As my wife and I are gearing up for our 3rd move in 1 1/2 years (yes you read that right), I’m beginning to feel like somewhat of an expert. So I wanted to put together a list of all the things that need to be done and some tips on saving a few bucks.
Moving is already expensive enough because you’re paying for somewhere new. Whether it’s a new home with a downpayment and closing costs, or a new apartment with a security and pet deposit, it’s expensive.
Let’s take a look at how we can save the most money and make the move as painless as possible.
Moving Checklist of Responsible Adult Things
- Change your Address with USPS. Go ahead and do this a few weeks before you move. You can do it all online and even tell them what day to start forwarding your mail. It’s very easy to do and only cost a few dollars. Remember, don’t just do this for yourself, be sure to change the address for anyone in your home who receives mail (obviously your spouse, but don’t forget the kids).
- Set up your new utilities and plan to have your current utilities disconnected. Go ahead and set up any online account access you may need for your new utility company. You want to be sure that you’ve got power on the day you arrive.
- Compare local internet and cable providers in the place you’re moving to. Be sure to check reviews specific to that area. While you’re at it, take this opportunity to really evaluate if you actually need cable. In all likelihood, you don’t. Cable is extremely over-priced and a major drain on your finances. Besides most everything you watch can be found on Netflix or Hulu.
Once you have decided go ahead and call them to set up an installation date at your new home. Be sure to call your current internet and cable provider to find out when you can disconnect and if they will pro-rate your bill. Some companies will not pro-rate and require you to pay for a full month. If this is the case, you may want to disconnect early and go without cable for a week or two.
- Be sure to update your drivers license and voter’s registration with your new address. Like your USPS address, this can all be done online. If you need to update your vehicle title with the new address you will need to do this with the local county clerk once you move.
- Change address information with all financial institutions like banks, investment brokers, insurance companies, and credit cards (most all of this can be done online). You may need to close out certain bank accounts if they don’t have a branch where you are moving. Be sure to take care of this before you move, because many banks will not let you close an account over the phone and require you to come in person. If you looking for a new bank account consider online banks like Discover Bank or Ally. These banks tend to have no fees, good interest rates, ATMs all over the country, and can be used from anywhere.
- Update your address with all online retailers and websites that you use. If you don’t you could end up accidently shipping something to your old address. This is especially easy to do on a site like Amazon that utilizes one button orders. I’ve done this before and it can be a pain to change shipping information after a purchase has been processed.
- Transfer any regular medical prescriptions that you have to a local pharmacy near your new home. Be sure to make sure you have the addresses and phone numbers of any doctors that you use in order to request documents when you find your new doctor.
- Call your home or rental insurance company and give them your updated address. Ask them what you need to do to make sure your new home is covered. Sometimes this may involve changing your rates, so listen carefully and make sure that you are getting the insurance you need.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The earlier you know about your move the better. Don’t wait until the last minute to start making plans for your move. Start collecting boxes, packing, getting rid of things, and making moving plans just as soon as you can.
Moving can be a terrible experience or it can be a lot of fun. The majority of the stress related to moving is often directly caused by poor planning.
Make your move an exciting experience that you look forward to, don’t wait until the last minute.
Don’t Assume Anything
Most of the time people assume that moving on their own will be cheaper than hiring a professional moving company. Many times that’s right, but not always.
It all depends on how far you’re moving, how much stuff you have, and what sort of resources you have.
If it’s a short move across town, you own a pickup truck, and you’ve got a bunch of friends who want nothing more than to help you lug your junk around, then DIY is probably for you!
But if you’re moving across the country or even a few hours away, you should at least get a few quotes from professionals. Often times there are a lot of hidden costs associated with moving yourself, so be sure to compare everything.
Many times it is still very expensive to hire professionals to do everything. However, it may be worth it to have some items moved professionally or ship some items.
If you’re moving long-distance often times you can get a good deal on shipping medium sized items via USPS. This is especially true if you use media shipping on things like books and DVDs.
More often than not renting a Uhaul is still the best option for saving money if you don’t have access to a couple of pickups.
However, don’t kid yourself. The $19.95 you see advertised on the side of the truck as you pass it on the interstate is nowhere near what you will actually pay.
