There is a moment during every big move where it hits you: Oh, that’s right… moving is really freaking expensive. You can forget how much all the expenses pile up, from packing supplies and the truck itself to the costs related to cleaning, painting, and utility deposits — and even new furniture to better fit your new space. There are ways to make it less costly, though, as long as you’re strategic about it.
Have a rummage sale before you move
A move is a great time to start fresh in a number of ways. You’re about to be in a brand-new space, so consider if you really want to fill it with all your old junk (no shade to your junk; I’m sure it’s great junk). Freeing yourself of a few earthly possessions now will help your new place at least start off clutter free, can reduce costs associated with transportation, and gives you extra cash to put back into move expenses.
You can host a rummage sale and advertise with some neighbourhood flyers the old-fashioned way, head to eBay to post an ad, or use newer platforms like Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, and OfferUp to attract potential buyers.
If no one bites, you can check your city’s pickup schedule and, depending on what you find, leave some items out on the curb as freebies. This could not only save you money on transportation of all your goods, but could be helpful to another mover in your area, incurring you a little good karma.
Speaking of which…
If you live in a big city, you’re familiar with the classic practice of picking up free furniture from the sides of the street. If you live in New York and spend time on Instagram, you’re also probably familiar with the account that makes doing that even easier.
@StoopingNYC has 185,000 followers who dutifully snap pics of discarded furniture throughout the five boroughs and DM it to the account owners, along with location details. The owners, in turn, post the photos and relevant information on the account’s Story as well as on the grid, encouraging New Yorkers to have at it.
“Stooping is the act of hunting down discarded street freebies that has the added benefit of being both an activity you can do outdoors and one that ultimately enriches the space where you’re most likely spending all of your time: your apartment or house!” the couple behind @StoopingNYC told me.
It enriches the space while also enriching your pockets since you’re not paying for the coffee table, mirror, dresser, or couch in question. (And those are just a small selection of what @StoopingNYC features on any given day!) If, instead, you don’t live in a big city where stooping is regularly practiced, snag some stuff on the cheap by mapping out next weekend’s best local yard sales or head to all the online marketplaces where you’re actively ditching your old stuff to make room for the new (to you) stuff your new place will need. (Craigslist also has a “free” section where people frequently give away items.)
One word of caution in either case: Make sure you clean the products well and proceed with caution when picking out anything made with fabric, like couches or armchairs. You know what’s not inexpensive? Exterminators, that’s what.
Decide whether to hire movers (or whether to beg your buddies)
Movers are great, especially if you have particularly valuable items, a lot of furniture, or a big journey ahead of you. There are other ways to transport your items, however.
Don’t ruin your relationships or anything, but consider enlisting some pals for the big move. Promise a little pizza and beer or straight-up cash if your friends will help you haul your stuff. They care about you and probably charge less than real movers — but you should also keep in mind that you might also get what you pay for here.
“Honestly, if you can afford movers, get movers,” said Shannon Palus, a Brooklyn-based writer and editor who has moved more than a dozen times in her life and managed her most recent move for less than $80. “It is really, really nice to have people move your things. I think if you are going the U-Haul-and-friends route, hire someone from a service like AirTasker to help with the heavier stuff. I think any money you can spend on moving, you should. They say that you’re supposed to spend money on experiences to be happy, right? Spending your day doing something other than lifting boxes is the ultimate good experience.”
There are ways to compromise here, though. You can hire movers for the big, expensive stuff and hoof it with your friends for the small, cheap stuff. Palus pointed out, too, that her most recent move cost less than $80 because she used ride-sharing apps to hail cars and only had small items to move. (“Don’t own too much stuff!” she said. “I do recommend that.”)
“Be communicative about it, allow [the driver] to decline, and tip really well,” she said. “I also don’t move everything via Lyft; I do some trips on the subway.
Finally, keep in mind that movers are human, too, and could break your valuables. It happens all the time — and it costs you money for replacements unless the moving company has a coverage policy. Some items’ value is more sentimental than monetary, though, so consider all the outcomes when deciding who, exactly, is about to handle your stuff.
Get creative with how you pack
Instead of buying bubble wrap for your vases and plates, use your thick winter clothes to swaddle them. Instead of buying boxes to haul items, ask local businesses if you can take some from the stash they were planning to recycle — or save the boxes from your own online shopping deliveries for a couple of months leading up to a move. If you have a storage ottoman, suitcases, a solid handbag collection, or any household items that can hold other household items, you know what to do.
While you’re busy thinking outside the box, extend yourself. Ask moving companies if there are any discounts or flat-rate moves available. Don’t be afraid to be rejected; it’s better to ask and get a “no” than not ask when you might have gotten a “yes.”
Stay calm, try to be organised, don’t pack away anything you might immediately need — and will then have to spend money replacing — and remember that when this is all over, you’ll have a glorious new home.