Movin’ On Up While Keeping Costs Down

Pic by Jessica Furseth

Ugh, moving. My favorite thing about owning an apartment has been being able to stay put. Before we bought this place, Ben and I shifted around more frequently than we would have liked to: because a housemate kicked us out; because our building was sold and the new owner wanted to live in our apartment and presumably enjoy our newly planted tomatoes; and so on.

Moving can be exciting when you’re doing it because you’ve gotten a raise, or you’re headed to a new place for a new job and/or a new relationship, but often enough we have to change addresses because of external pressures like the rent is doubling, and that’s a drag. Especially in cities, where the costs of going from Apt 1 to Apt 2 can hit four figures, every money-saving hack can be critical.

This, from The Financial Diet, is a pretty good round-up of things you can do to save money on your move. Some of her suggestions, like “ask your parents to help you out with a specific item,” aren’t practicable for everyone, of course. But nearly all of us can, for example, condense our belongings: 

I threw out as much unnecessary stuff as possible, which was no easy feat since this was my first time cleaning out the house and bedroom I’ve lived in my whole life. I had saved all of my binders of notes from college (I paid a lot of money for the courses, so might as well!) and went paperless by scanning them onto a USB and transferring them onto my backup hard-drive. I also used up everything in my house, so I could reduce grocery shopping bills before I moved out.

To slim down my wardrobe I used the hanger method, and I went through every article of clothing aggressively asking myself if I REALLY needed it. I ended up with multiple bags of clothing that I donated to the St. Vincent DePaul bins at my church. After condensing all of my belongings, I was able to better assess what I had, so I could see what I still needed. This saved me money because if I had more stuff, I would have had to hire a moving van or ship additional boxes which is expensive.

Prepping to move, in other words, is a great time to try KonMarie!

At the same time, it helps to be shameless in terms of asking relatives and friends what they might be tired of and interested in giving away. Who knows, maybe your brother would be thrilled to off-load some unmatched pots and pans on you so he can finally buy that full set he has long had her eye on. Maybe your aunt would love to give you her old flatscreen so she can replace it with some futuristic model. You never know unless you ask.

And when stores give you the chance to pretend you’re related, take it:

I signed up for the IKEA Family loyalty program (do it, it’s free!) to save on my dressers that I knew I would be buying. Based on the size and layout of my bedroom I went with a 3-drawer and a 6-drawer Hemnes set. I spent the $79 on delivery to my new apartment because I wanted to get it done and over with. However, if I could do it over again, I would have just waited until my boyfriend came back from traveling for work and had him help me get them in the car and assembled. A lot of the other necessary spending was on cleaning supplies, silverware, bath mat, rugs, etc., I printed out manufacturer’s coupons from couponing mom sites (there are so many but I used couponsherpa.com), and I used Target Cartwheel too.

Here’s one additional hack that has worked for me: order free boxes from the US Postal Service.

moving boxes

The boxes available most likely aren’t big enough for everything you need to shlep; they’re sufficiently sturdy and well-sized for books and shoes and knickknacks, though.

For breakables and glasswear, see if liquor stores will you give their cast-off boxes. And see if your moving company, if you invest in one, offers reusable boxes or bins for rent. That can cut down on cost as well as waste.

Image from Jessica Furseth’s series, “House Hunters International: Billfold Edition.” 

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