|Moving costs: How to save money
If you're changing
jobs and your company is picking up the relocation tab, you're lucky.
You'll still have all the hassles of uprooting your life, but at
least your bank account will rest easy.
For those who do not have that luxury, we're going
to show you ways to save money when you move.
Costs for moves across state lines are based on the
weight of the goods and the distance traveled. We'll focus on interstate
moves for this story. Local moves are a different animal since they're
completely unregulated; we'll cover them in a separate report. Still,
much of the money-saving information here also applies to local
- The discount: Most
long-distance movers charge according to an annually revised book
called "Tariff 400," which is published by the American
Moving and Storage Association, headquartered in Alexandria,
Va. The book tells the moving company how much it can charge for
hauling X pounds for X miles. The weird thing is, to stay competitive,
movers heavily discount the tariff, usually to the tune of 40
percent to 60 percent.
Here's your first chance to save money. Ask the moving company's
sales rep or booking agent how much the discount is and then see
if you can get a slightly better deal. You should be getting at
least three estimates, so you may have some leverage there.
- Be flexible: You'll
stand a chance of cutting a better deal if you can be flexible
about your moving date. Movers are very busy from mid-May to mid-September,
says MaryScott Tuck of the American Moving and Storage Association.
They are usually looking for work in January and February.
"A 40 percent discount in the last week of June probably won't
get any better, but 40 percent in January probably gives the mover
some flexibility," says Tuck.
Moving sometime other than summer could be 5 percent to 12 percent
cheaper, says Tuck. Also, try to avoid moving during the first
and last weeks of the month, any month. They're busy weeks for
- Don't box them in:
Another way to get a bigger discount is to give the mover some
room when it comes to pickup and delivery dates. If possible,
give the movers a span of three to five days when they can pick
up the load and three to five days when they can deliver.
- Packing: Doing some
of your own packing is one of the best ways to reduce costs, says
Tuck. "Pack your books, clothing, VCR tapes -- but leave your
china and high-dollar items for the mover to pack."
- Packing materials: The
mover will sell you boxes, tape and packing paper. But you may
be able to get them cheaper at a do-it-yourself mover such as
U-Haul or Ryder. You'll save more money by getting boxes from
your supermarket, but make sure they're in good shape and weren't
initially used for produce, or they may attract bugs.
- Cut down on the load:
If you haven't used it or worn it in more than a year, movers
suggest that you pitch, sell or give away the item.
- Tax deductions: Keep
all receipts; you'll be able to deduct allowable expenses from
your income taxes.
Unfortunately, there are some areas of the move where
you probably won't be able to cut costs. A few examples:
- Additional transportation
charges: These charges compensate the mover for services
performed in areas where labor rates are higher -- usually major
metropolitan areas. These costs usually range from $1 to $3 per
100 pounds but can be even higher in places such as New York or
- Advanced services:
The mover needs to hire a specialist to disconnect gas mains,
disassemble a piano or pool table, etc.
- Appliance services:
For example, blocking the tub in the washing machine so it doesn't
- Bulky items: Snowmobiles,
lawn mowers, boats, etc. may cost extra to move.
- Accessorial services:
Long carry -- if the mover has to walk more than 75 feet from
the truck to your door, you'll pay extra. You'll also be charged
more if there are stairs or an elevator. These costs can range
between $1.50 and $2 per 100 pounds.
- Shuttle: If the van
can't get to your house because the street's too narrow or there
are low-hanging branches or wires, your belongings will have to
be loaded onto a smaller truck first. Depending on the size of
the shipment, this can be expensive and can be an unpleasant surprise,
says Jim Dalessandro of MoveSource
in St. Clair Shores, Mich.
"Generally speaking, the rep knows if a shuttle is needed at the
original house, but we don't see the destination until we get
there and it could be costly."
- Payment on delivery:
In most cases, the customer pays for the move when the goods are
delivered, before they're taken off the truck. If you don't have
a certified or cashier's check or whatever the mover requested,
your goods may be put in storage until payment is received --
and you'll be charged extra for the storage.
Here is a sample
estimate compiled by the American Moving and Storage Association.
It's easy to see how much money can be saved by doing some of the
-- Updated: Aug. 3, 2001