Our move back to Oklahoma in May was my 9th move in 6 years (the life of a college student!). I've learned a lot with each move, but after making my second cross-country move I think I've finally mastered some important things that help with making a move as smooth as possible.
While I really wanted to hire a full moving service for this last long distance move, they're just really expensive. So we rented a truck again. But this time we did hire loading and unloading help, which is the best decision ever. I'm pretty much set on doing that no matter what from now on.
For our move from Oklahoma to Miami we weren't really in the budgeting position. We had just graduated from college and gotten married, not to mention we both worked part time jobs up until the move. But we did budget about $3,500 for the move from Florida to Oklahoma this time. If you have a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment/house (and you're not even moving any appliances), 2 cars and a move more than 800 miles, that budget isn't going to allow you to hire a moving company. It cost us about $700 to rent a 20 foot Uhaul truck and a car transport (the full trailer, not the 2-wheel tow). Plus $100 in insurance. While those trucks now take unleaded gas, rather than diesel, gas still cost us about $700 (those suckers get about 10 mpg). Add in the cost of gas for my car ($200), 2 nights in a hotel ($150), food ($100), and we were left with a little over $1000 for moving supplies and help. We hired loaders for our 3rd story apartment (2 people, 3 hours) and then unloaders for our house (2 people, 1.5 hours). Total with tip was about $550. Boxes, tape, rope, furniture covers and pads, bubble wrap, and packing paper took a nice bite out of our budget as well. But at the end of the day, a full service mover to load, drive and unload would have cost us a minimum of $3,000 before tax or tip.
So here are my tips for planning your move. Some of these are better for long distance moves because they might be overkill for local moves, but for the most part they're a collection of what I've leaned from both types of moving. Today starts with all the pre-move choices, then I'll talk about packing and the actual move.
Choosing a Moving Service:
- Know that full-service movers not only cost a lot more, but take a lot longer. They typically give you a range of both pick-up and delivery times (in weeks).
- Full service movers may put your items in a truck with other people's stuff, which means it may be loaded & unloaded multiple times to deliver their things along the way.
- Full service movers can usually move your car as well, but the cheapest I found that was $1100.
- Before you hire a mover, check Movingscam.com to make sure you have a reputable one. Here's a blog post from Frugal Mama on various types of movers that I found helpful.
- If you think you want to do a PODS style move, where you pack and they drive, be careful about space. I loved that option, but it wasn't going to work for us because we had to get 2 PODS (or any of the other services' boxes) to fit our stuff. Boxes work fine, but furniture is really tricky with this type. Once you go over the 1 box, you might as well hire the full movers.
- Consider mileage fees for truck rentals. Penske & Budget usually offer unlimited mileage, but have a higher overall cost, while Uhaul gives you a lower cost but only allows a certain number of miles. They then charge you a crazy amount per mile over that.
- Uhaul is really flexible on this mileage though. Ask for extra miles when you book (call them to book!), also ask about extra miles at the local place you pick it up. You may not need the extra 100, but it'll be a safety net just in case.
- Budget offers a discount for students. Ask about both the one-way and student discounts when you CALL to book. Booking online gives you no haggle room, and moving trucks will haggle with you if you call.
- Things to think about when hiring load & unload help:
- Hire from a local company with a good reputation. Local movers are the best for this.
- Most companies charge a fee for every stair they have to take, so if you have 3 steps or 3 flights of stairs, make sure to ask about the cost of it.
- Most companies charge a fee if the loading truck is more than 10 feet from the door.
- Usually you have to hire a minimum of 2 people for at least 2 hours, then there's a per-person hourly rate after that. Make sure you ask if the price is per-person, per-hour, or for everyone per-hour.
- I still don't know what a standard movers' tip is, but I do know you should tip them. And provide water/gatorade.
- Always budget an hour longer than you think it will take for the loaders. Unloading goes way faster, but loading requires hauling it down and arranging it in the truck.
SuppliesChoosing which boxes to use can be a pain because they're expensive and you don't know how well they'll hold up until it's too late. We learned that the hard way on our move into Miami and our move within Florida. My box selections:
- Home Depot -DO NOT buy their standard boxes. They're TERRIBLE. If they get the least bit humid, they crumble. They bend really easy too. However, I really like their heavy duty boxes (price is everything at Home Depot, you pay for what you get). Sadly these only come in small & medium, but they're fantastic.
- Lowe's - Decent boxes. We used their medium boxes as the main box for our FL-OK move and it worked out just fine. Reasonably priced at $1-2/box.
- Public Storage - good boxes, but they're pricey
- UHaul - Good boxes, but again very pricey. I would suggest Lowe's for standard boxes and then UHaul for XL or specialty boxes. Some corporate UHaul locations have a take/leave bin where people donate their used boxes and you can get them cheap/free.
- Get free boxes from liquor stores, restaurants, retail, bookstores, Craigslist
- Check your area for cheap stores, like Budget Boxes out of Dallas
Buy the good stuff, it's worth it. The cheap tape won't stand up to humidity or lots of handling.
Cheapest color duct tape - Home Depot & Target
Cheapest name brand packing tape - Home Depot & Lowe's
Cheapest bubble wrap - Home depot & Lowe's
Cheapest furniture covers - UHaul & Home Depot
Check out The Container Store for bubble wrap by the yard as well.