Moving on a Budget: Don't do what I did
Life, Money, Moving

Moving on a Budget: What NOT to Do

I’d like to think that since I’ve moved a number of times in the last 6 years (PA > NC; NC > MO; MO > NY; NY > NJ; NJ > NY), that my move this fall would be the easiest yet. I should be an expert at moving on a budget at this point, right?! Think again.

Clearly, I’m no stranger to moving, but woooeyyyyyy this time around was a doozy. I should have been reading my own advice when I made the plans, but alas, I did not. I’m pretty sure that we made every rookie mistake there is to make for two people who wanted to spend as little as possible on a move as they could.

Avoid These Things If You Are Moving on a Budget

1. Underestimating the amount of stuff you have

When you underestimate the amount of stuff you have, you put moving on a budget at risk. It’s tempting to think you can fit all of your stuff into the smaller rental truck, but if you make a mistake and need more room, the cost of renting another vehicle or shipping things last minute adds up.

My moving mistake: We ended up needing to ship a number of items via FedEx and to rent a mini van in order to get our stuff down to DC due to underestimating what would fit in a 10′ moving truck.

2. Splitting it into multiple trips

This one seems obvious, but for us, it was unavoidable, because I moved down to DC a month and a half before Richard was able to join me. When you move over multiple trips, especially when you are moving a 7 hour drive away, the cost of gas, time, food on the road, and wear and tear on the card add up. Also, if you forget something in location A that you need in location B before you are able to move everything down, you might need to buy it when you get to location B.

My moving mistake: I packed kitchen utensils for myself in Rochester, but accidentally left them on the counter before departing for Virginia. When I arrived in Virginia and realized I had nothing to cook with, I ended up having to go to Target to buy some new ones even though we own PLENTY of kitchen utensils. It’s not a huge expense, but the little things add up.

3. Leaving things behind or donating things you still want / need

I’m all for minimizing when it comes to moves. When I moved from Missouri to New York, my goal was to move with just my car and no rental truck or anything else. In order to do that, I had to downsize drastically. We did the same thing this time around, since we knew that the stuff in our 1000 sq ft house would not fit into our new 750 sq ft apartment. We spent the weeks leading up to the move selling as much as we could, but time ran out and we ended up donating or leaving behind a number of things that we would have wanted to keep or needed to replace once we got to our new place.

My moving mistake: One thing that we left behind that we needed to replace was our vacuum. It was one of the things that we needed until the last minute, but didn’t have room for it in the car at the very end, so we left it behind. Luckily, we were able to borrow one of Richard’s parents vacuums for the time being so we didn’t have to spend money to replace it… yet.

4. Last minute moving truck reservations

In my opinion, moving truck companies are a little sheisty when it comes to reservations. They seem to overbook their reservations and let you book a truck that they may not end up having when you arrive. To make up for this, they will often let you book the next size truck up without the extra charge. At the very least, this is how it works with U-Haul.

My moving mistake: I made my reservation too late and the 14′ truck that I wanted was not available. U-Haul offered to bump us up to the 17′ truck at no cost, but we were renting a trailer to haul a motorcycle, so it seemed extreme (and potentially dangerous) for us to try to drive a 17′ truck PLUS the trailer. We ended up getting the 10′ truck, which obviously was too small. In the end, we rented a large mini van to put extra stuff in and that still wasn’t enough.

5. Multiple apartment hunting trips

Another part of moving on a budget is finding a new place to live. If you are trying to find a place to live in a new location out of town, the costs of transportation, lodging, and food add up. This is why it is important to be prepared, give yourself ample time to find something, and do everything you can to find an apartment in the time you’ve been given.

My moving mistake: When I moved to both Missouri and Hoboken, I made a trip ahead of time to find a new apartment and was successful both times. In September, we made a trip to DC to apartment hunt, but were unfortunately unsuccessful. This resulted in me having to go down a second time to apartment hunt, but thankfully I was able to find something at the very last second (almost missing my flight too!).

Lessons for Moving on a Budget

Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson and you can learn some lessons from me. For me, the lessons are:

  • You have a crapload of stuff, no matter how much you try to downsize, so just accept it and act accordingly.
  • Plan ahead and be realistic.
  • Stop selling or donating things you’re just going to need to re-buy anyways.
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