If you’ve moved away from home to go to college before, then you may have a lot of opinions about living on-campus versus living off, where the cool parts of town are, and who your favorite (& worst) roommates were. Or, you’re at least forming them, depending on what year you are in. Maybe you’ve moved every year, or you’re about to.
During my college career, I moved a total of five times. And, each time was hectic and unplanned. I’ve recruited unwilling friends and borrowed my dad’s truck for multiple trips across town. Truth be told, I’ve hated every minute of it.
Making a College Budget
Since college I’ve moved 3 more times. And, guess what? According to statistics, I’ve got 3.4 more times to go (but I bet I have more). You’ve potentially got a lot more moves to go through as well. And drawing from my experiences, I’ve gathered some budget-friendly tips for college move in day, so your next move can run smoother (aka less stressful).
Go the Hybrid-Move Route.
The cheapest way is to do everything yourself. But let’s face it– it sucks having that responsibility! Finding a vehicle to borrow, recruiting reliable help, and potentially injuring yourself with heavy-lifting is simply not worth the trouble. But, while hiring a full-service company is ideal, the cost is simply unjustifiable. A Hybrid Move combines best of both worlds.
What exactly is hybrid moving? You rent the truck or shipping container, and then separately hire the number of movers you need for the hours you’ll need them. It does require a little more organization up-front, but the money you’ll save is worth it. Plus, you don’t have to think twice about how you’re going to move that cool piano your ex-roommate abandoned.
Sell, Donate & Ditch.
On second thought, maybe you should cash in on that piano. Not only will you make a pretty sum of money, but you’ll have a lighter load to move. Smaller/less stuff will mean a cheaper truck or container to rent, as well as fewer hours of moving labor help to pay for.
Plus, having cash during a potentially-costly time in your life will feel good. Hopefully you’ll stress less over whether or not you’ll get your deposit back, and if it’ll be in time to give to the next landlord.
Moving for a New Job?
If you’re fresh out of college and was just offered the job of your dreams, then congratulations! This is a huge win not only for your career, but potentially for your pocketbook (at least during tax season). Indeed, some moving expenses related to work are tax-deductible, so check into current tax laws to see what applies in your state, and save all your moving-related receipts.
Don’t Buy Boxes– Rather, Find Them!
It may be tempting to pay for moving-specific boxes. But, let’s face it– that’s lazy. Most establishments you frequent regularly are begging you to take their boxes.I’ve heard the boxes from liquor stores are good because they are built more sturdily than most and you can just ask the stock person if you can have them.
For example, a friend of mine scored big at the local gas station during her last move. She found one that kept a pile of flattened cardboard boxes behind the counter. When asked what they were used for, the clerk responded that they were from shipments, and they were just waiting for their dumpster to be emptied before throwing them out. She asked if she could have them, and he gladly gave them all to her.
I’ve also found great boxes at liquor stores. While often times these boxes aren’t the biggest, they are designed for holding multiple, heavy bottles at once, so you can rest assured that your boxes won’t fall apart during your move. And, similar to my friend’s new favorite gas station, liquor stores tend to always have boxes they’d like to get rid, and generally ASAP. Go to any Grocery stores in the afternoon. Everyday they restock their shelves and teardown boxes. Ask them if they can set some boxes aside for you. Nursing home. Call and ask for someone in housekeeping. Ask for empty diaper boxes. They’re sturdy and have handles and aren’t so big that they get super heavy when filled. Ask for a certain number and promise to pick them up at a certain time. Bigger places will have more.
Where to get free packing paper!
If you have a neighbor or family member/friend who gets the paper, just ask them to toss you all their old papers instead of throwing them out/recycling them. I use newspaper when I do art projects all the time and my parents get the newspaper every day, so when I’m low on paper I just ask them to fill up a bag full of paper from their recycling bin and hand it off to me.
Go to the grocery store or another store that sells papers and ask if you can have any old/unsold papers at the end of the day/week. Just explain you’re moving and if they have any free boxes/papers/etc you would really appreciate it. You could just take a bunch, I’m sure it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I think it’s nicer/better to ask.
Pay in Pizza and Beer.
Finally, if anything, here’s the best insider secret I can possibly give you. Pizza and beer can move mountains. Seriously. Call up the laziest friend you know. If you’re in college, you know at least one person who wakes up at 5 pm, right? Ask them if they’d help you for free pizza and beer. Chances are, they will.
Truth be told, you haven’t seen this person work or even lift a finger (how do they go to class or pay rent?) the whole time you’ve known them. Yet, here they are, holding one end of your couch while schmoozing with your dad, who’s holding the other end. And knowing that tip alone, makes moving not so bad after all.
Using Amtrak to Move Cheaply Across the Country
Regarding moving costs: If you don’t have any pieces of big furniture to move (and aren’t driving), by far the cheapest way to do it is Amtrak. You pack things up into medium sized boxes and drop it off to ship maybe the day before you fly out. When I did it, I think the cost was something like $50 plus $0.50 per pound, so I moved all my books and shoes and offseason clothing and dishes and such for less than $150. I flew Southwest, checked 2 enormous bags, and that was that! If you know anyone in the area who has a car that can help you pick them up at the station, that’s great but otherwise I think renting a truck at Home Depot or via something like the Getaround app is also pretty cheap.
If you go Amtrak, shipping for small items becomes so cheap that you can actually acquire stuff over time and move it there instead of having to wait and get it all there your first week. At my school, at the end of the year there would always be people throwing away tons of completely usable housewares and items like pantry staples and spices. That, combined with my parent’s castoffs, were enough to keep me going for a while.