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Ask the readers: Tips for frugal moving?


I lost my job in June and am in the process of moving from Florida to Houston in order to be closer to my boyfriend. I am desperately looking for cheap ways to
get my belongings and car from Florida to Houston. I have been getting
moving service price quotes and it’s looking around $2000 for
everything. Any tips on moving cheaply? Anything I should know to help mitigate costs with moving companies? -Amanda

My advice: If you have more time than money, do everything yourself.

I’ve moved three times in the last five years and haven’t paid a moving service for anything. I always accept all offers of help from friends and family and then just work very hard for the three weeks or so leading up to the move and the few weeks after the move.

One of the great things of boxing up everything yourself is that, as you’re going through things, you’re likely to find a lot of stuff you don’t need. So you can sell it on Craigslist or in a garage sale before you leave and make a little extra money. You can then use that extra money to rent a truck (I’ve always found the best rates for moving van rentals online.) and pay any additional expenses incurred through moving.

Another tip: If you are really short on time and unable to scrounge up free boxes to pack up everything in, try buying them off of eBay. They are loads cheaper there than buying them from a moving company.

What about the rest of you all? What are your best tips for moving on a dime? Do you think a moving service is worth the cost?

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  • Amy says:

    There are ALWAYS free moving boxes posted on Craigslist here. I’m assuming you have to jump on them quickly. You might also check at a recycling center, that’s where our’s ended up because we just had so many! Not sure if you live anywhere near a college, but there are usually ALWAYS students looking to earn a little money – maybe worth it to pay to help move the heavy stuff?

  • Ria says:

    We have had to move 6 times in 6 years (way too many). We generally do it all ourselves to save money. This time I was determined not to waste my money on boxes. I called Wal-Mart and talked with their night manager and they set aside boxes from stocking shelves overnight for me to use. That saved me somewhere around $150.

  • Rachel says:

    A great place to get free boxes is to go to Walmart after midnight when they are stocking.

  • PJ says:

    I have my share of moving too for the past ten years… due to schools, mostly, still, what a pain!

    I agree with doing everything yourself. Here is a test of true friendship (j/k, sort of). Round up all the help you can get, and start boxing. Throw out anything you don’t need anymore, and ship them. USPS offers media mail if you are sending boxes and boxes of books, and they are generally cheaper than USPS. However, UPS does offer door to door pick-up and delivery. You can even send that suitcases you weren’t going to take to the airport with you. Just pack, schedule pick up time online, print your own shipping labels, and the UPS guy will show up on your doorstep. I did that when I moved from Boston to Houston (welcome!). 🙂
    Hope that helped.

  • E.M.C. says:

    Well, I moved up here to Enfield, CT in March – all the way from Atlanta. 1100 miles. (My fiancee’s job was up here.) When we drove up here after getting married, we just took my van up (he had flown down), packed to the max. Anything that we couldn’t fit, we left behind at my parent’s house. And between trips of them coming up here & my inlaws (they live in Atlanta too), we have managed to get everything up here. Without any trucks. Even managed a little furniture in my van. We are going down in November or December for the first time & will be bringing home the last few things.

    My recommendation is to only take what you REALLY need the first time (assuming you might have others coming your way or you might be coming back.) When I packed, I marked everything N or L meaning Now or Later. If we managed to get all the Ns packed, then the next ones to go in were the ones I had marked “N but if L if have to.” Lastly were the Ls.

    Then if you have more trips back & forth, use them to get the rest of the stuff. You would be surprised how much you can live without for just a little bit!

    Also, we found a great place to get boxes is from package stores. Most of them throw them away & if you ask, they might let you pick some of them up. Most of the time, they have certain nights they dump them out, so you might have to find out what night that would be.

    Hope this helps at all! =)

  • I’m a Naval Officer and I’ve moved 10 times in 7 years. If you live near a military base, a lot of military personnel post on craigslist to get rid of boxes. We get our boxes free to us provided by the moving service the government provides(and they are brand new, along with the packing paper). I’ve posted my boxes for free or have sold them at a huge discount since I never paid for them myself. You might want to check the Free section of Craigslist – often times people will post boxes on there because they just want them off their hands. Another site is to become a member of Freecycle in your area and post it as a Wanted item and someone that might have just moved will post their boxes as well. Personally, I think a moving service is well worth it, but again, the government has always provided free movers to me and it was always worth it. I’d suggest throwing a pizza and pack party and ask a few strong friends to help you come move furniture into a truck or help pack you up. You might be able to give away some of your stuff to friends or freecycle it. Moving has made me rethink things we buy now because I always ask myself, Is it worth it to move this, where can I buy it cheaper, and will I just be willing to give it away if it won’t work in the new place?

