Making your move

Moving 411: Saving money on your post-Match or post-residency move

Avoid the stress and financial pitfalls of relocating with this simple, effective advice.


Learning where you matched and anticipating the start of your residency training is one of the most exciting times in your grueling journey of pursuing a medical career. As is securing that job you’ve always dreamed of once your residency ends. But once the congratulations and celebrations die down, it’s time to start thinking about your next move—literally.

Moving to a new home is not only tiring and tedious, it can also be quite expensive. The key to avoiding the inherent stress and financial pitfalls of a move is to plan ahead. The more advance planning you do, the more money you’ll save and the less stressed you’ll be when moving day comes.

Here are 5 tips for saving money—and your sanity—on your next move.

1. Less stuff = lower moving costs

The cost of hiring a moving company can often break the bank, especially for a cross-country relocation. But there are ways to trim these expenses. The most obvious is to actually have less stuff to move.

Moving is a great time to take inventory of your belongings and donate, sell or throw away what you don’t need. You might also consider whether moving big pieces of furniture is cost-effective or not. If you have invested in items you love, then by all means take them with you. But if you’ve furnished your apartment with thrift store finds and hand-me-downs, they might not be worth transporting.

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Moving supplies such as wardrobe boxes with built-in bars that allow you to hang your clothes at destination A and pick them up and re-hang them at destination B can be extra helpful and time-saving, but they can also get pricey. Start collecting used boxes now. Often an inquiry on social media will yield results. You can also create DIY disposable garment bags by cutting a hole at the bottom of a trash bag and sliding it over your clothes. Then place a rubber band around the hangers to keep them together and tie the bottom off. When you reach your new place, simply cut, snip and hang.

Consider the USPS Media Mail shipping service for your heavy medical textbooks. The U.S. Postal Service describes it as a “cost-effective way to send educational materials.” The service restricts what media can be shipped at a discounted rate. Items which can be shipped include: books, CDs and DVDs, educational reference charts and loose-leaf pages and binders consisting of medical information for distribution to doctors, hospitals, medical schools and medical students.

2. Time your move well  

Just over 11 percent of the U.S. population moved between 2015 and 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with the majority of them moving between May and September. With everyone vying for the same resources and housing supply, timing your move for off-peak months could save you money. While that might not be possible for most new residents, some moving companies will give you the lower rate if you book during non-peak months, so planning ahead is key to saving money on this expense. Be sure to shop around for quotes.

And while you may not have the luxury of choosing the time of year to move, you can at least choose what day of the week to move. Typically, moving rates are lower mid-week when you’re not competing  with everyone who’s trying to move over the weekend. Less demand often translates to lower prices.

3. Ask about housing subsidies or moving reimbursements

This might be a long shot, but worth asking as some residency programs/hospital systems do offer aid. Before starting your search for a place to live, ask your residency coordinator or hospital administration for any leads on housing. Some hospital systems have agreements with housing developments for reduced-cost housing for staff. Incoming residents can reach out to current residents as well to see if they have useful insight into housing pros and cons. Also, if you own a pet, the search can be tougher for pet-friendly accommodations, so be sure to get an early start.

4. Enlist your smartphone

As with almost all things in the universe, there are a plethora of useful apps designed to ease your moving anxiety and possibly the strain on your wallet. Here are three options.

Unpakt: You can plan, book and manage your move within the Unpakt app. This one-stop-shop allows you to fill out multiple request forms and compare moving company prices and reviews. By entering your move details into the app, you can see moving prices in cities across 37 states. Unpakt is available for Android and iOS.

Moved: Moved is a free service which pairs you with a personal assistant to help coordinate and execute your move via text. You can book a mover, update your address, order packing materials, get insurance quotes, sell your furniture and more via the app, which operates throughout the U.S. and makes money from referral fees. Moved is available online or for iOS.

Dolly: You’ve found a great deal on a dresser on Craigslist but now that you’ve returned the moving truck, getting it to your new place is a pain. With Dolly, you can hire a vetted, independent pick-up truck owner to do the heavy lifting. The app tracks the progress of the item being moved and allows you to pay and tip through it. Earlier in your move, it can be helpful with pick up and delivery of items you’re donating or selling. Dolly is available online or for iOS and Android; the service currently operates in 11 U.S. cities with plans for more.

5. Save your receipts

Did you know that some moving expenses are tax deductible? If you’re wondering whether you’ll qualify for a deduction, the IRS has an online questionnaire you can take to determine if you can deduct some of the costs of your move. You can find it here.

Now, get moving!

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