Planning a move? The price tag can be as hefty as that gargantuan leather sofa the movers have to muscle onto the truck.
A professional move can cost from under $1,000 to $15,000 or more, the Moving.com moving cost calculator shows. The total price tag depends on how the moving company charges, how much stuff you have and how far you’re going.
But you can take simple steps to keep more of your money. Here are three key ways to save on any type of move, from DIY to full-service.
1. Downsize to save dollars.
Whether you’re moving yourself in a rented truck, paying local movers by the hour or hiring a moving company that charges by weight, shedding excess stuff can trim your moving bill.
Donate, sell or toss anything you don’t love, need or use, said Ann Bass, president and owner of A Lighter Move, which provides moving consulting services. Pay special attention to bulky, heavy stuff. Here are four types of items you should consider unloading before your move:
- Books and magazines. Books are heavy, and a whole collection can be pricy to move, Bass said. “The litmus test is, are you really going to read it again?” she said.
- Food in your pantry. There’s no reason to pay movers to pack and lug 80-cent cans of tomatoes or $1 boxes of pasta across the country. “Eat it or give it away,” Bass said.
- Old appliances. Appliances are big, heavy and cost a lot to move, so it doesn’t make sense to take one that’s near the end of its expected lifespan, Bass said. For example, a washing machine lasts about 10 years and a dryer about 13, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
- Outdated, broken or worn furniture. Costs vary widely, but movers typically charge about 50 cents a pound for moves over 500 miles, according to U-Save Moving and Storage, a Michigan moving company. So, ask yourself whether it’s worth paying $125 to move that 350-pound floral sleeper sofa you got from Grandma. And if you love a piece of furniture enough to move it, protect it by renting furniture pads instead of using old blankets, said Joshua Barnes, vice president of relocation at Simple Moving Labor, which provides crews to help with moves. “Spending a little more now will save you money in the long run,” he said.
2. Comparison shop.
Shopping around for the best price can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. Look for the best price on everything from boxes and packing tape to truck rental, Barnes said.If you’re doing a DIY move, you might be able to find discounts or specials on truck rental. For example, Penske offers 20 percent discounts to AAA members who reserve a truck online and also offers price breaks to college students and military members.
Getting several quotes and looking for specials also can save you a lot on a full-service move, said Michael Keaton, a spokesman for the American Moving & Storage Association, which recommends getting at least three in-home quotes.
In fact, you might be able to save as much as 50 percent, said Adam Doron, CEO of Unpakt, a company that offers online quotes from licensed, insured movers. Some moving companies have great pricing for small jobs and local moves while others are more competitive for big moves, Doron said.
“There’s not one best mover for all needs,” he said.
3. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Local moves usually charge by the hour, so saving time will save money, Barnes said. Two of the best time savers:
- If you live in an apartment, reserve elevator access for moving day.
- Save a parking spot for the moving truck in front of your building or house.
Even if you’re making a full-service, long-distance move, you can save big by doing all or some packing. But consider letting the pros pack fragile items like your wedding china, said Leonard Ledford, Houston owner of WG Storage & Delivery, a full-service relocation and delivery company.
Check Moving.com’s moving cost calculator to see how much you might save. For example, a family moving a three-bedroom house from New York City, NY, to Los Angeles, CA, could save $1,000 to $2,000 by doing some or all of the packing.
And if you do have to move during the summer, try to schedule your move for the middle of the month and the middle of the week, Keaton said.
“Most people try to move on weekends, and that can drive the cost up,” he said.