FAIRBANKS — School is out, leading us into the moving season of the year. Forty-five million people move each year in the United States, about 14 percent of our population. If moving is on your schedule for this summer, there are ways to do the deed without breaking the bank.

According to the American Moving and Storage Association, the average cost of an intrastate move is $1,170 and a move between states costs $5,630. When you add in all the miles between Alaska and the Lower 48, our moving costs are on the high end of that statistic.

Here are some tips to help you keep the cost down.

Choose your time. Just like many other activities in our lives, timing is everything. It is cheaper to move in winter than summer. But if you are stuck with moving now, choose to move in the middle of the month instead of the end of the month or in the middle of the week rather than the weekend. It is the simple law of supply and demand. Low demand times mean lower prices if you are moving with a moving company.

Pare down your possessions. If you are using a moving company, the cost is often based on weight. Give the heave-ho to things you no longer need. Get rid of anything that is cheaper to replace in your new area. When we moved from Montana, I gave away all the beds knowing that they needed to be replaced. It was much cheaper to replace the beds than to move them.

When it comes to getting rid of items, people often hold a garage sale or run ads on their possessions. Both can net you extra dollars, but will take time and energy when you might want to be doing other things. You might want to consider donating items to one of our local nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army, Fairbanks Resource Agency (Closet Collections) or the Literacy Council. It is far less time-consuming and you will be able to take a deduction on your income tax return next April. Some of these organizations will even pick up donations. Give them a call and see what services they offer.

Even if you are planning to hire a moving company, you will save money by packing boxes yourself. Be sure to pack carefully so items won’t break during the move.

Keep the costs down on packing materials. Use recycled boxes. Ask local stores for boxes or check on Craigslist or in local ads for free or low-cost boxes. Bubble packing is expensive. Use recycled newspaper to cushion items. Newsprint can rub off on dishes, so make sure to wrap them in other materials. Consider purchasing an end of a newsprint roll from the News-Miner for $4. What a bargain! Or simply cushion breakables with clothing or linens.

When dealing with a moving company, do your homework. Get several quotes and consider all the costs before making a choice. Know what is included in the price. If you are you paying for packing, is the price based on an hourly rate or are you paying for a certain number of pounds? All these answers will help you evaluate the quote. Remember, the cheapest option isn’t always the best deal.

Moving companies will send someone to your home to make that estimate. Now is not the time to hide how much stuff you have. Make sure that the estimator sees every room and storage area, so there will be no surprises when the bill arrives.

Moving is a big job. Plan and prepare for a successful move.


Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is a professor of extension on the Tanana District Extension Faculty. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at rrdinstel@alaska.edu or by calling 907-474-2426. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.