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Moving on a Budget: 11 Tips to Save Money on a Move

Couple packing up their home, moving on a budget
fizkes / Shutterstock

Whether you’re moving across town or to the opposite coast, relocating can be both exciting and stressful. Whatever your reason for moving, it’s a big job that can get expensive, which means it’s important to budget moving costs early if you want to find the cheapest way to move.

Research from MYMOVE puts the average cost of moving across town using professional movers at almost $500. If you plan to move across the state or the country, those costs can increase significantly, so it’s important to map out a moving budget.

Before you get started packing, make a plan to find the cheapest way to move long-distance or locally that fits your needs, your wallet, and your timeline. Let’s discuss how to move on a budget.

11 tips for moving cheap

If your number one goal during this process is to find the cheapest way to move, there are a few tips you should keep in mind. With some time, effort, and dedication, you can shave off hundreds — or even thousands — from your moving budget.

1. Do a DIY move

If you’re looking for how to save a lot of money, a DIY move is your best option. This type of move is one where you handle every aspect of the move on your own. Here are some ways you can handle a DIY move:

  • Borrow a truck: A friend or family member who’s willing to loan you their truck will help you avoid spending money on a truck rental.
  • Rent a moving truck: If you can afford to spend a little bit of money, you can rent a moving truck and significantly cut down on the number of trips you have to make between your old place and your new home. Packing and driving the truck yourself can help keep costs down.
  • Rent a moving container: This can be more expensive than renting a truck, but it’s also more convenient. Companies (like PODS) will deliver the container to your current place, then you pack it up, and they deliver it to your new place where you can unpack.
  • Rent a trailer: If you’re moving a short distance and the weather is nice, you can save money by renting a trailer instead of a truck. Moving trailers are often cheaper than moving trucks, so you’ll save money right off the bat.
  • Hire laborers to help load/unload the truck: You also have the option of renting a truck and packing your own boxes, but hiring help when it comes to carrying and loading. This way, you’ll save some money by doing the packing yourself and will also save time by letting the pros get everything onto the truck.
DistanceDIY Move*Professional Movers**Savings
>25 miles$275$465$190
100 miles$389$2,059$1,670
500 miles$946$2,538$1,592
1,000 miles$1,578$3,512$1,934
3,000 miles$3,919$5,404$1,485
*For 15’ U-Haul Truck (1 Bedroom Home to 2 Bedroom Apt.), 1-2 Bedroom Kit from U-Haul, and average price of gas($3.314/gallon) and 10 MPG
**Average of quotes through MYMOVE for 2-bedroom apartment (no car shipment)

Potential savings: $190 – $1,934

2. Look for free moving boxes and packing supplies

There are a number of options for finding free moving boxes in your area:

  • Asking friends, family, and co-workers for free boxes.
  • Scope out your local grocery, liquor, book, or big box store.
  • Search “boxes” on websites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and OfferUp.
  • Try your local recycling plant.

Potential savings: $50

3. Hunt for moving discounts

You may have access to moving discounts through organizations such as AAA and the military. Many companies also offer moving discounts for students. And if none of those groups apply to you, there are a number of coupons available for people in the process of making a move.

Potential savings: $100

4. Get multiple moving estimates

If you’re going to be using professional movers, one of the best ways to save money is by getting multiple moving estimates. You can use our free tool to contact multiple moving companies and compare quotes at once. We recommend getting at least four estimates so you can find the best deal.

Potential savings: $100 – $500

5. Host a moving sale

Hosting a yard sale before your move is beneficial in two ways: you’ll pick up a little extra cash to help pay for moving costs and you’ll cut back on the amount of items you need to pack up and move.

Potential savings: $100 – $1,000

6. Remember to cancel or transfer your utilities

Paying the bills is never fun, especially when you’re doing it for two places at once. Before you move, remember to shut off your electric, cable, and internet service at your old place. You can also save money on your new services by comparing the options available at your new address. Many internet providers offer deals for new customers like free streaming subscriptions and discounted service.

