14 Frugal (and Actually Helpful!) Moving Tips

So I’ve gotten into the habit of checking Twitter #trends in the mornings now, but every now and then I leave pleasantly surprised :)

The other day was one of those times, when I came across this list of over 300 awesome moving tips that I’d never thought about before… Like that idea up there of putting your hanged clothes in trash bags! Genius!!

You can click on that link up there if you want to scour all of them, but here were my favorites that I found most helpful. So so clever…

  • While taping cardboard boxes, place yarn underneath the tape and longer than the tape — just pull the yarn and—boom! – @JenniPxox
  • Those big blue bags from Ikea. They’re huge, don’t take up much space when folded, and can be used over and over. I’ve used them for 4 different moves now – @PaigeUnabridged
  • Best trick I have (used many times), put masking tape on every closet, cupboard, drawer that you finish emptying. It not only helps you track progress, but gives you small “I did it” rewards along the way. – @TerniValentine
  • Use towels to cover your plates and pans. Decreases plastic use (bubble wrap) and pack both at the same time. – @thegirllogan_
  • Wrap a bunch of clothes on hangers in sheets! – @kalei_lagunero
  • If you have a lot of books or other heavy items, fill boxes with them only halfway, and then fill the rest of the space with something light like pillows or sweaters. – @ScenicOakland
  • Or pack them in rolling luggage so you can just wheel them around. – @mbafgth
  • If you need to disassemble anything, please for the love of god, duct tape the screws and any other related hardware you take out TO the actual item they go to. Just trust me. – @NebFeminists [Editor’s note: I do this for all our cribs and bunk beds – works beautifully!)
  • For framed artwork that’s poster sized and larger, shipping boxes for bicycles are the jam. Most bicycle shops keep a few empty boxes on hand and 99.99% of the time they should be free. They even have built in handles. Just ask your local shop for a “bike box” and they’ll know.@themunson
  • The plastic cling wrap stuff is a life saver! Wrap it around furniture with drawers, on edges of mirrors or anything you want to keep together. – @zybrittany
  • My furniture isn’t fancy. I sharpie little notes to the underside for how to reassemble it. E.g. the Ikea Poang armchair where all the holes look the same except 2 specific ones need the longer screws and I’ll forget which unless I label it. – @CantabKitty
  • Go to the McDonald’s in your town and ask for their mcfry boxes, they hold up to 100lbs, they stack perfectly, and they’re FREE! My mom has used them for every move we’ve ever done! – @RiriBanana016
  • Pack a box of “immediate use” items. paper towels, cleaner, plates, cups, etc. That way when you get to your new home you have quick access to the critical stuff. – @heyshachi

And then I’ll add one of my own to the list: Tubs!! We purchased about 30 of them years ago, and have since made packing and moving about 100x easier/faster. Especially when making multiple trips back and forth (you just dump and re-load!). They also stack well, and don’t take up much space in storage so you can repurpose over and over again…

target tub

What do you think? Tried any of these before? Got any other good tricks to add?!

Hope this helps for all those about to take the plunge themselves!

[Pic, and idea, up top by @thegirllogan_]

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  1. Paul November 22, 2019 at 8:58 AM

    Just hire a moving company. That’s one of those things that is more than worth it weight in gold… plus your lower back will thank you. I guess most of these tips are still valid though since you still have to pack. We had a moving company for our move 6 years ago and it was definitely money well spent. No one gets frustrated or angry, just direct the movers where things go and boom, that is it. Prior to that I have moved maybe 7 or 8 times.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2019 at 9:50 AM

      We did it once and had a miserable experience (cost 1/2 more than quoted and they couldn’t pack a van for sqaut), but I know there are good places out there… What I learned is that if I let a cple weeks overlap from old house to new house it gets much easier to xfer stuff so you don’t have to do everything in one day. And after moving 4 times in the past 6-7 years I’m much more comfortable driving large a$$ trucks around now too, haha…

    2. Blake November 22, 2019 at 12:45 PM

      Movers are… EXPENSIVE. Def not the budget way to go. Lift with your legs Paul! Lol

      1. Paul November 25, 2019 at 1:13 PM

        I’m not moving a household of 6 by myself…Some things in life are worth every penny… Also, moving was maybe double the cost of a Uhaul not that bad actually.

