Moving is stressful -- there's no question about it. While hiring professional movers is often seen as a more expensive way to move, it is certainly more convenient and less stress-inducing than trying to pack everything up and haul it across the state (or country) yourself. And luckily, there are some ways to make hiring professional movers less expensive.
Don't wait until the last minute to look for a moving company.
As soon as you know where you're going to be moving and have an approximate date in mind, start shopping around for a moving company. This will save you money in two ways. First, you'll have time to get estimates from several companies so you don't accidentally get stuck with a more expensive one without knowing it. Second, it will ensure you don't have to pay any last-minute charges that moving companies sometimes tack onto the bill if you book with less notice.
When getting moving estimates from various companies, make sure you give them as much information as possible so they can give you as precise an estimate as possible. Have the moving companies actually come out to your place in person, and show them all items in the garage, attic, and basements that will be there on loading day. Once you're sure you have a set of accurate estimates from at least 3 - 5 companies, you can compare the offers and choose the best one.
Move valuables in your personal vehicle.
Most moving companies offer a base level of insurance that comes with their standard fee. If you have them move anything particularly expensive, like an antique chair or your valuable stamp collection, you'll need to pay extra to insure these items. Therefore, you can save money by transporting these valuable items in your personal vehicle rather than having the moving company transport them for you. If something is stolen from your own personal vehicle, it will typically be covered by your renter's insurance -- which you've presumably already paid for. Just make sure you don't cancel your renter's insurance policy until after the move.
Consider packing up yourself.
Packing your items into boxes may not actually be that overwhelming if you know you don't also have to load them into a truck and transport them. Though moving companies will pack your items for you if you wish, you can save by doing the packing yourself and just hiring them to load the boxes and transport them. Consider having a "packing party" with your friends as a sort of going-away party. Have them all come over and help put things into boxes in exchange for pizza and a few beers. If you put on upbeat music and surround yourself with good people, the packing will go smoothly -- and will cost you less than if you were to hire the movers to do this part.
Move during the week.
If you can swing it, try to schedule your move in the middle of the week rather than on the weekend. Most moving companies have lower rates in the middle of the week than on weekends. Of course, you'll have to consider whether or not this works based on your personal schedule. If you have to take unpaid time off of work in order to move in the middle of the week, you may not benefit financially in the long run.
By planning ahead, moving in the middle of the week, doing that packing yourself, and moving valuables yourself, you can reduce the cost of hiring professional movers. When moving does not cost you an arm and a leg, the experience is a lot less stressful!