Do you enjoy moving? Probably not! Moving can be daunting, frustrating, stressful, time consuming, and worst of all, expensive!
That being said, it doesn’t have to be all bad. On the contrary, moving to a new home (after the pain of actually moving your stuff) is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
Whether it’s your first time flying the coop or a seasoned traveler, it’s always worth learning how to make moving easier, and cheaper! All it takes is a little planning, a smidgen of organization, and the willingness to make some big (but awesome) changes.
1. Know the Cost
Naturally, we can’t move out if we don’t know what it’s going to cost!
Moving expenses can be brutal, especially if we haven’t got a clue what we’re getting into. This is particularly true for first-time movers. The first phase of moving panic usually begins with “what the heck is this going to cost me?!”.
Curb that fear for more important things, like getting that 400lb couch out of the basement. Figuring the cost of moving really isn’t that hard. Let’s lay out exactly what you’ll need to consider.
Trips are expensive, especially when you’re traveling with 2, or even 3 vehicles… not to mention the horrible mileage on moving trucks. Luckily, there’s a whole slew of trip calculators out there to choose from!
- Gas Buddy is arguably the most popular. Not only is it quick and easy, they also have an app for your phone that you can use on the road!
- AAA has a similar and easy to use alternative for a trip calculator.
- Even the US Debt. of Energy has a trip calculator if you prefer to use something a bit more trustworthy.
Whether you’re driving across town or halfway across the country, you need to know what your travel expenses are going to be. Just as an example, when Robyn and I moved from Wisconsin to California for the first time, we spent over $600 in just gas, for one car! If you’re going a long distance, fuel costs can easily climb to 3 or 4 times that much.
The cost of renting a truck can vary greatly, depending on where and when you’re planning to move. Taking a rental truck on a one-way trip is going to cost you significantly more than just a quick jaunt back and forth in town.
Almost all rental companies have a quick and easy online appraisal for how much your trip is going to run you. For example, we recently moved from Chico, CA to Post falls, ID. By using U-Haul, the rental fee was roughly $1000.
Keep in mind that this is only the rental fee. Make sure you plug the gas mileage into a trip calculator along with your car!
Quick tip: Truck rentals go up in price (nearly double the cost) during popular moving times, such as May and June. If you’re really pinching pennies, consider moving in an off season (such as October) for cheaper rates!
Last but not least, don’t forget to eat! Oh, and don’t forget how expensive it is either. While this mostly applies to people who are moving a far distance, it’s an important one.
If you’re moving halfway across the country, human fuel is just as important as car fuel! Here’s some tips to keeping costs down without being miserable.
- Bring a thermos. You don’t always need a $5 latte when your tank is runnin’ on empty. Snag a cheap thermos and fill it up before you leave town. Most coffee places will fill your own mug up at a discount. If you’re staying at a hotel, you can refill for free before you head out!
- Bring your own food. Fast food, restaurants and gas stations are all expensive. Save money on food by bringing a cooler (you’ll need one anyway!). Cold sandwiches and fruit can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a few days. Besides, you really don’t want to test your luck with road-trip hometown buffet.
- Don’t eat like crap. You don’t just need a coffee IV to stay awake – eat fruits and veggies! Easy healthy foods such as apples, bananas and carrots can give you a cheap energy boost on your travels. Pair them with some nut butters for a calorie dense, protein packed treat!
Cutting back on eating out when traveling will easily save you hundreds of dollars over the course of the whole trip. Oh, and you’ll eat better food too!
2. Make a Budget
Hey, this is true whether you’re moving or not! But seriously, if you want to move, you need a budget.
Once you’ve fidangled out the rough cost of what your trip is going to be, you need to know how exactly you’re going to afford it. There’s no better way to save your money than by making a budget!
Does making a budget sound difficult? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our ultimate guide to making a budget. It’s fast, easy and surprisingly fun!
Now we’ll assume you’ve done your homework and have your estimated moving costs and a sweet budget plan. Great! But what else do we need to budget for?
The Cost of Renting
You’re probably not buying a home for your first move, so we’ll skip that can of worms for now.
It’s important to have a large sum of money set aside for your first rental, ‘cause it’s going to be a doozy. Whether you’ve got a place picked out now or not, you need to know (roughly) how much renting costs and what you’ll need set aside.
Here’s the top 3 expenses you’ll need to be prepped for:
Every rental has one, there’s no escaping it. Most rental properties’ deposit is going to cost right around one month’s rent. Sometimes it’s a little more, sometimes a little less, there’s no standard.
Don’t be fooled. While deposits aren’t technically considered “fees”, we recommend everyone treat them as such. Property management companies are notorious for nickel and diming unsuspecting renters from every bit of their deposit. If you’re moving from one rental to another, don’t count on seeing any of that deposit!
Naturally, you need to pay rent when you’re renting. You need to know what you’re looking for, and what you can actually afford. Are you getting a roommate in a 2 bedroom apartment, or moving to a 3 bedroom house? That can go from costing you $300 a month to $1600 very quickly!
Of course, if you’re the one already paying for rent, you know what to expect. But for first time movers, the upfront cost of getting a new place can be shocking! To give you an example – Our 1300 square foot home cost us around $3,500 upfront with deposit, pet deposit, and first month’s rent.