  • Amy says:

    We’ve always moved ourselves, with the help of family and friends. I can’t fathom paying a moving service… this last time we did rent a Uhaul. We try to be very much “do it yourself” people.

  • Megan says:

    I’ve found it helpful to check the post office for coupons when moving. Usually they have a moving/change of address coupon envelope out. We are in the process of moving and there is a coupon for 20% off a Budget rental truck to move your stuff, good through December 2009!

  • Carol says:

    If you have time you could go on freecycle to get boxes too. Pack yourself and Uhaul to your new home.

  • We have moved over twenty times before my husband had to take an early retirement (due to illness).

    Here are a few suggestions:

    For free boxes, check out copy centers (like Kinkos). Call ahead and many of them will hold boxes for you. They make great storage boxes for after the move.

    You can buy used boxes at moving companies, too. We paid $1.00 each for specialty boxes that will be worth their proverbial weight in gold! Especially book boxes and the wardrobe boxes that can hold clothing. They have always been saved and used later, either for our own storage or to give to friends when they move.

    Have more than one roll of packing tape. What you spend in paying for one or two extra rolls is more than made up in efficiency.

    If you don’t have enough newspaper to pack fragiles, you can purchase the needed paper from moving companies, too. It isn’t expensive and it is far better than having things break. Having said that, I always saved newspapers and used it. 🙂

    Use your linens (towels, sheets, etc.) to protect fragile items when packing. Same for extra pillows, pack them in with very fragile items like lampshades.

    Have a few boxes that can be decorated which hold the items you will need first when you move (for me that was the coffeepot, coffee, can opener, toaster, etc.). For the kids, they can pack their own with their treasures.

    Move some items in the car and not in the moving van. These include important legal papers, recipe boxes, photos, etc.

    If you are paying for your own move, rethink moving items that are very large or very heavy… do you really need that item or will it be cheaper down the road to look for it at yard sales, etc. Of course, not family antiques!

  • Mel says:

    A friend of ours used ABF:

    They said it was around $1300 for a semi truck! Not bad considering Penske and UHaul prices for only a regular sized moving truck!

  • Jackie says:

    Personally I don’t think moving services are worth it. I have had several friends in the past use moving services and they were so disappointed. My husbands boss from his previous job moved from Wisconsin to Ohio a couple years ago and the moving service was driving to fast and tipped the trailer hauling the family’s four snow mobiles and totalled them. Of course the moving service had to pay for everything since it was their fault, but the point is it have should not happen. Especially for the price you pay them to move you. Another example my husband’s new boss at his current job just moved from Iowa to Ohio last month well the moving company their forgot all of his suits and his wife’s dresses, so the moving company threw them in a box and mailed them. So all of his suits were wrinkled. And we are not talking about cheap suits these suits are anywhere between $500. to $1000. a piece. So of course the moving company had to pay to have all of the clothes pressed. My sister just moved last Thursday from Ohio to North Carolina with a Uhaul and a trailer to haul her car and for gas it cost her about $1000.00. I not saying this is every moving company, but this was two different ones in two years. I guess I said all of this to say save your money and do it your self. In the long run it may be worth it. Good luck on your move.

  • MelG-F says:

    I actually did the move from FL to Houston a few years ago. We used ABF/U-Pack moving, which was probably about a quarter of the cost than the next least-expensive mover. (It’s been a while, but I want to say that it was about $1100 for a fully-packed two-bedroom home, car not included). However, a lot of our stuff arrived with black marks and damage. The trucks don’t have shocks, so if you do use them 1) pack everything up in blankets/bubble wrap and 2) maybe hire more dependable packers , or do it yourself.

    I had major trouble with a local move in FL. They quoted us one price, which convenienetly doubled when they arrived at our house. They wouldn’t unload the truck until we paid them in full. Of course that’s against FL state law, but we didn’t know it at the time. And we wanted our stuff.

    Whatever you do, get a FIRM quote in writing.

    Oh, and one last tip, Moving Boxes and paper are listed almost all time time on Craigslist/Freecycle.

  • Katey Magill says:

    Freight shipping is much cheaper than renting a U-haul truck. You pay by the square footage that you use. We recently had good luck with a move from Florida to Texas using a freight shipping company we found online (T&J Moving and Storage). We didn’t have much furniture but even so the price was pretty cheap. (under 1100) They even loaded and unloaded the truck for us. If we had had expensive furniture that we were worried about being damaged, it might been a little worrying because the movers were not super careful, but for our purposes, it worked great.

