Moving for Under $3 a Click


[Speaking of "moving", Adina's column has been moved to Thursday this week.]

I just finished my grand move to the Hammer (although everything is still sitting in boxes). Longtime Readers will know that I moved last year, too — from Toronto to a small town near Peterborough. I completed that move for under $2.50 per kilometer and juxtaposed this with the stunning $170 a click spent by unrepentant shopaholic debt blogger Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew. Since then, she stopped writing for Moneyville and the entire website shut down in favour of a “Personal Finance” section in the Toronto Star (presumably to help enforce the paper’s new paywall; good luck with that strategy Old Media).

Here are condensed versions of the money-saving moving tips I gave in my previous post, which I’ll use as a template for discussing my latest move:

  1. Ask friends and family for help.
  2. If you can, spread out your effort.
  3. Need a truck? Rent it.
  4. Get cheap or free packing materials.
  5. Get your hands dirty.

I tried to live up to these principles but definitely achieved only partial success.

Money-Saving Moving Tip #1: Get help from friends and family

The cost of my 2013 move was higher than my 2012 move. The biggest increase was because we now have too much stuff to simply use a family member’s trailer. With the addition of our beautiful dining room set (oh and a baby that needs a crib and such), our moving needs are just too big. I’ll talk about our truck rental under heading #3.

My good friend Jack was a massive help on the penultimate day of the move; we got our loaded truck to Hamilton and he generously came from Milton and lifted a good portion (if not a majority) of our stuff. It was a massive help. On the 2012 move I reactivated an old back injury and was laid out for days. My partner’s Grandma was also a big help, watching Cat while we went to Hamilton to get the truck.

Money-Saving Moving Tip #2: Spread out the move

Between the time we got the house and day we moved in (about two-and-a-half weeks) we brought a load of stuff in our Malibu whenever we came to Hamilton. But these loads were always “survival supplies” because we were living part time in the house while a significant renovation was underway. By not moving in until after the work was done, we avoided a lot of extra cleaning, potential damage to our stuff, and higher contractor costs. I realize that most situations aren’t nearly as forgiving but if yours is flexible, take advantage of it.

We spread out the actual truck move. We scheduled a day to come get the truck in Hamilton and return to Peterborough, another day to load the truck, and a third day to drive to Hamilton and unload. Renting the truck for more days definitely cost more money, not less – but it sure beat having an angry girlfriend or reactivating my back injury. (Also, with our rental, we got a set number of kilometers per day, after which the mileage rate was insane. By renting for 3 days, we got 450km; we needed 400km for the move so the marginal cost wasn’t actually unbearable.)

Money-Saving Moving Tip #3: Rent a truck

As discussed earlier, the main cost increase was needing to rent a truck because we couldn’t use a trailer. I rented a truck for $320 including HST for three days and 450km. This price should have been $300, but Budget in Hamilton refused to honour their coupon:

moving for under $3 a click - Budget RAC coupon not honoured

My rental met all of the coupon’s terms, but the person at Budget Rent-a-Car in Hamilton refused to honour it. He said I was out of luck — take the rental without a coupon or not take the rental. I’m out $20; it’s not worth my time to actively pursue the issue beyond lodging my complaint here and on Twitter. I will call in, but only because it might make a great blog post. While writing this article on Sunday, I found out that Budget in British Columbia is being investigated by the RCMP for repair-related fraud. So I suspect nothing will come of my complaint, in which case I’ve made a mental note to never use Budget Rent-a-Ripoff again.

We also paid a hundred dollars to fill up the tank before returning the truck.

