When my wife and I recently moved from our beloved home of 30-plus years, a friend sent us a greeting card. On the front it read, “Home is where the heart is…” And on the inside, “even if you can’t remember what box you packed it in.” I think if you’ve ever moved, you can relate to that! Moving can be expensive and trying, but there have been a lot of changes since you last moved that can make your move easier and save you money, too. Here’s how…
Make your move easier with apps. Before you even think about packing your first box, arm yourself with these apps to save time and money…
Unpakt lets you get quotes from multiple moving companies by filling out one form, and you can book and pay for the move on the app or website. You also can read customer reviews of the moving companies. The app lets you add and remove items from your packing list to see how that affects the cost of your move.
Wunderlist, a useful to-do app, lets you create multiple lists with due dates and reminders, so that you stay on track. Moving involves a seemingly endless number of details. You can create lists of items to move…all the accounts you need to switch or close before leaving…items to drop off at Goodwill…tasks to tackle first at the new place…and keep track of anything else you can put into list form.
MagicPlan turns pictures of rooms in your new home into detailed floor plans to help you figure out in advance where everything can go…and what stuff you’re better off leaving behind.
Sortly, an inventory organizer, helps you avoid the common problem that my friend pointed out in his bon voyage card. It lets you keep track of the contents of each box you pack by snapping photos and storing them in digital “boxes” in the app…and with a premium version (starting at $5/month), you can create a label for each actual moving box and later scan the label with your phone to learn exactly what’s inside.
Downsize and donate. Selling spare stuff at a garage sale, consignment store or online takes time, which usually is at a premium during the moving process. Instead, consider donating items to a qualified charity before you move and taking a charitable tax deduction. It’s true that under the new federal tax law, a much higher standard deduction means far fewer people can benefit tax-wise from itemizing deductions, charitable or otherwise. But depending on the value of what you choose to leave behind when you move, you might save not only on moving costs but also increase your itemized deductions for a tax benefit as well.
You know that Goodwill and the Salvation Army are good choices for donating furniture, clothing and household items, but also consider the following specialized charities to help your unneeded items get to the people who need them the most—for baby toys and supplies, Baby2Baby…leftover building supplies, appliances, large furniture and other household items that many other charities won’t accept, Habitat for Humanity Restores…nonperishable food items, MoveForHunger or your local food bank…last-minute donations, Pickup Please, a program of the Vietnam Veterans of America that will come pick up clothing, many appliances and other household items at your home often within 24 hours.
You pack and load it, they move it. One of the innovations in the moving industry since you may have last moved are services that bring a large (walk-in size) portable storage container to your current home and leave it there—so you can pack and load the container yourself at your own pace and to your own standards of care. Then the company picks up your loaded container and delivers it to your new home, where you can move in at your own pace. It saves do-it-yourselfers the nail-biting exercise of learning to drive a 26-foot rental truck, and it’s likely to save you some serious money compared with hiring a moving company. The financial information site MagnifyMoney.com found that a sample move via a portable storage unit ranged from $1,892 to $2,815 while the same move with a full-service mover cost $4,739—a savings of about $2,000 or more. Fees vary greatly depending on the company, where you are moving, and how much storage you need, so comparison-shop carefully. Portable On Demand Storage (PODS) is the company that claims to have invented the concept of portable, noncommercial storage units, although now there are a number of companies offering similar services, including Zippyshell, 1-800-PACK-RAT and U-Box, which is a service of U-Haul.
Buy boxes for less. The cost of boxes can add up fast. When we moved, we found free boxes offered on Craigslist, and between that and our library and trusty liquor store, we managed to come up with the requisite boxes. If you’re not so lucky or would rather not bother, you still can save money compared with just buying boxes at a store—check out BoxCycle.com. This website connects people and businesses that have lightly used boxes and want to sell them with folks who need boxes and want to save money buying them. It’s good for the environment and good for your bank account, and if you have boxes you want to sell after your move, you can list them for sale on BoxCycle for free. (The service keeps a commission when your boxes sell.) Tip: If you have a lot of boxes of books to ship, compare the cost of shipping them via US Postal Service Media Mail with what your moving company will charge you—you might be in for some hefty savings.
Timing saves you cash. Last but not least, timing can save you a lot when you move, provided that you’re flexible. According to the website Moving.com, if you’re looking to save money when hiring a professional mover, plan your move for late September through April, when demand for moving services is lowest. Even if you can’t move within that period, try to schedule your move midweek, when moving companies tend to be less busy.