11 Ways to Move on a Budget

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
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Edited By Sarah Cimarusti
August 30, 2022
8 min read

At a glance

Rising inflation rates have made it essential to find ways to move on a budget. The cheapest moving truck companies are a good place to start. They can save you thousands of dollars compared to full-service movers. But that’s not the only way to save money. We’ve put together a list of 11 moving tips that can trim your moving expenses. For example, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of creating a moving budget, comparing moving costs, and finding low-cost packing materials.


How to minimize moving costs

Heads Up
Heads up

These tips are designed to help you move for the least amount of money. Be aware that cutting costs when it matters most can make your move more expensive if your moving company isn’t up to par.


1. Create a moving budget

The first step to moving on a budget is creating a moving budget. It’s one thing to say you need to save money. It’s another to know how much money you have. So spend a few minutes and see how much dough you have to work with.

Then, you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to pay for various moving expenses:


2. Compare moving costs

Collect several moving quotes before choosing a moving company. It’s a competitive industry. So, if your first moving estimate feels too high, ask around. Chances are the next company will give you a deal. It’s common for customers to save hundreds of dollars simply by making three or four phone calls instead of one. In extreme cases, the savings skyrocket to thousands of dollars.

If you want to skip a couple of steps, we’ve also done extensive research to identify the nation’s most affordable moving companies:

Least expensive moving companies by move type

Company
Move type
Pricing
Learn more
Truck rental$
Car shipper$$
Moving container$$$
Professional mover$$$$

3. Use a moving truck

The most affordable way to move is typically to rent a moving truck. There are exceptions. For example, long-distance moving is often less expensive with moving containers. But in general, your cheapest moving option is a rental truck. Depending on your home size and trip distance, renting a moving truck will likely save you anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

You can trim costs even further by choosing a rental company known for low prices. Our research narrows the list down to three national brands:

  1. Penske Truck Rental. Penske has the best prices for long-distance moves. It also has five truck sizes and offers discounts for additional savings.
  2. Budget Truck Rental. Budget is the most affordable moving company for local moves. It has four truck sizes and provides several discounts for qualifying groups.
  3. U-Haul. U-haul is an all-around inexpensive company. It has seven truck sizes but doesn’t offer discounts. Unfortunately, it’s also infamous for hidden fees and poor customer service, so we typically recommend it only if you’re super low on funds.

4. Try a moving container

Moving containers are a hybrid between hiring full-service movers and doing it yourself. They’re also one of the least-expensive moving options if you’re in the market for a long-distance move.

The process usually follows a few basic steps:

  • Pick a moving container company. Call some of the best moving container companies. Compare prices and pick the one you like most.
  • Schedule container delivery. Pick a date for the company to deliver your moving container. It will drop off the container in your driveway or the street in front of your home.
  • Load it up. You’re responsible for filling up the container (that’s why it’s so affordable). However, companies like PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT can hook you up with hourly workers for an extra fee if the task becomes too difficult.
  • Wave goodbye. Alert the company when you finish loading the container. It will pick up your belongings and transport them to your new apartment or new home.
  • Unload your belongings. The moving container company will schedule a delivery date at your new place. Budget some time to unload the container and call the company to pick up the empty container. Then, you’re done!
Play Video

Learn the basics of placing a moving container reservation in this 60-second tutorial.


5. Find a reputable moving company

The scary thing about hiring a moving company is that the least expensive ones are often the worst choices. That’s why it's vital to pick a reputable business. Plenty of companies are willing to take your money. But alarmingly, many don’t deliver on their promises. Sometimes, they don’t even return your belongings. Many customers have experienced this along with other moving scams.

So, how do you tell the good companies from the bad ones? Candidly, it’s a full-time job. That’s why we have a staff that spends its time researching moving companies. But we’ve come up with a few simple tips you can do on your own:

  • Read customer reviews. It doesn’t matter what you read online. You always want to see what other customers have to say. Watch out for red flags like complaints about damaged items, raised prices, or late deliveries.
  • Pick an established brand. Moving companies come and go almost as fast as gas prices change. So save yourself the headache, and don’t gamble on brand new companies. Our lists of the best long-distance movers, top container companies, industry-leading truck rental companies, and highest-rated car shippers can point you in the direction of companies that have been around the block.
  • Avoid deals that seem too good. If your moving quote looks too good to be true, it is. Full stop. We penalize companies in our reviews if they offer quotes far below the market rate. It’s a huge red flag.