Potential savings: $100 – $300

7. Recruit your friends and family

Don’t want to spend money on movers? The cheapest way to move is by recruiting free help packing, loading, and unloading from your friends and family. But be kind and pay them with pizza, please.

Potential savings: $200

8. Use containers you already own

Minimize the amount you need to spend on moving boxes. Use containers you already own — such as plastic tubs, dressers, chests of drawers, and file cabinets — to pack miscellaneous items.

Potential savings: $40

9. Donate unnecessary or unwanted items

Use what Marie Kondo taught you and get rid of anything that does not bring you joy. Fewer possessions mean less to move. Many organizations will pick up donations for free, so you don’t have to worry about them.

Potential savings: $100

10. Find free storage

If you need to store some of your items for a time during or after your move, look for free options, such as the attic or spare bedroom at a family member’s house.

Potential savings: $100

11. Get creative with packing

There are tons of life-hack videos online that will teach you how to use what you have and save room when you pack. Learn and apply hacks that will help you pack with extreme efficiency to cut down on supplies and space needed.

Potential savings: $80

College woman packing box with books
George Rudy / Shutterstock

What to consider when setting a moving budget

If moving cheap is the goal, then you need to set a moving budget from the very beginning. Several unexpected expenses may come up during a move if you do not take the time to consider what it will cost to either hire professional help or do it yourself.


Your timeline is the factor (other than your budget) that will have the biggest impact on what moving services you decide to pay for. If you need to be moved into your new home right away in order to start a job, then it may be worth the cost to hire movers who can get you packed and moved quickly. If you’re not in a hurry to move, you can save some money by going the DIY route.

Physical resources

Budget moving means knowing which of your physical resources will impact what moving services are right for you.If you can’t lift heavy boxes and load them onto a moving truck, you’ll need the help of some strong friends or professional movers.

Moving experience

Your level of experience with packing and moving can help you decide if you need help from professional packers and/or movers. Do you know how to pack a box in a way that maximizes the available space? Have you ever driven a moving truck? If you’re short on time, space, and experience, it may be worth your money to call in the pros.

Tools and equipment

There are a number of tools that make the process of moving easier and quicker. For example, a dolly and moving straps are essential when moving heavy appliances and cutting down on multiple trips. Do you have the tools you need for a quick and safe move? Are you willing to purchase what you need?


Do you have other important supplies like moving blankets, bubble wrap, and a roll of plastic on your list? Consider the cost of purchasing these things in relation to what it would cost to hire professional movers who bring their own supplies.

The bottom line

There are many factors to consider when creating your moving budget, but this should be something you examine early on in the moving process. You need to decide what type of move is right for you, whether you do it all yourself or hire professional help. That, along with the time and distance of your move, will factor into the final cost.

Frequently Asked Questions


How much should I budget for moving expenses?


Zillow estimates the average cost of an in-town move is $475. The further away you move, the higher the expense—it may be in the thousands for a cross-country, full-service move. Use our free moving quotes tool to get estimates based on the specifics of your move.


Are there tax incentives for moving?


The only tax incentives available for moving are for active-duty members of the military.


Is it cheaper to move during the week?


The cost of hiring movers can be lower during the week, but if you’re saving money by getting help from family and friends, the least expensive time to move is whenever they’re available to help.


What is the cheapest truck rental for moving?


The cost of renting a moving truck varies wildly depending on where you live, the size you need, and how far you plan to drive it. Major moving truck retailers include Budget, U-Haul, and Enterprise.


Will my employer pay for my move?


Some employers will pay for relocation assistance as part of their offer. Talk to your employer before agreeing to move to determine if you’ll be reimbursed for your moving expenses.


How do I determine if the cost of moving is too high to switch jobs?


Calculating a moving budget before you agree to move for a job change can help you determine if the moving costs are too high to justify the move.

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