There are a lot of hidden expenses when it comes to renting a moving truck.
For instance, a 17′ truck might have a base price of $29.95 plus $0.79 per mile. You will definitely need to purchase the $14.00 Safemove insurance because you never know what could happen, and you don’t want to be on the hook to replace the entire truck. You may also need an appliance dolly for an extra $10.00. We’re already up to $55.00 and we haven’t even factored in how many miles you’ll drive or sales tax.
While this is still cost efficient, just be sure to look for the hidden fees that aren’t always advertised.
Along with fees, be sure not buy the rest of the stuff they will advertise. Rental companies will try and get you to purchase extra cleaning supplies, boxes, bubble wrap, and other supplies. Most of this is unnecessary or you can get it cheaper elsewhere.
Always check the size of the truck you rent. Make sure to get one that will accommodate your needs. The more trips you have to make, the more money it’s going to cost.
The major downside of a DIY move is that it typically is very time-consuming and can be stressful. However, with lots of planning this option is often times much cheaper than hiring professionals.
Professional movers come with a lot of positives. They are typically quick, on time, experienced, and can take care of the heavy lifting. This leaves you more time to take care of all the other things associated with moving and also allows you to move quicker and require less time off work.
The downside of professional movers is that it can be very expensive and if you get bad movers, they could damage your things.
If you want to check out professionals be sure to get quotes from 2 -3 different moving companies to compare options.
Always check out reviews that discuss how fast the moving company was. Often times these movers charge you by the hour. Because of this, some movers will take their sweet time so they can charge you more. Be sure to read reviews and look for ones that compliment their timeliness.
If you hire professionals, have everything packed and ready for them when they arrive. This will save you money and give you less of a headache.
Professionals will often cost you more money. But just like spending, being smart with money doesn’t mean you always choose the cheaper option. It just means you need to evaluate what’s really worth the money.
And for some people, professional movers are worth every penny.
Choose Your Moving Date Carefully
Often times we don’t have much choice in our moving date. We just move in whenever our lease runs up or the house becomes available.
But if you do have a choice be sure to consider your options. Summer is the most popular time of year to move. So if you are using professional movers, don’t expect a good bargain if you’re moving between May and September.
Along the same lines, it is typically more expensive to move on the weekends as opposed to the middle of the week. Also, the first and last weeks of the month tend to be more expensive.
Be sure to take all of this into consideration when deciding on your move.
11 Places You Can Get Free Boxes
There are many places to get free cardboard boxes for moving. So don’t go out and buy any.
Depending on where you live some of these options may be better than others.
In my experience, I’ve had the best luck with local grocery stores and hospitals. I was able to get more than enough boxes for our last move from 1 hospital and 1 local food market alone.
Let’s look at the top 11 places to check:
- Ask friends who work at retail stores or restaurants. Many restaurants get shipments once per week. So ask a friend to hold some boxes for you when they come.
- Check with grocery stores. I called a local food market and found out they get shipments early on Tuesday’s mornings around 6:00 am. The manager told me that they have everything unboxed and boxes in the trash by 7:30 am. If I could get there by 7:00 am I could have as many boxes as I wanted.
- Check with a local hospital. Medical supplies often come in very large boxes. I was able to get my nurse friend to gather up a bunch of large boxes for me. She got close to 30 boxes and told me I could come back a few days later if I needed more!
- Check craigslist. There are often places to get free cardboard boxes under the “free section” on craigslist.
- Check on freecycle. When I last checked there were no free boxes in my area, but there was a free toaster oven! Still, this is at least worth a shot.
- Liquor stores are an excellent place to get free boxes. Their boxes are normally sturdy and useful for packing small items.
- Arby’s, McDonalds, and other fast food chains can be an excellent place to get free boxes. I was able to get 10 boxes from a local Arby’s when I asked as I was ordering lunch.
- Starbucks is another great place because they get regular shipments. Talk to a manager to find out when the shipments are delivered and see if you can get some boxes before they throw them away.
- Office supply stores are another great place. I was able to get 10 very large boxes from Staples, and the guy even helped me break them down!
