Avoid costly home-moving mistakes with these 11 genius expert tips

House prices may be falling but the cost of moving home is rising. We’ve taken expert advice to find out how you can save money.

It’s classed as one of the most stressful events in your life, and after moving multiple times myself, I can testify to that being a fact. With the cost of living continuing to rise, moving home is also becoming as expensive as it is exhausting.

Though Saga can’t change the economy, we can work with the experts to find out how to make moving costs more manageable. From borrowing boxes to flexibility on the moving date, we’ve collated a list of the top tips to save you some cash.

door mat with home sweet home written on thereCredit: Shutterstock/Andy Dean Photography
Moving home can be costly, so it’s important to try and sweeten the costs where you can

How much more are we paying to move?

Research from estate and lettings agent Barrows and Forrester, which looked at data from the Office of National Statistics to assess the increase of moving-related costs, revealed that services such as hiring a removal firm, solicitors and self-storage have together increased on average by 4.9% over the last year.

But it’s the cost of moving the contents of your home which has jumped the most. An average 10.5% rise in the actual cost of hiring a removal firm means we’re paying around £528 per move – a price that increases the more items you shift.


James Forrester, managing director of Barrows and Forrester, explains: “House prices might be cooling, but the cost of actually moving to, and settling into a new home is going up.

“Inflation is pushing up everything, from the price of manufacturing to expenses incurred by tradespeople, and they have little choice but to pass these increases to you, the customer.”

Thankfully there are ways to mitigate against these rises, provided you’re prepared to do a little extra work.

1. Plan ahead

Changes and mistakes can be costly

It’s true for most things in life, but planning ahead when moving is essential. It’s easier to change a move date than it is to try and book a last-minute one, as this may incur a premium rate.

Most firms are used to dates changing and won’t charge if there’s enough notice. However, make sure you check exactly what they charge for regarding changes or cancellations.

2. Move mid-week

Avoid a Friday – it’s the most expensive day

According to experts at the HomeOwners Alliance, an organisation set up to provide advice on all aspects of owning a home, Friday has long been the most popular moving day. Statistics from 2011-2021 reveal that 28% of movers opt to do so on a Friday.

Saturday is the second most popular day, while Sunday is the least popular. If you’d prefer to move on a weekday, Tuesday is likely to be your cheapest option, with only 10% of movers choosing this day.

Although the busiest moving day falls on the August bank holiday weekend, “September is still a peak time when removals firms will charge more, so homeowners need to shop around early and think carefully about the best day for them,” says Angela Kerr, director of the HomeOwners Alliance.

3. Declutter

Do this before you get removal quotes, or you could pay over the odds

Regular readers will know that we’re big fans of decluttering at Saga Exceptional. Whether you’re a Marie Kondo fan, you have adopted the Swedish method of döstädning or simply partake in a regular spring clean (whatever the season), minimising your contents prior to moving is always a good idea.


If you fail to do this before you get quotes, you could find yourself charged for additional movers, or an oversized vehicle that you don’t even come close to filling. Always check with your removal company how they are pricing the job. Will they be quoting based on room or estimated contents and will they charge extra if you have more?

It’s especially relevant if you’re downsizing. If you find you don’t have enough space at your new home, you could end up having to pay for a storage facility while you figure out what to do with your excess items.

4. Shop around

Always ensure you get more than one quote and ask for discounts

When it comes to getting removal quotes, it’s advisable to get several firms to price up the work and ask if there are discounts linked to your age or profession. Some will offer discounts for older clients, while others may still be running a Blue Card scheme. Armed forces discounts are also widely available on many services.

Not yet on the market? It also pays to look around

If you’re only just thinking about moving, Kerr also advises getting multiple quotes from estate agents.

“If you’re selling, I do think estate agents’ fees are astronomical,” she says. “We recommend homeowners invite at least three estate agents round to get a valuation and to hear their sales pitch. They should then use this information to negotiate down fees from their preferred agent to 1% at most.

“Homeowners can also save by considering an online estate agent,” adds Kerr. “You save the most money if you’re willing to do the viewings yourself. And some companies such as Strike will even sell your house for free.”

Use the HomeOwner Alliance’s free, no-obligation tool to find the best local estate agents or use its online estate agent comparison table to compare online agents against the major high street names.

5. Move yourself

Or hire a ‘man with a van’

Depending on the size of your home contents, you may not need a large removals firm. Instead, look around for a local ‘man with a van’ or consider hiring a van yourself and enlisting the help of family or friends.

It could be more cost effective, says Forrester. “A more affordable option is to hire a self-drive van at £71 per day, although this has also seen a 5.1% year on year cost increase.”

