Not too long ago I posted a blog entry about saving money while looking for an apartment in a big city. Little did I know that just a few months later, I’d need to follow my own advice as I plan a move out to San Francisco. My long unanswered desire to explore the West Coast coupled with my boyfriend’s love of start-up companies means we are packing up what we can, selling the rest, and heading off. As I get ready to embark on a cross-country move with the added stress of not yet having a job, I’ve come across some interesting ways to save money. So if you happen to be doing the same, whether it be across the country or simply to a new neighborhood, here are some tips I’ve picked up a long the way.
Shipping versus U-Haul
When most people move, the first thing they think of is renting a U-Haul. However, using the United States Postal Service could actually be a much cheaper and easier way to move your things! This is especially true if you are making a long distance move. Currently we are packing medium and large moving boxes that cost only about one dollar per pound to ship. The way to keep the price this low is to use parcel post which allows for slower shipping. Want to get an even better price on some items? Ship all your books and DVDs by media mail. The only thing that might cost more are electronics which should be shipped through express mail which allows for better handling. Shipping in general works very well for a long distance move because not only is it inexpensive, it saves the hassle of driving a U-Haul truck or trailer. Driving a 4×8 trailer costs around $500 and a 10’ truck about $2800. As if the price weren’t bad enough, it will also slow down your trip since safety regulations tell you not to drive over 55mph.
If you’re moving in the same city, U-Haul still could be the best option for you. Although the USPS is very inexpensive when used right, you still have to take your packages to a post office to send them off. At that point, renting a U-Haul for one day at only $19.99 would probably make more sense (or if you’re a totally inept driver like me, just lug the boxes into a taxi or borrow a friend who has a truck).
Don’t blow cash on bubbles and boxes
Packing materials can cost a ton of cash and can make moving an expensive ordeal. For this move, I made the rounds to the local grocery stores to see if they had any produce boxes that they could spare and got all the boxes I needed. You could also try visiting your local recycling center to see if they have any boxes for you to use. If you have fragile items that need to be packed, instead of using expensive bubble wrap or packing peanuts, I recommend using old magazines/news papers and towels/linens to wrap them.
Sell Sell Sell
What is truly the best/most efficient way to save money on a U-Haul or shipping? Have less stuff! Thanks to Craigslist, selling anything has gotten easier. So if there’s anything you don’t need, wouldn’t mind upgrading, or simply can’t take, then take a picture and post it on Craigslist. To avoid scams, my boyfriend set up a completely independent email account which he’ll take down once the move is finished. You could also have a yard sale or list items ebay to get rid of items you don’t want to take with you to your new residence.
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Selling your things is also a great way to make money for your move. Again, anything you can sell means less to ship and extra money in your pocket. My boyfriend and I plan to sell all of our furniture and rent a short term furnished apartment when we arrive in CA. That way we make some extra money for now, avoid signing a long term lease for an apartment that may prove to be less than ideal, and then get to buy new furniture for our first long term apartment.
Have a grab party to give away or donate your things
Still have stuff you can’t sell but don’t want to take with you? Have a party! We’re having a going away party at our apartment and will give away whatever is not nailed down as door prizes for our friends.
A friend of mine recently had a clothing swap. She invited a few girls over on a Saturday afternoon for some snacks and mimosas and they all brought clothes they no longer wanted. After everyone took what they wanted the leftovers were donated to charity. Sure, doing this won’t put money in your pocket directly but it could allow you to get rid of unwanted items and even get a tax deduction – not to mention you feel good for helping others!
I hope you find these tips useful in helping you move cheaply. Do you have any tips or ways to avoid headaches while planning a move based on your own personal experiences? How about some funny stories or anecdotes we could learn from? Please share them with us, we’d love to hear from you!
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Image credit: mbtrama