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"Hipsters" to the Rescue: How to Save When Moving

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Are you planning a big move this summer? Well, readers Karen and Laura are… and they need your help! Check out their emails below:

My husband just got a great corporate job with a great company but due to some glitches we found out late and we only have ONE WEEK to move! The new place is 10 hrs away and we will get a hotel halfway. So I am not sure about moving the freezer? And filling with food? We have been downsizing already, but I still have a long ways to go. The biggest thing is my stockpile!!! Do I just let it go and rebuild? Or do I pack it the best I can? I have about 6 months (at least) of toilet paper and paper towels. I have cereal, toothpaste,pads, toothbrushes, etc. Basically the “easy” stuff to get by couponing. We have already bought plastic totes and will try to move as much in those as possible. I am sure other readers go through the same thing, and might have tidbits for other aspects of moving as well.

My husband is getting a new job and it is several states away. Most likely the cost of relocation will be out of pocket for us. Do you know of the best way/deals available when moving?

So you know the drill! Please share your best money-saving tips and tricks to have a successful and budget-friendly move.

Join The Discussion

Comments 198

  1. Anonymous

    I moved last Spring. I only had a small stockpile. Now if I were to move, I would still take half of everything with me and donate the rest. I am sure a foodbank will even come to your house so you don’t have to haul everything there, which would save you some stress. The one I donate to does. Dollar General and Family Dollar are good places to get boxes from and they don’t care if you go through their dumpsters to get them. I have also went to Wal-Mart late night to get some. Egg boxes, you think would be the strongest, but they are actually the worse kind of boxes to use because of the way they are put together. Save a Lot and Aldi are good places to look for boxes too. They have empty boxes all over the store. Any grocery store should have boxes and would love for you to take some. Newspaper is a must. It will take time packing the glass with the paper, but it is so worth it in the end. Don ‘t forget your pictures too. I use the colored dot labels. I designate one color to each room and put the dots on the top of the boxes according to the color of the room they go in. You can even find the dots at Dollar General really cheap. I think I paid $1. A permanent black marker to write fragile. I have never used bubble wrap in any of my moves and I have been just fine. Newspaper and plastic bags do the trick! Stuff newspaper or a bag inside glass cups and other hollow glass then wrap them with newspaper. For the food, I just use boxes too. I stick the likes with likes and then write on the top of the box what they are. Then put the colored dot I assigned to the kitchen on top of the box. The dot system is very helpful. Since there are only so many colors, when I ran out, I just started putting two dots of the same color for the remaining rooms. So, for example, I think there are 4 colors. Room 1-4 would be 1 dot and room 5-8 would be two dots room 9-12 would be three dots, etc. I wish you the best of luck!!!

    • Anonymous

      I just made a move too. I have a family with 5 kids. I moved into a smaller place but being that money was tight with the move and with as many kids as I have. I took it all and just tried to make room for it. I just couldn’t afford to start over and rebuild or take half. With 5 kids things goes by so fast.

  2. Julie

    The egg boxes from grocery stores are THE BEST boxes!! Sturdy, thick cardboard with handles even! We had a standing order with the local grocery stores to save them and we would go in every morning to each of them to get as many as we could.

  3. Trish

    Move your plates by stacking them with coffee filters in-between (wrap a few in paper together and stack on their side in the box) and re-use as disposable kid bowls for those dry snacks (goldfish/raisins/crackers) as you’re unloading/unpacking.

  4. le85

    My sis in law just had a company out to do an estimate on a company packing and moving their stuff for them; their house is 2600 sq feet, and the estimate was $6,000. Now that’s how rich ppl move.
    What a nice luxury that i could NEVER bring myself to spend.

    • Gabrielle

      If Collin’s blog had a “like” feature like Facebook I would defintely LIKE your post lol. $6000 to move is incredible!

