Do-It-Yourself Moving Tips

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We will be relocating from FL to PA and will be paying the moving expenses ourselves. We would like your readers input on the most cost effective ways to do this, like where to get moving supplies, rent a truck, move 2 vehicles and so on.

We have done a move in the past using a moving company. We packed everything ourselves and the movers did the rest. We then drove our 2 vehicles to the destination. This was a bit pricey (we thought), but our employer had paid for the move at that time.

Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions or past experiences would be greatly appreciated. We have about 6 weeks to get this move completed.

J & D

Three Moves in Fourteen Months

My husband and I moved from TN to GA to TN to MD in 14 months. Along the way we learned a lot about saving money on a state to state or local move.

1. Call your local moving companies and see if they have any used boxes (they can't reuse them) or check at the local base (the military families always have lots of boxes after unpacking). This info will enable you to get free boxes for packing. The sooner you begin the packing, the more organized you are and the less stressful the move.

2. Schedule your utility disconnects and turn on as soon as possible. This helps eliminate any possible delays due to scheduling. We once waited 3 weeks for a phone, no fun at all.

3. We found the most cost effective way is to rent the largest truck and a car trailer for towing one of the cars; it is easier towing with a car trailer than a car dolly. It's worth the extra money. Doing it this way enabled us to move two cars, a boat, and all furnishings. It is better to have extra space at the end of the truck when you finish loading than to run out of room while loading, and have no place to put remaining items. I always plan to load the car that is riding on the car trailer plus the back of the trailer is great for grills, bikes and outdoor furniture.

4. Call all of the national truck rental places.

a. Give each of them the same info:

*Size of truck
*car trailer
*keep detailed notes on what each company is offering including mileage
*make sure you give each company your name, phone number, etc

b. Compare what each company offered and pricing, then call the company you would most like to rent from and let them know what was offered from the company with the lowest pricing.

Most of the companies will meet or beat their lowest price competitor. You will need to supply the competitors name and phone number for verification. Also if you give the companies your personal info when calling for pricing, the main office will call usually within a couple of weeks and see if they can help to book you. My daughter was originally quoted $2600 for a truck and trailer from CA to Washington DC, after following my directions she ended up paying $1100. She cut her cost by 58%, a big savings.

5. If you need storage at the destination, consider U-Haul they offer one month free storage at destination with truck rental. If you need more mileage than what's offered then consider Penske, they offer unlimited mileage.

6. Keep detailed records and get receipts for everything. If the move is relocation for work, it is a tax deductible on that years taxes.

Brenda D.

We Saved 60%

We recently moved from Texas to Colorado and did it ourselves. We couldn't afford the $5000 to $7000 quoted by movers. We did it for under $2000.

We called several different rental truck companies and found the rates pretty comparable. We went with UHaul because they had the biggest truck and we needed lots of room for all our stuff. We did a thorough house-cleaning and held a huge garage sale in preparation for the move. We made about $500, which went toward moving expenses. We could have made much more if we had sold our furniture, but we have spent 20 years furnishing a home together and didn't see the economy in buying furniture all over again.

  • Tell everyone you are looking for boxes and ask everywhere you go. Collect them and flatten them until you're ready to pack. Office supply stores have the best boxes. Paper boxes are sturdy, have lids and stack great. Auto supply and liquor stores also have good boxes. I got a lot of boxes at Target, but Wal-Mart refused to give me any. I did buy wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes and a dish crate for my good dishes. I got these from UHaul, and ordered a couple of picture boxes and some mattress covers from Anchor Box Company. My husband worked for a printer, so we were able to get roll ends of unprinted newspaper to wrap dishes, figurines, etc. Ask around. The unprinted stuff is cleaner and easier to use than printed newspaper. Wrap everything well. In a 1000-mile move, we did not break a single item.
  • Arrange for friends to help on moving day. The company will provide a brochure for hints to pack the truck. Pack tightly so the load doesn't shift and use lots of moving blankets. Rent or borrow a dolly.
  • If you need to spend the night on the road, call ahead to make sure the hotel has a place to park your moving van. We had three dogs with us, so we also had to find a place that would let them stay overnight. A Best Western took us with no problem at all. Camping out would be another alternative. We packed food to eat on the way, since stopping in restaurants was a hassle.
  • Figure in the cost of gas for your car and the truck. Our gas costs were about $200.

We didn't know anyone at our new location, so we called the UHaul where we would be returning our truck and asked them for recommendations for help when we arrived. They put us in touch with a local man who helps people unload. For $25 he and another helper unloaded the truck at our temporary home and at our storage unit (we will be moving into our permanent new home after the first of the year, a short-term move we will again do ourselves.)


Experience from Three Moves

Our family moved coast to coast 3x. One of the tips we found most useful was in how we packed.
  • For example: pack dishes in dishtowels, wrap bedroom nic-nacs in your clothing, bathroom nic-nacs & perfumes in bath towels.