  • S.B. says:

    You can get loads of free boxes at your local liquor store. Or if you work in an office, copy paper boxes work well too!

  • Maureen says:

    Check out shipping your stuff with a freight carrier. Sometimes they can take your household items because they don’t have a full load. Also check craigslist to see if there is anyone who needs to do the same thing. Or put up an ad explaining what you need and see what typoe of response you get.

  • Kim says:

    Go to

    Look for your state, then county & then area that you live in & join. Then post that you are in search of moving boxes. When I moved this is where my moving boxes all came from…and I didn’t pay anything as everything is free.

    You can also offer things on here that you want to get rid of.

  • SAHMof2 says:

    I just wanted to share how I got two large bottle of St.Ives body wash for free at Rite Aid today. I recieved a coupon for buy 1 get one free and combined it with the buy 1 get 1 free sale they have this week. I just can’t remember if the coupon was from the Plumsmart coupons or the other one. Sorry! Also, I recieved the flyer for next weeks sales and there are alot of Buy 1 Get 1 Free items on sale next week so check it out and see what you can get for free by combining them with any Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons you have around. Good Luck!!

  • Tracy says:

    You could try PODS (portable on demand storage) if you want to do the packing yourself, but don’t want to drive a truck. They will drop of the pod, you pack it up, they pick it up and drop at your new place. Cheaper than hiring movers to do everything.

  • Rebekah says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time as we are moving this fall. Thank you for posting it and for the tip of checking on-line for a truck rental…hadn’t thought of that one!=)

  • lizzyjane says:

    My husband and I did a cross country move last year and we found Penske to be far cheaper than any others. They are expensive for local moves, but the best for long hauls. Good luck!

  • Jen says:

    Me and my husband are currently moving, well in 2 weeks. We have found that Budget trucks are by far cheaper than any other brand of rental trucks.

    You can also very often get free moving boxes off of . (side note-make sure you get the “s” in craigslist, if you leave it off it’s an X-rated site!)

    And finally, if you don’t want to move yourself, try looking into “Pods” (portable on-demand storage). Basically they come and drop off a storage unit in front of your house. You pack it. They come and take it away and will deliver it where ever you need. They can even store it for you until you need it. I think this would be cheaper than hiring a moving company.

    We’ve never had a good experience from a moving company. Alot of our stuff was broken and very poorly packed. Literally they just threw stuff in the box, didn’t even wrap it. And the replacement value is only $.06 per pound so the replacement value of a lamp around 10 lbs would only be $.60! Not worth it!


  • Laura says:

    I am in the process of moving from Illinois to California. It was too far for me to drive and I shipped my car. I just graduated from college and don’t have that much stuff so I have been sending stuff via UPS. My tip would be to send any books/DVDs/CDs etc. by Media Mail through the Post office. Because I am shipping a lot of textbooks and “media” I am saving up to 50% from UPS rates. Its a little slower but I don’t mind

  • Tracy says:

    Depending on the sized boxes you need, try The priority mail section has boxes as large as 12x12x8 for no charge.

    I have also obtained used boxes by going to my retail store of choice around restocking time and requesting some boxes.

    Hope that helps!

  • Amanda says:

    We always get free boxes from liquor stores. They’re small and strong (though not as easy to label as moving boxes). And we get some larger boxes from places like Target. If you call places they can usually tell you the best time to come to get boxes before they are discarded.

  • Letty says:

    I get boxes by going to Wal-Mart late at night while they are stocking the shelves. The Stockers are usually very nice and are happy to let you take what you need. The diaper and cereal boxes work very well. The best time to go is around midnight.

    Also, we have moved several times and always just rent a moving truck and enlist the help of friends.

  • The only reason we have used a moving service for our last two moves is because my husband’s employer pays for it. Otherwise, I don’t see any reason to. If the moving company is quoting you $2000 you should be able to fit most of your stuff into a medium sized U-haul and tow your car behind it.

    You could probably save about $500 – $1000 by loading, driving, and unloading yourself if you only have an apartment or small house. That is barring any medical or physical exceptions. If you don’t want to pay movers to load your stuff and don’t have anyone to help you, hire someone from a place like LaboReady for a few hours.

  • Becky says:

    I cannot recommend ABF U-Pack highly enough. They drop off a trailer at your home, you box up your stuff and load the trailer, they move the trailer to your new location. We payed about the 1/3 the cost of a traditional mover (without boxing). We were so happy with the experience. If you have good friends who will help you load and unload, this is the way to go.
    You might consider purchasing used boxes from the classified ads. Costco is another great source for moving boxes. This is the best option we’ve found.
    Happy moving!