We love our adorable pets, but man are they expensive!
Make sure you know if there’s any pet deposits where you’re renting. The cost can often be a bit shocking! As an example, our last apartment required an $850 pet deposit for our lovable doggy.
3. Be Organized
Everthing is easier when you’re organized, more importantly, less stressful. Just like we organized your finances with a budget, we need to organize your physical items as well. We don’t just mean packing boxes either! Even properly loading the truck can make your moving life that much easier.
Quick Tip: Don’t waste money buying boxes! Ask your local grocery store for empty apple boxes. They’re large, strong and best of all, free! When you’re done, you can take them back to any grocery store for recycle or reuse.
Start With the Essentials
Start your packin’ with what really matters, I.E. the essentials.
Think of moving as a time to clean out the clutter and make a fresh start. Every home needs kitchen utensils, cleaning tools, pots and pans, etc. That ugly 80’s lava lamp your grandma gave you? Not so much.
Here’s our plan of action when we start the packing process:
- Begin one room at a time, you don’t need to pack the whole house!
- Label your boxes, and keep them together! Each room should stay together.
- Pack the truck room by room, so that unpacking is like an easy assembly line.
Sell What You Don’t Need
Once you’ve gotten the must-haves, it’s time to deal with the want-haves. Really use this time to bring a fresh new take and do some spring cleaning. It’s time to get acquainted with your new best friends, Craigslist, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace. Not only will you relieve a heaping amount of stress, you’ll probably make quite a bit of money selling all that junk!
There’s many techniques and rules out there to help you decide what truly matters. Personally, I like to use the 6 month (or 1 year) rule. If I haven’t used something for a year, especially when it comes to clothing, it’s time to part ways. Of course there will be exceptions to the rule, but mementos and antiques will only serve you for so long.
Look at it this way, that old dining set could sit there collecting dust for years on end doing nothing. Or it can provide the help you need to get on your feet and build a better financial safety net.
“Pack” the Truck
To help avoid the “oh crap” situation of running out of space in your moving truck, fake it!
All you need to do is take the measurements of your moving truck (all rental companies should have this info online). Then, using some string (or tape measures) create a box in your living room with the measurements of your truck.
While it’s not a bulletproof method, you can definitely get a feel for how much space you’ve got to work with. Aside from dodging any potential packing disasters, you’ll have a pre-plan on how to pack your truck!
4. Know When to Move
Timing is everything when it comes to moving. Knowing when to avoid, or when to go, can greatly help your ability to save money or find a place.
What’s the best time to move?
There isn’t necesarily a “best” overall time to move. Rather, there’s what works best for you. Here’s some things to consider.
You want to save money
Planning your move (if you can) during the off-season can help reduce the cost of moving by a surprising amount. Rentals of all types, such as homes, trucks and moving services, are frequently cheaper when demand is low. Consider these times for moving if you’re really skimping by:
- Late winter (February / March)
- Early Spring (April / Early May)
- Fall (September / October)
You don’t have a place yet
If you’re moving somewhere that you have to find a place after you’ve moved, there’s a few things you want to consider. If there’s a college in the area, the housing market will greatly hinge on students coming and going.
As such, the most popular times to move are:
- Late spring
- Early summer
- End of summer
- Holiday season
This is because students move in and out for each semester of school. Granted, it does mean that you’ll find significantly more rental options during these times.
On the other hand, it also means much more competition – particularly for apartments.
In the end, you’ll have to decide what works best for you! I highly recommend that you weigh all of your options before blindly jumping in.
A word of caution, we recommend not moving during the middle of winter. It sucks!
Watch the Weather
Want to avoid any potential natural disasters on your moving adventures? Keep your moving schedule open, if you can.
By allowing yourself 3-4 days of flexibility, you’ll be stacking the odds in your favor significantly. No one wants to drive through a tornado on their way to a new home!
5. Expect the Unexpected Expenses
We’ve covered a lot of costs on moving, and we’ve hardly even scratched the surface. Make sure you consider all of the potential fees that’ll crop up.
As an example, many new home rentals don’t come with a few, or any, of these appliances:
- Washer / Dryer
While you may be able to live without some of them, even just one or two can add up to thousands of dollars in unexpected costs. Don’t get stuck just looking at big purchases either! Small costs can add up quickly in new homes.
Is your new home under an HoA? (Homeowners Association) You’re going to need a mower and hedger to keep that lawn lookin’ sharp. Garden hoses, snow shovels, and other miscellaneous items can get expensive!
If you’re moving out of state, you’ll have a few extra fees to consider as well. A new license and vehicle registration can easily add up to hundreds of dollars.
Moving is exciting – but it’s also expensive. That being said, the cost of moving shouldn’t scare you away. So long as you have a solid plan of action, a good budget, and a lot of coffee, you’ll be fine.
Keep these rules in mind for an (almost) stress free, fun experience moving into your new home!
- Know the cost
- Have a budget
- Be organized
- Know when to move
- Expect the unexpected expenses
Find this article helpful? Subscribe to our newsletter to never miss out on awesome finance tips!
Mika doing her best to help us move in to our new home.