This saved us in so many areas- no unwanted garbage, newspapers, packing materials etc. -no extra boxes, because no unnecessary trash from packing materials, didn't have to waste time & cleaning products, on cleaning my possessions-I didn't have to sort through boxes to find what when where, because my dishes & dishtowels were ALL in the box labeled kitchen, and so forth. Don't forget the time you save unwrapping all the stuff, and disposing of it. Think of the space you save in the landfills too. Saves the environment, $, time, &cleaning.

  • Get Web Discounts

We recently moved from FL to TN and did it ourselves. I rented our truck through the internet. Most dealers (U-Haul, Ryder, etc) have websites and give discounts for online rentals. We completed a form online and a representative called us. The websites can also tell you the closest pickup/dropoff sites - the rep doesn't always give the closest locations if they are unfamiliar with your area.

Cheryl, TN

Plan Ahead

  • I suggest having one group of friends and family helping you pack and load on one end and another group unload on the other end if possible, and have a point of contact at the new location. I strongly suggest against having the same people helping the entire time. I moved someone that way and it was a disaster. Call the point of contact at your new location every third of the way, or every other time you stop for gas. This keeps people abreast of your driving progress and you can give better time estimates. Ask your point of contact to keep everyone else informed.
  • The most reliable truck for distance moves is Ryder. I really wouldn't take the insurance unless someone other than yourself is doing the driving. Pay the airfare of a friend to drive one car and put the other on a dolly. Three drivers are better then two and someone is always "rested".
  • Ask how long you can keep the truck (at least 5 days), the amount of mileage included (check the distance for yourself on the web. Most rental agencies tack on at least 100 extra miles), the size of the truck, the size of the gas tank, the nearest drop off location, days and hours of operation and directions. Also, ask for a second location, directions for getting there and a phone number.
  • Most truck rentals have dollies, cell phones, mattress covers, hand-trucks, etc. You can either reserve them in advance or it's first come-first serve.

Angela M.

Our Learning Experience

We moved ourselves from FL to TN several years ago - everything from: a 2 BR apartment, one doctor's office that had been in the same location for 20 years, and 2 vehicles. This is what we did/learned:

1. Keep a central command center. Lists, addresses, phone numbers, any paperwork related to the move. A file box worked for us.

2. Call the "big" companies for rates on one way truck rentals. It may be cheaper to rent it during the week than over a weekend. We used UHaul, and would go with them again because of their helpful and knowledgeable staff. Make sure the company you use has roadside help service! And, check the truck before packing it - oil, gas, brakes, lights, horn, etc - we were glad we did! Follow the packing guidelines (our company provided a video as well as a picture guide) from the company, after all, they are experts in this business, they do it every day. Before turning the truck in, gas it up at a local station to save being overcharged for gas, like you would with a rental car.

3. Keep a scrupulous list of what is packed in what box. We used the room system: kitchen is 1, living room is 2, etc. We also assigned a symbol to each room - triangle with 1 in it is Kitchen, circle with 2 is living room. This quickly identifies what room a box goes to. On the list, Triangle with 1, Box #1 has pots/pans, Box #2 has the toaster/bread machine, etc. Important: Label EACH side of the box as well as the top with the number/symbol so you don't have to look for it - it's right there.

4. Try to use uniform size boxes as much as possible. Easier to pack, label, and stack. Use sturdy boxes, like for copier paper, and tape them well. We used duct tape with 3 strips along the top of the box - 1 lengthwise and 2 cross wise. We didn't have anything broken!

5. Get lots of friends to help you pack the truck in FL, and as many people you can to unpack in TN (ask your landlord or real estate agent in TN, they may be able to get some people they know to help you out for an afternoon; temp agencies don't provide this kind of labor). Feed them with a pizza party and have lots of (non-alcoholic!) drinks available. We spent $100 on pizza for about 14 people the morning we packed, and it was well worth it. Take pictures and send them back to the people who helped!

6. Have one of you drive the truck, the other one drive one of the vehicles, and pull the other vehicle behind the truck, either on a flatbed or a "dolly" that locks under just the front wheels. Don't forget you can use that car for packing space too, just not anything that someone would want to smash the windows for!

7. Use CB's or walkie/talkies to communicate between vehicles while on the road. The car can be used as a scout vehicle, to let the truck driver know of upcoming road conditions, or stay behind the truck to inform them of traffic buildup behind them. This really helps for keeping down road rage on the part of other drivers - they have little patience for amateur truck drivers!

8. Make an overnight stop - don't try to drive it all in one day. You'll be tired from the packing, and you'll want to be able to concentrate while driving. We backed our truck into parking spots, and tried to park the other car in front of it for security. Remember to lock the truck - lock everything! You can't be too careful. We might have seemed paranoid about checking things, but we didn't lose anything, either.

Having moved ourselves about 6 times, this last time we used movers from TN to PA, and we don't want to ever do it ourselves again! We investigated about 7 companies rates and times, and one company (Mayflower) came through with a price that was just slightly higher than what we would have paid for doing it ourselves. Well worth it! We packed everything ourselves (saved a lot there!) but they did the rest, and did it well.

Anne in PA


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