Moving to a new apartment can be expensive. After paying for your first month’s rent up front, a security deposit, movers’ fees and any items you need for your new apartment, the total bill may be daunting. The last thing you need is to spend even more money on moving supplies. Fortunately, this is one expense that you can cut down on significantly, by thinking ahead and employing some creativity. You’ll need certain basics no matter what you own or how far you have to travel. These include packing boxes, packing tape and cushioning material to prevent breakage.
Finding Cheap Boxes
If you’ve never packed an entire apartment before, you may be thinking, “How expensive can a few cardboard boxes be?” Expensive enough, especially if you wait until the last minute. You never really know how much stuff you have until you have to pack it. Before you know it, “a few” boxes have turned into dozens, in all shapes and sizes. You can run out to a store like Staples to buy as many boxes as you need, but the cost really adds up. Instead, start planning early. If you know that you’ll be moving, hang onto all the boxes you come across, whether they are from deliveries or purchases of large items. If you haven’t netted enough by the week of your move, ask friends and neighbors for extra boxes they may have in their own apartments. Some people have closets full of boxes left over from recent moves. They may be more than willing to unload some boxes in exchange for the extra space they’ll get.
Many businesses get regular deliveries and are left with a surplus of extra boxes. Most of these end up curbside for recycling pickup. Unfortunately, by this time, they are usually flattened and bound to other boxes. You can speak to store managers or the loading dock supervisor to see if they might be willing to let you take a few of their extra boxes home.
Cushioning your breakables
Unless you own extremely fragile items, you can pack almost all of your things using everyday materials to insulate and protect them. Old newspaper is one of the best materials to use with dishes and glassware. Old newspapers are easy to come by, especially if you or your neighbors subscribe to a daily paper. Ask around your apartment building for used papers, gather stacks from the curb on recycling day or use free papers distributed in local businesses or on street corners.
For more delicate items, you may want to use Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap or the more environmentally friendly air-filled pockets. Again, planning early is key. Save packing materials from deliveries you have received, or ask neighbors who have recently received large packages. You can also use soft shirts and sheets to wrap valuables. Harsher packing tape can damage delicate clothes, so use a gentler tape like masking tape to secure old shirts.
Snagging other free items
In need of packing tape, a moving cart, labeling markers or other free stuff? You can find almost anything on the internet. Check out FreeCycle.org and post a list of the items you need, or see what other people are giving away. There is also a “free” section on Craigslist, where people give out all manner of things. If you know that a neighbor has recently moved to the building, he or she may be willing to give you the items you don’t have.
Getting your moving supplies for free is definitely an achievable goal. It just takes a little bit of effort, advance planning and willingness to ask small favors of friends and strangers alike. The extra cash in your pocket will reward your effort.