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Moving is one of life's more hectic experiences, and paying for it can feel like adding insult to injury. A local move of a two- to three-bedroom apartment's worth of items costs $1,250 on average, according to Moving.com, and almost $5,000 if you're moving 1,000 miles away.
But there are ways to limit the cost, from making use of discounts on truck rentals to opting for moving containers instead of using a full-service company. Here's how to save money on your move so you can focus on settling into your new home.
1. Avoid Moving During Summer and on Weekends
You can't always control when you move. But since nearly half of all moves take place from June through September, according to the American Moving & Storage Association, you'll pay less for professional movers if you move outside that time frame. That's because demand is lower. The same goes for mid-month and midweek moves. Avoid the first and last weekends of the month in particular, if possible.
2. Choose a Reputable Moving Company
While professional movers may seem pricey, going with a low-cost or questionable company could lead to even pricier damages.
You can search for interstate movers registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on its Protect Your Move website, which also shows companies' customer complaint histories. You can also compare quotes from interstate movers who participate in the American Moving & Storage Association's ProMover program, which requires passing a background check and upholding the association's code of ethics.
If your move is in-state, search for trustworthy movers using your state's moving association website.
3. Consider DIY Methods
Not all moves necessitate the professional treatment—especially if you can't afford it once you get a quote. Instead, you could pay for packing services only, then rent a van or truck and make the drive yourself. Another option is to rent a moving container, load it on your own time and pay the company to drive it to your destination. The container rental company PODS estimates that a local move using its service costs $299 to $499, while a long-distance move costs $1,499 to $2,999.
4. Move Items by Freight
If you're moving long distance, especially if you have a lot of stuff, using a freight service can save you money compared with full-service movers. Similar to a moving container company, the freight service will bring a trailer to you, which you'll pack with your things within three business days. You'll pay for only the space you use, and the company will drive the trailer to your new home.
5. Take the Opportunity to Downsize
Moving is a prime time to evaluate the things you own and whether it's time to sell or donate some of them. When you downsize, you'll save money on movers who charge you by weight, and you can make money selling unwanted items. Sell furniture online through platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Letgo; to sell clothing, thredUP, The RealReal and Poshmark are options.
6. Take Advantage of Discounts
It's smart to submit a request with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to change your address, which costs $1.05, so your mail can be forwarded to your new place. But doing so isn't just for convenience; it will also get you access to a package of coupons from major retailers, sent via email or snail mail. That can help offset the cost of new furniture or home improvements. The USPS says the discounts are worth more than $750 in savings.
If you're an AAA member, you can access discounts at certain car and truck rental companies you may use during the move. Some truck rental companies also offer discounts to members of the military and college students.
7. Make Use of Credit Card Rewards
Ideally, you'll save for a move in advance to avoid paying interest on expenses put on a credit card. If you're expecting to spend a significant amount on the move and in the few months thereafter—on new furniture and home upgrades, perhaps—you might spend enough to get a sign-up bonus on a new credit card. That can help offset your moving expenses.
You'll likely need a good or excellent credit score, which is 670 or higher on FICO's 850-point scale, to qualify for credit cards with hefty bonuses. And it's crucial to pay off your balance each month to avoid increasing your credit utilization rate, which can affect your credit score.
But if you get a card that gives you $300 back after spending $3,000 in the first three months, for instance, that could make a dent during an expensive time. Make sure the card you choose is the right pick for your spending style and preferences long term, and that its fees and interest charges don't catch you by surprise.
If you're moving on short notice and don't have enough cash saved to pay for it outright, consider applying for a balance transfer credit card after the fact, if you qualify, to save money on interest. You'll have a period of time to pay down the costs of moving at 0% APR, which can be a good deal as long as you don't add to your debt with new charges.
8. Negotiate for Relocation Reimbursement
If you're moving for your current job or for a new job, your company may pay your relocation expenses. When you receive a relocation package, understand precisely what's included and ask for additional assistance if necessary.
You can request that your employer cover temporary housing while you look for a new place, for instance; pay for packing services during the move; or compensate you in return for breaking a lease and forfeiting the security deposit on your current apartment. Don't be too shy to negotiate for reimbursement for unforeseen costs. You'll never know what the company is willing to cover unless you ask.