Money-Saving Moving Tip #4: Get cheap / free packing materials

We definitely reused whatever we could, but needed to buy about $150 worth of stuff (after HST). For example, we needed blankets to protect our gorgeous dining set that we got last summer and bubble wrap. We still had a tape gun but ran out of tape (and found the dollar store tape fell off the boxes without sticking so I sprung for the insanely priced $4 roll that was guaranteed to work). We bought a mattress cover (for some reason, on previous moves, we always managed to just borrow one). The boxes that my partner’s Mom gave us a few moves ago finally kicked the bucket and I had to spring for new ones — this was, by far, the biggest cost. Free boxes from the LCBO or No Frills just wouldn’t be realistic for our volume of stuff; non-standard sizes make stacking a nightmare. And, trust me, we needed to stack. That truck was packed like a sardine can. To discourage us from acquiring or storing junk in the basement, we avoided purchasing any new plastic bins. I also picked up “Forearm Forklifts” on sale at Canadian Tire for $14.99 — I will withhold my review pending a future post other than saying they really helped us and I was able to lift huge furniture with negligible pain.

After we’ve unpacked, I think I’ll put these moving supplies on Kijiji to recover at least half of what we paid. This is our last move, after all.

Money-Saving Moving Tip #5: Get your hands dirty

We relied on only one friend and got the entire job done with an adorable baby in tow.

The Bottom Line

We paid $570 to complete our 200 kilometer move, which equals $2.85 per kilometer. This is more expensive than our previous move, both on a nominal basis and on a per kilometer basis. Still, I think the cost was very reasonable. This move we had a baby, much more stuff, and needed to replace a lot of moving materials; these factors negated any “economies of scale” related to the increased distance.

I stand by our strategy of doing the work ourselves. If I used a moving company, we’d still need to do the packing work anyway — this is, by far, the toughest part of the job. Moving companies provide the truck, load the truck, drive the truck, and unload the truck. If you’re able-bodied, cautious, and properly-licensed, you can do all of those things yourself (and, realistically, only the “properly-licensed” criteria is a true limiting factor). We did it over the course of 3 days, whereas a mover would do it in one. But because we had a home to live in at each side of the trip, the only increased cost was the truck rental. The margins that moving companies charge for unskilled labour are outrageous. Madhavi moved 5km and paid $850. I don’t want to think about the cost of a 200 km move.

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19 Comments… Share your views

  1. Last move we made, we paid $250 for a 5km move of just the stuff that was too big for me to fit in our car. There are occasions when I just feel I have to “hold my nose” and pay up. I think you did a great job keeping this move economical.

    • $250 for 5km certainly beats $850 lmao oh poor Madhavi… And I swear I was on the Bloor Danforth headed to work one day and saw her, she was reading The Wealthy Barber Returns. I would have said something, but I didn’t want to risk saying “hi” based on her little Moneyville picture.

  2. >>>Ask friends and family for help.

    Sorry, but I’m busy that day. What day was it again?

    Worst move I ever helped with was a coworker who’s marriage was breaking down. Nothing was packed, and the adversarial spouse was present. They both had clipboards with a list of ‘things they owned’. It was as bad as “the plant in the macrame holder is mine, the macrame holder is hers”. Acres of books, none packed. Every time we’d do drop off a truckload at his new place, come back and his ex would have us locked out and wouldn’t let us in.

    If I have to help move, all I ask is when we show up, everything is packed and at the front door. I’m helping move, not pack!

  3. Congratulations on the move and on being so well organized and budgeted.

    Re Budget – I’ll share an experience work colleagues of mine recently had. I think the way to go is to quietly NOT use Budget any longer.

    My colleagues recently travelled to Ottawa on business. Because I was on vacation, my backup support person organized the car rental portion of the trip. Everything was fine until the day they arrived and got underway with their meetings; they had an extremely busy schedule and could not be interrupted. During the morning I was notified that the car rental company had contacted my backup support for one of the travellers’ cell phone numbers. She alerted me because she did not have that information.

    I contacted Budget at Ottawa’s international airport to ask what they wanted.

    Turned out they had provided my colleagues with a van instead of the full size vehicle that had been requested because they did not have the vehicle requested when my colleagues arrived. Fine, so long as my colleagues had a vehicle. They needed the van back. They had a large group coming in and they needed the van, so wanted to get hold of my colleagues to do an exchange and were willing to take the car to them in order to get the van. I provided the cell phone number and told them NOT to contact my colleauges, I would get in touch with them regarding the situation and they’d get in touch with Budget.

