Talk to anyone who’s recently moved, and they’ll swear they’re never moving again. Moving is an enormous task, and the cost of moving can cause sticker shock.
If you have a full-service move, you’ll pay a lot more, but if you do it yourself, you’ll pay with time and effort.
It’s not easy to give an average cost of moving, because moves within the US can involve thousands of miles, and people have different amounts of stuff to move. However, there are move calculators online, like this one from MovingGuru.com that can give you ballpark figures.
Using MovingGuru’s cost of moving calculator, a move from Atlanta, Georgia to Modesto, California for someone with a three-bedroom house, for example, would cost an estimated $3,600 to $4,400 for a full-service move, $670 to $818 for a self-service (you pack and someone else drives) move, or roughly $36 to $44 per day plus fuel to rent a truck and do it yourself.
The same move for someone with a one-bedroom apartment would cost $675 to $825 for a full-service move, $670 to $818 for self-service, and $23 to $28 per day plus fuel for a DIY move.
U-Pack, a self-service mover, estimates that a 1,000 mile move from Dallas to Phoenix would cost around $1,624 for an “average” move, including fuel, liability, taxes, and an experienced driver. Whatever services you eventually choose for moving, you can save on the cost of moving with these tips.
1. If possible, avoid moving during the summer, over holidays, and at the beginning or end of the month, because the cost of moving higher then.
Leases are usually up at the end of the month, so demand is highest then and at the beginning of the month. If you can move between Monday and Thursday, you’ll save over having to move on a weekend.
2. Purge your possessions.
Evaluate everything you own and decide if it’s really worth packing up and moving. If it isn’t, set it aside in a designated space. Then you can hold a garage sale or give the items to charity.
3. Eat everything in your freezer.
You’ve already paid for it, so you might as well eat it. By the last few days before your move, you might have some unusual meals, but you will avoid throwing away money by eating what you have on hand.
4. If you have lots of books, check how much it would cost to send them media rate versus packing and moving them.
Shipping by media rate isn’t the speediest, but it’s cost-effective. Also, it can only be media. You can’t get the media rate if you have other things packed in with your books.
5. Get multiple quotes and require proof that the companies you get quotes from are bonded and insured.
If one quote is unusually low, it may be because the company doesn’t include services others include, so be skeptical.
6. Read reviews of moving companies.
Remember how they used to judge ice skating competitions in the Olympics? Judges would throw out the highest and lowest scores and then average the others. This is a good approach to use with reviews.
Some scathing reviews are written by people with an axe to grind, and some glowing reviews are written by paid reviewers. Go with the overall impression you get from the bulk of the reviews.
Obviously, if all the reviews are bad, you avoid that company.
7. Get boxes from grocers and liquor stores, and see if your local newspaper gives away newsprint remnants for wrapping up breakables.
The one specialty packing item that may be worth paying for, however, is packaging for hanging artwork, because there’s no readily available free substitute for this type container.
8. If you can be flexible with your moving dates, you may be able to save.
Even just a few days one way or the other can result in savings, particularly if you avoid a weekend, holiday, beginning, or end of a month.
9. Save on hourly movers’ rates by doing as much prep work as possible beforehand.
The more you have packed and ready to put on the truck, the less packing the movers (who charge by the hour) will have to do.
10. See if your homeowner’s insurance covers moves to avoid having to buy insurance from the moving company.
Movers will try to sell you insurance as an add-on, but you may already be covered under your homeowner’s policy. Call your insurance agent and ask, and you could avoid this expense.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.