couple-unpacking-surrounded-by-boxes18 easy ways to save on your move


If you’re among the millions of people pulling up stakes this year and resettling in a new home, getting your goods to a new location means digging deep into your wallet, right? Not so fast.

Moving can be expensive, but many folks in their panic or disorganization overlook easy and obvious steps that can save them hundreds or even thousands of dollars, moving experts say.

We’ve done some of the, ahem, heavy lifting for you already, by assembling these 18 tips:

1. Never pay for boxes. You can drop a lot of dough at U-Haul buying cardboard.

“One good tip that we got is that every town or city today has a recycling center — and they’ve got tons and tons of boxes,” says Jamie Allen, co-editor of the book “How to Survive A Move: By Hundreds of Happy People Who Did, and Some Things to Avoid, From a Few Who Haven’t Unpacked Yet.”

Other sources of strong boxes, according to the frugal readers at the Web site Hospitals and laboratories, because chemicals and medical supplies are required to be shipped in double-walled boxes; and restaurants, whose potato boxes are very study. And readers at Curbly suggest the boxes in which shoe stores get their deliveries.

2. You’ve binged; now purge. Here’s the most basic way to save on moving: Don’t move so much stuff. “Basically, anything that you don’t need, that you haven’t unpacked and used yourself in more than a year is probably fair game” to not make the next move with you, says Kazz Regelman, co-editor with Allen of “How to Survive a Move.” After all, the average full wardrobe carton weighs 75 pounds, according to The People Movers, and movers often charge partly by weight. “Basically, purge, purge, purge — that’s a great way to save money,” Regelman says.

3. Purge efficiently. A corollary to that last tip: People often have time-consuming garage sales to thin their belongings, thinking they’ll make lots of money. They often don’t come out ahead when considering the amount of time spent to prepare and hold a sale. Just donate the stuff to Goodwill or another charity, experts say. The stuff will be carted off and out of your hair, saving you lots of time and snagging you a tax deduction — and that plaid couch will still live again. “Everybody benefits,” Regelman says.

4. Don’t blow it on bubbles. Bubble wrap and other packing materials are spendy. Assuming you’re going to do some of the packing yourself, pad items with bed linens, towels and clothing. Save newspapers from the recycling bin for packing material — but be careful about what you wrap in them. Newsprint will smudge on dishes, for example, says Dan Ramsey, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Moving.” Ramsey, who has survived 43 moves, advises using butcher paper to wrap dishes.

5. Be your own supplier. For the things you can’t wrap up with towels and newspaper, check sites such as for people who have just moved and want to get rid of packing materials for free, or on the cheap. Whatever you do, don’t rely on the mover’s supply of butcher paper and heavy-duty tape — they’re usually sold at inflated prices.

6. Box that sculpture. Place odd-sized items in boxes to make them easier to move, advises Martha Poage, author of “The Moving Survival Guide.” Movers “love to have anything in a box,” she says. It saves them time — and time (along with distance and weight) is part of the cost equation. “It just works better in a van,” she adds. “And the chance of it getting damaged or lost is less.”

7. Keep a paper trail. “Keep a record of all your moving expenses,” says Ramsey. “If your move meets certain criteria, you can deduct the expenses from your federal income taxes.” Call the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-3676 or read Publication 521, titled “Moving Expenses.” You usually have to meet three tests. Your move will meet the distance test if your new main job location is at least 50 miles farther from your former home than your old main job location was from your former home, according to the IRS.

8. Let the post office help you. Got a lot of books? Consider shipping them via the U.S. Postal Service, which has a special rate for books and magazines. The Media Mail rate gets them there slowly but relatively cheaply.

9. Measure twice, cut once. Before you spend lots of money to move large pieces of furniture, measure the doorways and hallways of your new home to make sure the stuff will even fit. “One person (in our book) had to saw an entertainment center in half to get it under a low-hanging beam,” then glue it back together, Regelman says.

10. Be a pod person. If you don’t have a lot of stuff, consider a pod. Some companies will drop off a pod or cube, then cart the loaded cube to its destination. “It can save a lot of money,” says Regelman, “and if you load them yourself, obviously that saves you quite a lot.” Some report that using the pods is even cheaper than renting a truck to drive goods a few states away. And if you rent a truck or cart your stuff to the moving company’s terminal and load the cube at the terminal instead of having them deliver the cube, you can save even more money.