This is my fantasy move: First, I would have to “own” both places at once. Both the house I am moving from, and the house I am moving to. I would guess that overlap would need to be for about a month. Then I could pack a few boxes at a time, starting with my least-needed items, take them to the new residence, and put them neatly away. Once we got down to the most highly-needed items, I would spend a full day moving and situating them, and then have the movers (which would more than likely be my sons) move in the big stuff. Order pizza, turn on a movie, and sit down to a nice, relaxing evening in my new house.
Unfortunately, it has never gone like that! Moving is a lot of work, and can be quite stressful, especially if you’ve been in your home for a number of years. The amount of stuff you accumulate can be overwhelming. You may not even be aware of how much you have until you start emptying out those closets, drawers, basements, and garages. The ballpark cost to move a household professionally is about $1 per pound. Before you start thinking that that amount doesn’t sound too bad, keep in mind that an average 2-bedroom, 1200-square-foot home includes almost 9000 pounds of furniture, personal items, and other household goods.
So, if you’ve got an extra $10K lying around, you’re set. But what if you don’t — or you simply don’t want to shell out that much cash? Good news: You can cut that number way down with a little mental effort and sweat equity.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Start Planning Your Move as Soon as You Know One is Imminent
The more time you have to plan, the more time you have to get rid of unwanted items, ship things ahead, whittle down your possessions, shop around for comparisons, and even do it yourself. If you’ve got to move out by next week, you’re going to have a lot less flexibility than if you have six months to work your plan.
Pick up Supplies Along the Way
Moving boxes can be expensive — up to five dollars a box or more for specialty packaging. Instead of buying them, scoop them up on your own. You can pick up boxes at almost any store. Sams Club, Costco, BJs or even grocery stores and liquor stores have a variety of boxes — but don’t think bigger is better! Sometimes fully-loaded big boxes are too heavy for one person to lift and defeat the purpose of DIYIng. Ask a manager what the best pick up times are, or if there is a spot out in the open where you can just grab some empties as you like.
You can also advertise on Craigslist.com, Freecycle.com, or just through word-of-mouth that you’re looking for packing materials. Anyone who’s moved recently to your location probably is just dying to get rid of the piles of boxes and wrap residing in their basement or garage. Know an office manager? Ask them to save boxes that copy paper comes in. They’re perfect for moving.
Forget the Bubble Wrap
While it can be fun to sit and pop the bubbles after you have unpacked everything at the new place, paying an extra cost for bubble wrap just isn’t necessary. You can use newspaper, magazines, towels, dishcloths, comforters, or even bed sheets, if they are thick enough to pack your items in. Items just need to be separated and secured from smashing into each other, a goal that can be accomplished easily with materials you can find around your house.
Purge, Purge, Purge!
If something does not have truly sentimental meaning or is an item that can be replaced, then GET RID of it! The less you have to move, the less boxes you’ll have to pack and the quicker you can finish up your move.
Rent a Trailer Instead of a Truck
This idea is a real money-saver if you’re only moving across town or only have a small house to move across country. Some people think that renting a moving truck is the best choice since everything can be loaded up in one shot. However, a trailer can often be more cost-effective. Calculate gas money, mileage, costs for renting vehicles, and what other fees you may have to deal with before you make your decision.
Pack it Yourself
It sounds great to have a crew of people descend on your house and pack it up for you in a matter of hours. But you pay for that privilege, to the tune of about $20 per worker per hour! That’s money flushed down the john when you think it’s just a matter of working at it, a bit at a time. Again, the longer time you have, the better off you are.
The real key to DIYing your move is to handle as much as you can yourself, from finding materials to packing, transporting, and unloading at the other end. Sure, it takes time, but most people find it well worth the effort.