Moving house. Described as one of the top five most stressful things in life. If money is the number one cause of marital arguments, then the cost of moving can be a nightmare. DIY moving saves a packet. It’s more work, but quite doable.
I’ve moved house 7 times in the last 12 years. I’ve hauled furniture up and down 8 flights of stairs, I’ve put all my furniture in storage and slept on the floor for months (literally, I used a blanket as a mattress – not my favourite memory), I have even moved interstate, driving for two days with only a gold fish in a bucket for company while ahead, DH drove the truck that carried all our worldly possessions.
Each move has been a DIY job – no removalists. It’s often been just the two of us packing, lifting, carrying and trucking. Moving has never been the most fun time we’ve ever had, but we have managed to get through it unscathed. Below are some moving tips for DIY moving that I’ve learned over the years.
1. Plan some time off work
I have packed up and moved while still working, but it’s exhausting, especially if you spend all day (or night) hauling around heavy furniture yourself without much help. And then there is all the unpacking that comes after the big move. It’s not great moving during your holidays, but it makes it a whole lot easier if you’re not working during the day and moving at night.
Consider the costs involved in moving and save for them before hand rather than relying on credit card. The most frugal move will still involve some costs, even if it’s just bond money for the new address. The costs involved in moving house can include:
- truck or trailer hire
- trolley hire
- packing tape and markers
- cleaning supplies
- bond and rent in advance
- mail forwarding service
- home and contents insurance
- re-registration of car and re-insurance of car (if you move interstate oh, and a new licence)
- maintenance or cleaning cost of new house (especially if you have just purchased it)
- food for moving day
- over night accommodation if you are moving interstate or a distance
- If you are moving to a new town will you need money to tide you over until you find a job?
3. Gather your supplies
Get boxes from retail stores, supermarkets or at your place of work all for free.
Aside from boxes, you will also need packing tape and markers to label your boxes.
Save newspapers and junk mail to wrap breakables. Actually, junk mail is better as there is no newsprint to make you and everything else dirty. Scrunched up empty plastic shopping bags can also be used as packing cushion along with clothing and linen.
Don’t forget a stanley knife for cutting the boxes open later on.
4. Start packing early
Packing is a drag, but it’s worse if you leave it to the last minute. By starting well in advance you can:
- Declutter before you pack. Take things that you don’t want anymore to the charity store. This saves you carting around clutter from one house to the next. This isn’t ever a job that gets done at the last minute and you end up moving a whole heap of extra stuff. Packing is so much easier if you declutter first or as you go.
- Pack well and be organised. It gives you time to pack carefully and write the contents on the outside of the box. Believe me, no matter how careful you are, by the end, stuff gets packed willy-nilly. The earlier you start, the less things get jumbled up.
Don’t forget to eat through your food, especially frozen food and run your pantry stock low. This makes moving frozen easier and reduces waste.
5. Packing Tips
Don’t pack clothes and linen separately. Instead, use these to wrap breakables in. Even pillows and cushions can go into boxes to cushion breakables. Yes, it’s a little weird unwrapping your drinking glasses from out of your (clean) underwear, especially in company, but it means less boxes and bags to move and less packing paper to dispose of later on.
Pack room by room, so that you can easily unpack the contents where it’s meant to go later on.
Label everything. In the least, write the name of the room the contents belong to. If you can, jot down on the box some idea of the contents to help you find something specific once you arrive at your new place.
Write ‘fragile’ on boxes with breakables and pack them really well. Really well. Especially if others are manhandling your stuff.
If you’re moving a short distance, remove drawers from dressers and move them with their contents still in them. Saves packing and then unpacking later.
Pack an overnight bag and put it somewhere easily accessible so it doesn’t get lost. In this bag pack pyjamas, clothes for the following day, toiletries, bed linen, a towel, water and chocolate. If you’ve been moving all day, all you will want to do is make the bed, have a shower and crash. You don’t want to be rummaging around for a sheet or your tooth brush. The water and chocolate will come in handy too!
Pack an essentials box for the new place – things that you will need to lay your hands on as soon as you arrive. Things like water, the kettle and coffee if you’re like me, food, cups, tea towels, cutlery, pet food, a roll of loo paper, screw drivers and Allen keys to assemble furniture and at least one Stanley knife to open all of those boxes.
I haven’t yet moved with kids, but I would consider packing a small bag with toys, food, drink and other necessities just for them. Put it with the overnight bag or leave it with older kids to look after.
