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Moving? Here’s How to Keep It Budget-Friendly

Sophia Surrett  |  June 9, 2021

You sold your house! Now the inevitable is here: packing, moving and unpacking. Here’s how to save money so you can spend more on your new space. 

Nearly 16 million people moved during COVID, according to the US Postal Service, and home sales in 2020 hit a high not seen in 14 years, according to the National Association of Realtors. If you sold your house recently, congrats! But now it’s time to move without spending a fortune. Because even if you were able to sell your house at a profit, you don’t want to spend more than is necessary to move onto your new location. (I mean, wouldn’t your profits be better spent on retirement savings, new throw pillows, or new art for your living room wall??)  

While hiring a full-service moving company or rushing out to Home Depot for brand new boxes might be the default first steps you want to take right now, stop and check out our best ways to save before you make any moves. (Pun intended).  

Free Boxes Abound 

Paying for boxes? Not so fast. Grocery stores, wine shops, liquor stores, even hardware stores often have heavy-duty boxes leftover at the end of each day — boxes that they’ll simply be breaking down and chucking into the recycling bin. Oftentimes, employees will happily hand these boxes right over to you (it’s less work for them if you take the boxes!) Simply call ahead to a store you’re considering, find out their shipment date(s) that they’ll likely have boxes, and ask if you can stop by and pick up a few. Remember you don’t have to get them all in one day or from one single location. But after a few trips or stops around town, you should have plenty for your move. 

Hop On The Back Of That Truck 

If you don’t need all your items to arrive immediately at your new home, you can consider hiring a moving company that does “shared” moves. Companies like Allied Van Lines and Sterling Van Lines specialize in shared moves, in which your items may be loaded onto a truck with several other families’ items. For example, if you’re moving from California to NYC, your items might be put on a truck with another mover who is headed to Ohio, or another mover who’s Chicago-bound, and your moving truck will make stops along the way. Doug Brown, sales representative at Sterling Van Lines, says the company specializes in smaller moves that are non-time-sensitive, and that most people find they save between $500 and $3,000 when they switch to a shared move. 

Yes, it’s going to take longer to get those items delivered to your front doorstep, but the shared burden of moving expenses may be worth the wait — especially if you can take a couple of weeks and spend time with family or friends while you keep an eye out for your delivery. 

Purge, Purge, Purge 

Before you move, some of those “keepsakes” you’ve been holding onto for decades might need to find a home elsewhere. Yes, we know it’s hard, but think how much happier you’ll be in your clean, de-cluttered new space. Also, most moves are priced by weight, which means — you guessed it — getting rid of your clutter up front can help save you overall money on the move. (Plus, all the time and energy you’ll save by not having to box these things up.) So, say goodbye to those clothes you’re going to wear “one day.” Sell the items that you’re able to get money for and donate the rest. We promise you’ll feel better post-purge. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate 

A secret that moving companies probably wish you didn’t know is that you can negotiate! Asking for a lower price or a discount is not just for haggling at a flea market or seeking a deal on Facebook Marketplace — you can use your negotiation skills before your move to secure a price that both you and your movers will be happy with. Keep in mind most moving companies have deals, promotions, or special offers running year-round on a rolling basis, but they might not advertise all of them until you explicitly ask. 

Tech Is Your New Best Friend: Don’t Be Afraid To Go Modern  

In many ways, the moving industry had kept its old-fashioned standards of communication such as phone calls, written receipts and in-person appraisals for decades — but the pandemic has inspired a more rapid shift to modernization, with easy-to-use moving apps now offering free estimates and fast responses. Example: GoShare: an app-based moving company that’s helped move 3 million items over the last few years. 

GoShare’s head of communications, Melinda Jensen, describes the company as an Uber-like, lower-cost moving company with an easy scheduling process. The company is able to offer virtual estimates with 90% accuracy as they use artificial intelligence to determine the bulk + cost of the move. “Because we don’t have a human doing it, it takes the cost down and speeds things up,” Jensen says. 

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