As I once again prepared to pack up my belongings for yet another move, I sat back to count the number of times I’ve moved since leaving my parents’ house for college.
The number is 15.
Fifteen moves in 15 years. The pity party I could throw myself for the sheer annoyance I’ve endured, with so many moves, so many new apartments, townhomes, condos and houses, would be fabulous. But instead, I choose to see the adventures and new experiences I’ve had since leaving the intimacy and security of my parents’ two-story, gray colonial.
I’ve lived in 7 cities and 4 states spanning from Wisconsin all the way to California. Despite my dislike of moving and packing and all that goes with it, I feel lucky to have experienced so many new places, cultures and people.
With so many moves under my belt, I think I’ve learned a thing or two about packing and moving that I thought I would share them:
Choose off-days to move.
If possible, try not to move on or near the 1st or 15th of the month. Many moving companies and truck rentals offer discounted rates if you are able to move off-peak days. For example, when I moved on the 22nd of the month, I got an hourly moving rate of $65 with a two-hour minimum, whereas at the 1st of the month, our rate was $95 with a four-hour minimum—same company, one year later, different dates.
Move the small items yourself.
If you are moving in-town and want to save some money, you could hire movers just to help move the big stuff, like the couches and beds, and you could rent a moving truck or use your own personal vehicle to move boxes and other items. We did this on one of our local moves and it probably saved us as least $200-300 off of the movers. It is important to factor in your time though, as it takes a lot more time to lug items in your car with numerous trips than just to have the movers to everything. Convenience vs. time is the key.
Find free boxes.
Items for packing can be quite expensive; moving boxes, tape, bubble wrap and markers add up. Many local moving companies have used boxes that they offer to customers for free. Our local U-Haul actually has a bin of used boxes available for no charge. It is a give-take program where they are trying to recycle boxes. We found many high-quality boxes this way. Another idea is to visit your local grocery store or department stores. If you give them a couple days head-way, they may be willing to save new inventory shipment boxes for you to use. Forget dumpster diving, besides being gross, most retailers crush and recycle used boxes immediately.
Use bubble wrap alternatives.
Although it has its uses and is certainly effective at keeping breakable items safe, I never waste my money on protective paper or bubble wrap. Instead, I use my own bath towels, pillow cases, sheets, blanket, wash clothes, hand towels and place mats as wrapping. Basically, anything that is soft and cotton (or similar) works to protect my glassware, plates, mirrors, vases and other breakables. Just make sure not to skimp on the wrapping.
Forward mail by internet.
The Post Office has a very simple mail forwarding system. They now have an easy online system for changing your address. This is my preferred method, although there is a $1.00 processing fee. If you want to avoid that fee, you can change your address for free by filling out one of those post-cards at the post office. It does take a few days to process, so try to do this at least a few days before you move.