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Ask the Readers | Frugal Moving Advice

Attention, FG community! A reader needs your help.   She’s got a cross-country move coming up, and she needs some tips on doing this frugally.

I’ve only ever moved a few miles at a time, so I am no help here!

reused cereal box for shipping

I know many of you have weathered long-distance moves, though, so could you read her question and share your best ideas with her in the comments?

I’d love to hear your (or others’) thoughts on how to move on a budget. My only major move so far has been within the state as a single girl without much to transport. Over the past few years I’ve acquired quite a few household essentials, a husband, and a newborn, and now need to move them all across the country. Our move date is a bit flexible, and we have the option of staying with family for a few weeks between leaving and arriving.

decluttering papers

I’m hoping there’s a way to leverage that flexibility to reduce moving expenses. Some local friends can pitch in a bit on this end, and we have a few friends in our new town, but we don’t want to rely too much on helpful folks.

We’ll need to move two vehicles, and driving them or a moving truck across the country ourselves isn’t an option for us.

I know there’s a lot of collective wisdom in the FG community, and I’d be grateful to hear ideas for navigating this move.


Alrighty, readers! Leave your moving wisdom for Catherine in the comments.


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Thursday 8th of November 2018

What an exciting time in your life! Moving is awesome, stressful, freeing, scary, and all of the feelings. You've got this.

Frequent mover here. Until moving to Illinois almost 4 years ago, DH and I had never lived longer than 2.5 years in any one city, and sometimes multiple locations within the same city. Minnesota, Cincinnati, Seattle, then the greater Chicago area. We paid for all of our moves, except the last one that got us from Seattle to Chicago. Our move out to Seattle was by far our furthest move, and our most expensive. Between shipping boxes freight, buying furniture for the new place (it was cheaper than shipping our old furniture, plus we were majorly downsizing, so what we had wouldn't work in the new place), and taking the Empire Builder train (awesome, highly recommend as an experience!), that move cost us about $6000.

First piece of advice: Declutter, Declutter, DECLUTTER!!

Every single object you move costs money.

Sell, donate, give away as much as humanly possible. If it's something you can easily replace in your new location, get rid of it. If you haven't used it in the past 12 months, forgot you had it, or it's something your youngest has grown out of and doesn't have major, major sentimental value, get rid of it. This includes furniture. And cars.

A big move like this is like a fire, only you get to choose what survives!

When we moved from Cincinnati to Seattle, I got rid of over 50% of the stuff in our 1400-sqft 4-BR 1952 Cape Cod, and it was glorious.

We didn't move any furniture, either sold, donated, or gave it to my parents to use in their new house.

We sold our only car, and then chose an apartment that allowed us to live without a car for 2.5 years to save money.

Second piece of advice: Get multiple quotes, including traditional movers, pod-style movers, and freight. Some moving companies (I'm look at you, Two Men and a Truck) are set up more for local moves, so their long-distance quotes may be much higher than a company that specializes in long-distance moving.

Third piece of advice: Check into move-related tax deductions. Certain moving expenses can be written off as a tax deduction, depending on the reason for the move, and some other factors. If you have a tax expert, use him/her, and if not, check out Turbo Tax. Keep your receipts!


Tuesday 6th of November 2018

Think about the car situation. Could you sell one before you move and purchase one on the other end? Anything you can let go will save you tons!


Tuesday 6th of November 2018

I feel like the easiest way to save money is to be prepared for when you get to the new house. Pack up your basic kitchen supplies in a box that you keep with you or that you will unpack first. This way you can use your kitchen right away and not have to eat out. Taking a trip to the grocery store the first day and getting the bare essentials will help too. Get everything squared away with the new house so that you will have electricity and running water when you move in, so you don't unexpectedly have to stay in a hotel or live without water. If you need something like the carpets cleaned by a professional, schedule it before you move your stuff in. Something you can get an empty house discount as it makes their job easier. I guess what it really comes down to is being prepared so you can save money on expenses you could plan for.

Barb F.

Tuesday 6th of November 2018

If weather is different from current location, pack some changes of clothing accordingly for your arrival to new city. Definitely empty trash cans, we had to dump "packed trash" upon arrival in new state. I packed us on our first military move, numbered every box, and kept a corresponding list with me. Helped to prioritize unpacking only essentials until other boxes were needed. And it helped when movers arrived with our shipment to be able to direct them as to which rooms got specific boxes, or garage for boxes not needing opening immediately. Labor intensive job up front, but paid off on the back side of the move. Skip frugal tips while packing kitchen and use paper and plasticware so you can pack your dishes, etc. I, too, packed a box of necessities for use before truck arrived. Alarm clock, a skillet and cooking spoon, paper products (toilet paper, paper towel roll, all purpose-cleaner, mop/bucket/vacuum), whatever you need to get new house up and running before furniture covers it. And accept help from friends who offer meals while you pack. Just request they bring it in something disposable. Not frugal, I know, but sometimes there just isn't time or energy to be frugal. You will get back to it in the new town. Enjoy the transition to a new area. Creating new memories for a lifetime.


Tuesday 6th of November 2018

We moved 3 times in the first 3 years of our retirement and it was really hard and also expensive. I thought I had purged but there was still so much stuff.I would have NOT moved some of our larger furniture if I had it to do again— could have bought new. When I even HEAR of someone moving I get the Heebie jeebies. My most frugal advice is STAY PUT! LOL! The less you move the more money you save. We made a coup;le of “mistakes” in choosing our living arrangements for retirement but it all worked out in the long run.We just spent a bit on The moving and it was exhausting!! S00– why do Americans move on the average of once every 7 years ?? (I think here in Az. It is every 4 years..) Usesd to be we bought a home, lived it in for our entire married lives,Paid it off!!!! That’s where we’re at now,thank goodness!! I know some have to move for work. But the less you move, the more money you keep in the bank! ANd CERTAINLY less stress!!!

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