It was 510 miles, to be exact, and it wasn’t exactly your “typical” weekend move. In fact, it was the most annoyingly long, drawn-out, complicated move I’ve ever experienced… and considering it was my fourth major move in 10 years, I think I’ve got the chops to make a grandiose statement like that.
The last time my husband and I moved from one state to another, we were still newlyweds, just one year into our marriage. We’d been living in a two-bedroom apartment since saying our “I do”‘s, so we didn’t have a lot of stuff; we didn’t have kids or our dog yet either. Yet, we were relocating because I’d just received a new job offer several states away, so my new company was paying for the whole ordeal. The movers came, boxed up our tiny apartment, loaded everything into their big moving van, then hauled it all in to our new three-bedroom house a week later. The whole thing cost about $2,200, although I didn’t pay for a dime of it.
This time around, things were quite different. Instead of relocating for a new job, we were moving for personal reasons… and that meant no employer to cover a hefty moving bill. We wanted to keep costs at a minimum, so we could focus on getting our new house in order instead of paying somebody else thousands of dollars to lug our stuff from one state to another. So we sucked it up and decided to orchestrate the move ourselves.
The result? While the two moving companies we consulted quoted us between $3,000 – $3,500 to pack up and move our three-bedroom house into our new digs, we were able to do it (albeit haphazardly) for less than a third of their estimated cost. Here’s how:
To me, this is the most annoying part of any move. Packing up your old home is like taking a very, very long walk down memory lane. Every time I wrapped up a wine glass, I’d wonder if it would arrive at our destination in one piece; every time I packed up one of my children’s toys, I wondered how they’d enjoy playing with it in our new house.
In some ways, this is what makes professional movers worth the money; they don’t have that sentimental attachment to your belongings, they just load everything into boxes in the most orderly fashion possible. But they also charge a fortune. Instead, my husband and I bought some boxes, used the plethora of Tupperware containers we already owned, and got some boxes for free from nearby businesses.
Total cost: $36
Skip The Movers
While it’s nice to have professional movers load everything into one of their big old moving vans, it’s something we knew we could do without. My husband is a 6′ 6″ former college football player and – I don’t know if mere coincidence or some unconscious decision on his part – has a lot of big friends. We bought each one a case of beer and asked them to come over one Saturday morning to help us pack the uHaul we’d rented for the one-way trip.
Total cost: $538 ($24 for the beer, $100 for gas for the uHaul, and $414 for the uHaul rental)
Need a Storage Unit?
Because we closed on the sale of our old house on April 30th and weren’t scheduled to close on the purchase of our new home until mid-June, we had to find someplace to put all our stuff in the interim. The answer turned out to be a local storage facility. Because we’d rented our moving truck through uHaul, we got one month of free storage, which meant we only had to pay for one prorated month of rent.
Total cost: $62 for a 10×20′ air-conditioned unit
Packing & Moving, Part 2
Once we had the keys to our new place, we had to pack up the storage unit again and move everything into our home. This time, we enlisted the help of family in the area (that’s the advantage of moving back home, I guess!) – they work for free, but down the road, we’ll thank them all with a cookout. We rented a uHaul yet again for this job, but because it was an in-town move, the rates were significantly cheaper.
Total cost: $86 ($59 for the truck itself, then $27 for mileage fees and gas)
Factoring in the Unexpected
Up to this point, we’d spent $722 to move those 510 miles over the course of two months. Not bad, right? If that was the end of my story, I think it would be the perfect example of how orchestrating a move on your own can be amazingly affordable and simple.
But not so fast. We did have one major hiccup along the way, and it was a costly one.
Although we handled everything with care – not breaking a single plate, glass, or picture frame along the way – the plate-glass top of our dining room table got chipped. My husband’s not sure how it happened; he took exceptional care of it. Regardless, it needed to be replaced, which significantly added to our moving costs.
Total cost: $250 (I suspect we got a good deal here, as my dad is friend’s with the local craftsman in our new hometown who made the table top for us)
The Big Picture
Overall, we spent $972 – $722 on the actual move and that additional $250 to replace the broken table top. Still, that means we saved over $2,000 minimum compared to what the movers wanted to charge us for the same service. That’s an additional two grand we have to get our new home in order.
And an additional bonus? I broke such a sweat, I lost a couple pounds in the process!
Did you hire professional movers for your last move? Would you? Why or why not?