Moving out on a budgetMoving on a low budget will most likely introduce an extra dosage of stress into an event that’s already considered one of the most nerve-racking occurrences in life. Moving house with insufficient money will soon turn into an energy-draining struggle to stretch out your tight budget beyond its breaking limit.

Time and time again, moving home has cemented its status as an expensive affair, often too costly for those home movers who are moving on a tight budget. Nevertheless, time and time again, people’s inborn ingenuity and resourcefulness have helped them come with clever ways to cut moving costs, enabling them to move out on a budget and bring their relocation adventures to a successful end.

Don’t spend money on your move unless you must! Take advantage of the following 10 cost-saving tips for moving on a budget to pull it off even if your family budget is tighter than Santa’s belt.

#1: Find yourself a low-cost mover

When you’re moving out on a low budget, you’re probably thinking that the cheapest way to move out is to do it by yourself – that is, without hiring the services of a professional moving company. In fact, organizing a self-move can turn out to be more economical than hiring a mover, but certain criteria must be met: short distance to the new home (local moving), no special items for moving, guaranteed assistance from friends when packing and on Moving day, and previous relocation experience.

Therefore, if you’re moving long distance across the country and you’ve never had to rent a moving truck until that moment, then it’s time to find yourself an affordable moving company to help you out. Clearly, it’s incorrect to assume that using a mover will always be more expensive than moving on your own because there are many factors that will affect the financial side of your house move.

To find a low-cost moving company, the trick is to request 3-4 moving cost estimates from different professional moving companies so that you can actually compare the quotes in terms of pricing, additional services, and other conditions.

How to find cheap movers in 7 steps

#2: Take only what you will need

There is no doubt that moving with a limited budget will make things harder for you – the constant struggle to save as much money as you possibly can from each relocation aspect will take its toll on you and will most likely stress you out in a number of ways. Luckily, there’s one relatively easy thing to do that will enable you to save BIG on your local or cross-country move.

The cost-saving idea here is very simple indeed – you must be very cautious what items you choose to move with you to the new home. Why? One of the major factors that will affect the moving cost is the total weight of the shipment, which means that the more items you take with you, the more money you will need to cover the transportation costs, and vice versa.

Go through your things carefully, one by one, and ask yourself if you REALLY need to move them. Be ruthless in your decisions because moving unnecessary items will only eat up more of your savings in the end. Moving experts agree that any items that have not been used in over 12 months are not worth keeping, and therefore moving to another home.

Moving to another state: the ultimate guide

#3: Sell all your unwanted stuff

Moving a grandfather clock

Some things are coming with you no matter the efforts and relocation cost.

As you’ve just learned, the cheapest way to move house is to first select affordable movers and then move with as few items as possible. In fact, the process of inventorying your stuff and then paring down your possessions is critical for the success of the residential move when you’re desperately looking for good ways to move out on a low budget.

It’s important to know how to save money when you’re moving across the country, but you can also do something about earning some cash in the process too. Remember all the items you have decided not to take with you for one reason or another? Now is the time to seriously consider selling some of those belongings in order to transfer some financial resources to your humble relocation budget.

Organize a yard sale for the household items you’re leaving behind – especially the heavier and larges ones like furniture pieces. Also, you can try to sell all unwanted items online but keep in mind that online deals take time to finalize. In case selling some of your belongings is not a good option but moving them is even worse, then you should definitely consider getting rid of them through gifts to friends or donations.

How to get rid of unwanted items when moving

#4: Pack up your things by yourself

Hiring a full-service moving company, with the service of packing included in the price, is the most expensive way to move house. Professional packing services are not cheap at all – the national average cost to hire packers is around $60 per packer per hour. And even though you may still be able to find a better deal than that, it’s obvious that relying entirely on professional packers is not the best option for you when you have little money when moving out.

Another cost-saving secret when moving house on a budget is that, unless you have special items that require customized packing services or unless you’re really out of time, you should definitely pack up your things on your own. Why should you pay professionals to pack up your books, your clothes, your shoes, and even your priceless collection of action figures?

Do what’s right for your budget, but also what’s right for your possessions too. For example, packing books is a no-brainer (almost), but on the other hand, packing the antique grandfather clock you’ve inherited from your grandmother is just too risky to be done by non-professionals.

The best packing tips when moving house

#5: Don’t pay for your moving boxes

Packing on your own can be a great decision when you’re looking for the best way to move on a budget – it saves you money and it also gives you control over the entire packing process. But to make the house move even more affordable, you’re going to have to go a step further and see if you can find cardboard boxes for packing without paying for them.

Cardboard boxes of various sizes are not too expensive if you need to purchase just a few of them from your local home improvement store. However, when you’re about to pack an entire household, then the average number of 40-50 boxes will surely mean you’ll be spending around $150, or more, for packing boxes alone.

Cross country moving on a budget is all about taking every single chance to cut moving costs and expenses, and this time that unique money-saving opportunity is about finding free moving boxes. Ask around your circle of friends – maybe some of your pals will have plenty of boxes they will no longer need. Also, do a quick tour around the largest local businesses in your area and speak with their respective managers about free cardboard boxes. Big retail stores are required to recycle the excess cardboard at the end of the day, so that’s exactly where you should come in.