  • Courtney says:

    We’ve always moved ourselves–Texas to Michigan and then to Missouri along with several smaller moves. I started to type out my answers and then decided it was going to be too long, so check out my tips on my blog:

  • Kim says:

    Last Summer we moved across town from an apartment into our first home with only 4 days notice. All our boxes were free. We visited all the grocery stores and the Wal-mart that was within a mile of our apartment 3-4 times per day and I also collected boxes from the school I had taught at as the new textbooks were unpacked. On moving day we made one trip and friends helped load and unload the truck on the same day so we could return it immediately and not pay any additional fees. We ordered pizzas and bought sodas for all the guys and the entire move totaled under $100.

    The house we purchased is a tri-plex and the rent we receive pays most of the mortgage. It’s actually cheaper for us to own our home than to rent. We’re now within walking distance of my husband’s job and since I am working from home (we have a 10-month-old), our food and gas expenses have drastically been reduced as well.

    On a more personal note, Crystal – I’m a new fan to your blog. I found it 2-3 months ago and your posts have helped me so much. Thank you for what you do! The other day I started to look at your other blog and realized what a small world it is. Your sister was my piano teacher for a year at BJU and her husband is my cousin’s cousin- if that makes sense. = ) I saw them last summer at our “shared cousin’s” wedding. Well, take care. (Please don’t feel compelled to publish this comment though.)

  • Arielle says:

    I have to agree about ABF U-Pack. The cost of a plane ticket + U-Pack was significantly less than the cost of a U-Haul (plus gas, hotels, etc.) when I moved from the east cost to the midwest.

  • Jaynee says:

    We used ABF for our move as well and they were FANTASTIC. We actually did our move in two parts – the first part was done by Broadway Express (another freight company like ABF) and they damaged a LOT of our stuff – we had gouges in our wood furniture, a antique wicker chair (which I painstakingly wrapped in blankets and told the driver was an antique as he put it in the truck) was destroyed and we had a dent in our deep freezer. Because it’s a “u-pack” type company, they weren’t liable since technically WE’RE the ones that packed everything, even if the driver did supervise the loading of his truck.

    ABF, on the other hand, was fantastic all the way around.

    As for helpers, our wonderful church had the youth group come help us load the ABF trailer. About 20 kids showed up with the youth leader, and the loading only took an hour (sure wish I had that on the other end of the move!).

  • Christi D. says:

    We’ve moved about 15 times and have never used a moving service (just lots of friends’ sweat:) Also- if you search online, there are several companies that offer a 10% discount if you book your moving truck online. That can add up to big savings. I will echo everyone else and say take only what you need-it’s a great time to get rid of unused stuff. If you are driving a long distance and need to stop for the night- plan out your trip to stop at a cheaper hotel but possibly one with continental breakfast. Oh- and pack snacks for the family so you won’t be tempted at gas stations. Best wishes on the move!

  • Amy says:

    My husband and I have moved 5 times in 3 1/2 years of marriage. One of the best things we did was to say “YES!” when people offer to help. The last time we moved, I had a 6 week old baby, and we moved out of state for him to pastor a new church. Our old church was so kind to help us pack, and it really helped us to say good-bye to each of them as they were in our home.

    Another tip- we had a friend who worked for Chick-fil-A at the time. The boxes they have for the french fries are the best! Great size, solid and sturdy. I kept them all and am using for packing up baby clothes. In all my moves, these are my favorite boxes.

    On our last move, I color coded a label for each box. My son’s room was blue (for boy), master bedroom was red (for love), bath was green (rhymes with clean), etc. On each box, I’d put a piece of colored paper and then write on the paper the name of the room as well as a description of the contents. It made things go SOOOO smoothly!

    Good luck!

  • Jen says:

    Wow I wish I would have checked ebay or craigslist for boxes. We spent so much money buying new boxes. What a waste! 🙁

  • Kim says:

    Don’t pay for boxes – Petsmart saved their boxes and I picked them up weekly. Uniform box size made much easier stacking. GET RID of what you don’t/won’t need or haven’t used. Sometimes independent truckers will fill space on a dead head haul, but I have no clue where to find this info from that end.

  • Julie says:

    I’m a do it yourself-er as well. Pack yourself, rent the truck, but I do recommend hiring someone to do the heavy lifting. I used
    to find local help. I paid them under $200 for a days work for 2 guys. They packed the truck and unloaded it 10 miles away at the new house. It was worth every penny!!! I still controlled all the packing and unpacking and was able to give directions – because they didn’t answer to anyone but me.

