Recently Matt and I packed up our entire lives, stuffed it all into a moving truck, and moved out of state. While moving doesn’t have a lot to do with “DIY Natural,” I have a lot to say about moving now that we’re through the hard part. I’m dying to share some tips on do-it-yourself moving that might additionally help you save some cash if you ever have to relocate.
6 Tips For DIY moving:
1. Have a moving sale
There are always unforeseen expenses involved when relocating. We decided to have a moving sale to make a few extra bucks. We knew the little bit of extra cash wouldn’t go far, but each penny would help. Went through everything in our house at least 4 times to find things we could sell/give away/throw away, and ended up pricing LOTS of stuff we previously thought we couldn’t live without. We used a few rules to help us determine which items needed to go: 1.) Have we used it enough to justify owning it? 2.) Can we rent a similar item if we really need to? 3.) Is it too heavy or bulky to easily move? 4.) Has it remained in a box since the last time we moved?
We didn’t make the moving sale a big ordeal, but instead invited a few friends & family to come wander through the house and shop the ticketed items. This way we didn’t have to move everything into one area, and we didn’t have to worry about strangers walking all throughout the house. The leftovers got carted off to GoodWill and we felt liberated to own less after all was said and done.
The most wonderful part of having a moving sale—less stuff to pack!!!
2. Find boxes and packing materials for free
Matt and I must have looked homeless as we scavenged for boxes in dumpsters at the recycling center near our house. (I’ll never forget the picture of Matt’s legs sticking up in the air as the rest of his body was inside the dumpster reaching for the “perfect box” I spotted.) Have you ever seen the price of boxes? There was no way I was paying for cardboard. I hit up a few friends who had recently moved, and kept my eye out after Christmas for good used boxes everywhere I went. If none of these works for you, check Craigslist or Freecycle.org for someone in your area who is getting rid of boxes.
Packing material can also be expensive if you think your only option is bubble wrap. Creatively wrap fragile items with things you already have. Kitchen towels, clothing, old bath towels, newspaper, or any other soft material will work well. My mom gave me a huge roll of butcher paper she had in her basement to use when I ran out of newspaper. It worked like a charm, and we burned it in the fireplace at our new home as we unpacked.
3. Pack yourself
Instead of calling a moving company to pack up all your precious belongings, invite a few friends or family members over to start chipping away at the packing. You can always use it as bonding time before you move, and people are happy to help ease the difficulty of a move. (After all, most of us have been through the hassle of moving at some point.) If you start early, you can pack a little bit each day for a few weeks to make it a less daunting task. Just start with the things you know you won’t use in the coming weeks, such as out-of-season clothing, decor, and odd kitchen items.
Doing your own packing is also a good idea because you will most likely take better care when packing your precious belongings than a mover who has no sentimental attachment to the items. Another bonus…you can pack like things together so you can find items in your boxes more easily during unpacking.
4. Label boxes well
My overlabeling habits may have taken some extra time, but it sure saved us tons of time and money in the end. Careful labeling will prevent you from having to rummage through every box in a room just to find one small item. Having well-labeled boxes also means that you will be able to find random things in only a few minutes to avoid purchasing things you may desperately need after arriving at your destination. Think toilet paper, food, underwear, etc.
Matt made fun of me when I was compulsively labeling boxes (with a label on the top and at least 3 sides) before we moved. I had to explain that when boxes are stacked, you want to be able to see what they contain without first pulling 6 other boxes off the top. Not only did I label boxes with the room of the house they should be placed in when coming off the truck, but also with a list of general contents. Detailed labeling is especially important when items in a box are unrelated. I had to laugh when a box came off the truck that was labeled, “couch pillow, paper shredder, Matt’s slippers, Bible.”
5. Rent a moving truck
If you or someone you know is brave enough to drive a moving truck, this will definitely save you some money. Keep in mind that U-Haul is not the only company out there that offers moving truck rentals. Do a little research and get price quotes from a few companies. We went with a company that had nice equipment and very reasonable prices. We also did the math and found out it would be a little cheaper to rent a car dolly to haul one of our vehicles rather than put the extra 700 miles on it and pay for gas.
6. Strategically pack the moving truck
To save headaches later, pack the truck keeping in mind the order things need to come off the truck. We knew anything going into our storage unit by our new house would be the last to come off the truck, so it was packed into the truck first. We also knew we would be arriving at the new place late in the day, and would need beds, linens, food, and cleaning supplies to come off the truck first. These items were the last to be put on the truck so we had easy access to them when unloading late at night.
Also, it pays to have someone in the truck who will handle your belongings gently and pack the truck like it’s a Tetris game. The benefits are twofold… nothing ends up broken, scratched, or crushed, and you can fit more into the truck. Thanks to Matt’s truck-packing expertise, we didn’t have a SINGLE thing break after bouncing around in the back of a 26-foot moving truck for 13 hours! This saved us from having to replace items that were ruined in transit, meaning we didn’t have to spend extra moolah.
Who Needs Moving Companies?
Now that we have been in our new house for almost two weeks, I’m finally finding time to sit down for a minute to reflect on the move and everything that led up to it. There were several times during the packing stage that I wanted to stop dead in my tracks and call a moving company. However, this was not within our budget, and I’m a little bit of a control freak who wants things done a certain way (my way). Before moving, I had a few meltdowns during which Matt had to coax me back to reality…to realize our lives would inevitably be in disarray for a while, and every detail of moving did not need to be perfectly arranged. (I still disagree.) Now that we are moved, I am convinced that my systematic packing, compulsive labeling, list-making, and attention to detail totally saved our behinds in this move. Who needs moving companies when you have an arsenal of Sharpies, a tape gun, and some generous loved ones to help get the job done???
Have you moved recently? What money-saving DIY moving tips do you have for others?