Moving To Austin On A Budget

Surprise! The Letter Bea is now an Austin, Texas based blog. After landing an exciting promotion in my dream city, Matthew and I packed up our small apartment in St. Louis and headed for Texas with our sweet golden retriever, Lucy.

Moving is no easy task…and…err…not a cheap one either. Being someone who grew up moving from state to state (and then to Asia) growing up, I know a thing or two about packing up and setting new roots. In this post, I’ll be sharing the steps we took to move from St. Louis to Austin and how we had some fun and saved a ton of money along the way.

finding a place to live

Seems like an obvious first step, right? Finding a place to live can be tricky depending on your circumstances. For me, I wasn’t able to fly down to Texas to see any places before my move because I only had 2.5 weeks! Luckily, Matthew was able to meet with a local realtor and scope out a few places, so we could make our final decision.

When it comes to choosing a place, the best advice I could give to anyone, no matter what stage in life they’re in, is to rent first. Renting first gives you the opportunity to scope out the area before committing to a home purchase. When applying for a rental, be sure to have a lot of paperwork ready, like a rental cover letter about yourself and anyone who will be sharing the rental with you (e.g. roommates, significant other, pets). This adds a personal touch to your application and shows the landlord that you are responsible and kind-hearted folks.

Once you find a place, coordinate move-in details and you’re ready to go!

figuring out transportation

When doing a long distance move, you’ll need to figure out if you plan on driving or flying to your new destination. Depending on where you’re going, flying may not be an option. If you can complete a drive, I highly suggest it. Why? Driving to your new destination gives you room to pack up your car with belongings. This is what Matthew and I did and I can tell you firsthand that it will save you space and money. The less you move with a moving service, the less total moving cost.

how to efficiently pack

Moving feels a lot like a major Marie Kondo process. You’re decluttering things you honestly forgot you still owned (we’ve all been there) and trying to compile all of your belongings into the most compact space you can find. While it can seem overwhelming, here are some packing essentials and tips:

Things you’ll need:

  • Newspaper

  • Saran wrap

  • Sturdy cardboard boxes

  • Packing tape

  • Permanent marker

Tip #1: Call your local grocery store(s) and ask if you can swing by to pick up extra boxes they received from daily shipments. This is a big cost savings as the boxes are free and are pretty sturdy! Bonus points if you can score banana boxes as those are known for being super strong.

Tip #2: Wrap all of your glasses, dishes, and other kitchen items in newspaper. No bubble wrap necessary! This will protect your goods from breaking during transit.

Tip #3: Label all of your boxes with a sharpie, so you know what’s inside when you arrive at your new destination. Trust me, this really speeds up the unpacking process!

Tip #4: When it comes to clothing, roll all of your pieces like a burrito or a sushi roll - whatever floats your boat. I ended up filling almost everything in my wardrobe in an extra large suitcase using this tactic. Plus, the rolling technique prevents extreme wrinkling which can easily happen in a move.

Tip #5: Stay calm, cool and collected. Moving can be stressful, but try to have fun with it!

moving company: who to choose and ways to save money

The one mistake I made when looking for moving options was submitting my contact information to various moving company websites to receive a quote. Kid you not, I received endless amounts of emails, calls, and texts from companies trying to sell me on an obnoxiously expensive moving plan…as if I didn’t know any better.

For our move, we decided to use U-Pack. After my sister had a really great experience with them for her Seattle to NYC move a few years ago, I had trust that our belongings would make it to Texas just fine.

So…how does U-Pack work?

With U-Pack, you can choose to reserve a trailer or a ReloCube®. Since we only had a 723 sqft apartment, we decided to go with a ReloCube®. This choice resulted in thousands of dollars in savings. Yes, I said thousands! Once you reserve your U-Pack ReloCube®, you’ll be pick a delivery date for ABF to drop off however many you order. The internal ReloCube® dimensions are 6'3” D x 7' W x 8'4” H and it fits in a traditional parking space.

Insider tip: U-Pack does not charge you for how many your order, only how many cubes you fill. Order up because if you need more cubes later, they’ll have to charge hundreds of dollars in delivery for those cubes! We ordered two cubes, but only ended up using one!

You then have 3 business days to fill your cube(s). While you can spend more money to hire professional movers to fill your ReloCube®, we just “hired” a few of our friends to help us pack it up. The trick is to fill up the ReloCube® as much as possible. The tighter the fit, the safer your belongings move because they won’t shake in transit. Once you have everything all packed up, or you know what date you’d like your ReloCube® picked up, call your local U-Pack center to schedule pick up.

From there, it takes about 2-3 business days for your ReloCube® to make it to your final destination. Once it arrives at your local U-Pack center, you can schedule next day delivery to your apartment/home.

Here’s a photo of our belongings in the ReloCube® before and after transit. It’s amazing how well it held up! Whenever or wherever we move in the future, we’ll for sure be using U-Pack. Highly recommend!

Left: Before, Right: After

Left: Before, Right: After

settling in

After a long 12.5 hour drive to Austin, we were so ready to get settled. After removing everything from our ReloCube® in just 25 minutes (I know, I was surprised too!), we got into extreme unpacking mode. Within 14 hours of receiving our belongings (which we got in the evening might I add), we had everything unpacked and put away. That includes king-size bed, couch, dining table, kitchen items, and all our miscellaneous items! While we still have some organizing to do, it was nice to have everything in its correct space, especially so soon after our arrival.

Between arriving in Austin and starting my new job, I only had 3 days to get prepared. Now that I’ve been at my new role for a few days, I finally feel ready to get out of the house and explore my new city. I think that will be my favorite part of “settling in”. Getting in a new routine and embracing all of the new exciting adventures this opportunity has and will continue to bring.

Lastly, what to do with our furry friends who are experiencing all the big changes with us. Moving is very stressful for our pups, just think - they have no clue what’s going on! If you notice your pet eating less, becoming more anxious or very lethargic, be sure to give them a little extra love. Of course, this is just my advice, so if you see any unusual behavior with your pup, be sure to contact your vet! But, in the grand scheme of things: pups can take a few weeks to get acclimated to a new environment, but the more you show them it’s safe, fun, and all around good, they’ll adjust in no time.


Doing a long distance move on a budget is possible! I feel so lucky that we had a safe and easy move down to Texas. This next chapter is a really exciting time for us and I can’t to share it all with you - my readers! If you have any additional questions on our move and how we did it, comment below!

-Bea