  • shelly says:

    I have seen a couple of posts in the last week on my local freecycle group. It is a nationwide program with local groups in most areas. Try and join, then post a want for moving supplies and then pick them up.

  • Jodi says:

    For boxes you can call your local Walmart and ask when the best time if for boxes and leave your name and you should get plenty. I always ask for meat boxes because they are thicker and have handles! They work well for kitchen cupboards because they hold a sixteen piece large plate set with room to spare! Other than doing it yourself and taking as much as you possible can every trip you can makes all the difference. Plus using a dolly to take things into your house or apartment leads to less trips. Also being specific when you write on the box and saying whats in it and what room you want it to go to.

  • SH says:

    Don’t forget, that if you’re moving to get a new job and the move is more than 50 miles from your current home, then you can deduct the some of these expenses.

  • Penny Raine says:

    you can always get good boxes free from and the Walmart meat dept, just for the asking. Check the classifieds where you are moving to and see if you can easily find appliances or furniture, if so, then sell what you can live without and repurchase when you get there. Rent the truck you need and don’t be in too big a hurry. We moved from CA to TN n 93 with three small children, 3 horses, 2 dogs and a pot belly pig. What an adventure! It was fun an something we will all remember.
    blessings, Penny Raine

  • Wendy says:

    We’ve always moved ourself (from NC to Memphis for husband’s school and then back to NC four years later). Even if you did hire someone to move the items, I would pack them yourself. Only you can guarantee your things are packed correctly and taken care of.

    Whichever method you choose HOLD ON TO YOUR RECEIPTS. You’re moving since you lost your job and are going to a new area to look for work so the move is tax deductible. Hold onto receipts for any packing supplies, any rental or moving truck fees, gas and/or mileage, hotels if you can’t make the move in just one day, etc. Give these to your tax preparer next year and they should be able to use it as a deduction.

  • Kara says:

    Hello! I have not read all the comments yet but wanted to say that I have seen several ads for free moving boxes on Cragis list lately–I do live in a different area but it wouldn’t hurt to search on there for some. Good luck!

  • Michelle says:

    Try getting free boxes from your local grocer. They just give them away happily ( Saves them the dumpster space). Ask a manager what time they finish stocking (usually at night), some stores do it very late like my 24 hrs. Albertsons. Every time I’ve asked, they have even volumteered to save specific sizes for me. Buying boxes can get super expensive, so I would NEVER pay for them!

  • Sara says:

    Having moved 6 times in the past 9 years, I dream of movings services at night! I’m not going to lie! No, I’ve never used one for the whole shebang! Think how much money I’d no longer have! We buy dish packs for our very most special dishes from our wedding gifts. Everything else? We get free boxes off of Craigslist and Freecycle. We con friends into helping us with the offer of pizza. In our most recent move, our stuff was in two separate states, so we did use a service for part of it. We drove our stuff to their distribution center and loaded their truck. They moved it to our new town and we picked it up at the local distribution center. With gas prices so crazy it saved a headache of having to drive separately across the country with a little baby! Eeek for me, because I’d be driving alone with the baby! My husband would have been driving the moving van. This service was a reasonable enough price to make it worth it and it fit within his company’s moving allowance for him. The company for this service is and their phone # is 1-800-240-7422. Good luck!

  • Kris says:

    Eight years, six moves here.

    Unless it’s a super-nice or personally meangingful piece, sell as much furniture as you can. With the money you raise (and save by avoiding moving costs), you can purchase all-new stuff on the other end. (This might work better for younger movers.)

    I might pack a small box of immediate-use items, as well (toilet paper, shower curtain, shampoo, spaghetti, etc.). Lots of times, that stuff is overlooked in the big picture.

  • Dana says:

    We moved a year and a half ago from Ontario to Virginia. We did the move ourselves with the help of family. We packed our apartment up in a matter of days, while I was 7 months pregnant. It was hard work, but it saved us a ton from not hiring movers. Also, we didn’t buy boxes. We just went around to stores and asked if they had boxes we could use. The Starbucks stores in town for some reason always seemed to have plenty!

  • suzanne says:

    Purge DEEPLY and move it yourself. In your car.
    Don’t get sentimental. Sell your furniture, pocket the cash and re-buy at a thrift store in Houston. Cut loose the baggage and live freer.

    I love doing that.

