Think cheap moving involve bribery with pizza and beer? You’re not alone. Amy Stafford used this formula for several apartment moves off-campus during college and early in her working career. Only when Amy’s inexpensive “freelance” movers “accidentally” kept several boxes of her stuff — and disappeared — did Amy realize she didn’t know the first thing about moving safely on the cheap.
We’ve talked with experts to find out the best tips for moving safely — and cheaply. If only Amy had known.
Cheap Moving: Plan Ahead
A last-minute move will cost you in more ways than one. Start your planning as early as possible to reduce costs and headaches. With advance notice, you’ll have a better chance of enlisting the free-to-cheap assistance of family and friends, as well as time to source free moving items (such as boxes) from your local store. Planning your move in advance also gives you time to sell unnecessary items. Selling items can raise additional funds to cover moving costs.
Reduce, Reduce, Reduce
Before any move, carefully evaluate all of your possessions to determine which items must go with you and which items can be put in storage, sold or, even better, donated to others. This task may seem monumental until you consider the fiscal benefits of reducing the items that you’re moving. Keep in mind that fewer items means less to box (saving you time), less to transport (saving you fuel), and less to manage (saving your sanity). Donate excess items to civic or charitable organizations, or friends and family. Don’t fill the landfill with usable items.
Move Yourself or Pay Wisely
The cheapest way to move anywhere is to move yourself. Hands down it is the most cost-effective if you aren’t moving large furniture. Moving yourself is not less expensive if you’ll spend more time than necessary carting things up and down stairs (especially if you’ll miss work to do it). If you value your time, hire help.
Hiring movers or Man With a Van-type hired brawn can be cost effective. While friends and family might accept beer and pizza as payment, most movers — even independent ones — will request cold, hard cash. But get recommendations to avoid movers who help themselves to your possessions with a five-finger discount. Determine costs up-front, but pay after your items are moved. Tip generously.
Moving and Storage
Self-moving, or ‘container moving’ is a growing trend. You rent a container (pod) and fill it yourself or hire labor to fill it. A company then moves the container for you. You can unload it yourself or hire help on the other end. A container move can happen locally or interstate. Using a pod or container can save between 30 to 40 percent compared to the cost of traditional moving vans and movers. It may also be the best of both worlds when it comes to economy versus hired movers.
Rent the Smallest Moving Van
Aren’t ready to use a container? Reserve the smallest moving van early because the smaller, and cheaper, moving vans tend to be booked first. If you are unsure about the size you’ll need, estimate it by the number of rooms (kitchen, living room, bedrooms) of stuff that you’ll be moving. Moving companies have size estimates that are quite helpful.
If you need help moving, another way to reduce costs is to trade skills or services. If you have a friend or family member willing to help you move, you can trade your professional know-how or other skill in return. Write up a simple agreement that outlines what you’ll offer in exchange for moving help. Be sure to include the time frame for delivery and what constitutes a finished project — to ensure that both parties are happy with the arrangement and consider it a fair trade. You may find that the skills you use every day might also help you pay for your move.
When it comes to moving on the cheap, weigh your options carefully. A complete do-it-yourself move can save money but cost valuable time. Movers can be extremely helpful, or, as Amy discovered the hard way, thieves in disguise. If you hire movers, pay for professionals and get references. Consider “container moving” as a method that gives you the best budget-friendly options while also using the services of professionals.
By Katie McCaskey, AOL Real Estate