Save money on the move

Capital City Cheapo
photo / motionblur When I curse, three white lines come out of my mouth, too. 

There’s nothing glamorous about packing up your life, labeling your mementos with duct tape, and hauling hernia-inducing furniture across town. Any way you look at it, moving’s a bitch. Unfortunately, with Austin expanding faster than Michael Moore’s midsection, there’s bound to be a hefty proportion of you who have, will, or currently are experiencing a change of address.

I’ve had the great privilege of moving three times in three years. In a lot of ways, relocating to or within Austin is like moving anywhere else. There are, however, a few worthwhile hints that will make your zip code switch quicker, cheaper, and less painful.

Grub on the go

Food should always be a priority, even in the midst of cardboard and bubble wrap. For inexpensive and delicious moving food, grab appetizers from Titaya’s Thai Cuisine. This North Lamar haunt is easy to miss, but one bite of the crispy vegetable eggroll ($2.50) or the Hed Ping ($3.95) and you’ll have the address memorized.

photo / evmaroon Maybe your apartment was full of Halloween decorations 

For chow down south, try a dinner combo from Oltorf’s New Mandarin. Admittedly, the website is bizarre, but the portions are big enough to sustain you while you box up your belongings.

When you’ve cleared out the final cockroach and said goodbye to your old stomping grounds, there’s nothing better than collapsing at your new place with a pizza. I could wholeheartedly recommend a dozen decent pie shops, but Conan’s Pizza gets my vote. A pizza here will usually run you a few bucks cheaper than other well-known local establishments. Bonus: their website consistently offers specials and coupons.

Getting from A to B

The best piece of financial advice I can offer here is to forfeit the luxury of hiring movers. Instead, find yourself a pick-up truck. Is she really writing this ridiculous advice in a column? Yes, I am. As much as we like to deny our roots, there are some things that ring true in every Texas city, and this is one of them. There are pick-up trucks everywhere. You only need to cover a quarter-mile on IH-35 to see my point. Borrow a truck. You’ll save money; you’ll make a friend; and who knows… there are plenty of things to do in the bed of a pick-up.

If you absolutely cannot fit your material possessions in a borrowed vehicle, Austin’s collection of U-Haul stores is impressive. There are nearly 20 locations in the city, which I suppose seems like overkill, but here’s the beauty of Corporate America: Their insistence on excess will keep your mileage down and your final bill low.

photo / icyFrance Oh shoelaces 

Secure your transportation and the packing can begin. Resist the temptation to purchase the handsome pre-packaged boxes, because guess what? The liquor stores in this town are incredibly accommodating when it comes to pesky movers. Make friends at Spec’s or bug the nice wine-loving people at Twin Liquors. Either of these Austin-friendly chains is happy to give up some cardboard for your mobilization. Although most operate on a first-come, first-served basis, the employees are happy to clue you in as to when the deliveries arrive and the cartons are ripe for picking.

Cleaning up after yourself

You don’t have to look further than the Yellow Pages to find home cleaning services in Central Texas. I’ll spare you the tedium of online research by recommending Homelina at Home Cleaning (851-6766) for your move-out needs. On a similar note, Mac’s Carpet Cleaning is a sure bet for renters who are required to turn over the keys with spotless shag. Both of these companies offer reliable service and rates that won’t break the bank.

Loose ends

Changing habitats is much easier if you immediately forward your mail. The Post Office has a surprisingly efficient online system that is well worth the $1 charge. Also, spend the five minutes to call your neighborhood station. Most local offices will gladly let you introduce yourself to the postal worker in charge of your address.

And finally, we’ve arrived at the best part about moving. Forget a housewarming party, because the packet of “Welcome to the Neighborhood” coupons is much better than the $6 bottles of wine and overscented vanilla candles that friends will bring. Look out for this packet to land in your mailbox within the first few weeks. Word to the wise: Use these coupons! The money spent on trekking your life across town (or into town, for that matter) will come back to you tenfold.

As for the pains of new utilities, new bills, new maintenance issues, new neighbors, new stray cats (is there any Austin neighborhood that doesn’t have a cat colony?!) and a new life, you’re on your own. All I can say is, bundle your TV and Internet and get your rabies vaccinations.

More ideas on living cheap in Austin


Anonymous's picture

Uhaul sucks. Terrible customer service and equipment. Use anyone but them imo.