    I was told after my colleagues returned to Toronto that they had not only bent over backwards to find time in between their meetings to do the vehicle exchange, due to the short notice and the severe lack of gas stations in the airport area they had to return the van 3/4 full. FOR THIS THEY WERE CHARGED. Meanwhile, who was it that didn’t have the right vehicle available in the first place and who needed the van back????

    That’s less than stellar performance.

    We will not be using Budget again either.

    • Thanks SM and I appreciate you sharing your story. Unbelievably tacky that the Budget would want the van back MID-trip AND they’d charge for the quarter tank of gas. How nasty is that? Budget would have just had to pay to rent a van from another company at the last minute to meet their commitment; the fact that they’d inconvenience and punish another customer for their own error… again, the only word that comes to mind is “nasty”. I won’t even refer to it as “bad customer service” because there’s no service to be found in that example.

  4. I can’t remember the exact price we paid to move but it was less than $200. We took possession of our new house on a Monday at noon and so I rented a big-ass UHAUL truck for the weekend and took a few days to pack everything carefully so that it would all fit in one trip.

    Then I drove the UHAUL truck down to the new place on Sunday night, parking right in front of the house. I did this because the street was full of new housing starts and there was no way I was going to be able to get that big truck anywhere near our place in the middle of a work day.

    I can’t stress enough how handy it is to have a moving truck and supplies (blankets, etc.). I had a buddy from work, along with my father-in-law and brother-in-law, to help move stuff in.

    Moving sucks, but with a bit of planning and smart spending you can ease the pain.

    • Wow you beat my price. Luckily my partner wasn’t pregnant this time and she’s able to pull more than her weight; with Jack’s help, it was about as much of a cakewalk as a move can be. A big help for moving in — when we got to Hamilton, we angled the truck and I was able to put the ramp directly onto the porch lol. So there was no walking down and then up — we just walked stuff off the truck and into the house.

  5. Moving costs money – if you move 1 km or 100km. I like the analysis you did.

    One tip I have is to hire students to help (I don’t have a truck in Victoria and it is not common to have one in Victoria).

    • Thanks Steve. Yes, mainly because there are some “fixed costs” associated with moving, whether it’s for 1km or 100km. Good tip. Considering the news out of BC about Budget RAC, I’d be extremely weary of truck rentals.

  6. Once again you’ve made a complete mockery of people who spend blindly, and quite easily it seems :)

    Completing renovations before moving in is definitely nice. We did a lot ourselves but it still helped to have empty rooms to work on. Since we could barely fill half the house when we moved in we just used the basement for storage and a temporary bedroom. That can be another advantage of moving to a low-cost area and being able to buy ahead of your needs (although that can easily be a waste of money too if you plan to move before you need all the space in the house).

    • Oh you

      Yes, this was an all-house project that only required a week or so. I’d hate to be financially stretched just because of a move. I could pay our mortgage for years without working lol.

  7. My tax professional brain went straight to Line 219 on the personal income tax returns (T1).

    You can deduct eligible moving expenses if you move and establish a new home to be employed or carry on a business at a new location, or if you move to study courses as a student in full-time attendance at a university, college or other educational institution that offers courses at a post-secondary school level.

    To qualify, your new home must be at least 40 kilometres (by the shortest usual public route) closer to the new place of work or educational institution.

    • Question: I moved away from Toronto in 2012 (much further from work) to be on parental leave. By moving to Hamilton now in 2013 I’ve definitely moved over 40km closer to work (although I’m not starting a new position like I was when I moved to TO in 2011). Are my 2013 Hamilton moving expenses deductible?

  8. I have done all of my moves myself, usually with a largish U-Haul truck. I know the amount of work involved, so salute you you in getting the move done. Congrats!. My wife and I often joke that it would be easier to sell the house with all the contents and start over from scratch (which is kind of appealing in some respects). That’s probably one key reason we are in our house until semi-retirement in 5 years or so and we may just sell everything we own and start from scratch!

    • Starting from scratch, in terms of having furniture that is perfectly suited to the environment would have benefits. But the problem for me is I acquired almost every individual item at a very frugal price, so buying them all at once would probably end up costing a relative fortune.

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