Moving is usually a very expensive activity, unless you own no more than can fit in your car. I haven't lived so lightly since college, and have moved literally hundreds of times since then. Each time, the chore of moving seems to get more costly.
There are a few ways to help make moving cheaper: don't buy packing supplies, for one thing. It's very temping to buy those big, sturdy and even beautiful boxes they sell at U-haul stores and the like. You go in, see the wardrobes, special dish boxes, furniture blankets and rolls of packing tape, and before you know it, you've spent $75 or more on...well, ultimately, nothing. On things you can get for free, with a little forethought. Resist the temptation to waste your cash like this.
If you know you have a move coming up, start thinking ahead and saving these things in your own household:
- Newspaper - for wrapping around breakable items. Save up your papers months in advance, and ask your neighbors and friends to do it too. You can recycle all of the paper after your move, and do a good deed for the Earth.
- Boxes that your daily purchases come in - I get really great boxes from Amazon every month. Save the boxes that appliances and electronics come in at the bog box stores. Save them all, big and small: you'll be really glad to have them, come packing time.
- Bubble wrap and air pillows from above purchases to cushion breakables. Packing peanuts count too. Save all of these things in garbage bags - why pay later for these things?
- Old blankets, towels, linens, sheets and even ripped clothes - the larger textiles make great furniture blankets, and smaller clothes can wrap around random fragile items. Put rags and cloth scraps in between dishes. I even save ratty old socks, and pack my lightbulbs in them (and then put them into shoes and boots for transporting). After the move, you can use the old socks to clean the toilets, cabinets and floors in your new place. Remember to get as many uses out of everything you can!
More free boxes can easily be acquired from places like this:
- Fruit boxes from grocery stores and bars (just ask - go in early in the day, before they break the boxes down).
- From the curb: people toss perfectly good boxes every day. Drive by before trash morning and grab some.
- Recycling centers - there are tons of boxes to be found in the large community recycle bins outside of shopping centers. You can use them, and recycle them later, after they've seen another use.
- Craigslist and Freecycle - people post used moving boxes and packaging materials all the time. If there aren't any current postings, make a free Wanted Ad of your own. People are generally happy to unload what they have, especially after their own moves.
Good cheap packing tape can be found for a dollar at places like The Dollar Tree. Those stores also sell containers of several Sharpie markers for a buck, which you'll need to mark the contents of your boxes.
That's really all you need for most moves! Except for several rolls of packing tape and a few markers, you can use what is essentially already around you. Ask your friends and family to also save up their old blankets, towels, sheets, boxes and packing materials, and you'll end up with more than enough.
Remember to be proactive and save up these things before the last minute, or you'll end up shelling out for the expensive supplies, and unnecessarily adding to your moving budget.
Note: After your move is done, try posting your own boxes and supplies on Craigslist or Freecycle, and help others in their moves!