  2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life November 22, 2019 at 9:39 AM

    PiC picked up a bunch of tubs our last move and once I finally unpacked them all, I reuse them for storage. Better than moving boxes which make me feel like I’m still living out of boxes

    Also we have hired movers a couple of times. The first time, I learned to keep very good records because they didn’t move my stuff when they were supposed to. I made them pay for some essential replacements because I had a job to go to and no clothes to wear since they didn’t fulfil the shipping date on our agreement.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2019 at 9:55 AM

      I think you should have gone naked and then sued for even more relief :)

  3. Gwen @ Fiery Millennials November 22, 2019 at 9:56 AM

    How convenient as I pack my things this weekend! I’m surprised no one said check Craigslist/FB Marketplace/Offerup/etc for free moving supplies. I got high quality boxes and dish move sets for free! For clothes, I’m tossing them in my rolling suitcases. Also, to pack the big truck, all boxes go in first, and then the big heavy stuff goes in last. I learned that from hiring movers a few times (sadly no money in the budget for movers this time wahhh!)

    1. J. Money November 22, 2019 at 12:13 PM

      Interesting about the heavy stuff being last? I’ve always put ’em in FIRST thinking it would make it more secure for some reason, but then again all the random junk in the end gets piled high and then falls out when I go to open it on the other end, haha.. So maybe the heavy stuff helps keep it in there more? (Or is it to get it out of the way on the other end before energy wanes? :))

  4. Michelle November 22, 2019 at 10:47 AM

    We moved next door. Reused plastic bins and laundry baskets (asked friends to bring theirs) and did trips back and forth. We supplied the pizza and beer to keep the worker happy. Never again. The friends had too much fun in resettling our home. I found things in my oven that did not even belong in a kitchen. It took us a few days to find and rearrange everything. Lesson, beer after the work is done and cattle prod for those not following directions. Makes for a funny memory.

    1. J. Money November 22, 2019 at 12:14 PM

      Hah – yes!!!

      Who puts stuff in ovens anyways?! So random!

      1. PAULA November 25, 2019 at 12:06 PM

        And never let people with odd OCD’s pack for you.

        My former MIL, for some reason, decided to pack all my left shoes in one box and all the right shoes in another. Strange, but not deal-breaking unless, of course…. drumroll please…The movers LOSE ONE BOX.

        Sigh. I kept that box of sad lefties for years, just hoping their mates would turn up…

        1. J. Money November 25, 2019 at 12:08 PM

          STOP!!! Haha…

          Omg that would suck hard…

  5. Kellie @ Big Style Finance November 22, 2019 at 2:36 PM

    Last time I moved I just used boxes for all the bigger things, but the smaller ones I put in my insulated grocery bags that I take with me when I do the shopping. Those things are sturdy, can carry plenty of weight, and they zip shut!

    1. J. Money November 22, 2019 at 3:15 PM

      Truth!! Super helpful companions!

  6. Heather November 22, 2019 at 3:37 PM

    I’ve moved from Las Vegas to New York and back (so, 2 cross-country moves). I would keep a notebook with details of what is in each numbered box. I’d also try to limit the number ranges to a location (boxes 11-24 were the kitchen). That way, if I know I’m looking for a thing from the kitchen, my notebook will tell me which box. I’m not detailed in the list, just a simple note such as Pantry Cabinet: canned goods, rice, foodstuff OR Hall Closet: Linens, towels, Band-aids. I’d also try to keep the boxes to a single location, then I’d only have to think of where I would have found the item in the old place. Where did I keep the can opener? Oh, the utensil drawer.

    Numbering the boxes is really helpful.

    1. J. Money November 25, 2019 at 7:22 AM

      Excellent one, thank you!

