How to Move on a Low-Income Budget

••• vtwinpixel/iStock/Getty Images

If you need to move but are on a tight budget, there are many things you can do to reduce the cost. If you plan ahead and pack your own small belongings, you can save a chunk of money on a move. You should choose at least three professional movers and solicit realistic estimates of moving costs. Have them come into your home and ask about what items you can pack beforehand as well as any extra or special fees. To avoid scams, vet movers via industry associations, such as the American Moving & Storage Association.

Self-Move, Self-Pack and Unload

Renting a truck and moving yourself is the cheapest option. If you don’t have the manpower or your moving needs are too extensive, you can reduce costs of packing the small things -- dishes, clothes, books or toys -- before professional movers arrive. Because the cost of a professional mover typically depends on weight, toting the small belongings in your car or a van will save money. In addition, give away or sell belongings that you don’t need to reduce the weight of your move. You can sell items on eBay as well as donate goods to charity or thrift shops.

Gather Packing Materials

If you’re packing a house with multiple bedrooms, you can easily shell out a few hundred dollars for packing kits and bubble wrap. You can cut these costs by asking for used boxes from local vendors, such as the neighborhood supermarket or drugstore. Once vendors have cleared their stock, they tend to have leftover cartons. In addition, contact your friends and ask for cardboard boxes. Buttress used boxes with packing tape to ensure they don’t fray or collapse. Collect old newspapers and magazines to replace bubble wrap.

Focus on Timing

Most families move during the summer -- the peak season -- when kids are not in school. A summer move means you’ll pay about 25 percent more than a move between the months of October and April, Phil Liu, co-founder of, told U.S. News and World Report. Because leases end at either the beginning or the end of the month, a mid-month move tends to be cheaper when movers are not as busy.

Investigate Insurance and Taxes

Before you sign up for insurance with professional movers, check your renters or homeowners insurance policies. In general, household items will be covered by your homeowners insurance. If you buy the insurance from your mover, find out what you’re paying for. For example, if a piece of expensive furniture breaks during the move, does the insurance pay for the market value or the replacement value of the damaged item? If you’re moving for job reasons, you may be able to deduct moving expenses -- travel, lodging and storage – from your taxes. Check guidelines from the Internet Revenue Service or talk to your tax accountant.



About the Author

Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.

Photo Credits

  • vtwinpixel/iStock/Getty Images