How To Save Money on Moving Expenses

Simple tips on saving money on your moving expensesThe cost of moving from one home to another comes with a hefty price tag.

The cheapest option by far?

Doing it yourself (DIY) - which is what I’ve done in the past.

If you want to do the move yourself, get the best deal on a moving truck rental.

But DIY moving may not be realistic for everyone...

If you’re using a moving company, shop around for the best deal and use a reputable company with adequate insurance. You may also want to consider getting your own moving insurance.

Whatever route you choose, consider these tips to save money on moving expenses.

DIY Moving Cuts Your Costs

No question about it:

The biggest way to cut your moving expenses is to do the move yourself.

First things first: Find a low cost moving truck rental that is big enough to fit all your belongings.

Moving trucks usually range in size from 10’ to 26’. The size of truck you need depends on how many rooms are in the home you’re moving from: 10’ for an apartment, 15’ for 1-2 rooms, 20’ for 2-3 rooms, and 26’ for 4 rooms or more.

On top of the initial truck rental, you’ll also want to factor in the mileage fees – which are usually a set rate per mile that the truck company charges.

When we moved into our current home (from a 2 bedroom apartment) we used a 14’ truck. Since the move wasn’t a long distance (about 10 kilometers within the same city), it cost about $140.

Hiring movers to do the move would have been much more expensive. I was fully capable of doing the move myself, so I decided to not use movers to save money.

A word of caution about a DIY move – make sure you properly factor in your time.

For our move, what I originally thought would be a one day affair turned into 3 full days.

The move itself went relatively smoothly but extra tasks took up way more time than expected. Things like packing items that aren’t already boxed, cleaning up after the move, unpacking all those boxes, and finally setting up at the new place.

If you’re looking to rent a moving truck, you can find rates for U-Haul truck rentals near you.

Get Cheap Moving Truck Rentals with Supply and Demand

Moving truck rentals are highly sensitive to supply and demand. So you’ll want to play around with your rental dates to make sure you get the lowest possible rate.

Near the end of any month, or on a weekend, demand is higher so prices rise.

When I moved, I rented the truck in the middle of the week which saved about 30% when compared to the same truck rental on the weekend.

If possible you should consider moving mid-week in the middle of the month – this is when demand and prices are lowest.

Be sure to get quotes from several companies and shop around for the best deal.

Related: Are Real Estate Agents Worth It? (And How To Get One For Less)

How to Choose a Moving Company

A DIY move has some drawbacks that moving companies don’t:

  • lots of physical work,
  • the move takes up a lot of time (you may need to take time off work just to move), and
  • you are responsible for making sure all items are not damaged/misplaced during the move.

When choosing a moving company, make sure you check out their current rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Then, search for them online to find customer reviews. Finally, ask about their policy for unsatisfied customers.

When it comes to moving companies, the cheapest option isn’t always best.

Shop around online to get quotes from multiple companies and ask if they match competitor prices.

Ideally you’re looking for a reputable company that meets the following criteria:

  • a long-standing history of good service,
  • affordable rates,
  • a good rating with the BBB, and
  • adequate insurance in the event items are damaged or lost.

Moving Insurance

Moving insurance is available as an option to protect your goods from being lost, stolen or damaged throughout the process of the move.

It depends on your personal situation whether moving insurance would be a worthwhile investment.

It might be worth considering if you are moving expensive items, precious jewelry, antiques, or if you are moving items that are expensive enough and can also be easily broken if moved improperly.

When I move, I don’t usually buy moving insurance for the simple reason that I don’t have anything of high value or expensive things that can be easily broken. In the last move, I did almost all the moving myself and was able to keep track of everything before and after the move – so I didn’t have to worry about theft either.

But for those who are considering purchasing moving insurance here are a few tips:

  • When hiring movers for insurance purposes, record all the facts before the move occurs. You’ll need a detailed, itemized list of everything to be moved – as well as the current condition of each item and photos for higher-end items. This ensures you can prove the item existed if it goes missing or that it was in good condition beforehand if anything gets damaged.
  • Report any damage as soon as possible after the move – this means you’ll have to unpack and inspect your items, especially the expensive ones, to make sure there is no damage.
  • Before selecting a moving company, check that they have liability insurance in the event the moving company damages items while moving. Note the maximum amount covered.
  • Before the move occurs, make sure you compare the moving company’s list of items to be moved (and values) to your own. In the event of a claim, the insurance company may use the list from the moving company, not yours, which can be problematic if some items are missing or are assessed at a lower value.
  • Before selecting a moving company, ask them about the process for submitting a claim. A google search could also give you a better idea of how they have performed in the past and whether previous customers have had claims issues.