  5. Laura

    I don’t have time to see what others have suggested, but we moved ourselves with a POD. It was awesome. I was very impressed with company throughout the whole process. You pack your pod and then they move it for you. We had a small house and fit in a 8×16 pod. It was very affordable. We had received a stipend so kind of had to decide how to use the moving money ourselves and felt this was the cheapest option for our circumstances. Good luck!

  6. Kristi

    I have moved every 4 to 18 months for the last 32 years. I do not use newspaper. I wrap everything breakable in clean towels, t-shirts, sheets etc. I don’t waste room on items (newspaper, bubblewrap) that I won’t need at the new location. If I need a little filler in a box, I use a stuffed animal.
    I always pack suitcases w/ what we will need for the first week. You don’t want to be looking thru boxes trying to find the shirt that your husband needs for work. Moving companies have wardrobe boxes that allow you to hang your clothes inside the box. These are great!!!
    I bought some over 20 years ago and just break them down and put in the back of my closet for our next move. I put shoes in the bottom of these boxes.
    I also tape a piece of paper on each room door w/ what room it is ( Whitney’s room, den etc) and mark all the boxes w/ the name. If you are lucky enough to have some of your new neighbors willing to help unload, they don’t have to keep asking you what room.
    For your stockpile, can you use it as a filler in some of your boxes to prevent shifting?

    Keep all your receipts for taxes since you should be able to write the move off.
    Good luck and I hope you enjoy your new home!

    • Gayla

      You’re not only saving money by using items on hand to pack with (t-shirts, towels, etc.) but you are helping the environment as well by not using bubble wrap. 🙂

  7. Hanna

    We just moved, and stayed overnight at a hotel with our freezer in the back of the Uhaul. Just park close to the building and run an extension cord out the uhaul and find a plug in on the outside of the hotel! 🙂

    • amanda

      great idea!

    • anonymous


    • Cindi

      Yep, I did that exact same thing! We moved from Colorado to Florida. We only stopped the first night and plugged into out motel room and drove the next 2 days straight and everything was still frozen solid when we arrived in Florida in the middle of the summer (moved in July).

      • Penny

        Hi Cindi,
        I just read your post and saw that you moved from Colorado to Florida, we are moving from Wisconsin to Florida next month. I was just wondering how you like Florida? I have never been even been to Florida and I don’t really know what to expect, so I’m a little worried. Do you have any advice or suggestions.

        • imaurora1

          Just a suggestion. Leave most of your winter clothes behind. I moved to Florida 9 years ago. Now you might need a good winter coat every once in a while depending on where in FL you move too. Jeans are good. Long sleeve shirts are okay. Leave the sweaters in Wisconsin. The first winter here you will probably never even use a coat. After you get acclimated 60 degrees will be cold. HTH

      • Betsy

        I’m moving from FL to Colorado this summer! Thanks for all the tips everyone 🙂

  8. Lana

    Fill empty milk jugs or other containers and fill every empty space in you freezer with them so that they can freeze hard and keep your food cold after you unplug it. Then stuff every crack with crumpled newspaper so that there is no dead air space. We moved one unplugged for 48 hours that way and everything was still frozen hard. Do run an extension cord and plug it in somewhere if you can find a plug.

  9. cazooker

    We may possibly be moving soon too, and the company my husband is getting the job with is giving an allowance to move. That means we can hire a company to move us, or do it our selves and pocket the rest of the allowance. Who doesn’t want a little extra money? So I started the search for finding the best priced boxes, that were uniform in size and strong, and found Home Depot has them for a VERY reasonable price. You should check it, thats what were going with!

    • Willa

      Home DePot boxes are often on sale, so hope for a good sale—-near the end of the school year would be a good time for them to have a sale on boxes. We didn’t have a Home DePot near us when we moved (put one is now almost next door to us) so we hit 4 McDonalds and asked them to save the fry boxes. FREE is always better than SALE.

      • Sarah

        I bought some Home Depot boxes for my move and they were terrible!! Many of them fell apart.

