trucks and cars.”

The USPS actually offers a service called Media Mail that allows you to ship media (including books) for a much cheaper rate than standard costs.

8

The ol’ eating-pizza-in-an-unpacked house is really a rite of passage, but dining out for every meal as you unload and organize over the next couple weeks can be pricey (and sometimes not so great for the waistline). To save costs, plan your meals in advance.

This can be as involved as making food at your last place and popping it in the freezer for the weeks ahead, or as simple as enlisting the help of a meal delivery service, like Blue Apron or HelloFresh. Even having a grocery list written out in advance can make it that much easier to get the ingredients you need to make delicious food in your new space.

RELATED: 5 Huge Mistakes People Make When They Move—Plus How to Avoid Them