Moving When You're Broke: A Guide To Making It Happen When Money Is Scarce

If you recently lost a job and have to relocate for a new position, then you probably don't have a whole lot of money to spend on the move. Looking at moving estimates and the cost of rentals may make you see dollar signs. But while the idea of moving when you're broke can be intimidating, it is what you need to do in order to start over in a new place with a new job. Here are some tips to help you cobble together the resources you need and relocate your household.

See if your new employer will pay for moving costs up-front.

Many employers offer moving reimbursement programs. They may refund all or part of your moving expenses once you're moved in and have begun working for them. While this is nice, it's of little help if you are broke with no way to pay for moving costs up-front.

Try approaching your new employer and explaining your situation. Ask if they are willing to give you money up-front for your move rather than paying you back later on. As your new employer, they're probably already aware that you've been out of work for a while, so it should come as no surprise to them that you're in need of this help. If they really want you there working for them, they'll typically be happy to give you the help you need to make the move happen.

Look for moving companies that offer financing options.

If having your new company pay for moving costs up-front is not an option, then start contacting moving companies in your area. See if any of them offer financing options. For instance, they might let you pay for 20% of the moving expenses up front, and then pay off the remainder a few months later when you're settled in and have begun to earn money at your new job.

Ask a family member for financial help.

Another option is to ask a friend or family member if they'd be willing to lend you money for your move. This works best if you are confident you'll receive a moving reimbursement from your new job and can thus pay them back, in full, on a certain date. 

Asking a friend to borrow money can be tricky, but there are a few etiquette rules you can follow to make the situation less awkward for everyone involved:

  • Write up a formal contract on paper, including the amount you're borrowing, when you'll be paying it back, and the amount of interest (if any) you will pay.
  • Only ask friends who you're sure can afford to lend you the money. You don't want to put someone in a bad financial spot.
  • Only ask to borrow what you absolutely need.

Do what you can to keep costs down.

Whether you're borrowing money from a friend, financing through a moving company, or relying on up-front moving funds from your new employer, you are essentially moving on someone else's dime. As such, you should do what you can to keep costs down. 

Get several estimates from moving companies, and hire one that offers affordable service -- but also good insurance to protect you from financial loss. Get free moving boxes from stores and warehouses instead of buying them, and if you're renting a moving truck, make sure you choose a gas-efficient one that's not too expensive to fill.

Moving when you have almost no money in the bank is not easy, but with one or more of the strategies above, you can get it done. Once you're all settled in and earning a good paycheck again, you'll be glad you did.