    • Melsmayhem

      A lot of offices will let you take the paper boxed which can work very well for just about anything but try to avoid the very heavy things. We use smaller Staples shipping boxes for those. Again, offices order stuff and then throw out the boxes. Also, fast-food fry boxes, as someone else mentioned, are great for books. We keep computer boxes we have picked up along the way and reuse them for a few moves; they hold up very well. Also, because we move so often, we have invested in plastic bins so that if there is not enough storage (or we have a good stockpile), we can use them continuously without packing and repacking things. It has preserved photos and memories very well. They last for 5 or so years often and the kids can also use them for toys.

  10. Gina

    We are in the process of moving as well. The best boxes I’ve found have been banana boxes from Wal-Mart, they are very sturdy. We rented our moving truck from UHaul and if you need a storage unit they are currently running a special of one month free rent on one of their storage units.

  11. Ginger

    Don’t know if this one’s been mentioned…If you live near a Petsmart call and speak to the manager. They receive shipments with AWESOME boxes about twice a week. Just this week I had to move my ailing mom home from Virginia and received a TON of boxes and free bubble wrap from them. They had two types of boxes: some that carried live tropical fish and another general kind. The bubble wrap also cam from the tropical fish. The manager kindly saved it for me. They just throw this stuff all away otherwise.

    • KoriesMom

      Petsmart is where I’ve gotten alot of the boxes we are using. They are a great size and sturdy. Many of the stores here have cardboard recycling bins behind their store. These are nice because you don’t have to go dumpster-diving!! As far as newspaper, I have a ton of it from buying them for coupons each week 🙂

  12. Amie

    I moved our stuff when we were military in Cereal boxes from walmart. They were the strongest, can’t comment on the egg boxes, as I had never tried. It took several trips before I had enough, but it really worked out great for me, because I could pack like things pretty easily for us.
    I’ve done several moves (prior military) so moving can be pretty inexpensive if you do it right The truck was always my most expensive thing!

  13. Willa

    When we moved 24 hours away (that is straight through) with 3 children, we took our freezer filled with food. Rather than try to empty it, I stocked it with quick meals, snacks, ete. That way we had easy meals available while unpacking, and the freezer stayed colder longer. As good friends of ours owned a moving company, we did lots of checking with them. We put it on the truck last—-putting the door near the wall of the truck. We also used 2 or 3 straps around to make sure the door didn’t accidently getting jarred open. Stopped twice to sleep—once in a hotel and once for about 4 hours at a truck stop. First thing off the truck was the freezer, plugged it in and checked everything. No loss. A chest freezer would have been a ltitle easier, but an upright was what we had.
    If you are takng your fridge, put paper products, dry foods, etc. and put your condiments, lunch meats, etc that might be left in a cooler with frozen ice packs, etc. Milk, eggs, butter, etc travel well in most coolers.
    As far as the “stockpile” goes, the toothpaste, toothburshes, deodorant, sanitary items, etc took little space so we took it. The one thing I am really glad we took was toilet paper and paper towel. It was almost 5 months before we found somewhat decent sales on those items and even at that, the sales were not as good as what we had in our home state.. Toilet paper is lightweight and can stack on top of things that have space ontop. You can get lots of toilet paper on top of a freezer to reach the top of the truck. Make sure to leave some in the cab or in your car so there is some to have when you reach your destination. We had a tote of “much needed early on items—-toilet paper, soap, blanets (easy to put down for little ones naps while you unpack another room), dish soap, a set of sheets and pillowcases for each bed, tools to put beds together, coffee and items to make coffee in the moring, paperplates, plastic table ware, disposable cups, trash bags, . etc.
    I know that CVS and Walgreens say their ads are nationwide, but we found that there were items listed that were not available in the local stores in the new state.
    Boxes—–coffe and banana boxes are great. Also, call local McDonalds and ask them to save their fry boxes(they are super nice to pack and stack in the truck and they are extremely strong. Egg boxes go both ways so check with the local stores and see the boxes they get eggs in.
    To save space on the truck, we took the drawers out of all the dressers—–put the dressers in the truck and then put the drawers in the dresser—–using straps (or you could use rope and tie them shut. If there is extra space in any of the drawers, put stockpile the toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap,bandaids, pain/fever reducer. etc. Again, if the drawers face a wall there is less chance of them opening during travel. Coffee filters are okay, but we used clean towels, dish towels, washclothes, sheets, etc to pack the breakables.
    Since you plan to stop over night, we purchased some 2, 2 1/2, and 3 gallon zip lock bags and made a change of clothes for each person. All the needed clothes in one bag. We put those bags in a laundry basket to put the clothes in—-then just put the dirtly clothes in the basket. HTH

