You’re young, free and ready to be on your own. Now, you might wonder why it is that you need a moving guide, and that’s pretty simple. Unless you’re getting handouts from your family or you’re a natural-born entrepreneur – you probably need all the help you can get to cut corners and save money; this is what this moving guide will help you to do. No fluff, no filler – just straight to the chase with money-saving tips for students on the move.
Choosing a transportation method
When you’ve decided to move, probably one of the first things that you want to consider is how you’re going to get you, and your stuff, from point A to point B. Really, the method that you choose will have a large impact on what you can bring with you and what you’ll have to get rid of in order to make your move affordably.
There are really a few choices when it comes to making your move:
- You can hire a professional moving company to transport your belongings and have them professionally “packed” to minimize the chances of damages due to improperly packed items.
- You can choose to use a moving broker who will find the best rates from professional movers for you.
- You can rent a truck and do the packing and moving yourself.
- You can sell and give away everything you own and start over fresh at your new destination.
For points 1-3, you can also consolidate your belongings with friends or family who happen to be moving with you. By sharing truck-space you’ll also be saving money for your move by splitting the costs, thus keeping your costs lower.
Hiring a professional moving company
Hiring a moving company to tote your belongings across the country is an option, and it can make the laborious and mind-numbing task of moving much easier… but there are two common “problems” that people run into if they decide to go this route:
- Weight-based minimums for transporting your belongings
- The overall price of the move
Professional moving companies often will have a minimum-rate based on weight, usually 2,000 pounds – and especially if you do not have a lot of stuff that you’re looking to bring along with you, that minimum rate may end up costing you more than your belongings are worth.
Moving brokers may be able to save you some money on long-distance moving services. Brokers can sometimes negotiate lower weight-minimums and charge less than the going rate for professional moving services, and especially if you plan ahead and have a little bit of flexibility with your move-date, a moving broker might be an affordable option for you. Budget Van Lines is a moving brokerage to check with, and there are others available as well.
Something you should be aware of, however, is that there are fly-by-night moving brokers (online moving brokers) that snag you with a great initial value, but leave you on the hook until you cough up extra cash before delivery so you can get your stuff. As with any semi-large financial transaction with an unfamiliar company, you should do a bit of digging to verify that the brokerage is legitimate, especially if they only offer a website with limited or unverifiable contact information.
Moving yourself with one-way truck rental
Slimy moving brokers aside, many students, both future and former, prefer one-way truck rental as opposed to hiring a professional moving company, if for nothing else than the lower price.
It might be financially advantageous to consider moving yourself if:
- You are a good driver and you can handle the packing, unpacking and loading yourself (or with a little help from friends or family)
- Your planned move is a few-hundred miles or less
- You have a lot of items that you are not willing to part with or large items that will cost you a lot to have professionally moved
Regardless of the method that you choose to transport your items, something that you want to avoid is spending more money on the move than your items are worth. We’ll repeat that again:
Avoid spending more money on your move than your items are worth.
Now, there are exceptions if some of your items hold sentimental value – but it doesn’t make much sense financially to spend $1,500 on moving expenses when the retail value of your belongings is $800; in these cases you might be better off just selling and giving away your things and starting over fresh when you arrive at your destination.
Preparing to move
Once you’ve determined the how you’re going to make your move – it’s time to get ready for that move, and it starts with your stuff; which you likely have a lot of. From furniture and clothing to a computer and boxes full of memorabilia from your younger-years, you probably have more “stuff” than you can really afford to take with you, at least depending on how you plan on transporting your goods.
Moving is expensive, and in many cases the costs of moving are generally directly proportionate to the amount of “stuff” that you’re bringing along with you. In other words, you need to consolidate and lose some of the stuff that you’ve accumulated over the years if you want to keep moving costs low.
Get rid of the non-essentials
Keeping non-essential items when you’re relocating is like walking up-hill in the rain with a 60 pound, water-soaked backpack weighing you down; it’s no fun and it’s burdensome. Not to mention it can add additional costs to your move. Things such as books that you will probably never read again (or never read in the first place!), clothing that doesn’t fit or simply doesn’t fit your style, and furniture that is worn-out or really doesn’t suit your purpose should be among the first items to go.
However, you can throw unwanted birthday and Christmas gifts, the majority of your kitchen-ware and maybe even half of your stockpile of fuzzy-towels into this category as well – minimizing the amount of belongings that you tote along with you makes moving so much easier.
When you’re getting rid of your non-essential belongings, you don’t necessarily have to throw them away. eBay and free classifieds websites, such as craigslist.org, are a great way to make a little bit of cash on the stuff that you don’t need or don’t really feel like bringing with you. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of selling your stuff, you can always donate it to the Red Cross or some other charitable organization, or you could leave it with the people you’re leaving behind. Don’t be wasteful – even if you don’t want to try and make money off from your excess, it’s just good Karma to give things away to those who could really use them.
