Nothing is ever free. You need to pay for what you get – be it a product, a service, or an experience. What matters, however, is to pay as little as possible – not overspend because of a rash decision, simple mistake, or failure to research your options. You need to plan things so that you get the most for your money and don’t spend a dollar more than you absolutely have to.
This is especially relevant in the event of a house move – moving is quite expensive, so you’ll certainly want to do everything possible to cut down the moving costs and keep a little more money in your pocket. And while there’re some good tricks to help you achieve this, the best way to save money on your move is not to lose money on your move.
It isn’t as difficult as it may sound – some careful planning and proper preparation is all you need to accomplish this feat. Here is what to do in order to avoid losing money on your house move:
Book reliable movers
There is no surer way to lose money on a move than to hire bad movers – incompetent or dishonest ones:
1) Inexperienced movers won’t have the expert skills and professional know-how required to perform your relocation in a safe and efficient manner – they may not provide good enough protection to your belongings (so your items may get damaged during the transportation), may not have appropriate moving equipment (so your move may take longer and become riskier), may not be able to overcome unexpected difficulties (so your moving plans may be completely ruined), etc. In all these cases, you’ll end up losing money as you’ll have to pay for the replacement or repair of damaged goods, for longer working hours or unforeseen extra services, or for other additional expenses;
2) Rogue movers will come up with clever schemes and ploys to rip you off – they may disappear with your deposit money, steal your most expensive possessions, charge exorbitant fees for alleged extra services, or hold your items hostage until you pay a considerable ransom.
To avoid such nightmare moving scenarios, you’re strongly recommended to make a thorough research and find licensed, experienced, and trustworthy movers to work with:
- Ask for recommendations and read moving reviews to find good movers in your area;
- Verify the companies’ DOT numbers and check their business ratings and complaint histories;
- Get cost estimates for your move from three or four reputable movers – keep in mind that estimates given online or over the phone can never be accurate and request a visual survey of your belongings;
- Beware of low-ball estimates as they’re red flags of moving fraud;
- Interview the movers and discuss the details of your relocation with them;
- Compare the received offers (prices, included services, additional conditions, cancellation policies, insurance policies, etc.) and choose the best movers for you.
Schedule your move well in advance
When hiring movers at the last minute, there will be no room for negotiations and you’ll have to take whatever is available at whatever cost is requested – you may need to pay a lot of money for inconvenient pick-up and delivery dates, a larger moving truck than you need, inexperienced laborers, etc.
Therefore, you’re strongly advised to avoid last-minute arrangements. You’ll have no time for research, no choice, and no chance to think through your decisions – and rash decisions may cost you a lot in the long run. Book your move as early as possible instead (6-8 weeks prior to your move) – there will be a great choice of available moving dates and reputable movers and plenty of time to negotiate.
Do not overlook the details
You may end up paying a much bigger price for your move than initially estimated if you fail to take into account the small details:
- specialty items that need extra care, require greater effort, or need specialized packing materials;
- possible obstacles or special conditions at your old home and your new residence – lots of stairs, small doorways, long distance between the front door and the nearest available parking place for the moving truck, narrow streets or other obstacles that prevent the access of a large moving truck to either property, etc.;
- necessitated (or desired) extra services – crating, hoisting, disassembly of furniture, split pick-up or delivery, storage-in-transit, etc.
Any such hindrances and/or accessorial services will require extra time and effort and will incur extra costs, so you need to plan for them and do whatever you can to avoid the additional financial burden (pack your items yourself, reserve a convenient parking place for the moving van, reserve an elevator, etc.)
Move in off-peak season
Moving during the summer months, on weekends, or on national holidays may cost you up to 30% more than moving in a less busy period.
So, if you’re in a position to choose the time of your move, pick a weekday during off-peak season (from October to April). If you need to move in the summer, make sure you book the services of a reliable moving company at least 8 to 10 weeks in advance and try to schedule the move for a weekday in the middle of the month when moving services are not in such a high demand (so they’re more easily available and less expensive).
Have a moving budget
A moving budget may not help you save money on your relocation, but it will help you keep track of your expenses and avoid overspending on certain aspects of the move – you will have a good idea of how much money you’re going to need for every phase of the relocation process and will be able to determine what exactly you can afford in terms of housing options, moving services, and post-relocation expenses. But most importantly, your moving budget will allow you to keep your finances in check at all times and respond quickly and adequately if a moving task exceeds its financial limit.
All in all, a realistic and reliable moving budget will help you avoid expensive moving mistakes and find any possible ways to save on your moving costs.
Get rid of unneeded items
The final moving cost is based on the weight of your shipment, so the heavier the load, the more you’re going to pay. So, if you just pack all your earthly possessions and load them on the moving truck, you’ll spend a lot on the relocation of items that may turn out to be completely useless in your new environment.
To avoid losing money on moving things you no longer need or don’t really like, you’re advised to sort out your belongings before the move, declutter your home, and get rid of anything too outdated, worn out, or damaged to be used ever again; anything that won’t fit through the doors or into the available space in your new house or apartment; and anything that doesn’t match your personal taste or your new home décor. Sell, donate, give away, or throw out your unwanted items to avoid spending more money than necessary on your move.
Get free packing materials
You may need to buy some quality packing materials (specialized moving boxes, bubble wrap, foam padding, etc.) to ensure the safety of your more valuable items, but you can save a few hundred dollars if you manage to get free packing supplies for your less delicate belongings:
- reach out to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues and ask them if they have any old moving boxes, pieces of bubble wrap, or other packing materials they no longer need and can give you for free;
- search for free packing supplies on Freecycle, Craigslist, and other similar sites where people offer their unneeded items for free;
- go to local retail stores and ask for empty cardboard boxes or other packing materials (those businesses need to dispose of the packing supplies their shipments of goods are delivered in, so they will be happy to give them away for free);
- use your own household items as packing materials – old clothes, blankets, sheets, and towels can serve as wrapping materials; buckets and baskets, bags and suitcases, bins and crates all make perfect moving containers; newspapers can replace packing paper (as long as it doesn’t come in contact with delicate surfaces that can be stained by the ink), etc.
Pack your items safely and efficiently
If you fail to provide your belongings with efficient protection, they may get damaged during the move and you’ll have to spend extra money for their replacement or repair. Besides, if you don’t manage to pack everything in time, run out of adequate packing materials, or don’t pack your items well enough, you’ll have to pay your movers to pack or repacking your things.
Get full value protection
If any of your belongings get lost or damaged while in the movers’ custody, you’ll receive only 60 cents per pound per item under the released value protection you get for free when signing a moving contract. A full value protection will cost you a little extra, but the movers will be liable for the full cost of repairs or the replacement value of your ruined belongings.
Keep all the receipts for moving-related expenses
You may be able to deduct some of your expenses from your tax return as long as you have the relevant receipts.
Bonus tip: Do not miss the deadlines for updating your documents after the move or wait until the last minute to transfer utilities – this will incur extra fees.
Good to remember: A DIY move may be your biggest financial mistake when moving house. Click here to learn more about the risks and forgotten expenses when moving by yourself.