[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:
- Ask friends and family for help.
- If you can, spread out your effort.
- Need a truck? Rent it.
- Get cheap or free packing materials.
- 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:
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.