6. Hire hourly moving services

Sometimes, you can cut costs by hiring hourly workers instead of relying on the moving company. Moving labor companies typically have low prices, wide availability, and positive customer reviews.

Just be aware that most of these companies use unlicensed and uninsured workers. They’re usually independent contractors who work on the cheap—and may leave you high and dry if they arrive late or don’t follow through on their promises.

Exclamation
Check out HireAHelper

HireAHelper is our pick for the best moving labor company. It’s pricey, but HireAHelper uses professional contractors and is available in over 1,000 cities.


7. Use a professional mover with customizable services

There’s a way to get the convenience of a professional mover with the lower costs associated with moving containers. It’s a simple trick: find a moving company that lets you pick and choose your moving services.

For example, most professional movers will charge you for packing services whether you need them or not. It’s often the same with storage needs. Why pay for something if you don’t need it?

The challenge is finding a reputable company that has a la carte services. The good news is that they’re out there. Even better? We’ve found the best one.

North American Van Lines is our pick for the best professional moving company with customizable services. You don’t pay for packing services, moving supplies, or furniture assembly unless you need it. The company also has a 90-year history and provides 24/7 customer service.

Want a professional mover that lets you choose your moving services?


8. Find free moving supplies

The cost of packing materials and moving supplies adds up quickly. But you don’t need to pay market rate. In some cases (like free cardboard boxes), you don’t need to pay at all. We’ve put together a list of resources that can help you track down free and low-cost necessities:

Light Bulb
Moving tip: Make companies compete for your business

Companies like PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT are known for beating each other’s quotes. Pit them against each other to lower your overall moving expenses.


9. Ask for moving discounts

Nearly every company we’ve researched offers discounts. Sometimes you must go out of your way and ask for them. But knowing that you need to ask is half the battle.

Our list of moving deals and discounts shows that popular price cuts often target several groups:

  • First responders
  • First-time buyers
  • Online buyers
  • Out-of-season reservations
  • Seniors
  • Students and teachers

So, ask for a discount if you fit into one of those groups.

And if you don’t? Ask anyway. Odds are the company will lower the price if it means getting your business.

Info Box
Consider all the ways to pay for your move

Between hiring movers and finding packing supplies, moving adds up. In How to Pay for Your Move, we talk about ways you can pay for your move like saving and paying with cash, taking out a personal loan, or paying with a credit card.


10. Get affordable TV and internet

There are more ways to save money on moving than picking the right movers, tracking down free boxes, and comparing quotes. You can also trim costs when you settle down in your new place. For example, there are ways to save on internet like buying your own modem and router or shopping around and comparing prices. You can also save on streaming at your new home.

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What are my options?

Compare prices and features in our lists of the best internet companies and best TV streaming services.


11. Use a moving checklist

Lastly, a moving checklist can save you money throughout your move. For example, most people think of moving as the actual “moving” process (like loading a truck). But the truth is that your work begins long before moving day. Our printable moving checklist walks you through 70 steps that start two months before you move and end two weeks after you settle in.

For example, we’ll show you how to add up savings by doing valuable moving tasks:

The list goes on and on (and on). By the time you finish, you’ll have made a dent in your moving budget.


Recap

Moving expenses add up quickly—but so do potential savings. Trim your costs by paying only for services you need, using companies with good reputations, or selecting the move type that fits your financial situation. Then, add to your savings by tracking down free moving supplies, using a moving checklist, or hiring one of the cheapest moving truck companies. By the time you sit down to relax in your new place, you’ll have banked hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars in savings.


Cheapest way to move FAQ

How much does a ReloCube cost?

The average cost to move with U-Pack ReloCubes is approximately $4,500. However, you can get the job done for as little as $1,270 if you have a small apartment and your new home is only 100 miles away.

Do gas prices impact moving costs?

Gas prices have resulted in higher moving costs. As a result, many people seek to minimize the costs of a long-distance move by using moving containers (instead of rental trucks or professional movers).

How do you move your stuff from one city to another?

You can move your stuff from one city to another using professional movers, moving containers, or rental trucks. You’ll usually get the lowest rates with a moving truck company like Budget Truck Rental.

What size moving container do you need?

The ideal moving container size depends on how many belongings you have and which company you use. For example, many customers can move a three-bedroom home anywhere in the United States using one 16-foot PODS container.

How do you move without a moving company?

The best way to move without a moving company is to load as many belongings as possible into your vehicle. However, truck rentals are often nearly as affordable as trying to do it alone.


Kurt Manwaring
Written by
Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He brings a BS in sociology and an MPA (masters of public administration) to the Move team. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.