  14. Bridget I

    You can often get moving supplies off of freecycle. I have seen a lot posted. Good luck.

  15. Amy

    Collin thanks for posting this! We are just a few weeks away from our move & this topic could not have come at a better time. We are moving 31 hours away (thats straigh thru without stops!). Every comment has been very helpful! Thanks for all the great ideas!!! I am still at a loss at how I’m going to move a family of 4 from 2000+ sf to 800…AHHHHH!!!!! I need very creative ideas for storage…

  16. Jodi

    Stockpiling is not worth it. Especially for items that go on-sale frequently. Otherwise, you can look at 6 months worth of tp as $ sitting on a shelf.

    We hired a mover who gave us free used boxes. Liquor stores were also good sources of boxes.
    Good luck with your move, and please stop stockpiling more than one month worth of daily supplies.

  17. Danielle

    If you have extra stockpiles of paper towels, they make for excellent fragile/glass wrappings, or you can use old magazines, it’s what I did, we’re finishing up moving now.

  18. Leazah

    I am moving in two weeks across the country (again) I have to put reverting in may car so space saver bags have been a life saver I pack ally my clothes and soft items in them plus the are great for regular travel to make room in luggage. Best of luck

  19. Sarah

    Don’t forget to pack in your washer and dryer. Also I would put books and things in dresser drawers and clothes in bags so I could stuff them in the chair rungs. Lots of waisted space there. Also in wardrobe boxes I hungs lots of clothes and put in artwork straight up and down and used the clothes as protectors to the artwork.

    • Kimberly

      Great ideas, Sarah!

      • Gabrielle

        Fantastic Idea Sarah!

  20. Laury

    When we moved my father in law to our state last year I went on Craigslist in the Free area and there were a bunch of people giving away their used moving boxes. I just had to go pick them up.

  21. Rebecca B

    I just got boxes from Joanns Fabric and Crafts. They broke them down and saved them for me untill I could get there. And they came in a bunch of sizes. As far as stockpile. You could move it with you or see if there is any couponers in your area and maybe trade them coupons for items. Just a thought.

    • nata

      Good idea to trade for coupons! I didn’t think about it!


    To keep stuff frozen-get “hot ice” and put it into your freezer-that’s the way they ship alot of frozen products–be careful with the hot ice-for boxes go to your super wal mart and wander the isles where they are restocking shelves [in the AM]-also ask the employees if they have any in the back-good sure to get a truck with a “pull out ramp” and call all of your friends to help

  23. Patty

    We moved from one state to another and had a freezer full of food. Just before you unplug the freezer for the move, pack it with quilts or anything else you can find that will keep the food tightly enclosed between the freezer walls and door. Lock it up. Strap it closed with sturdy material that can keep the load from popping loose in the move. This information was provided to us by Southern Foods and it was actually close to three days before we were able to set up our freezer and turn it on and everything was fine. For an instant living room set up, and trust me you will appreciate a place to sit down and munch pizza when you are unpacking, I found that I could use my couch cushions as padding around my lamps and pack lampshades with other items you might use right away in your living room.

  24. Sarah

    Military here! I move all the time. If you are having to rent a truck call every place you can find and then call Penske last. They price match within $30 of your best quote and their insurance runs the lowest that I found. They were great and got the truck to me same day!

