Americans are a mobile bunch. Some are looking for more space or better weather, or for a more affordable cost of living. Others are relocating to be closer to an educational opportunity, a new job, or a family member.
Every year, about 40 million Americans —or about 14% of the population—pick up and move to a new home at least once.
Moving might be a smart investment, but it isn’t cheap. People often underestimate just how much it can add up to move, since the costs are often broken down into many smaller items. Moving across the country, or even across town, can end up costing several thousand dollars when all is said and done.
Like any big expense, affording a move requires planning ahead. Otherwise, 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 getting into your new home doesn’t have to leave you in financial trouble. Read on for the most common moving expenses to plan for and how to help make sure you can afford them comfortably when the time comes.
Your Moving Expenses Checklist
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. To help you prepare, here a list of common moving expenses—including some you may not have thought of:
1. Moving Costs
One of the most obvious expenses you’ll face is actually getting your things from your old home to your new one. For most people, that means either renting a moving truck or paying professional movers.
The former 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 other fees. If you enlist friends and family to help, factor in the price of snacks or beers to thank them. If you’re moving far away, you may also want to ship some boxes, which can add up.
If you’re hiring pros, you might want to get estimates from a few companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal. The more stuff you have, and the heavier it is, the more you’ll usually have to pay.
According to the American Moving and Storage Association , you can expect to pay an average of $2,300 to move within a state (assuming your belongings weigh about 7,400 pounds) or $4,300 to move to another state, based on the average distance of 1,225 miles.
Costs can also vary based on region, how far your items are traveling, and whether it’s the high season (the warmest-weather months). You may also want to consider purchasing insurance, called “full value
protection ,” to protect your belongings in case they are lost or damaged.
Moving can be expensive.
A relocation loan from SoFi could help.
If you’re moving long-distance, you’ll have to get yourself there, too. That could mean the cost of a road trip, which includes gas, tolls, and lodging and meals along the way.
Online calculators can help you figure out how much you will spend on gas. Otherwise, it means the cost of plane tickets, 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 might also 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. Deposits for Your New Place
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 other fees, such as a pet deposit or fees for getting utilities hooked up. You could ask in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.
5. Cleaning Costs or Supplies
You might be responsible for leaving your old place in tip-top shape. That means paying for stuff like floor cleaner, mops, brushes, wipes, and more, if you’re running low. You may also need to hire a carpet cleaner or professional cleaners if you’re low on time or your place needs some serious attention. On the other end, you might need supplies to clean your new apartment or house before you unpack everything.
6. Repairs, Renovations, and Maintenance
If you’re moving into a home of your own, you may need to fix any plumbing or electrical issues 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.
7. 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.
8. 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. New driver’s licenses can cost between $10 and $89.
Preparing for Moving Costs
All those moving expenses can add up, but don’t 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. If you divide that figure by the number of months left until your move, you’ll know how much you might want to save each month.
How do you actually ensure you put that money away? 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 put that money in a savings account each month. If it doesn’t, you might need to find a way to reduce your spending or increase your income.
Can you do more cooking instead of eating out? Jog outdoors rather than paying for a gym membership? Take on a side hustle, like walking dogs or driving for a ride-sharing service? Earn passive income, perhaps by renting your place out? You could play with your budget until you see a clear way to save your target amount each month.
How a Personal Loan Can Help
Sometimes, there’s no way to come up with the full amount for a move in advance. You may have run out of time or just have no way to further reduce your expenses or make more money in the short term.
If you need money to help with moving costs, taking out a personal loan for moving could be a good option. Unlike other kinds of debt, you can take out an unsecured personal loan for almost any reason, including the costs associated with moving or home improvements. Average interest rates on personal loans are generally much lower than credit cards, especially if you have a strong credit history.
Moving might be a major financial commitment, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. By familiarizing yourself with the expenses involved in advance, including those that are often overlooked, you could make sure you’re prepared to handle them. That way you can move into your new home without any extra baggage.
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