The average person will move 11.7 times in their lifetime, which is enough to make anyone an expert. But whether you’re on move one or seven, even just thinking about packing up your entire house or apartment and moving it into a new place can be exhausting. And on top of that, it can get quite expensive. If that resonates with you, use these tips to help save you time and money—and hopefully your sanity.
Move in the off-season
The time period between April and September is considered peak moving season, and if you don’t schedule movers far in advance for those months, you may find yourself out of luck. Even if you are fortunate enough to find movers, the rates can be quite expensive, so if you aren’t constrained by a specific time, plan a move during the fall or winter. It will also be easier to find movers in the middle of the week and month; a lot of contracts or leases require people to move out of their spaces by the end of the month, leading to a surge in demand.
The best way to guarantee a good rate is to leave the date up to the moving company, whether you’re moving in the peak season or the off-season. When you’re willing to work around their schedule, you gain a better chance of snagging a deal and getting more personalized attention.
Find free boxes
You’d think cardboard boxes would be cheap, but the cost can add up quickly when you consider how many you may need. (And if you’ve ever moved, you know how deceptive your eyes can be when estimating that number.) For example, a large box from U-Haul is $2.35 or $1.97 if you buy a bundle of fifteen. So if you need 100 boxes, you’d end up spending almost $200. That’s a lot of money that could be used elsewhere!
There are plenty of free boxes out there, though—you just need to know where to look. Many times, grocery stores will have some left over from their daily shipments. Just find a store manager or employee and ask nicely for them. Other places you can try are liquor stores, bookstores, and furniture stores.
You can also find moving boxes in your local neighborhood group on Facebook; people frequently post their stash of boxes after they move for anyone who wants to take them. If your timing is right, you can get a lot of boxes in one go.
Get creative with packing materials
To keep your belongings protected during your move, you’ll need a lot of packing materials to wrap around fragile objects and fill up space in boxes. Go around your house and collect anything that could work for this purpose, including newspaper, towels, dish rags, sheets, pillowcases, throw blankets, and even clothing. You will likely still need some bubble wrap and packing paper, but using what you have first will cut down on the expense of these supplies.
Be ruthless about what comes and what goes
If you’ve ever wanted to try out the Marie Kondo method, this is the time to do it. After all, the less you own, the less you have to pack! If you are downsizing, this step is especially crucial. Label plastic tubs “Keep,” “Donate,” and “Throw Away,” then get busy sorting. Visualize what you want your next space to look like to determine what items you want in it. If you are not planning to take your furniture, consider selling it. You can set a pickup date closer to your move for any essential items like a bed or lamp.
Start packing now
It’s easy to underestimate how much time you’ll need to pack. Avoid the panicked stage of moving by starting weeks ahead of time. Fill boxes with items you can live without for a short period, such as seasonal clothes, extra dinnerware, books, craft supplies, and specialty appliances.
This cannot be stressed enough—label each box as clearly as you can. There is nothing worse than arriving at your new place and needing that pie plate you swear you packed with the dishes. If your belongings will be in someone else’s care and you don’t feel comfortable with labeling everything on the box, use a number system instead, recording what each numbered box contains in a separate notebook or spreadsheet.
Use Pirate Ship
Depending on where you’re moving, it may be necessary to ship belongings to your new location. Whether that means sending ahead a couple boxes of essentials or shipping the entirety of your home, a platform like Pirate Ship can save you a lot of money. Through their partnerships with shipping companies, they can offer significant discounts to their individual customers. Plus, you can calculate rates and print labels from home, allowing you to drop off boxes or schedule a pickup whenever is most convenient.
Rent a moving container
Renting a portable moving container gives you more flexibility than a moving company, as you are able to choose when it will be delivered and picked up. And the rates can be thousands less than a moving company. They can also be used as temporary storage units if the timeline of your move changes unexpectedly.
Rent a moving truck
For those who feel most comfortable transporting their own belongings, a DIY move is an ideal option. Not only does it save you a lot of money, but you also don’t have to rely on anyone else’s schedule and gain the ability to pack the truck to your own standards. Just make sure you are confident behind the wheel of a large vehicle before choosing this option. If your trip involves multiple days, park the truck overnight in well-lit lots, backing it up to a bush to make it difficult for anyone to gain access.
Whichever way you decide to move, make sure you have support in packing, moving furniture, and sorting out logistics. Your local real estate agent can be a valuable asset for referrals to moving companies, junk haulers, shipping companies, move-out cleaners, and more.