13 Solid Ways to Save Money on Moving Costs

Using our 13 ways to save money on moving costs, a family moving to a new house could save 68% on their bill.

Turns out there are several ways to save real money on moving costs. The biggest are renting space in a tractor trailer and getting Penske’s big AAA discount, but there are lots more. Many families can even move for free. Here’s how:

Let’s say a family is moving from West Virginia to Maine. They’re moving 930 miles and they live in a three bedroom house. They get a typical in-home estimate from a full service moving company of $5,000 for the move.

Using moving cost money saving method #2 below, they decide to rent space in a tractor trailer truck instead, instantly saving $3,000, dropping their moving costs to $2,000.

Using moving cost money saving method #3, they get a AAA discount and save another $200. Now their cost for the move is $1,800, but they don’t stop there. They have a moving sale (method #6) to save space on the truck and save another $100. Now their moving costs are down to $1,700. They use method #11 to get free moving supplies and save another $100. Now their move costs just $1,600. Finally, they use method #5 to deduct the move from their taxes and save another $400. They’ve saved a total of $3,400 on moving costs. That’s 68%.

Using method #4, they get their employer to cover the remaining costs. Since half of all employers will pay an employees moving costs, they end up moving for free.

Example of Saving Money on Moving Costs Using the Methods in This Article:

Here’s a breakdown of how the family in our example can save money on moving costs by using the methods we describe:

Moving Cost Saving Method Percent Savings Dollar Savings Moving Cost
Original Estimate 0% $0 $5,000
Save money on moving costs method #2: Rent Space on Tractor Trailer 60% $3,000 $2,000
Save money on moving costs method #3: AAA Discount 10% $200 $1,800
Save money on moving costs method #6: Moving Sale 6% $100 $1,700
Save money on moving costs method #11: Free Moving Supplies 6% $100 $1,600
Save money on moving costs method #5: Moving Cost Tax Deduction 25% $400 $1,200
Total Savings 68% $3,850 $1,150

The family could even move for free by getting their company to pay for their moving costs. According to a study by Atlas Van Lines, 50% of companies will cover the full cost of moving, and 96% will pay for at least some moving costs.

Below, we’ll show you the three different methods of moving a house or a family. You’ll see how to compare the costs of each method. You’ll also learn what percentage of companies cover employee moving costs, how to save with moving sales and why moving in the off season saves money. We’ll also show how to find deep discounts, how to pick the best moving company and a few tips and tricks, like shipping books via USPS media mail and driving during off peak hours.

Here are our 13 solid ways to save money on moving costs:

1. Estimate Your Moving Costs

Moving Cost Estimator

U-Pack created this moving cost estimator as a reminder that renting a truck has a lot of hidden costs.

It’s hard to save money on moving costs if you don’t know how much moving might cost to begin with.

There are three ways to move a home or a family:

  1. Rent a moving truck.
  2. Hire a moving company.
  3. Rent space in a “you pack, we move” truck.

To generalize, renting a moving truck and renting space in a truck cost about the same, while hiring a moving company costs about twice as much.

Here’s how much it would cost to move a family from a three bedroom house 930 miles, from West Virginia to Maine, using each method:

uhaul moving cost calculator

U-Haul’s moving cost calculator can help you zero in on moving costs. Click to use the calculator.

Cost to move a three bedroom house 930 miles with each method:

  • Moving rental truck: $1,875
  • Moving company: $5,300
  • Rented space in a moving truck: $2,000

Finally, here’s how to estimate the cost of each moving method:

  • Moving rental truck: Use the rental company’s online estimator. For example, U-Haul.com’s estimator will provide a fairly close estimate, though you’ll need to add in gas and sales tax.
  • Moving company: Call the company. They will do an in-home estimate.
  • Rented space in a moving truck: Call the company. They will conduct a phone interview.

Click here for step by step instructions on how to accurately estimate the cost of each method of moving.

2. Save Money on Moving Costs by Renting Space in a Tractor Trailer

“You pack, we move” moving options are generally cheapest and easiest. Here’s why:

save money moving costs upack truck

This screen grab from U-Pack’s website shows how a “you pack, we move” company works.

