Every year, about 40 million Americans move. Many of them will underestimate how much it costs to make a transition, since the expenses are often broken down into many small items.
It can cost several thousand dollars to move across the country, or even across town, when all is said and done.
Between selling furniture, packing boxes, and changing your forwarding address, getting ready to move is a lot of work. Amid the chaos, it’s easy to forget some of the many moving expenses you might face.
The key to paying for a move without a load of stress? Planning.
Your Moving Expenses Checklist
To help you prepare, here is a list of common moving costs.
1. Moving Your Stuff
There are at least three choices here: Rent a moving truck, pay professional movers, or rent and move a storage container.
Renting your own truck. It might be cheaper, but keep in mind that you’ll be putting in a lot of sweat and hours to make up for it.
Renting a moving truck for across-town moves starts low, but you’ll also have to pay for gas, damage protection, and cost per mile. If you enlist friends and family to help, factor in the price of snacks, beers, or gift cards to thank them.
If you’re moving far away, you may also want to ship some boxes, which can add up.
Hiring pros. You might want to get estimates from a few companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
A local move is usually considered under 100 miles, and a long-distance move, more than 100 miles.
Expect to pay an average of $550 to $2,000 for a basic local move, and $2,000 and up for a long-distance move.
(The price of a local move is often based on a flat dollar amount per hour; some companies may offer a flat rate. In some states, if you’re moving more than 50 miles, the cost will be based on the weight of the truckload instead of the hourly rate.)
A packing service can add a chunk to these costs (but may be well worth it to you).
You may also want to purchase “full value protection” insurance through your mover to protect your belongings in case they are lost or damaged.
Hauling a container. Moving a self-storage container, those units popularized by PODS®, is typically less expensive than using full-service movers. A local container move could range from $500 to $1,500, and a long-distance move could range from $1,500 to $5,000.
If you’re comparing quotes, know that each company handles costs differently. Some itemize the costs for each part of the move; others include everything in one quote.
2. Transporting Yourself
Short or long move, you’ll have to get yourself there, too. That could mean a road trip, which includes gas, tolls, possibly lodging, and meals along the way.
An online fuel cost calculator can help you tally how much you will spend on gas.
Otherwise, it means the cost of a plane ticket, getting yourself to and from the airport, and possibly the price of shipping your car.
3. Moving Supplies
You probably know that you’ll need boxes. But don’t forget the oodles of tape, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, labels, and markers. You may need to rent or buy a dolly if you’re planning a DIY move.
You may be able to save by asking for free boxes from local grocery stores and using recycled newspaper as packing material. But the little things can still add up.
4. Costs Upon Arrival
If you’re renting, you might owe a security deposit and first month’s rent to your new landlord. You may also be responsible for a pet deposit or fees for getting utilities hooked up.
If you’re moving into a home of your own, you may need to make repairs before you settle in. Some new homeowners also invest in changing locks, putting in security alarms, or replacing smoke detectors.
You may also want to take care of renovating some areas before all your stuff is in the way, and if you have a lawn for the first time, you might need to buy a mower or hire a service.
Will you need a storage unit? Plan on about $100 to $300 a month.
5. Cleaning Costs and Supplies
You might be responsible for leaving your old place in tip-top shape. That means paying for stuff like floor cleaner, mops, brushes, and wipes. You may also need to hire a carpet cleaner or house cleaners if you’re short on time or your place needs serious attention.
On the other end, you might need supplies to clean your new apartment or house before you unpack everything.
6. Furniture and Other Items
Even if you’re bringing a lot of things with you, chances are you’ll need to buy some furniture for your new home. You might save by searching online or perusing garage sales and flea markets.
Still, if you need any substantial pieces, like a bed, couch, or table, you could be looking at a few hundred dollars. Beyond furniture, if you’ve moved far away, you might need to stock your new place with all kinds of everyday items, from pantry staples to toiletries.
7. New License and Vehicle Registration
If you’re moving to a different state and have a car, you’ll need to apply for a new license and register your car with the local department of motor vehicles. This comes with a fee, of course.
Vehicle registration can cost up to $225, depending on the state. A new driver’s license can cost around $30 to $60.
Preparing for Moving Costs
If you don’t prepare for all of the expenses, you risk overdrawing your checking account or draining your emergency savings.
Worse, you might be tempted to take on high-interest credit card debt, which means you could be paying more for the move in the end.
But no need to panic. If you’re aware of what’s in store, you could plan ahead and make sure your move is affordable. The first step might be to go through the above list and estimate how much your move will actually cost based on your specific situation.
If you don’t have that sum in the bank, that number might become your savings goal.
You could create a budget by listing all your monthly expenses as well as your take-home pay for each month.
If your pay exceeds your expenses enough to make room for your monthly savings goal, you could earmark that money for a move.
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Moving might be a major financial commitment, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Preparing for all of the moving costs you face can help you change your address without adding emotional baggage.
Planning a move and need money to help? A SoFi personal loan could be a good option.
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