7 Common Moving Costs to Know Before You Pack Up

By Maureen Shelly · November 20, 2022 · 7 minute read

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7 Common Moving Costs to Know Before You Pack Up

About 28 million Americans made a move in 2021, with about 5 million moving interstate. As you’re probably painfully aware, a move can cost several thousand dollars, whether you’re going across town or cross-country. Amid the chaos of purging and packing, it’s easy to forget some of the moving-related costs you might face.

The key to paying for a move without a load of stress is planning. We’ve drawn up a Moving Expenses Checklist that aims to include every little thing that needs to be accounted for in your budget, from supplies to cleaning to a new driver’s license and car registration.

Your Moving Expenses Checklist

Like a lot of things in life, moving costs aren’t entirely predictable. Much depends on how far you’re going, whether you’re crossing state lines, how much stuff you have, and so on. Our aim is to cover the basics — truck, strong movers — as well as the costs that sneak up on you midway. Keep on reading to find out what they are.

1. Moving Your Stuff

There are at least three different ways to get your stuff from one place to another: Rent a moving truck, pay professional movers, or rent and move a storage container.

Renting your own truck. Yes, this is usually the cheapest route. The downside is that you — and possibly your friends — will be putting in many hours of hard labor.

At first glance, renting a moving truck or van for an across-town move seems like a great deal. You may be familiar with companies advertising van rentals for $19.99. Except that figure doesn’t include gas, tolls, parking, damage protection, and cost per mile. Suddenly, that $20 becomes more like $100.

If you enlist friends and family to help, factor in the price of pizza, beer, or gift cards to lure them to your aid and keep them motivated. Also, long-distance moves may involve shipping some boxes, which adds up quickly.

Hiring pros. Get estimates from a few companies to make sure you’re getting a good deal. A local move is usually considered under 100 miles. A long-distance move is anything more than 100 miles. Expect to pay $800-$2,500 for a basic local move with two movers, and $2,200-$5,700 for a long-distance move.

The price of a local move is often based on an hourly rate; some companies may offer a flat rate. In some states, if you’re moving more than 50 miles, the cost may be based on the weight of the truckload instead of the hourly rate.

A packing service can add a chunk to these costs. You may also want to purchase “full value protection” insurance through your mover to protect your belongings in case of loss or damage.

Hauling a container. Moving a self-storage container, those units popularized by PODS®, is typically less expensive than using full-service movers. Three factors influence your cost: the size of your home, the distance you’re moving, and seasonality. A local container move can range from $1,100 to $1,600, including the container and transport. A 1,000 mile move costs on average $4,430 for the contents of an average-size home. Prices tend to be higher during “moving season,” typically March through August.

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.

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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’ll 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 protective blankets for furniture. And you’ll 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 might 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 $100 to $300 a month.

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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 groceries and 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.

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Preparing for Moving Costs

When making a moving-cost checklist, the worst budgeting mistake you can make is underestimate your needs because you’re not sure how you’ll pay for them. If anything, you want to pad your budget so that unexpected costs don’t make the experience harder than it has to be.

If you’ve got the cash to cover your move, great. That’s what emergency savings are for. You can also use a 0% interest credit card, crowdsource from friends and family, or consider a personal loan.

Personal loans are a form of installment debt, where you receive a lump sum that you then repay in equal monthly payments. There are different types of personal loans, so you can choose the terms that best fit your budget and circumstances.

Believe it or not, moving expenses are one of the most common uses for personal loans. And because of their relatively low fixed rates compared to high-interest credit cards, you can roll in related new-home expenses like new furniture and painting.

The Takeaway

Moving is a major financial commitment, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. When planning a move, first decide whether you’re going to DIY or hire pros. Then make a list of packing supplies, cleaning supplies and services, and the cost of moving yourself if it’s long-distance. Next, consider your costs upon arrival: security deposit, prepping your new space, replacement furniture, and new household items. If you’re moving interstate, there may be car-related expenses, such as a new license and registration. And it’s always wise to pad your budget — 10%-20% — to accommodate anything unexpected.

Planning a move and need money to help? A SoFi personal loan can be a smart way to cover your costs without adding emotional baggage. Our personal loan calculator can help you choose the terms that are right for you.

Get a move on to see what a personal loan can do for you.

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