- Bookstores are always a good place to check, especially if you have a lot of books or other small but heavy items.
- If you’re moving into an apartment be sure to check with the complex. Often times someone will have just moved in and the complex may have a way to get some free boxes for you.
To get free boxes, just ask. The worst thing that can happen is they say “sorry, we don’t have any.” Then you go on about your day.
But whatever you do, don’t purchase them. It’s a waste of money on something that is so readily available for free.
Don’t Purchase Bubble Wrap
Although it can be obnoxious to wash the clothes on the back-end, wrapping your delicates in linens and clothing can help save you money while still protecting your valuables.
For our last move, my wife and I used bathroom towels to protect furniture from scratching up against the truck. We also used t-shirts and small towels to pack plates and glassware.
Another popular option is to wrap small delicates in coffee filters. They are cheap, provide extra padding, and unlike newspapers, they don’t spread ink.
Plan Ahead and Pack Smart
Begin packing as early as you can and pack little bits at a time so you don’t wear yourself out.
For the month leading up to the move try to pack a couple of boxes each day and that way you don’t have to spend a marathon weekend packing non-stop.
Go ahead and pack up the things you can do without for a couple of weeks. But as you’re packing be sure to ask yourself, “if I can be totally okay without this for a few weeks, do I really need it?”
This is a great way to find stuff you don’t actually need, that you can get rid of.
Sell, Donate, and Throw Away
We have way more than we could ever need. Most of us could get rid of things we own and likely never even notice they were gone.
As you’re packing, take the time to honestly question every item and ask yourself if you truly need it. Is it really bringing value to your life? If the answer is no, then get rid of it.
You could have a garage sale, donate it to a shelter, sell it on Amazon or Ebay, or give it to a friend.
But again, be honest. Ask yourself if it’s really worth selling, or if it’s really just junk. Don’t be afraid to throw it out. We’ve got more junk in our lives than we even realize.
Use Trash Bags to Move Your Clothes
Kitchen trash bags are one of the easiest ways to pack hanging clothes. We do this every time we move by taking a stack of clothes still on their hangers and putting them into a kitchen trash bag.
Then you can pull the bag tight at the top and wrap the string from the bag around the top of the hangers. This makes it extremely easy to transport lots of hanging clothes.
Eat Everything In Your Kitchen
Try to plan your meals to use up what you already have in your pantry. The more you can use up now, the less you will have to pack later. This again goes along with the planning. When you decide you are going to move, go ahead and start planning how you can eat up the food in your pantry.
Don’t be Afraid to Negotiate
Obviously if you’re buying a house there are lots of negotiations that have to happen before you buy.
But that’s an entire post by itself.
I’m talking about negotiating the things you don’t think about right away. Ask for a better deal if you’re using professional or local movers. See if you can get negotiate with the rental company for longer hours if you need them. Often times they will be willing to negotiate and lower their price a bit.
Also, look for circumstances that can support your case.
For instance, long story short, my wife and I no longer feel safe at our current apartment complex. There has been a shooting and an armed robbery within the few months we’ve lived here. After a long talk with the manager at the apartment office, it became apparent that they were not planning to do much about the increased criminal activity.
So I read through our terms and agreements on the apartment lease and wrote a letter explaining all of the reasons my wife and I are breaking lease and moving. I explained very nicely how we had requested increased security measures from the complex, yet they did nothing.
In this letter, I asked for an early release so I wouldn’t have to wait the required 60 days. We are still having to pay an extra month’s rent as a buy-out fee, per the lease agreement. But I was able to save us a few hundred dollars by getting out in a month and a half rather than the full 2 months waiting period.
Moving can be extremely stressful and a major cause of fights between family members.
Try and focus on the excitement of where you’re moving.
My wife and I weren’t terribly excited to move when all of these safety issues came up at our current apartment. We really like where we live now. The rent is great, the size is great, and we love the location.
But feeling safe is extremely important to us.
So once we’ve decided to move (2nd time in 7 months) we have decided to stay positive. We’re really excited about the new place and we’re looking forward to some new features that we don’t currently have.
Your attitude is a choice. So choose to be excited. Moving can be a lot of fun if you want it to be.