  25. Nicky S

    my word..everyone is giving out some great ideas..thanks..i need some of them myself since we will be moving in Sept. from IL to TX..i’ve already been packing our collectibles and nicer stuff in big tubs..with bubble wrap..thx again for the free boxes idea from the liquor store and other stores…i think i’ll be getting some of those for the kids stuff..thanks again!

  26. Sherri

    We are moving t hawaii this summer (military move) so i had to stop my pile about 2 months ago. We will be living in a hotwl or something like it for a while and packing cereal and things where bugs are ferocious was not my idea of being worth it. Now if. Was only moving 10 hrs away, id pac everything, invest in a few od those big foam coolers and ice and bring it all. If you Re moving yourself it would be easy, check it only once during the trip to see how the ice is and get it in the freezer asap o the way back. Im confident in this bc i had two of them on my patio outside for 3 days in san diego Nd there was still ice in the chests. Make sure everything has been put in ziplocks just in case. If you are not moving yourself, then your packers can pack all the dry goods (even if they say they cant..tell them to pack it-and dont ask bc that will leave it open to say no). 15 years of marine corps life and this is our 11th move i think, ive seen and heard it all, but they can pack the non liquids (cans are ok of course) dont throw your stock pile away for a short 10 hr move! Youve worked too hard. Plus you will have lots of expenses so any way to save… ;). Have. A great

    • Sherri

      Sorry for spelling…ipad is not my friend as of late

  27. Stacey

    Depending on where you are at and where you are going you could donate some of the stockpile to the HIP2HELP Tour!

  28. ceasanny

    This is a fantastic post! We will be moving to our new home end of July or early-August and already, I am dreading the move. We are in the military as well and you’d think we’d all get use to it but it’s just a lot of work. We have accumulated a lot of stuff overtime and all these advices are of great help! Thanks for all the info! I will definitely keep them all in mind!

  29. DJ

    Call the managers at your favorite stores at the mall. Ask them what day/time you can have their freight boxes. It saves them from having an employee hauling them out the the dumpster. A lot of stores will have 20-50 boxes every day! Just make sure you’re there to pick them up when you say you will be, otherwise, the boxes will be in the way 🙂

  30. Niki C

    Hi there,
    I feel your pain! We did this about 18 months ago. I gave away a lot of things that I thought would be easy to replace. Turns out they weren’t.
    We were also expecting a much lower cost of living in Arkansas- it isn’t! Finally, our house in Michigan did not rent for 6 months, meaning we had double payments.
    Money was tight! I wished every single day that I had packed all of my items.

    To save the most money on a move, don’t buy boxes, scrounge them. Look on Craigslist. Do your own packing. And, if you can manage it, drive your own truck. It will be the longest two days of your life, but it will be worth it.

    PS BRING YOUR TOILET PAPER! I had an 18 month supply. I just bought more on Saturday, and ti was a total bummer to pay full price. Might as well wipe with money 😉

  31. Alaine

    Freecycle! I saw boxes listed on my freecycle just this week (great way to get rid of the boxes at your new place afterwards as well!). Also, I never bother packing up clothes that are in dressers already – I usually just take the drawers out and carry them to the truck separately, and then put them back into the dresser once that is on the truck (otherwise, it’d be too heavy). Saves a lot of time! For hanging clothes, I usually use those drawstring garbage bags, grab a stack of clothes on the hangers, cut a hole in the bottom of the bag to put the head of the hanger through, and then tie up the bottom drawstring (it’s like a quick, cheap garment bag). Another big time saver so you don’t have to unpack and re-hang all those clothes!

    • Kim

      I do something similar… except just gather the bunch of clothes and put the bag around them and cinch the drawstring at the top- at the hanger. Works great!

  32. Kim

    Another great resource for boxes… your local auto parts store- my favorite is Advance Auto Parts. They have tons of smaller boxes that oil is shipped in. They are strong and some have handles too! Just ask if they have some or what the best day to check might be ( after their weekly truck delivery typically ).