Get rid of large or heavy items
Some items, such as a three-section sofa or an oak table and chair set are exceptionally large and/or heavy; this in turn leads to higher transportation costs. For example, a large sofa can cost as much as $600 to move across the country with professional moving services and if you’re renting a moving truck – these items take up a great deal of space. If you’re on a budget or crunched for space you’ll want to avoid taking larger items with you unless they are valuable in-and-of-themselves or they hold sentimental value.
As a side-note on this point, pressed-wood items, as are common with straight-from-the-box desks and tables that you pick up at the local department store, are generally not covered by any insurances during the moving process even if you hire a professional moving company. Because pressed-wood items are generally cheap to begin with and they are not designed to be taken apart after they’ve been put together – it’s generally recommended that you simply do not anticipate taking these items with you on your move.
Packing your items for the move
Now that you’ve consolidated and sorted through your things to remove the obvious non-essentials, it’s time to think about packing. Unless you’ve got the cash to hire a professional packing and moving company, which many students do not have this type of disposable income, then you’re going to have to handle the packing on your own. Really, that’s not too much of a problem – with a little bit of creativity and a little bit of asking, you can grab up enough packing materials to get you through your move without shelling out any money for them.
Where to find boxes for moving
In order to pack your belongings, you’re going to need boxes. And, in some cases, you’ll also need some form of packing-material to protect your fragile belongings.
You can grab up boxes for free at almost any department store or grocery store across the country simply for the asking. Locations such as Wal-mart, Target, K-Mart, Sears and a number of national and regional grocery stores will have boxes available at certain times of the day. The only thing you need to do is make a stop by the help-desk at any of these locations and they should either be able to give you the information that you’re looking for or they can point you in the direction of the person that you need to talk to in order to get your boxes for free.
Another resource for free moving boxes is friends and family members, again – all you need to do is ask.
For valuable or fragile items, such as expensive glass-ware or even your computer, it’s generally best to use the box you received your items in when you’re looking to transport them because they were custom-designed to hold your items in place with minimal movement. However, when this isn’t an option, you can keep movement inside the box to a minimum by using packing material. The one downside to using the original boxes for your items is that they tend to not be space-efficient, meaning that these boxes will likely take up more room than packing them yourself.
Free packing material for moving
Free packing material is almost as easy to come by as getting free moving boxes is, in many cases you only need to ask for it. While it’s probably not the norm for people to keep boxes of packing peanuts in their closets, crinkled-up newspaper works wonders for protecting your belongings in transit.
You don’t have to go out and buy $20 worth of daily newspapers, though. Many times you can ask an avid recycler for a stack of newspapers and they’ll be more than willing to oblige so long as you promise to recycle the papers after you’re done using them, and you probably have more than a few newspapers laying around anyway.
As a side-note, if you’re anticipating a move, get the word out to your friends and family. If they happen to receive any shipments that use packing material, ask them to save them for you – this can be a real time-saver for you, and it will help you to protect your fragile items better while they are in transit.
Putting it all together
You know how you’re going to move, you’ve consolidated your stuff and you have the packing materials – it’s time to start packing.
Packing is self-explanatory, but here’s a couple of tips to make the whole process better.
Keeping things organized
Generally it’s better to pack according to “rooms”. For instance, keep your bedroom stuff separate from your kitchen items and keep your bathroom items separate from your bedroom or living room items. This helps most when you’re looking to unpack because each box has items for a specific location.
Mark your boxes
When you’re moving, a dark-colored Sharpie is your best friend. Not only should you mark your boxes (on the outside) with “kitchen”, “bathroom”, etc; sometimes it helps to label boxes with their contents, especially if you won’t be unpacking every single box the moment that you arrive at your new home. If you’ve never moved before – you’ll find that it’s a huge headache to weed through 8 different boxes trying to find your drinking glasses or a hand-towel.
Do not pack small, valuable or important items
This is considered especially important if you’re hiring a moving company – keep your small valuables, important documents, rare coins, checkbook, passport and such on your person during the move. It’s probably not advisable to put all of these items in your pocket, but keep a small bag of your important items so that they do not get lost, damaged or stolen.
Loading the truck
Loading and unloading the moving truck is probably one of the more-difficult aspects of moving; it’s hard work – no doubt about it. Unless you’ve got the capitol to hire this out, you’re the one who’s stuck with this chore.
While you’re still young and probably flexible, loading a moving truck, especially if you’re moving a house-full of goods, is a 2 or 3 day workout in itself. By doing a bit of stretching beforehand, you may be able to avoid injury or a bit of stiffness that you’ll undoubtedly feel a few days after the move.
Something that doesn’t get mentioned that often, but may be worth it if you have a lot of boxes to load and a little bit of cash to play with – you could hire a couple of strong guys (or girls) for any hour to load your boxes for you. Sure, it’ll cost you $30-$50, but it might be well-worth it.
You’re ready to go!
You’ve read through our moving guide, and hopefully you’ve picked up a few tips from it. Moving in any capacity, whether it’s across town or across the country, is a big step – and it can be expensive. It is our hope that by using this guide you can save yourself some money, headaches and maybe even a backache when it’s your time to hit the open road with your stuff in tow.