One search for moving tips and you will quickly find your head filled with horror stories – time-consuming, budget-breaking, broken heirlooms, favorite items forever lost, etc. There wasn’t a shortage of dramas in my inquiry, but most focused around moving cross country or internationally — I was only moving four miles across town. While I had moved around town in college, I had very little to my name and was able to shuffle my belongings in one or two car trips. Now that I’m living my full-fledged adult life, complete with a spouse and furry friends, I struggled to find estimates and advice for moving a household across town.
Here’s how I kept my moving expenses under $300 total:
$75 – U-Haul Rental
Renting the U-Haul was by far the best money we spent during the move. It cut down our trips across town from probably over 20 to two. I found the dealer with the best reviews in town and went for the 17’ truck. When booking, you may have to adjust the times around a couple of hours here and there to ensure the equipment is guaranteed to be there for your reservation. I booked the truck for 22 hours and ended up returning it after 12. The truck rental itself was $30 and $7 for the dolly (used to move the washer and dryer). I paid $14 for insurance coverage — I think you could get by without this, but we had room in the budget and it was worth the peace of mind throughout the day. We paid $0.99 per mile driven and had to bring the truck back refueled. Our gas was $16. All in all, including miscellaneous fees and taxes, we spent $75.
$59 – Plastic Storage Totes
Plastic storage bins are a staple in my home; I use them on shelves and in drawers to keep anything and everything organized. Including but not limited to: socks, sweaters (folded Marie Kondo style), stationery, electronics, cleaning supplies. Totes make it super easy to wipe down, snap on the lid, and pack into the truck. I purchased a few more at Target to help with the move. I don’t consider them a waste of money because I’ll use them in the new home, as opposed to cardboard boxes. You can even use them similarly to standard moving boxes. For example, I packed my shoes up in one, unpacked them into my new closet, and brought back the bin for the second trip. No tape required!
$100 – Internet Deposit
Switching internet service out of my name and into my husband’s saves us $30/month for the exact same speeds. Since this requires “canceling” the service in my name and starting a “new” service in his name, this provider requires a hard credit check(!) or $100 deposit (returned at the end of the yearlong contract, so don’t hold your breath). I was not able to afford to deposit when I signed up at our first place, so I had to take the hard pull. I made sure to budget for this so it wouldn’t happen again.
$60 – Wall Cabinet
We moved from a bathroom with an oversized vanity and small linen closet to a pedestal sink and tiny medicine cabinet. I scrounged the internet for small bathroom storage ideas, and for a while even tried keeping necessities in another room and bringing them in with us every morning and evening (via the small plastic totes!). The convenience of in-room storage was worth the cost, and we purchased a $60 wall cabinet on sale at IKEA. While this isn’t a true moving cost, it’s important to consider storage and space differences between homes.
$0 – Things We Didn’t Spend Money On
Cardboard moving boxes; we moved to the area two years ago and saved any boxes still in good shape. We kept them out of the way in our under-staircase storage. I often see posts offering free moving supplies on neighborhood social media sites, so keep your eye out if you know you’ll need them soon!
We were lucky enough to have a few family members and friends help us on moving day. We made sure to get as much packed as possible beforehand, so their time was spent on what we needed help with the most — mainly moving furniture and large items. Their love, support, and positive attitudes were priceless, and saved us tons of time and potential injury by having extra hands.
Grand total: $294
Moving is stressful, but knowing your budget and game plan helps the day run smoother. Consider expenses unique to your situation, paying for parking, if you have to take a day unpaid off work, getting spare keys made, utility deposits. Make sure to scrub down the place you’re leaving (in my experience, easiest to do last once everything has been moved out) to ensure you’re getting back that precious security deposit. Crank up your favorite playlist and don’t forget to take breaks. Most importantly, enjoy your new home!
Lauren is a twenty-something engineer living in the Midwest. She loves thrifting, yoga, self-help, and science.
Image via Unsplash