How to Make Moving a Breeze


How to Make Moving a Breeze

In the midst of everything else happening this year, my boyfriend and I recently moved in together. That’s right, we combined two households, including furniture, and guess what? We did the whole move in 2 days – day 1 for physically moving everything into our apartment & day 2 for unpacking/organizing everything.

If moving brings up horrible memories of changing dorms or college apartments every year, well don’t fret, it doesn’t get any easier once you own actual furniture and/or live in a city where there’s no where to park a moving van. Moving is basically a frazzling, stressful and chaotic experience, and with so many things to remember, we often forget (or don’t care) to keep it cheap.

BUT, there are ways to get your move on for less. Here’s how we recently moved for under $500:

1. Don’t hire movers.

You may be tempted to hire movers during a pre-move burst of panic. But in most cases, you shouldn’t do it. First, packing your own stuff is necessary for unpacking with ease since you’ll know where everything is. Second, you will save hundreds of dollars by renting your own truck. And third, some moving companies are just plain scammy.

The caveat here is if you are relocating for work, and your company is offering to pay for the move, in which case, you’ll probably want to take advantage of not having to do it yourself.

2. Sell the stuff you won’t use.

What is truly the best/most efficient way to save money on a U-Haul or shipping?  Have less stuff! Every old T-shirt, spare sheet set and never-been-used kitchen mixer is another thing you’ll have to pack/pick up/put down/organize during your move. Save yourself the trouble and do a massive clean-out before you go. If you sell your items the right way, you could make money on the move!

Besides, you can pretty much sell anything on Craigslist, so if there’s anything you don’t need or simply can’t take, then take a picture and post it on Craigslist. I actually sold a several years’ old mattress on CL this past move…also a semi-broken floor lamp – trust me, if you don’t want it, you might as well try to sell it.

3. Donate the rest.

Still have stuff you can’t sell but don’t want to take with you? Donate it! Seriously, I don’t care if you go full Marie Kondo on your apartment, or just do the standard toss/keep/donate piles, but you need to pare down your stuff. Sure, doing this won’t put money in your pocket directly, but it could allow you to get rid of unwanted items and even get a tax deduction – not to mention you feel good for helping others!

4. Put that luggage to use.

Make those suitcases and duffel bags earn their keep by loading them with clothes and linens. Not only will you have your clothing/sheets/towels/shoes at the ready when you arrive, you’ll cut down on boxes. Speaking of which…

5. Get used boxes.

If you’re buying boxes, peanuts or bubble wrap, then you’re doing it wrong. Ask your local grocery store or recycling center for leftover boxes and swap newspaper for packing peanuts. Do not blow cash on bubbles and boxes.

Packing materials can cost a ton of cash and can make moving an expensive ordeal. For this move, I used plastic bins I already own/use on the regular, but I also checked into my local Costco and borrowed a number of old boxes. If you have fragile items that need to be packed, instead of using expensive bubble wrap or packing peanuts, I recommend using old magazines/news papers and towels/sheets to wrap them. In a pinch, coffee filters will also work, are super cheap, and won’t transfer ink like newspaper can.

If you know anyone moving around the same time as you, you can always ask them if they have any extras or are done with whatever they used to move. Don’t forget to label each box with the room it goes in so that your “movers” (a.k.a. your friends) don’t need to pester you when unloading – they can simply drop the box off in the correct room.

6. Don’t forget to pack the essentials separately.

Put a roll or 2 of toilet paper, soap, paper towels, some bottled water, and a trash bag in the front seat of your car/moving truck for as soon as you arrive at the new place. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for doing this.

7. Pimp out your friends/family/acquaintances.

Everyone hates moving, and everyone has that friend that will do anything for pizza. Take advantage by guilting your friends and family into helping you move. If you’ve done everything above, you really only need them for their weightlifting abilities (i.e. moving furniture in the truck, and then taking it back out), which should take a few hours at most.

Make sure you borrow/rent a hand truck as a favor to your wonderful friends and family who are likely spending their weekend lifting heavy things for you. Also as a favor to everyone’s backs.

If you really can’t get enough help through offers of pizza/beer or eternal love, try posting in your local Facebook marketplace for someone to help. The people there are less scammy AND you can see their Facebook profile before you contact them.

8. Save the spending for later.

After moving to your new place, resist the urge to buy anything until your entire apartment is unpacked (unless you forgot that aforementioned toilet paper). You’ll want to be sure you have a place for everything before you buy it. Plus, you won’t know what kind of random storage solutions or items you need until you’ve put all of your current items away. It’s time to be the smart shopper you’ve always wanted to be!

 Moving is always going to be stressful – there simply isn’t away to handle the logistics of a new lease/mortgage, making sure everything works, packing all of your worldly belongings into weight-appropriate boxes – without it being stressful. However, with a little bit of planning, you can at least make moving cheap.

Do you have any tips to avoid headaches while planning a move based on your own personal experiences?


  1. We moved across the country from California to Michigan last August… this article is spot on! It was a bit of work, but between our own time/resources and generous friends, we were able to move on a relatively small budget.

  2. I hire movers every time, but just for loading and unloading. My moves have been local, so the $300 – $500 has been well worth it. For me, its too much of a hassle to round up family and friends, especially when some back out. Movers are guaranteed to show.

    But I agree on the boxes. Someone in my FB yard sale group was asking for boxes. I said, “please take them off my hands”. I added a role of packing tape too. If one puts a word out, I am sure someone will have some to donate.

    1. Author

      I’ll know I’ve made it in life when I can afford movers without a second thought – even if just for loading/unloading! 🙂

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