5 Frugal Ways to Make Moving Easier

If you are a federal employee facing a relocation for work, these are some tips that can help save you save money on your move.

Contemplating a move? A traditional moving scenario can be costly, with expenses running into the thousands. Even if you’re just moving across town, packing supplies, truck rental, and paying additional helpers take their toll. Saving money wherever you can frees up more funds to cover closing costs or renovations for your new home.

Will the Government Pay for My Move?

Some federal employees qualify for relocation benefits. However, eligibility depends on a few things. Military personnel who move as part of their new orders are given government assistance for the transition. For federal employees who aren’t part of the military, benefits depend on the hiring agency, the distance of the move, and the new employer.

Either way, plan ahead with these money saving tips.

1. Decide on a Budget Ahead of Time

According to the American Moving and Storage Association, moving within the same state will run you an average of $1,170. If you’re planning on jumping state lines, plan on shelling out somewhere around $5,600. Worldwide ERC, a company that coordinates employee transfers, say these numbers are too low: according to their stats, the average cost of a move within the continental United States costs a whopping $12,000. What’s the reason for this large discrepancy?

In a word: weight. The American Moving and Storage Association puts their numbers in context by stating it’s based off a weight of 7,100 pounds—the size of a 1,000 square foot home. If you have children or live in a larger home, expect your move to weigh closer to 20,000 pounds.

Knowing how much weight your home contains is the first step in keeping your move frugal. Most moving companies provide free quotes, so you can figure out how much your home “weighs” and shop around for the best deal. Once you have a realistic idea of how much it should cost to move, you can begin to plan.

When deciding on a budget, consider other costs of moving. There are other hidden costs associated with moving, like transferring your cable and utilities, replacing old items, redecorating, and paying security deposits. These nickels and dimes add up. Consider every expense before coming up with solid number. Once you’ve decided on a budget, stick to it.

2. Will You Opt For Full-Service or DIY?

Depending on your plan, you may opt for either a full-service option complete with movers or rent a truck to move yourself. There are pros and cons to each method: a full-service move, obviously, costs exponentially more than attempting to take on the task yourself. However, you have cost-cutting options for each:


If possible, plan your move at an off-peak time. Movers tend to be busiest on the last ten days of the month, so planning a move during the middle can save you serious cash. The spring and summer months are also the busiest times of the year, so waiting to move between October and April can save you as much as 10% on full-service moving costs. Talk to your moving provider about its peak times, and get an estimate for slower seasons of the year.


There’s no question that taking on certain aspects of the move yourself can save you money. Even if you’re hiring movers to do the actual heavy lifting and transporting, you can pack up your belongings personally, saving extra money. As an added bonus, you’ll probably pack your Grandma Rose’s antique china with more care than a paid mover would.

Instead of rushing to the nearest Home Depot for packing boxes and paper, turn to your local neighborhood businesses for aid. Grocery stores and gas stations will often give away boxes and crates for free. Websites like Cheap Cheap Moving Boxes offer packing supplies for prices cheaper than office supply and home improvement stores.

For the stuff that’s just too heavy to move yourself, hire a couple of guys from the gym or a couple of starving college students for the afternoon to help you move your grand piano or gun safe. Rates for Pods and U-Haul truck rentals are a fraction of the cost of a full-service moving team.

3. Check for Incentives

If you’re moving for work, there’s a chance your federal agency will help you cover a portion of your moving expenses. Talk to your employer about moving incentives or possible expenses that can be reimbursed. If your employer’s unwilling to work with you, there’s always Uncle Sam. Your moving expenses can be itemized and claimed as deductions on your next tax return. Keep in mind, this only applies to moves that exceed 50 miles.

4. Shop, Shop, Shop

Hiring a lackluster team of movers can end up costing you more money in the long run even if their estimates are the cheapest in town. Arriving at your new home with half of your items broken or in disrepair isn’t the best way to start life in a new town. Before you seal the deal with any moving company, do your research. Check its rating on the Better Business Bureau, or check its complaint history through a site like protectyourmove.gov.

5. Weigh Your Insurance Options

Purchasing moving insurance can provide you with some much-needed peace of mind. But is it totally necessary? There’s no cut-and-dry answer. Insurance can run you from $250-$500 extra depending on the size of your move and the value of your goods. Most moving companies require insurance that’s added into the cost of your quote. If you’re attempting the move yourself, you have another option: call the broker in charge of your homeowners insurance and request a temporary rider for Goods in Transit insurance.

Before you jump into purchasing any riders, ask your insurance company what your homeowner’s insurance actually covers. Some policies already cover 10% of the value of your home during a move.

Making the decision to purchase additional insurance should boil down to the value of your tangible assets and level of comfort. If you’re ok with the possibility that your items can be damaged in transit, eschewing insurance can save you a few dollars. If you like to have your bases covered, the cost is worth it.

For further questions or help with a federal employee move, check out The Handbook for Relocating Federal Employees.

About the Author

Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and regular contributor to KSADoctor.com, a professional federal resume service and repository of sample KSA statements.