Related: 10 Ways to Save on Home Insurance

More Money Saving Moving Tips

Here are some quick tips to save money on moving expenses:

  • Make a moving budget that outlines all the costs so you won’t be hit with unexpected bills after you move. Be sure to include:
    • the cost of hiring movers (if applicable)
    • moving truck rental (if applicable)
    • packing materials
    • insurance
    • lodging
    • meals
    • pet and child care
    • storage locker costs
    • hotel/temporary housing
    • extra charges for oversized items
  • Look for free alternative sources of packing materials rather than buying them. Grocery stores can have excess milk crates they will give away, and fast food restaurants often have boxes they will give you. Be sure to ask a manager when enquiring and be willing to wait, as they might not have the boxes right away, but will have them sometime soon.
  • If you have items that need to be in plastic containers, consider buying rubbermaid containers at a store like Wal-Mart and keep them for future use. They’re stackable so they don’t take up much space and they can be used for storing items and future moves.
  • If you are moving for work to be closer to a new job or as a student, then you can deduct your moving expenses from your income to save on taxes. You can even carry forward the deduction to future years if you don’t have enough income to claim the full amount right away. You can also check out my post last year about maximizing moving expenses on a tax return.

Bottom Line

A DIY move can save hundreds, and potentially thousands compared to using a moving company. When moving your own items you’ll want to shop around for the best deal on a moving truck – and prices can fluctuate depending on the time of month.

If you end up hiring a moving company, do your research on the moving company. A quick google search and the Better Business Bureau is always a good idea. You should be looking for a large company that has a long reputation of satisfied customers – and that may not always be the cheapest option.

What are some of the ways you’ve cut costs on moving?

Share your tips below - including as much detail as you can.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The content here reflects the author's opinion alone, and is not endorsed or sponsored by a bank, credit card issuer, rewards program or other entity.

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CanadianDaniel's picture

Another wise move is to carefully go through your belongings then sell or otherwise dispose of furniture, clothing and even electronics that you no longer need (be brutally honest!). Recently my father downsized from living in a detached house, moving into a much smaller retirement home condo. He really didn't have a choice and could NOT take everything with him, so he decided to distributed over 50 years worth of memories to his relatives and friends. Personally, I have some large/awkward furniture not to mention a lot of old clothing, electronics and even old eyeglasses that can be donated for re-use by the needy. In additiion, the piles of documents I have will probably go to a professional shredder (costs about $1/lb to shred). All these cleanup action items happen well in advance of move date, and should reduce the overall cost of a move.

The best mover I ever met arose out of a referral from my manager at work, someone whose opinion I respect. Based on her experience, she gave me the number of a well-established professional who did a fabulous job moving us in the busy downtown Toronto core. So don't be afraid to ask around to uncover good --and bad-- movers.

August 02, 2016 @ 9:43 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

For our next move, which could be soon, we're definitely going to have to go through our belongings and really evaluate what we need to keep and what we should give away, sell, or throw out. Without trying, we've definitely accumulated a lot of things over time.

We found a great mover by asking friends on Facebook if they could recommend someone. He was a really small operation with a single older truck but he was the most careful and helpful mover I have ever seen. He did so well deconstructing all our furniture with no help or guidance from me and putting it all back together for us at our new house. He was so careful packaging everything in his truck too.

August 03, 2016 @ 8:23 pm
Jen's picture

If getting movers, a tip would be to ask the movers to come early in the morning if possible. This will avoid what happened with my brothers move. The movers arrived late afternoon, and had already done 2 moves, so they were slow and exhausted and it cost more cause they took more time to get the job done.

August 02, 2016 @ 12:18 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's a great suggestion Jen - I never would have thought of that one.

August 03, 2016 @ 8:24 pm
Deborah Soloway
Deborah Soloway's picture

Another option is finding help with your move, without paying for a full-service moving company. We hired helpers through U-Haul to load our rented truck in Portland, Ore. and unload it in Vancouver, BC. In moving from mainland BC to Vancouver Island, the quotes for just the truck & two movers were sky-high. We hired 2 men from Craigslist to load and unload at both ends for an hourly rate. We found them under the "services" category. Normally they would load their own truck with our goods, but were happy to load only (and not drive) on a weekday mid-month.
We've also gotten great deals (including free) through Craigslist & kijij on boxes and packing materials in good condition, and used those sites to "pass on" our materials at the end of the move.
But the best suggestion is Canadian Daniel's -- get rid of STUFF! Sell it, donate it to charity, give it away, move it to the curb for the "gleaners" to grab, but don't waste your time & money packing and moving it.

August 03, 2016 @ 8:44 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I've done a move with family and friends helping and using a U-Haul. It was great when we had an apartment and moved into our first house ... but after having the house I found we had too much large furniture to continue doing that. Hiring professionals to help load on both ends is really smart.

August 07, 2016 @ 9:36 am

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