  7. Becky November 22, 2019 at 7:30 PM

    I’ve used the same affordable movers 3 times now, and will use them again. I also had to really purge last move after boyfriend and I moved in together. I listed stuff for sale and/or free online, contacted a couple of charities that need household supplies for refugees or recent parolees, they were happy to come pick things up. I also hosted an open house during 3-4 hours on a Saturday for people to come shop for books. That way I didn’t have to pack them up for either moving or donations. I also donated my grad school book collection to the university Anthropology department. It was a much easier move with much less to move!

    1. J. Money November 25, 2019 at 7:24 AM

      Wow you’re good at finding new homes for stuff! That all go on to continue *helping* others too, love it!

  8. Liz November 23, 2019 at 6:59 AM

    When we have moved ourselves (3 times) we used a lot of garbage bags! And I still use them for garbage after unpacking. We have moved 4 times with professional movers that packed our stuff for us. It’s definitely easy and I didn’t have to pay the bill so win win. Two of those moves were over the Atlantic ocean so still some stress involved.

    1. J. Money November 25, 2019 at 7:26 AM

      yeah, overseas moving is a whole other ballgame, haha… worth the adventure though! :)

  9. Jules November 23, 2019 at 1:59 PM

    Great roundup of packing tips, J! Hadn’t heard of some of these before. I started hiring movers a few years ago and haven’t looked back since, especially because most of the apartments I was moving in and out of had a “no elevator use” policy for movers (OUCH!).

    3000% agree on the seran wrap tip to wrap things, what a game changer.

    1. J. Money November 25, 2019 at 7:27 AM

      no elevator use??! harsh!

  10. Ed November 23, 2019 at 5:03 PM

    These are great tips! When we downsized and moved a few months back, we definitely made use of the book packing one (box half full, then lighter stuff!) and duct-taping screws etc. to anything you disassemble. Both of those were hard-learned lessons from earlier moves. :) We’ve started acquiring tubs over the years, and that definitely makes moving easier.

    I like the suggestion about masking tape on cleared cabinets. I’ll also give the yarn under the tape a try, though that might be more trouble than it’s worth. Of course, I mostly hope it will be a long time before we move again…it’s always a pain.

    1. J. Money November 25, 2019 at 7:28 AM

      Haha yeah, it’s never really fun unless you’re moving somewhere incredibly adventurous where at least the excitement of it all helps you forget about how annoying moving is ;)

    1. J. Money November 25, 2019 at 7:29 AM

      YES!!! So neat, thank you!! Added to my list to share on the blog later – such an interesting way to spend your mornings, haha….

  11. Camilla November 24, 2019 at 7:26 PM

    For packing glasses, vases and other breakables, hit up the liquor store for empty wine boxes. They’re sturdy, and come with neat dividers to keep items from accidentally bumping/smashing/shattering together. I also second using towels, sheets, blankets, dishcloths, cloth napkins, etc. for padding breakables, but don’t stop there. If it’s fabric, it’s fair game. After all, if you’re moving in the summer, you’re not going to be using your winter scarves and hats for a while!

    1. J. Money November 25, 2019 at 7:30 AM

      Good points!! I still have a wine box I snagged over a decade ago that’s helped me with all 6+ of our moves since then, haha… Those divider thingies def. come in handy!

  12. Leif Kristjansen @ FiveYearFIREescape December 3, 2019 at 6:51 AM

    My tip is to just leave or toss a lot of stuff as you go. My last move I specially had couches I didn’t care to keep. So I just put them at the curb (it’s allowed around here).

    It’s a space AND time saver.

    A move feels pretty wonderful if you end up with less stuff. :)

    1. J. Money December 3, 2019 at 7:00 AM

      It sure does :)

      And if you end up having some un-opened boxes on the other end after a few months, you know what else you can get rid of too! Haha…

  13. Laura Condit December 15, 2019 at 10:53 AM

    If you need boxes, check at your local library. We get deliveries of new books almost every day and always have stacks of good clean, sturdy boxes lying around.

    1. J. Money December 16, 2019 at 6:43 AM

      oh, good tip – thx! didn’t know that!