19 Tips for Relocating (On the Cheap)

tips for relocating across the country on pennies

I just so happen to know a good number of people who are moving now so I thought it would be good to cover some tips for relocating to a new town. Most of these tips will also work if you are just moving across town.

One of my worst moves of all-time was when I was moving to a new apartment right around the corner from where I was living. I thought it would be the easiest move EVER because it was just around the corner so I didn’t pack things as I should. I also drug the whole process out far too long by moving over the course of a few days, instead of just busting it out over a day or afternoon. So, needless to say, now I always pack like I’m moving across the country even if it’s just across town.

Bust it out. Get it done.

Here are 19 tips for relocating across the country (or across town) for pennies:

1. Ask for Assistance

If you are moving due to a job change, be sure to ask your new employer if they offer any type of relocation assistance to help you cover costs of the move and resettlement into a new place. They just might so you don’t want to leave any funds, or help on the table.

2. Hoard Packing Materials

Every time you visit the grocery store ask customer service for any heavy-duty boxes they still have after restocking their shelves. The liquor store is also a good place to get boxes that are segregated which makes packing glasses and knick-knacks much easier. Collect other materials like newspaper and bubble wrap from family and friends to prevent having to spend money on those types of packing materials. Old blankets are a great way to protect the furniture that’s going with you.

3. Start a Packing Timeline

If you are not in a rush, start a few weeks early by writing down a plan of attack. The less stress you have trying to get and stay organized, the less money you’ll spend purely out of convenience.

4. Keep a “Hold All” Box

Keep one larger box or a plastic tub to the side where you will keep all of your must-have items such as packing tape, pens, markers, scissors, paper, important documents, medicines, toiletries, and anything you’ll need until the minute you leave home. This will prevent having to buy new stuff every time you pack away or lose things you need. Keep this box with you at all times so you can get access to these important items when you reach your destination.

5. Keep an “Open First” Box

This is like the Hold All packing box, but not unlike the above box where your priority items are this box will hold what should be considered your 2nd on the list priority items. Give some thought to what items you’ll need (or want) to have right when you get to your new home. Maybe you’ll want to include things like the coffee maker, coffee cups, toilet paper, towels, and toys to keep the kids busy.

6. Label All Boxes

It can be really easy to skip this step or to just do it sloppily. Some people would actually rather go out and buy new items instead of searching through yet another box for something they need. Nip unnecessary spending in the bud by marking each box with a permanent marker noting what room it belongs in with a brief list of what’s inside. Try to avoid my technique that usually comes out at the end of the packing experience where I throw stuff into the boxes and just label them all MISCELLANEOUS…;)

7. Clean as You Go

When you pack up an area, give it a good cleaning immediately after the space has been cleared. This will keep things efficient and prevent you from having to hire cleaners to do your entire residence when you are sick of the moving process. Cleaning will also be beneficial if you rent and are counting on a security deposit refund.

8. Ditch the Junk

Keep a JUNK and GARAGE SALE box close by. While you’re boxing up your keepers, you’ll easily be able to toss your junk and garage sale items into their proper boxes. Moving is a great chance to clear out the stuff that finds a way to accumulate over the years. Plus, you’ll spend more money if you have to move boxes of stuff you don’t even want anymore. Sell anything that is still in good shape by having a moving sale when you near the end of your packing process.

When you make your donation to the thrift store be sure to get a donation receipt because that will come in handy when tax time rolls around.

9. Be a Sell Out

It may benefit you financially to move across the country as light as possible. Consider the cost difference between hiring a large moving truck to haul your large items versus the cost of buying new stuff when you get to your destination. What you discover may surprise you (or it may not)!

10. Check Out Storage Options

For any family heirlooms or pieces you may want back at some point, consider renting a low-cost storage unit to house your items until you can have them set to your new place of residence and cheaper option is to consider asking trusted friends or family to house your treasures in their homes until you can arrange for transportation. If you do decide to go with the storage unit be sure that you don’t forget about it and continue to rack up $50 + a month in fees. (Check out this post for more on the subject: Do You Have Too Much Crap? Money Wasted on Self-Storage)

11. Get Several Quotes on Moving Companies 

If you decide to have a moving company move your stuff be sure you get multiple estimates and quotes before making a decision. You want affordability, of course, but you also want reliability.

