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How to Save on Moving Costs to New York City: Guide

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Moving to New York City can get costly. Find out smart ways you can save and slash your costs when it comes to relocating. We give you tips on the trade so your move can go smoothly and won't hurt your pocket.
Moving NYC

So, you finally decide to embark on a journey in your life by moving to New York City. You picked out your dreamy apartment in one of the best neighborhoods for students, you found yourself a decent gig that pays well, and you are all ready to go. Congrats! Just getting this far is a major accomplishment.

The only problem is, you need to move all your stuff.

Moving isn’t easy. It can be stressful, and when you’re dealing with apartment renting in New York City, the price you pay to haul all your stuff can be a serious pain to your pockets. Fear not, dear reader. These eight tips can make moving costs way more manageable.

Plan Ahead

Part of being able to reduce the price of moving is realizing that you may need to prioritize certain things. Since apartments in the Big Apple are a lot smaller than what many new transplants are used to, living in New York often comes with a surprising amount of downsizing. Here are some tips you can use to make it easier on you.

Think Price

There are certain types of furniture and goodies that cost less to buy than they do to move. For example, cheap tables from Ikea would probably be better off being rebought than transported across the country. In many cases, buying cheap furniture might mean you’re better off selling the old and grabbing some new ones.

Average Rental Prices in New York City

Studio$2,800
1 Bed$2,000
2 Beds$2,450
3 Beds$2,800
4 Beds$3,600

Budget

Much like every other aspect of living in New York City, moving requires a bit of planning. You will need to develop a budget for all the costs associated with your move, including interstate travel and packing materials.

While you’re doing this, it’s also a good idea to put together a moving checklist so you can avoid extra fees, missed steps, and other mishaps that could break your budget. It only takes a little bit, but it can do wonders to keep things running smoothly.

If you are able to stay under budget, then it’s wise to set that extra money aside in savings. It can save you if you can’t afford to pay rent!

Talk to Your Boss

Though it is getting a little rarer these days, many major companies still cover moving costs for professionals that are new out-of-state hires. If a job offer is what’s bringing you to the city, it may be a good idea to ask your future employer about covering some or all of the cost of moving. Even if they only throw a couple of hundred bucks your way, that’s still some money you don’t have to spend on packing peanuts.

When to DIY

Doing it yourself is the easiest way to reduce the cost of moving, especially if you don’t have much to your name. If at all possible, consider moving your items using your own car or truck—or just use a U-Haul. If you can’t, there are still some ways to save some money using a little elbow grease…

DIY Packing

Many, if not most, moving companies will offer a serious discount if you agree to pack our items on your own. In some cases, this can even save you hundreds of dollars on a single move. You can compound the savings by sourcing your own moving materials.

To save as much as possible, use regular blankets as moving blankets and bulk order your cardboard boxes. If at all possible, recycle old boxes you have lying around your home. Every little scrap counts!

A Little Help From Friends

Friends can be one of the best resources you can tap into when you’re trying to move to New York City, especially if you’re on a budget. Friends can offer extra helping hands if you choose to make a DIY move, help you set up your favorite decor in a pinch, and help you cope with moving stress when things get too crazy.

People who are lucky enough to have already friends who are local to the New York City area should also consider asking them for any advice or deals they know of that could help make moving easier. Networking with the right friends might just find you a better price for moving than you ever thought possible.

BIY Insurance

One important (but often overlooked) aspect of moving is the importance of moving insurance. This is insurance that protects personal property (and other stuff) in the event that movers mess up. This is vital to keeping the costs of replacing broken and damaged goods to a minimum and should be seen as a necessity.

Many moving companies offer moving insurance as an add-on, but that doesn’t mean you should take it. You can often get better rates and better quality insurance by shopping around for your own.

Finding A Mover

Though the cheapest way to move often involves the DIY approach alongside a U-Haul rental, it’s not always reasonable to try this route.

Moving is hard work and, in many cases, is physically dangerous to do on your own without professional help. So, let’s talk movers.

Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around

Contrary to what the guys on the phone might say, the first movers you talk to aren’t always going to be the cheapest.

If you want to save money on your move, shopping around and getting quotes is the first thing you should do.

A good rule of thumb to follow is that you shouldn’t move until you get three quotes from different movers. Try to get an in-home quote written on paper whenever possible.

This will allow you to furnish proof if they try to raise the asking price after and will also get you the most accurate quotes possible.

It’s also worth pointing out that phone and email quotes aren’t good indicators of the move's true cost.

Many people have shopped around, gone for a cheap quote, then balked when they noticed their bills were higher by several hundred dollars. Don’t be one of those people.

Haggle

A common misconception about moving prices is that they are set in stone.

They’re not. It’s totally okay, and to a point, expected, to ask movers for a discount or two.

Moving companies really are in need of sales, so if you ask politely and mention your moving budget, they will be willing to work with you.

Movers love to have a business that’s booked way in advance, and this is something you can use to your advantage.

If you know you want to book your movers soon, mentioning that to them as a way to get them to drop the price will often work.

Book Off-Peak

Just like with any other industry, the moving industry has months where business is booming as well as months where business lags.

In New York City, the peak moving seasons are during the late spring and summer. During this time, movers charge way more because they are far more in demand.

Winter and mid-fall, on the other hand, are their slower seasons.

If you plan out your move in the off-peak season, it’s very likely that you will be able to book movers at a cheaper price. That being said, this isn’t always doable so it can be a “hit or miss” kind of tip.

Things To Watch For

While it’d be wonderful to be able to assume that every moving company you speak to has a perfect track record and your best interests in mind, it’d be foolish to do so.

Moving scams do happen, and it’s up to you to ensure you don’t get snared by them. Here’s how to avoid serious price-gouging behaviors in New York City…

Insurance

Legitimate moving companies will always have insurance and should be able to provide you with proof of insurance. This is important for two reasons.

Most landlords and management companies will want your moving company to provide proof of insurance, so if your movers are unable to do so, most likely you will not able to use them to move into your building.

However, the most important reason your moving company should have insurance is that if they don't, and any of your possession become damaged in the move, you may not be compensated.

Even worse, if the movers damage anything in your new building or home you may be liable for it.

Keep an Eye Out for Scams

There have been cases where people have gotten all their belongings stolen by fake moving companies before.

There also have been cases where faux movers held peoples’ goods for ransom until they agree to pay a far higher price than they were quoted.

Scary, isn’t it? Well, it’s reality. Moving scams do exist and they can cost you serious money.

The best way to avoid moving scams is to look for companies that are licensed by the US Department of Transportation and have good ratings with the Better Business Bureau.

If you aren’t sure whether movers are worth it, ask if they are licensed, insured, and bonded. Good movers will be. Bad ones won’t be.

Get Good Gear

The easiest way to end up with damage in your new rental is to move your items in without using proper moving equipment.

Things like low-quality moving boxes or a lack of decent help can result in scratched flooring, chipped walls, or worse.

Though it sounds counterintuitive, it’s always best to invest in decent gear while you move.

Look For Deductions

Sometimes, saving money on your move isn’t an immediate issue. Sometimes, it’s more about getting savings after you move.

People who are moving to a new place because of work-related reasons can use their moving expenses as a tax deduction in most cases.

Though using this deduction still means you have to pay money now, it is still a good way to get more money back (or save money on taxes) during tax season.

If you want to be able to deduct moving expenses, it’s crucial that you keep receipts for things like packing materials, moving services, and your own transportation to your new home.

After all, the more receipts you have, the easier filing will become.

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