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Moving on a Budget: Guide to Saving Money on Your Move

Three large trucks pull up in front of the two-story suburban home, brawny men pile out and begin to pack boxes, carefully packed by hired hands, into the depths of the gaping vehicles. Everything is accounted for, labeled, and organized. It arrives safely, is packed in by these same skilled hands, and situated to the owner’s liking. Everything is perfect. Everything is easy. Everything is a mover’s fantasy.

For those of us without hundreds of dollars to spend on a move, who shrink at the moving quotes handed over by companies, and who shift our worldly goods from studio apartments to better studio apartments, a low-budget moving guide is necessary. Don’t worry, it’s not all bad. In fact, if you think of it as a challenge or adventure, it might even be enjoyable. And it’s not difficult to save money on a move. The primary rule to remember is: do it yourself!

The initial task of a move is packing. Sure, you could let the local store sell you a cardboard box for two dollars, but if you take it into your own hands, you can find bigger, better boxes outside their back door. Soon find-the-box will be your favorite game; you might even find yourself calling friends to describe the awesome refrigerator box you located by the dumpster. And if this makes you uncomfortable, ask a friend who works at a large store, medical facility, or school. Who cares if your clothes are labeled “ground meat” for a day or two? Avoid peanuts and other expensive materials. Ask family members for their read newspapers instead; for especially fragile objects, let towels and clothes serve double-duty as padding. Do your own boxing, too. Don’t pack anything that you can’t lift, and make sure to label the boxes with a permanent marker.

Now, these boxes have got to get out of this place and to the next. You’ll need a vehicle, preferable one with plenty of trunk space or a luggage rack. If it’s a short drive, consider your own car with multiple trips (an SUV will haul almost everything). For longer trips, be sure to calculate gas. Don’t make it unsafe; be sure you have good visibility when moving. If you have larger furniture, ask around, someone will probably loan you a pickup truck. As to getting the beds and boxes in the vehicle, forget hundred dollar movers and opt instead for a pizza and case of beer to pay your male cousins, neighbors, or local frat boys. Repeat this process upon arrival.

When you unpack, again, do it yourself. You can scoot furniture and lift books with a little careful strategy and several sets of tiny wheels. Stash all the boxes (if you can) in the attic or under the futon, especially if you plan to move again soon. Recycle the paper. And that’s it! All you need to know about the budget moving guide is that you can do it yourself and at less than half the cost. So be adventurous, think of it as a challenge, and get moving!