  • Rented space on a truck costs about the same as driving a rented moving truck yourself. The one exception is Penske truck rental, which offers a 10% to 20% AAA discount.
  • “You pack, we move” options take away all the risk of driving a moving truck.
  • There’s no need to tow a car behind on a trailer.
  • Rented space on a truck allows a lot more time for loading and unloading, since the trailer is usually left out front of the house for a few days.

save money on moving costs upackAlso, “you pack, we move” options normally cost less than half what it costs to hire a moving company.

The two biggest “You pack, we move” options in the U.S. are U-Pack and PODS. PODS has some restrictions on shipping areas, but U-Pack will generally pick up and deliver anywhere in the United States.

3. Save Money on Moving With a AAA Discount

A AAA membership can save 10% to 20% on moving costs.

A basic AAA membership costs $55 a year. For that price, members get discounts at moving companies, as well as four free tows of five miles or less, free battery boosts, flat tire changes, fuel delivery, lockout service and other perks. There are also discounts at most hotels.

The table below shows a breakdown of what a AAA membership can save on moving costs. The table isn’t comprehensive, so calling a moving company to ask for their AAA discount can help. As you can see, a $55 AAA membership can generally save 10% or more on moving costs.

Moving Company Type of Moving Company AAA Discount Savings on a $2,000 Move
U-Haul Moving truck rental 0% to 10% $0 to $200
Penske Moving truck rental 12% to 20% $240 to $400
Budget Moving truck rental 0% $0 to $200
PODS You pack, we move 10% $200
Arpin Van Lines Moving company 5% $100
Atlas Van Lines Moving company 10% $200
Bekins Movers Moving company 10% $200

4. Ask Your Company to Cover Moving Costs

save money moving costs company pays

Atlas Van Lines published this infographic about companies that cover employee moving costs. Click to enlarge.

Here’s a great way to save money on moving costs: According to a survey by Atlas Van Lines, 50% of companies will cover the full cost of a move and 96% will pay at least some moving costs.

Some companies will also pay for other costs for their employees, like helping a spouse find a job, house hunting and housing benefits.

5. Save Money on Moving Costs With a Tax Deduction

A federal tax deduction can save 25% or more on moving costs.

People who move for business or job reasons can usually deduct moving costs from their taxes. To deduct moving expenses from taxes:

  • The new home has to be at least 50 miles from the old home.
  • You must work full time for at least 39 weeks during the first year in the new house.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces can deduct their moving costs without satisfying either of the two tests above.

Assuming a 25% tax rate, someone who spends $2,000 on moving expenses can save $500 by deducting their moving expenses.

To make sure you can deduct all your moving costs, make sure to save all receipts. The costs of meals during moving can’t be deducted.

6. Save Money on Moving Costs by Cutting Down to the Bare Minimum

save money moving costs moving salePeople love moving sales, and they’re a great way to save on moving costs.

A $600 couch might sell for $400. Selling the couch might save $200 on moving costs. Every piece of furniture you can sell and buy again will chop your moving costs down a bit. While you might not wind up ahead financially after buying replacements, you stand a good chance of breaking even. Plus, in the end you’ll get new furniture from the deal.

7. Move During the Off Season

Families can save up to 30% on home moving costs by moving during the off season. Most people move during the summer months, so moving companies have cheaper rates at other times of the year.

save money moving costs off season

This Google Trends graph shows “taxes” in red and “moving” in blue. While people search more for taxes in the spring, people search a lot more for “moving” in the summer. Summer time is moving’s “on season.”

Most people don’t want to move in the off season for a variety of reasons. Bad weather, colder air, tougher driving conditions and lowered convenience are just some of the reasons people don’t tend to move during spring, summer and fall. That means moving companies have to fight harder for business during the off season, which means lower prices.

8. Save Money on Moving by Starting Early

late payment bills calendarLike airline tickets, moving costs go up as the moving date approaches. It’s often possible to save money on moving costs with a moving company, rental truck or “you pack, we move” truck by booking early.

