How Do You Move on a Tight Budget? Tips & Guide

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated January 16, 2024

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Moving is tough, no one denies it. It sneaks up on you in stages, stealing your sleep and making you realise how much could go wrong. It’s perfectly natural to experience stress – especially financial stress. The question every mover asks themselves is how will my bank account look after this? If that’s a question that’s on your mind, you’ve come to the right article. How do you move cost-effectively without sacrificing quality and competency to get the job done?

Here’s some good news after that house load of bad. Nearly 31 million people moved home in the U.S. just last year. The enormous demand for movers means the market is competitive: there is no shortage of moving companies vying for your business, and they are constantly trying to undercut each other.

Choice is good, but it can sometimes be daunting. With so many to choose from, all offering certain advantages and benefits, you’ll need a no-nonsense set of criteria to sort through them and pick the best one for your budget. Some benefits seem too good to be true, and most are. The savvy mover will be aware of how to duck unpleasant hidden fees like a cat burglar in a laser-filled hallway.

Sounds scary? It shouldn’t be. Here’s an itemized list of everything you need to know to choose a mover that suits you budget without incurring any risk.


The estimate provided by a moving company cannot be set in stone, but it is often your best defense against an out-of-nowhere surcharge. With a trustworthy moving company, the quote ought to be reliable. There will be hidden costs – that is unfortunately a given. Relocating a process filled with variables that any mover, no matter how conscientious or compassionate, will need to bill you for. But with a reliable estimate, your budget concerns are at least more concrete, and you can work on a more certain basis. The important thing is to know that the estimate you get is trustworthy.

Here’s how to check if your estimate is fair. A mover keen to maintain or establish their reputation will be keen to take a full inventory of the items you wish to ship. So beware of movers who take only a cursory look at your goods. And remember to request an on-site estimate if the moving company doesn’t offer one themselves.

A mover with a good reputation will always pay close attention during the inventory stage. This shows not only care on the mover’s part, but also an understanding of the part insurance plays in the transit.

A reliable mover will want to know exactly what they are moving in order to deliver a fair cost estimate, and to ascertain risk. A mover who cares more for money than risk will pay little attention and announce a high price, without understanding which items are precious and delicate and deserving of additional care.


Remember: As a customer you have your pick of the market. Companies may be looser with the truth in hopes of winning your business. But there’s nothing to prevent you from shopping around. As if to help, most estimates are given freely.

Sidebar: If a moving company demands upfront payment before giving an estimate, there is a good chance it is a scam.

While carefully comparing the estimates, pay attention to the additional services offered – packing, unpacking, dismantling and reassembly of large furniture, temporary storage, etc. – and how much each extra service costs.

A low-ball estimate, even after taking a thorough estimate, can also be a warning sign. Make sure to get an explanatory list of charges to know for sure the estimated price is fair.

When Is as Important as Where

It’s well known that the greater the distance of the move, the higher the price. Equally true is how much the timing of your move affects the final cost.

The late spring and summer period is when close to 70% of household moves take place, so the demand for relocation professionals reaches its highest point then. As a result, good moving companies are fully booked during the summer and can afford to jack up their prices by a margin considerably greater than in winter months. If you can at all help it, see if you can relocate outside of this demand window. There is a much greater chance you will receive a bargain.

DIY As Much as Possible

If your heart is set on taking the DIY approach to moving – or if your wallet demands it – it can be done with a little courage, some strength and ideally a couple of friends or neighbors. Always use common sense, and beware of the challenges movers handle that you will now be facing.

Also beware that, if you do pack your belongings for transit yourself, that your mover does not include unnecessary packing costs in your quote. Some less reputable companies may try to slip this charge under the radar, so study the estimate you’re given.

How We Do It

For a stress-free move, choose CitizenShipper to be sure of a fast, reliable and inexpensive delivery of your belongings from one home to another. Simply post the details of your shipment to the CitizenShipper marketplace and let the best-suited movers contact you with quotes. It’s super fast and super easy. Get a free quote today.