Fill an esky with ice before moving to keep your food stuff cold.
6. Move or be moved
The cheapest way to move is to borrow a friend’s ute, truck or trailer. With a little help it will only cost you the petrol (and a case of beer, of course). If you don’t have much to move, or aren’t going very far, hiring a trailer is a low budget option. The only downside is that you have to make more trips.
Not knowing anyone with a truck, we have always hired one. To move interstate four years ago it cost us around $1,200 for a truck and the petrol. Not cheap, but a lot cheaper than getting removalists to do the job.
Another cheap option is to use rail freight. I have heard from people who use this service that it is cheaper than using removalists, but it can take days if not weeks to get your stuff. If you have used rail freight to move house, it would be great if you left a comment about your experience.
7. Haulin’ furniture yourself
It’s hot, heavy work hauling around an entire house worth of furniture and goods especially if you have stairs. We’ve done it just the two of us, but get help if you can, it will save you hours of time. Some tips on hauling furniture:
- Disassemble what you can. Beds for example. Take drawers out of chests, dismantle flat pack type furniture. It makes it lighter to carry and easier to manoeuvre in through doors.
- Borrow or hire a trolley and some octopus straps. Three wheeler trolleys like the one pictured below make it easier to get fridges, washing machines and even lounge suits up and down stairs. We’ve always found the cost of trolley hire to be worth it. Don’t just throw furniture in the truck willy-nilly. Pack large furniture items first, securing them with rope and throwing blankets over tables or whatever might get scratched. Pack smaller things around, under and on top of the larger items, filling small gaps with small boxes.
- Pack books in small boxes. Books weigh a tonne. A couple of books in a small box is enough, otherwise you wont be able to lift the box – trust me on this one, I make this mistake every time.
- Bend your knees and protect your back.
- Take plenty of water to drink. It’s hot, heavy work.
- When unpacking, take furniture to the room it’s destined for if you can, this saves double handling. If not, park it as far away from the door as possible, otherwise you spend your time tripping over it or manoeuvring around it. Obvious advice you say? Yes, I would have thought so too…
- If you can’t get a lounge through the front door, the best way to get it in is to have a break and try again in a few minutes. Stuff just seems to fit better after a breather.
Consider moving the fridge first. Usually a fridge needs time to settle before turning it back on, and then it needs time to cool down before you can fill it with food. By moving the fridge first, it will be ready to pack with food by the time the rest of your stuff has been moved. Keep food in an esky with ice in the meantime.
Put boxes in or as close to the rooms that the contents are destined. This is where all that labelling comes in handy.
Look through cupboards and take a moment to consider your new space to decide where things will go before you start unpacking. It will make unpacking quicker and easier because you will have already thought of ‘a place for everything’, at least for most things, before you have even opened a box.
8 .Moving tips
- Leave time to clean. It seems that this always takes longer than expected. We have always done our own cleaning, but I will seriously consider hiring a cleaner next time. I hate the cleaning job.
- Don’t forget to organise steam cleaning of carpets if it is required in your lease.
- Depending on the place you move to, you may want to clean or do any maintenance or renovation before moving your stuff in.
- If you’re moving close by, short trips with small amounts of stuff done over a few days can make moving day easier.
- Use Australia Post’s mail forwarding service. It cost about $20 for a couple of months to forward your mail while you get organised and change your address. Write a list of all the places that send you mail and call or email them one at a time. Set an hour to do this task. We’re still getting bank statements for previous tenants and we have been living in this house for over three years.
- Remember to connect phone and electricity prior to moving into your new address. Don’t forget to disconnect these utilities in the old place.
- If you’re moving to a new area, check when bin night is.
- If you’re moving interstate you will need to change the registration of your car, get a new driver’s licence and update your insurance.
- If you’re moving overseas, well, that’s a whole other thing that I don’t know about.
- Put junk mail or newspaper on the top of high kitchen cabinets. They always get gunky and are hard to clean when you leave. If you’ve lined them with paper, all you have to do is chuck out the paper. Easy cleaning.
- Keep your boxes if you plan to move in the near future. Flatten them and store them in the roof, in the garage, under the bed or where ever you have space. Saves a lot of hassle looking for new boxes. We keep boxes that appliances come in for when we move again (sometime in the next 10 years I hope) Our ceiling is ‘insulated’ with them.
Do you have a great tip for moving house on a budget? I would love to hear about it.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.