  33. Carole La Micela

    If you get a pod (or similar) or rent a truck, don’t forget to check out their website for discounts or if you are a member of AAA or, you may find discounts/coupons through them. Every dollar helps !

    As far as the stockpile goes, the first food order after a move is always expensive, so keep this in mind when selecting what to take with you. If you can’t take it all, donate it and get a receipt, you can deducte it the next time you do your taxes and you’re helping people at the same time! You can’t beat that ! You can also call Goodwill and they will pick up any old furniture that you won’t need and there’s another tax deduction, just don’t forget to get a receipt. Good luck with your move !

  34. Debi

    Moving companies sell ‘used’ boxes. They are VERY inexpensive and they can be worth it for the ‘wardrobe’ boxes or the boxes moving companies suggest for dishes. also, if you go to you should be able to get a starter kit either for free by filling out a form (someone may call though) OR you can get these through costco. They are good because they are the few really sturdy boxes you need for you china or whatever and paper/tape/buble wrap…

    For moving a ‘few states away’ you may want to break down a moving company, don’t assume their quote is the best they can do. You save money by packing yourself (I did my 2400sqfoot in 4 days ALL BY MYSELF 20 weeks pg with braxton hicks!) frankly I prefer doing it myself because I know where stuff is! AND you can get their quote down by useing their “used” boxes. The driving and mileage is required to be the same for every company based on federal laws of how they calculate mileage cost.

    Be wary of storage fees…when we moved we unexpectedly added 2 weeks in storage due to weird-nesses in Utah closing laws, murphy’s laws, etc.

  35. L


    • guest

      I disagree. I used them four years ago when I moved here and it was one rip off after another. They knowingly broke things, harassed us, and kept changing the price for no reason DURING the move. I documented it all:

      Bad stuff, dude. Don;t do it.

  36. Kathy

    I am moving states too and it sucks. I had a garage sale and sold a bunch of it as well as all the garage sale stuff. Cheaper than hauling it with me. I did keep some that was harder to secure like my johnsons baby stuff in my favorite scents. I probably kept 3 months supply of most items and hope to rebuild when I get situated. I am loving everyones comments. Super helpful.

  37. Stacey

    Put Dry Ice on the top layer of the freezer…. keeps for up to 48+ hrs

  38. Shelly

    I know wine boxes are great for your glasses. They are made to not break the contents! Take what you can fit and then donate the rest. Good luck with your move!

  39. Kathryn

    I have moved myself several times, egg carton boxes are great but boxes from the liquor store are even better for dishes glasses and breakables. They are smaller and easier to carry with heavy dishes in them. They are perfect for glasses because they already have dividers in themso you do not have to wrap the glasses. The egg cartons are great for larger breakables, just make sure that none of the eggs have cracked in the box and left any residue inside.

  40. Sarah

    Check on craigslist and freecycle. When we moved, there were tons of free boxes others had just used to do their move that were in great condition and they were happy for us to just come and pick them up. Just check what’s available in the free section or else put out a request for free moving/packing boxes. We even ended up with some nice wardrobe boxes I never would have paid for but were really nice to have!

  41. C

    I use paper boxes (the kind paper reams come in) from Kinkos, Staples etc. They have good lids and are clean. Just call them and they will usually give them to you for free. Great way to recycle! Also to you fellow Hipster’s who may be moving in the future, 1800PACKRAT.COM is a great idea and right now they have a promo called: Quote to win!!

    Every person who gets a quote for Long Distance Moving services from May 17 until September 15 will be automatically entered into a drawing for a free long distance move within the continental United States over 100 miles or a Gladiator® Garageworks Kit.*
    We really liked having the time to pack and unpack as we wanted without having the worries of getting a truck back or many boxes piling up at once in our new home:)

    • Kristin

      I love the printer paper boxes. If I could only use these, it would be fine with me. Huge boxes could be good for super light things, like stuffed animals or something. But these boxes stack so nicely and have pretty lids that you don’t even have to tape!

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