Very few people genuinely enjoy the process of moving. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, and usually these pieces have to be coordinated with the rest of your daily life.
And, whether you’re moving across town or across the globe, moving can be expensive. While we can’t help you move your couch, we do have some advice for moving on a budget:
Movers. Sometimes a move requires calling in the big guns. When you need to hire movers, one of the most important things you can do is research. Make sure you understand what is and is not included in a company’s rates, and try to find the company that best matches your needs. Online reviews, the next step in checking up on a moving company, are sometimes best taken with a grain of salt, but if you see a consistent pattern of people saying the same thing is probably fairly reliable. You can also ask for recommendations from friends and coworkers who have moved recently.
Once you have it narrowed down to the company you want, you can ask for an estimate. Real Simple has additional steps for getting the most accurate quote and finding the best possible deal, but be prepared as it is a bit of a time investment. (According to this post, moving rates are usually cheapest during the winter months).
Depending on your moving situation, you can also ask a few friends to help you out with the move. Just remember, if you choose to go this route, to offer them food, beers, or something in return for their help… and be ready to do the heavy lifting (quite literally) yourself.
Clean Out. If you’ve been accumulating things during your time at your previous residence, moving can be a great opportunity to clean out.
Donate items to friends or family or a local organization that will accept whatever items you have. If you have items that you’d like to make some money from, you can post them for sale (usually there are local Barter and Sell Facebook Groups or Craigslist), which can then offset some of your other moving costs. Ultimately, you’ll save money by only moving the things you actually want to keep. Zealous Good is a website that connects your extra goods (clothes, furniture, etc) with Chicago charities that are looking for donations. The various Salvation Army resources in the city are listed here, along with contact information, locations, and services they provide. Donation Town Chicago is similar to Zealous Good, but focuses on the businesses that will come pick up donations from your home.
Packing. Before you go out and buy moving boxes, check to see if you can get some cheap/for free first (this article from Apartment Therapy has a few ideas for where to look). Sure, you can hire movers to pack for you, but by doing it yourself you can avoid incurring extra costs and save yourself some time later, since you’ll (hopefully) know where everything is when the time comes to unpack.
Another money saving tip when it comes to packing- wrap your breakable/fragile items in towels and washcloths. Not only are these a little sturdier than packing peanuts and newspaper, but you’ll save some room by not using a whole extra box for the towels, too. While packing can be a pain with the amount of time it takes, keep in mind that the more thoughtful you are now, the less time you’ll spend trying to find things/replacing broken items in the future.
Shipping or Renting a Moving Van. If you’re moving a fair distance away, you may have to ship some of your belongings. This can be done by packing things into a shipping container and mailing them to your new address, hiring a moving van to drive your things for you, or some sort of combination. Each of these comes with their own risks/benefits (hiring someone to drive costs more, but is less work for you, while driving yourself is cheaper, but can be risky if you’ve never driven a moving truck before). For more options and details you can visit the advice on Cheap Moving Tips.
Cleaning Services. The best way to avoid the costs of hiring a cleaning service after you move out is to DIY. However, this may not be possible due to time constraints, and if you have a security deposit to reclaim or have made an arrangement with the person purchasing your home, getting your space cleaned up become non-negotiable. Similar to the movers, research cleaning services before you hire. Some companies will take out your trash, for example, and others don’t, so be mindful of what you really need done and make sure the company you choose is on board.
Get Your Deposit Back (if applicable). If you were renting and paid a security deposit, getting that deposit back can make a big difference when it comes to offsetting the cost of moving. Remember to look closely at the conditions of your lease for details about the security deposit, and make sure you leave the apartment in good condition. If you live in a building with 5 or more apartments, your landlord has to give a list of itemized deductions from your deposit (if applicable) within 30 days of you moving out (i.e. if it needed a new carpet because you had stained the other one, etc) and a refund of the security deposit within 45 days. More information here.
Moving might be a pain but it doesn’t have to break the bank. And if you’re moving to a more affordable space or otherwise relocating for financial reasons (better commute, side rental income, etc.), the hassle now will be worth it in the end.