  • Alexis says:

    If you can’t drive the stuff yourself and absolutely need a “moving van” check into the pod storage companies. The ones you load on your front lawn and then are taken to the storage facility… they will transport the pods to your new location for a fraction of a “moving service”.

  • Melissa says:

    We have moved ourself 5 times in 6 years, three long-distance moves and two local ones. I used to work for a market research company that rates home services, including movers, and oh, the horror stories I could tell. I know there are some good movers out there, but when it comes down to it, I would rather have people I know and trust packing and unpacking my stuff. I know that they will be careful with things, pack them carefully, and not steal. Plus, it’s MUCH cheaper.

    Also, definitely do price comparisons on rental trucks. Our last move was about 100 miles. Rental prices ranged from $800 (Penske!) to $250 (U-Haul). The time before that, we moved from Atlanta to Chicago, and got Penske for about $300 while U-Haul was about twice as much.

    A couple notes about the trucks as well:
    -U-Haul trucks advertise more space, but I don’t think it’s really true. When they talk about the length of the truck, they’re including the “mom’s attic” above the cab, so the actual length of floor space is a couple feet less than advertised.
    -U-Haul trucks also advertise the lowest deck. True, however it comes at the price of having the wheel wells sticking up in the floor of the truck. That makes it harder to arrange your furniture in the truck.
    -We initially reserved with Budget for our last move, and they called us an hour before we were supposed to pick up the truck and said that our truck would not be available for several more hours. We were on a pretty tight schedule, so that was NOT an option. We ended up going with U-Haul, who had a truck available on short notice. The Budget rep told me that a reservation does not guarantee a truck. I have since heard that Penske is the only company where a reservation does actually guarantee a truck.

  • Mary says:

    I had to move maybe 3 or 4 times in the past year due to school stuff. Definitely my best tip is to pack as you would for regular travel. This means rolling up your clothes, stuffing them in crevices of boxes, basically packing smart to maximize space. You would be amazed at how much you can reduce the number of boxes you need. Cloth items can be compressed way, way down using vacuum-seal bags (you can get these pretty inexpensively at Ikea now) or ziploc bags. If you’re packing a car for the move, REMOVE ANY EMERGENCY SUPPLIES BEFORE PACKING THE CAR and put these items on the very top of the rest of the stuff you packed. I learned this the hard way– you don’t want to have to unpack all your stuff just to get a bottle of motor oil or your first aid kit. Of course, eat up as much of your food as you can before the move.

  • Mary says:

    I had to move maybe 3 or 4 times in the past year due to school stuff. Definitely my best tip is to pack as you would for regular travel. This means rolling up your clothes, stuffing them in crevices of boxes, basically packing smart to maximize space. You would be amazed at how much you can reduce the number of boxes you need. Cloth items can be compressed way, way down using vacuum-seal bags (you can get these pretty inexpensively at Ikea now) or ziploc bags. If you’re packing a car for the move, REMOVE ANY EMERGENCY SUPPLIES BEFORE PACKING THE CAR and put these items on the very top of the rest of the stuff you packed. I learned this the hard way– you don’t want to have to unpack all your stuff just to get a bottle of motor oil or your first aid kit. Of course, eat up as much of your food as you can before the move.

  • Mandi Harris says:

    Shop around for moving companies. Some times there is a several hundred dollar difference between companies such as Budget and U-Haul. Also – if you are flexible on days – try several different days – sometimes weekdays are cheaper than weekends.

    Budget offers an extra 15% off if you use and American Express credit card.

    Don’t pay for the insurance through the moving company – rely on your own car insurance (unless you are nervous about it).

    Don’t get too large of a truck – pack well into boxes that stack – pack the most necessary things first – if it doesn’t fit – don’t take it. The smaller trucks are cheaper and get better gas mileage.

  • Kirsten says:

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments, so I am not sure if these tips were already shared, but another great place to get nice free boxes is a liquor store. Those boxes are very sturdy since they have to hold heavy bottles!

    When we did an out of state move a year or so ago, my husband called several companies to get quotes on rental trucks. After company A had the lowest rate, he called back companies B, C and so on to see if any of them would match or beat that rate. Then when one of those companies gave a lower rate, he called back company “A” to see if they would in turn beat that rate, and they did! We got a very low rate, lower than anything we could find online.

  • amanda says:

    for free (and sturdy!) boxes for breakables, call a local liquor store and go up on their delivery day! they are made for holding glass and the seperate compartments in the wine boxes come in handy!

