How to Save Money When You Move

Stressed out by your up-coming move? Kill two birds and use the liquor boxes as (free) packing containers. | Photo courtesy of Hobbling grrl.

Looking for ways to save money on your next move? It’s no wonder. The average cost of moving within the U.S. totaled $12,459 in 2012, with the two main factors affecting the cost being family size and homeowner status, according to data published by Worldwide ERC foundation for Workforce Mobility.

1. Plan Ahead

Getting ready to move? You’re in good company. Nearly 12 percent of Americans—36 million—moved during the course of 2012 and 2013, with nearly 25 percent of renters moving between rentals and two-thirds moving within the same county, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The most common motivation for moving was to change housing, followed by family- or career-related reasons.

John C. Kmiecik, National Association of Realtors regional vice president and a broker in Chicago with more than 30 years of experience, shared some of his best advice for those with a move on the horizon.

“The earlier you schedule, the cheaper it gets. You can save time and money by negotiating early,” says Kmiecik.

  • Clean out your possessions and avoid “moving junk from one house to another,” says Kmiecik.
  • Decide early on if you’re doing the move yourself or if you’ll be hiring professionals. Advises Kmiecik, “Do it yourself is good, if you understand what you’re getting involved in; it’s not always best if you’re not experienced, things can get damaged.”
  • Set up moving-related appointments as soon as possible.
  • Consult with your realtor about avoiding peak (i.e. expensive) moving times. If you’re moving out of a rental, see if you can avoid fees with the property management company by moving on off-peak (non-weekend) days. This will generally be a cheaper time to do things like hire professional movers and rent a truck, too.
  • Secure (free!) packing materials from family, friends, and local stores with excess boxes.

2. Accurately Budget for the Costs of Moving Day

CitytoCityMoving.us and moving-costs calculators like it will help you determine how much money you’ll have to spend on moving day by the distance, hour, pound, home size, and time of year—figuring everything from packing, loading, and driving to covering a summer premium (it’s more expensive to move in this season), tips, mover’s insurance, and more.

There’s more to moving day than moving, and that’s where hidden costs can arise. Here’s a list of resources to help save you time and money.

3. Use Time and Money-Saving Tools

  • The U.S. Department’s Salaries, Cost of Living, and Relocation’s list of resources includes websites that calculate the cost of living—including everything from housing and transportation to the costs of goods and education—and the average salaries of cities in the U.S.
  • dmv.org’s state-by-state guide details the costs and benefits of moving out of state for car owners.
  • coverhound.com is a search engine for auto, homeowners, renters, and even motorcycle insurance and its comparison tool should help you estimate any difference between what you’re currently paying and what you may have to pay.
  • updater.com is a one-stop-shop for updating your address via USPS and to businesses and publications that have your address; you can even use it to schedule utilities, cable, and internet setup at your new place.

4. When Moving To a New Region…

  • The price of utilities, parking, public transportation, school tuition, and health insurance can vary by region, so do your research and be prepared to cover the difference if necessary.
  • Don’t forget about the costs of location- or region-specific memberships—and potentially breaking such agreements early. I.e.- gym membership, CSA deliveries, etc.
  • Is your new home covered by the same cell phone provider? Or will you have to switch, amounting to more money lost?
  • Car owners: If you’re moving out of state, depending on the state you’re leaving, you may be eligible to get a partial refund on your car registration. Of course, you’ll also have to factor in the potential costs of getting a new driver’s license and license plate, the change in care insurance rates (if any) and registering your car.

5. Write Off Your Moving Expenses

Is your move related to a new job or a new job location? According to the IRS, you may be able to save money by deducting expenses related to moving (but not meals) if:

  • You move within one year of starting your new job.
  • Your new workplace is at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job location was from your old home (say that five times fast); or, if you did not have a previous workplace, your new job location is at least 50 miles from your old home.
  • You are a full-time employee having worked at least 39 weeks during your first year.

To see the full details, visit IRS Topic 455 – Moving Expenses.

6. Aks For A Relocation Bonus

According to Worldwide ERC Foundation findings, employees who move for work are given, on average, $6,704 for moving-related incidentals. It’s always worth asking if your future employer compensates for moving-related expenses — but keep in mind this money is taxed just like any other income.