5 Ways to Move on a Budget

Christa Baxter
Researcher & Writer
Read More
April 21, 2016
3 min read

When you’re moving on a budget and moving day is a few short months or weeks away, there isn’t much time to save extra money. After taking care of closing costs and furniture purchases for the new home, you’re likely working with a tight budget. The cost of a move doesn’t have to put more strain on your finances if you take advantage of free resources and use the right approach. With a little planning, there are several ways to pare down moving costs and look forward to a smooth transition to the new place.

Here are five ways you can move frugally:

5 ways to move frugally

Get your boxes for free

Fresh cardboard moving boxes from your local home improvement store will run you anywhere from $1 to $3 per box, depending on size. When you’re moving an entire apartment or house, you may need upward of 30 to 40 boxes which means you would be spending $100+ just for cardboard.

Skip that cost completely and pick up boxes for free from your neighborhood grocery store, liquor stores, or even a bookstore. Ask a manager if they have any extra boxes available and coordinate a pickup time. Another option is to check out the U-Haul Box Exchange online. You can search for free boxes by location via U-Haul Customer Connect, an online message board set up for customers who want to share or exchange boxes and moving supplies.

Get professional moving help without using professional movers

If you have a lot of organizing and packing to do—and little time to do it —get professional moving help without paying the high fees to hire a moving company. Make use of resources like TaskRabbit where you can connect with a qualified Tasker to provide general moving help, assist with packing and organizing tasks, or take care of heavy lifting duties as you load the truck.

Another option is to check Craigslist for a handyman or people available to help out with a move. Many charge lower rates than professional movers and can help with general moving tasks on short notice.

Only take what you need

“Taking only what you need is a simple way to lighten your load for the new place—and save on the cost of moving.”

Moving is the perfect excuse to throw out the old as you make way for the new. Make your move the reason to part with personal items, clothing, collectibles, knick-knacks, and other items you no longer use or need.

Just say no to bringing clutter-filled drawers, old books and magazines, outdated electronics, and other items that are collecting dust or haven’t made their way out of storage for several years. Do your part for the planet, your community, and yourself by recycling electronics and donating gently used items to a local charity or thrift store. If you have the time, sell some of your belongings to make a few extra bucks. There are apps like letgo that can help you sell gently used items.

Taking only what you need is a simple way to lighten your load for the new place—and save on the cost of moving boxes and services in the process.

Get your security deposit back

If your landlord is still holding on to the security deposit you paid when you first moved in, take extra steps to ensure you get all or some of it back. Review your lease agreement closely to check off all the things that need to be done in order to get your deposit back in full—cleaning the apartment or home thoroughly, fixing small cracks, taking care of small paint projects, and returning all sets of keys.

You can have your landlord do a walk-through with you before you move out so you are both on the same page on what is considered general wear and tear. This way, you won’t get any surprises when your security deposit is returned. Instead, you can use that money towards moving costs or purchases for your new home.

Claim moving tax deductions

After you’re settled in, don’t forget about logging tax-deductible expenses. You may be able to claim moving tax deductions if you meet certain requirements set forth by the IRS. For example, if you’re moving to start a new job and meet distance test requirements based on your new location, you may qualify for a tax deduction. The cost of truck rentals, packing and crating costs, and the cost of renting a storage unit are just a few tax-deductible expenses that you may be able to claim on IRS Form 3903. Take steps to document all moving-related expenses and keep receipts and contracts to ensure you provide enough documentation to support your claim for a deduction come tax time.

Moving on a budget can be a relatively painless process but it requires some planning and creative use of resources. Use these tips to coordinate your move and look forward to settling into your new place without going over budget so you can sleep soundly in your new home.

Christa Baxter
Written by
Christa Baxter
Christa Baxter has worked as an editor for more than eight years and specialized in moving content for the last three. She leads the Move.org content team in producing whip-smart moving tips and recs. After relocating four times in the last calendar year, she’s got strong opinions about moving best practices. (Just don’t ever pull a Marie Kondo and suggest she whittle down her personal library.) She earned a BA and MA in English with a minor in editing.