    If you have freecycle in your area, that is another great source. You can post your request and an email os sent out for all members. is also a great place to just get rid of items. When we moved across country, their were quite a few things i gave away because i didn’t want to deal with having to schedule a time to meet buyers (if i did craigslist).

    u-pack is a cheaper way to move. They drop the truck off and you fill it up (with help from family/friends). When it arrives at the new destination, you have a few days to unload.

  • Ace1234 says:

    Haven’t read all posts, so may be repeating… If you’re looking for free tissue paper to wrap things up, sewing stores regularly discard discontinued patterns. They send the envelope back to the manufacturer for a credit, but will give you all of the tissue paper from the patterns. We moved ourselves from the west coast to the midwest with a pick up truck full of dress patterns wrapped around our breakables. Heh.

  • Chelsey says:

    I didn’t have time to read through all the comments, but when we’ve moved my mom has always gotten boxes from hospitals and grocery stores. They’re free, sturdy and you can get them as big or as small as you need them to be.

  • Emily says:

    Meh! Don’t ever BUY boxes! Freecycle or grocery stores are the perfect places to get them.

    We recently moved about 100 miles, and had a group of family there to help load the truck. We had help unloading the truck due to our horrific experience with buying our house, so I can’t really give much advice other than do it yourself!

  • Ace1234 says:

    My husband just reminded me that we gathered boxes from Starbucks in the weeks before our move. The boxes were very strong, a uniform size, and FREE! yeah!

  • Amy says:

    I just went to our local small town newspaper and asked for the end rolls of newsprint. They gave me two large ends for FREE and I used that to wrap all my breakable items and to use as extra stuffers in boxes.

  • Sienna says:

    People often post their moving boxes for free on Craigslist – beats begging the stores for them.

  • Cynthia says:

    Try your local – there are often posts for free moving boxes and you can all request boxes.

  • Gina says:

    You can get boxes and packing materials free from Craigslist or Freecycle. Don’t pay for them!

  • We used ABF UPack. You rent space on a trailer. This was more cost effective for us than driving a UHaul.

  • Karen says:

    Penske trucks are the way to go! They don’t limit you on mileage like the U-Haul trucks do.
    When we were moving back to Alabama from Florida, we drove over the FLorida line into GA to pick up a truck because it was over $1,000 cheaper!!!! Yep…that is not a typo! And because they don’t count mileage it was cheaper to drive the distance!!! Hope this helps!

  • Shayleen says:

    I would definitely move myself especially if someone could help drive either the moving truck or your car. One other thing…$2000 sounds like a great price for a moving company. Make sure they are reputable though. You can also look at the break-down they charge to load each box, etc. It can come out to be $9 per box and you know they fill half the boxes they pack with paper to increase the cost! So…if you can pack most of the boxes yourself and then just have a company load it all up and move it for you, that will save you lots too!

  • LeAnna C says:

    We are in the process of moving from WI around the lake to MI but it will be a good 12 hour move with 2 little ones. We are downsizing so we aren’t hanging onto much so a 16ft box truck works for us. When I was looking around at trucking companies I realized the two main competitors for individual use unless using a huge semi truck are Penske and U-Haul. I got quotes online and Penske called me right away with great, English speaking customer service. They gave me a pretty good deal but I wanted to talk it over with my husband so she put my quote on hold and I gave her a time to call back. So the next day before she was to call, I gave U-Haul a fighting chance and told them exactly what Penske’s offer was, to my surprise, they beat Penske by a lot…so I had them put my offer on hold and I talked to the Penske lady and after telling her about U-Haul’s offer she talked with her manager and have us a great deal, slightly more than U-Haul but because of the CS we went with Penske. So for around $522 we got packing pads, a dolly, 4 days, 24/7 roadside service, insurance from them protecting us against any damage to the vehicle from us or anybody else, that also includes their environmental fees. The truck does get 8-10 miles per gallon but most of them get that or worse.

  • I recently moved from out-of-state. I posted a bunch of frugal moving tips in July on my blog. You can also click “frugal tips” in the archive. I’ve moved so many times, I’m almost a pro! Check it out and Good luck!

  • Anna says:

    We just moved two weeks ago. I was shocked when I looked into the price of moving vans for going across the country…it would have been cheaper for us to just sell all our furniture and buy it again once we arrived (since it was mostly free or garage sale stuff).

    But, trailers are much cheaper than moving vans. So, we got rid of lots of stuff and the rest we loaded up in the trailer/van.

    To save on food costs I made up meals in advance for the busy days I knew we would have while packing.