If you move using a smaller firm, ask about its back-up plans

I once moved using a smaller firm who only had one removal vehicle – a fact I failed to establish prior to moving. On moving day, the van broke down five minutes away from my new home and the team had to call upon family members with cars to transport the contents of the van.

They were also due to go back to my old home and collect more boxes. And even though the new owners were not moving in until the following day, I still had to pay a premium for a local man with a van to complete the move that evening.

6. Borrow boxes

Or ask around for spares

While some removal firms may offer the option to rent packing boxes, this still involves a cost.

Instead, ask on Facebook for any boxes going free in your local area. You’ll usually find someone who’s just moved and is looking for a way to dispose of them. You can then post them on Facebook for someone else to use once you’ve finished unpacking.

Although you could end up needing a little more packing tape if the boxes are well-used, it will still be cheaper than purchasing them new.

It’s also worth asking at your local supermarket, or even asking neighbours to keep any delivery boxes they get. Smaller boxes can often come in handy for valuables and items you want to transport yourself in a car.

7. Use your belongings as packing materials

Suitcases, bins, laundry baskets and bed linen can all have a dual purpose

While popping bubble wrap may be a guilty pleasure for some, it’s another cost you could reduce. Towels, clothes, bed linen and blankets can all be used as a protective layer for your valuables. It’s also worth keeping hold of any old newspapers for the same purpose.

Rather than wasting boxes to pack items such as bins, storage containers, laundry baskets and suitcases, you can also use these to pack your belongings. While suitcases and laundry baskets naturally lend themselves to clothing, storage boxes and bins can be used for a multitude of items such as cleaning products.

You could even pack mugs into your washing-up bowl!

Insurance is essential

“Before you move house it’s important to make sure your belongings will be covered in transit,” says the HomeMovers Alliance website. “Check with the removals company that they are fully insured and look at your home insurance policy, as you may be covered for accidental damage or loss.

“Although it may stipulate that certain items like glassware and chinaware will only be covered if they are professionally packed,” it warns, “so always check the terms and conditions.”

8. Dismantle and disconnect

Be ready for a quick exit on the day

If you haven’t paid for a full dismantle and reassemble service, make sure that everything is taken apart and disconnected prior to the removal team arriving. And if you aren’t taking everything apart, make sure you’ve checked it will fit through doors in the home you’re leaving and moving to. Time is money when it comes to removals and delays could cost.

Keep your essentials to one side

If you have taken furniture apart, I’ve always found it useful to put the screws and any fittings in clear plastic bags with a description of the item they belong to. Rather than packing the bags with the furniture, I’ve added them to my essentials box I take in my car.

This box contains the kettle, tea, coffee, sugar, mugs, spoons, glasses, kitchen roll, surface wipes, black bags, scissors, cold drinks, biscuits, toilet roll and a basic tool kit. This means as well as keeping everyone hydrated, as soon as the beds arrive you can get them reassembled before night falls.

9. Eat yourself out of house and home

Reduce packing and order an online shop delivery

Reducing your food supply prior to moving may seem counterintuitive, as you have to replace it. But it’s a chance to make sure you aren’t taking any items that will soon be out of date, it will help to reduce the number of boxes you need for packing, and it allows you to clean out kitchen cupboards in advance.

Plus, if the previous owners have switched off the electricity supply, or you’re moving in your own freezer, you won’t have anywhere for frozen items for at least a few hours.

Instead, write a meal plan based on what you do have and order an online food delivery to your new house a few hours after you’re due to arrive. Make sure the order also contains some quick and easy-to-cook or ready-made items so you can avoid spending money on a takeaway.

10. Find a friend for your furries

Call upon friends and family for pet care

Pets rarely enjoy moving day, but catteries and kennels can be expensive. If you don’t already have a friend or family member who is willing to look after them during the move, find someone who is and make sure they spend time together in the lead up to moving day. It will make the whole experience less costly and less stressful for both you and your pets.

11. Switch energy suppliers from day one

Don’t pay for someone else’s electricity or gas

If you’re confident of your moving date, there’s one more significant way you can save on the cost of moving home. Do your research in advance and find the best deals for switching your gas and electricity to your new address and activate them on the day you move in.

Take meter readings just before you leave your old property and as soon as you arrive at the new one. This will ensure you don’t pay for anyone else’s energy use at either property. Ring or register the readings online as soon as you can.

I also find it helpful to take a photo of the meter readings in situ. The photo is date stamped if there are ever any queries.

Being organised can also avoid postal costs

Knowing your moving date means you can also save money on Royal Mail redirection. Most companies will be able to action an address change on an agreed date. This can remove the need to pay for a redirection service, which can be extra costly, especially if you have family members with different surnames (you pay per surname).

Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her


Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

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