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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Robertson

Time to Get Movin'

Nope, this is not a workout post, it's about packing up all your stuff and bringing it with you to your next home and doing that on a budget. Back when you were younger, you could probably load all your clothes into trash bags, toss them into your car and be on your way. But unless my kid is reading this, you're probably an adult with a job and you have more stuff than will fit in the back of your vehicle. That's a good thing!

When you plan to move, be smart about it. Regardless if you're moving for a job transfer, downsizing, changing to a better apartment, or moving into the home of your dreams, you can save money and make the process a little less painful. Here's how:

1. Plan Ahead

One of the biggest determiners of moving cost, assuming you're using a mover, is the time that you do it. We're dealing with basic economics here, folks. Demand is highest at the end/beginning of the month and on the weekends and that's when it costs the most to move. Plan your move for, say, the 10th or the 21st, ideally in the middle of the week. It will be cheaper but also more trucks, crews, and discounts will be available. Also, make a plan and write it down! You're less likely to forget something that's really important if you start getting your thoughts together well in advance. Then, as things occur to you, you can add to the plan. If you're moving with others, sit down with them and figure out your plan of attack and who's doing what. If you're moving as part of a job transfer, the very first thing on your list is to find out what services, if any, your company will cover.

2. See What You Can Do Yourself and What You Need Help With

Obviously you can save money handling a move yourself, or renting a truck and providing the physical labor. HOWEVER, there's a concept called value of time that should factor in. If you're going to move over the weekend, and your work week is brutal, at least price out what it would cost to hire a crew to come load your stuff. Keep in mind that you can hire people to come in and pack your stuff, load the truck, drive the truck, unload and then unpack it. That's the full package and will cost some money. But you can also hire a truck, find some teenagers who you can pay $50 for a few hours of labor, or college kids who might do it for beer and pizza. What I'm saying here is there are some different options out there, so don't kill yourself. Once all your stuff is in your new place, you'll still have work to do.

3. Stop and Clean Out First

If you've read some of my other articles, you won't be surprised that I'm going to recommend you not pack things up that you don't want in your new home. If you have a closet stuffed full of things you can't wear, it's a good time to make a donation pile and move it on. If you don't love it, if it doesn't work, if it doesn't fit, if you haven't touched it in five years, LET IT GO! Others can greatly benefit from the ten sweaters you've been letting live rent free at the top of your closet. I promise, it will make you feel better. And it will mean you need less boxes. And that you have less boxes to move. And that you have less boxes to unpack. It's a cycle of common sense, which I know you already know, I'm just holding the mirror up for you. You're welcome.

4. Get Free Moving Supplies

Hey, you know who has an in on free moving supplies? Your favorite did know I'm a Realtor, right? Of course you did (you should be nodding wildly now). We work with folks all the time who have just moved and would love to have someone come take those boxes off their hands. Another good source is your local liquor store. The ones around me tend to leave their boxes out on the sidewalk so you can just help yourself. And, of course, post it online that you're looking. People that are done with their boxes are often happy to let them go once they're done.

5. When Hiring a Moving Company, Get Multiple Bids and ask for References

I know what you're thinking. Come on, Rebecca, don't I have enough to do? Of course you do, but look at the big picture. How do you know you're getting a good deal if you don't compare? Moving companies want your business and are usually willing to discuss what services they offer can fit your budget. If you simply can't fathom the thought of a good old cross bid exercise, at the very least, check out your neighborhood message board, like NextDoor, and get recommendations from others that have used the companies you're considering.

6. Use Technology

I've already mentioned message boards to help out your move, but there are some great apps that can guide you through the process and help you avoid missing crucial steps. I recommend Updater (to walk you through the process), Wunderlist (to make your lists), and Sortly (to keep track of what you packed where), among others.

7. Think Outside the Box

Moving can be stressful, I'm pretty sure that's not news to anyone, but take a deep breath and think about other options if you get in a pinch. If the timing of your move is causing a problem, consider a POD or similar, where they bring a large storage unit to your driveway that you can load, and then they'll take it offsite and store it for you until you're ready. If you're worried about the movers handling Aunt Martha's clock that is your prized possession, consider handling it yourself, or working with a professional packer and shipping just that one item. If you can't think of how to solve the problem, ask a friend for a fresh perspective, or you can always ask me, my email is at the end of the post.

8. Moving PSAs

Let me just put two more little comments out there that have to do with moving, a little tough love, if you will, from a friend. First, after a certain age, I'll say once you're no longer in school, don't assume your friends want to help you move. It gets awkward, people. If you're driving a luxury car, you can afford a mover. Second, work with your partner on the process, especially on the getting moved in side of things. Ladies, you may assume your husband can install all four wall mounted TVs and hang that 300 pound mirror on the stair landing by himself. Gentlemen, you may assume your wife will have no issue unpacking and organizing the entire kitchen and then hosting Sunday lunch the next day. Offer to help, be reasonable on expectations, don't assume. Some good old fashioned communication will help avoid frustration.

Rebecca Robertson is a Houston native and Realtor who has moved a lot, particularly when she was a wee little college student. Like 10 times in 10 years. As a Realtor, she likes to make every part of the new home process as easy as possible. She'd love to hear from you with any questions or to start a move process of your own. Drop her a note at

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