  • Amy says:

    We have moved way too much too… lots of good advice here! The best way we found to get a good deal on a moving truck is to think about the law of supply and demand. Their prices are flexible, so when the demand is high, so is the price. Check into different pick-up/drop-off locations, as well as different dates. The result may save you hundreds!

  • Jessica says:

    Another great resource is Freecycle. It’s a yahoo group in your local area (just search for your city, or nearest large city). You can post “wanteds”, so this is a great place to post that you need some boxes. Simple rule for freecycle is that it has to be free. Also, if you have a lot of stuff that you want to get rid of, post it here to give away to someone who could put it to good use, instead of throwing it away. The purpose of freecycle is to keep things out of landfills. You may think it is junk, but someone else may not.

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you everyone for all of your answers!!!

    I absolutely got my boxes for free–from behind a TJ Maxx dumpster. Everything is packed and in storage (I am hoping that when I find a new employer, he/she will pay to relocate me); my car is in another storage. I did this to get out of my costly FL apartment so that I could find another renter and get out of my lease, and because storage units usually offer one month free or for application fees (ended up spending about $90 on both storage units, and I have until Sept. 1 when I owe more on these). I am debating whether to fly back to FL and get help loading everything into a Uhaul and dragging my car behind me, or a moving service. With airfare, gas, hotels, etc., the price actually seems almost the same for if I were to do all of the labor myself. But I do have some great tips from EVERYONE and will be looking deeply into these. In the meantime, please cross your fingers for me that my new employer will pay or help me out–I have my first interview next Wednesday!

    Thank you all.

  • Jennie says:

    We’re currently going through a move right NOW! The cheapest route for us from AZ to MI was

    I was shocked when they’re quote was going to be cheaper than us driving a moving van and paying for all the gas.

    With Upack, you pack all the boxes and load it up yourself, then they drive it across country to your destination.

    Upack also has a blog with great tips on moving in general and how to consolidate space with how to use the least amount of space while packing!

    Look on craigslist for boxes under FREE section. Good luck!

  • Morgan says:

    I have made MANY moves in my lifetime. I’ve moved across town about 3 times, to a neighboring city about 2 times and from Georgia to California, California to Georgia and Georgia back to California. Whoa!


    1) NEVER pay ANYTHING for moving boxes. They are ALWAYS available for free on Craigslist or at grocery stores if you ask or even local businesses.

    2) Have a yard sale. Simplify your belongings and make a little money at the same time. Saves time, moving expenses and packing efforts.

    3)Instead of buying bubble wrap (unless you got it for free from Craigslist) wrap your breakables in your dishtowels, t-shirts, sweaters, recylced newspapers, whatever you can find. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

    4)Suitcases double as moving boxes.

    When we moved from California to Georgia, we bought a used U-Haul truck from Craigslist (private owner) in California. Then we got to take our time in filling it up because we weren’t paying by the day. Once we got to our destination, we resold it on Craigslist there for about the very same price we bought it for. So we ended up just paying for the GAS!

    6) The last time we moved (Georgia to California), we sold everything except for the essentials and filled my Honda Civic to the brim to make the drive. We haven’t missed any of the stuff we left or sold. Our friends here have graciously donated their used furniture here and there.


  • Elisarose says:

    My husband is in the ministry so we have moved around quite a bit. One of the hazards of ministry moves is that you may or may not have people offer/want to help based on their current attitude towards you! Two memorable moves have been when I was 8 months pregnant (yes, 2 times I was 8 months pregnant and we had to leave the churches we were at and move across the country)! The first time this happened, my husband drove me and our son to the new state, then he flew back packed and loaded the U-Haul all by himself. No help. Miserable. The second move while pregnant, the church we were going to offered to pay for a moving company to move us. Needless to say, with 3 young children and a big old belly ready to pop with a baby, this was a complete Godsend. The moving company experience wasn’t flawless, but it was definitely a lot less stressful and much physically easier. If we had not gone that route, the church we were leaving would not have offered help, so we would have been in the same predicament as before. So for us, the moving company was definitely worth the extra bucks.

  • Susannah says:

    I’m sure this has been said (haven’t read through the comments), but I tapped Freecycle for moving boxes and got a ton, and met some really nice folks in the process too (they gave me even more stuff than the boxes, actually).

  • Dianne V says:

    For a stress free move – a few weeks before it, set up a plan of action for the movers, friends and family for the moving day. As you pack boxes, create an inventory list of the items in the boxes and what items are being moved. This is an amazing tool to check against on moving day. Check basements, garages, attics, closets and storage units for extra stored items that need to be moved. All of these items need to be moved on moving day.

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