How to get free moving boxes

#6: Don’t pay for other packing supplies either

Speaking of using every opportunity to save money when moving house, here’s one that you might think that it’s not worth the efforts… until you try it out. Now that you know how free moving boxes can easily cut hundreds of dollars worth in packing materials, you may wish to play it really frugal and don’t pay any money for a number of other packing supplies as well.

Packing books in suitcases

Suitcases are ideal for transporting heavy books.

Take a good look around you and you’ll find many packing materials you never thought you had in the first place. Suitcases, travel bags, briefcases, shopping bags, tote bags, garbage bags (that’s right!), hampers, baskets, plastic bins, and even dresser drawers are all good containers which you already own in your home. So, make sure you use some or all of them when it’s time to pack up your things for moving.

Also, ordinary blankets, bath towels, bed sheets, socks, and other pieces of clothing can be used as excellent wrapping and cushioning materials. Needless to say, newspapers are ideal for filling in the empty spaces inside moving boxes – just don’t use newsprint directly on delicate surfaces due to the chance of getting nasty ink stains.

Packing timeline for moving

#7: Choose a cheaper period to move out

How to move out on a low budget? It’s usually the little things you can do to save money when moving – the cost-saving techniques that don’t seem too great in the beginning but that will surely contribute to a much more affordable house move in the end. This time, it’s the strategic planning that can help you save.

Plan in advance the exact period of time when you’re going to move out. Provided that your move-out date is flexible, you should definitely take advantage of that rare chance to reduce the moving costs. The idea is simple enough: the warmer months of the year – the approximate period from May to September – are the busiest period for the moving industry, which means that moving in the summer is generally more expensive than moving in the winter, including later fall and early spring.

Also, it costs more to move out over the weekend than during the week, and professional movers tend to charge more for moves during the first and last week of each month. Avoid moving during the first and last day of each month, as well as on national holidays as those dates are typically the most expensive ones.

Deciding on a moving date

#8: Ask your pals for help

Ultimately, the cheapest way to pack and move is to pay professionals only for the tasks you can’t possibly do on your own. As mentioned above, packing whatever you can by yourself will save you money that you would otherwise need to give to experienced packers. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get your good friends to help you out not only with the task of packing, but also with all the heavy lifting on Moving day.

To increase your chances of getting that priceless help from friends and family, reach out to your helpers as early as you can to avoid any disruption to their own plans. Be specific about what type of assistance you need and promise to return the favor when the time comes. If a good friend of yours owns a pickup truck and won’t mind lending it to you until your local move is complete, then that’s even better for you and your budget.

Try to make the whole moving experience fun – offer your pals snacks and refreshing beverages, play good music in the background, and don’t miss the opportunity to reminisce about the old times. Now, moving on a tight budget doesn’t have to be a bad experience, does it?

Your moving checklist: Interactive and printable

#9: Don’t make costly moving mistakes

To have a perfect house move would sound pretty much like science fiction, not reality. Mistakes are somewhat common during a period filled with so many things to worry about and so many things to do, so the best you can do is to minimize the number and severity of your mistakes so that your relocation budget can survive the move fairly unscathed.

Avoid moving mistakes

Trust only movers you’ve researched well prior to hiring their services.

Our tips for moving on a budget continue with a warning shot across the bow – avoid any errors that will cost you money in the end. Make sure you

  • request in-home visual surveys for precise cost estimates;
  • do not accept the very first offer but compare well the written estimates;
  • do not fall for the oldest trick in the book – a cost estimate that is too good to be true will usually turn out to be fraudulent;
  • never sign incomplete or BLANK (!) documents;
  • understand your insurance options if you happen to own really valuable items;
  • keep your smaller valuables with you at all times;
  • never turn your back on safety when packing up your items or when moving heavy things outside your home;
  • use right moving equipment and follow the proper lifting techniques. Remember that home repair bills or medical bills will hurt your tight budget like never before.

33 moving mistakes to avoid on your next move

#10: Stay protected from dishonest moving companies

Long distance moving on a budget is a tough job as it is, so you must do everything in your power to avoid any further complications. One such complication that could really hurt your budget is to get scammed by a dishonest mover.

A moving scam is a fraudulent activity by a so-called rogue moving company aimed at getting more money from unwary customers. Now, if you follow some basic prevention rules, you should be able to stay safe and out of trouble.

  • Always research your potential movers – read genuine customer reviews about the corresponding moving companies, check their records at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), their membership status at the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and their profile at the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Look out for low-ball estimates – moving cost estimates that are deliberately too low so that they can lure unsuspicious clients to take the bait. Always try to understand the logic behind the pricing, and when in doubt, demand specific answers.
  • Always request in-home cost estimates where you will have the chance to meet the moving experts and ask them all the questions that worry you. Thus said, do not accept quotes done over the phone or via e-mail because they cannot possibly reflect the final bill with any chance of accuracy.

Protect your move: How to avoid moving scams