In addition to paying less for reserving in advance, starting early can save money by forcing moving companies to compete for your business. Since most moving companies offer free estimates, get estimates from at least three different companies, then use the lowest estimate to get a cheaper price.

For example, let’s say you’re moving a two bedroom house 500 miles. You call three different moving companies and get the following estimates:

  • Atlas Van Lines: $3,700
  • Mayflower: $4,200
  • United Van Lines: $4,100

It’s easy enough to call Mayflower and United Van Lines and tell them Atlas’ price. Notifying two moving companies that a third company has a lower price will usually get them to lower their estimate. In this case, both Mayflower and United might come in with a price in the $3,500 to $3,600 range. If they do, another call back to Atlas might get you a new $3,400 quote.

9. Save on Moving Costs by Checking Discounts

There are tons of coupons, discounts and deals online for all kinds of moving companies. Here’s a list of just a few moving deals:

There are dozens more discount and coupon pages online. To find them, just do a search of any moving company’s name, plus the words “discount,” “coupon” or “deals.”

10. Save Money on Moving by Choosing the Right Moving Company

save money moving costs penske company

Penske and U-Pack are the two highest rated moving companies on Yelp.

Picking the right moving company can save a lot of money, not only on price but also on avoiding damage and other headaches.

Penske truck rental and U-Pack lead the field in customer satisfaction. The sad truth is that most full service moving companies get rated very poorly. Fully 20% of all customers of full service moving companies end up filing lawsuits, according to the American Moving and Storage Association.

To avoid headaches, broken possessions, hidden fees and other financial hardships, pick a moving company that has a lot of satisfied customers.

Yelp.com Customer Satisfaction Rating by Moving Company:

Full Service Moving Company Yelp.com rating
Penske Truck Rental 4.5
U-Pack 4
Atlas Van Lines 3
Graebel 2.5
PODS 2.5
U-Haul 2.5
Budget Truck Rental 2.5
Arpin Van Lines 2
Stevens Worldwide 2
AMJ Campbell 2
United Van Lines 1.5
Bekins 1.5
Wheaton Worldwide Moving 1.5
Mayflower 1
North American Van Lines 1

11. Don’t Pay for Moving Supplies

You can save money on moving costs by not paying for things like boxes and furniture pads.

save money moving costs family moving supplies boxes

Look for free boxes in places like supermarkets, liquor stores and other small stores. Ask around the office for empty boxes too. Big box stores aren’t good places to look for free boxes for moving because they have efficient systems in place for immediately breaking down and packaging cardboard waste for recycling.

U-Haul rents furniture pads for moving for $5 each. While that doesn’t sound like much, even a relatively small house can have enough furniture to use up a lot of $5 furniture pads. For that reason, look in goodwill stores and flea markets for used blankets. A shout out on Facebook to friends can often turn up a lot of old blankets too. Friends are sad to see you move and are usually glad to be asked to help in some way.

12. Save Money on Moving by Shipping Books Media Mail

The USPS will let you ship 70 lbs of books for $34.55. In most cases, that’s a lot cheaper than paying a moving company to move books.

For a list of current media mail shipping rates, click here.

13. More Ways to Save on Moving Costs

save money moving costs armed forces

Ask about education and military discounts to save money on moving costs.

Here are a few more ways to save on moving costs:

  • Ask your moving company about all the different possible fees you might run into. Most moving companies publish a fee list or fine print on the agreement. Knowing the fees in advance can help you avoid them.
  • Wait until you’re ready to move in to avoid storage charges.
  • Don’t get the moving company’s additional insurance unless you absolutely need it. Many homeowner’s insurance and renter’s insurance policies will cover a move. Most credit card accounts will also insure a move if it’s paid for with the card.late payment bills utility
  • Stay on top of utilities to cut down on moving costs. Make sure all accounts will be cancelled or transferred into the name of the new owner, tenant or landlord as soon as you’re out.
  • Drive at off peak hours to avoid rush hour and save gas.
  • Call local truck rental companies directly – don’t reserve the truck online.
  • When hiring a moving company, pack it yourself.
  • Take apart furniture to save space.
  • Ask for military discounts and education discounts.


Moving in Off Peak Season – MyMovingReviews.com