12. Pack It Yourself

Moving companies will provide you with a moving team, a truck and a driver all you have to do it pack up the truck yourself and they’ll drive it across the country.

13. Be Truck Smart

If you plan to rent your own moving truck and haul your stuff across country on your own, make sure to only reserve the truck size you need. It can be bad to underestimate the space you’ll need in the truck but it will cost you a lot of extra money (in gas and truck rental fees) if you book a truck that is too large.

14. Pack Strategically

It can be tempting to just fling your boxes inside the truck. Give yourself enough time to ensure you pack strategically using every ounce of space in the most logical way. This way you will be able to make sure everything fits and that it will be protected along the journey.

15. Seek Out Hotel Deals

When you have to travel a long distance and plan to do it on the road, you’ll need to consider stopping to rest. You can find valuable coupons in the books available for free at state welcome centers. Look for coupons for hotel deals and restaurants along the way and online before you leave.

16. Reach Out to Friends

If you have friends and family along the travel route, ask them if you can borrow their couch for a night rather than spending your money on hotel lodging. Plan out your travel time so you can leave some extra time to hang out with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while.

17. Camp Along the Way

If the weather is nice and you don’t have any friends or family along your route, consider camping out instead of staying at a hotel. Pick a campground that has showers and you’ll be set for another day of traveling.

18. Pack a Cooler

Depending on the room available in your vehicle you can save a good amount of cash if you pack your own snacks and drinks for the morning and afternoon. Then, only stop for dinner.

19. Don’t Buy Until Settled In

When you make it to your new home, give yourself time to unwind and unpack. Don’t rush out to the store to buy what you think you need. Give yourself time to sort through your stuff and get set up, keeping a list of ideas along the way. If you rush off to the store the 1st week you’re in town it will likely lead to overspending, especially on things that you don’t really need. The only store you need to hit in the first few weeks is the grocery store.

 

Do you have any tips that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear them!

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10 comments


10 thoughts on “19 Tips for Relocating (On the Cheap)

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  1. Lauren

    Toilet paper in the “open first” box is my most favorite moving advice, EVER. Lack of TP is not the best way to get to know the new neighbors.

    Reply
  2. Stephanie Volkmer

    After 13 moves in almost 7 years one thing I have learned is to have a cleaning party. When you have friends coming over and moving you, ask that some of your girlfriends would come over and help you clean; I’ve done it almost every time and that way everything gets sparkling clean and it usually only takes about an hour, if that depending on the space.

    Reply
  3. Katie S.

    Great tips, thanks for sharing! I’m currently packing for a move, and I went with an idea from Pinterest – color coding labels on the boxes! That way no matter who is helping they know right where to put something when they carry it in. Keep lists at the main doorways and put a piece of matching paper just outside the room to match the box color!

    Reply
  4. Chelsy

    Also– unless your new space has a shower door, don’t forget the shower curtain & rod in that box with the TP (and a towel to dry off with).

    Reply
  5. Diana

    We have no plans to move and yet still I hoard packing materials in a tidy spot in our basement from any packages we get or purchases. When we do eventually move I’ll have excellent boxes to gently pack my belongings in but until then I’m well supplied for Xmas and shipping things to family and friends.

    Reply
  6. Addie Ross

    I like what you said about cleaning while you pack. My husband and I are moving, due to his job, and I have been trying to clean like a mad woman. But it would be so much easier to pack up a room, and then clean it when it’s empty! Thank you so much for sharing these tips, I sure needed them!

    Reply
  7. Lillian Schaeffer

    These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to clean an area immediately after you finish packing it. My husband and I are going to be moving in a couple of months, so I’m trying to get things ready for that. I’ll definitely make sure to thoroughly clean after packing a room so I don’t have to worry about hiring someone or doing it myself later. Thanks for the great post!

    Reply

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