The secret costs of moving
No big reveal here: Getting you and all your stuff from one home to the next is not only super stressful—it’s also expensive. There are the boxes and supplies for packing, the actual moving process (including, usually, hiring movers and/or a van or truck), and the time and expense of resettling. It adds up. According to Moving.com, the average local relocation costs an estimated $1,250. A long-distance move of 1,000-plus miles runs nearly $5,000.
That’s just the basics. Uprooting you and your things also comes with a range of extra, hidden expenses that you’ll need to cover on the way to home sweet new home. Read on (and prepare yourself) before you start filling those boxes.
Before you move
- You haven’t played any of the hundreds of CDs you dragged with you the last time you moved. Paying to transport stuff you don’t want is a huge waste of money. Decide what needs to be sold, donated, or thrown away, or prepare to shell out an average of $0.50/pound to move those dusty boxes to your new place.
- Odds are you’ll need to take time off from work to deal with your move, so factor in what a vacation day is worth to you—especially if you don’t get paid time off. If you have to move on a weekend, particularly at the end of the month, know that you’ll be paying peak rates.
- Unable or don’t have the time to pack up yourself? Hiring a packing company costs $25 to $35 per hour, not including the price of supplies like boxes and bubble wrap.
- Most movers won’t handle items that need special care. That means you’re on your own with things like pets, house plants, the contents of your fridge (for a short-distance move), and delicate valuables. Renting an SUV or a U-Haul to supplement the moving truck will cost you another $50 or so per day—and possibly much more depending on the distance, since you pay for gas and, in some cases, mileage.
- If your credit history is light, utility companies may require you to make deposits when opening new accounts. These can run $100 or more.
Moving day and beyond
- The good news? Your new fourth-floor apartment gets great light. The bad news? Those four flights of stairs mean supplemental charges on moving day. If access to your new (or old) home is complicated—such as a long walk up or a cramped behind-the-scenes service elevator ride—you’ll pay a surcharge of $100 or more for the movers’ trouble.
- A tip of 5% to 15% for each mover is customary. And make sure to hit the ATM beforehand because odds are they’re not taking Square.
- Hungry? If you recruited friends and family to help move, it’s only right to order some pizzas and a six-pack when it’s quitting time (count on $50 and up).
- Speaking of food, in the days following the move you’ll likely be shelling out a lot of cash for takeout—paying as much as four times as you would if you were cooking at home—while you search for and unpack the boxes labeled “Kitchen.”
- Don’t have time to drive yourself on that NYC-to-L.A. move? A cross-country trip for your wheels in a car transporter will cost at least $1,000.
- Your favorite super-cushy sofa won’t fit through the narrow entryway of your new pad. Hiring an emergency couch dismantling crew will cost you another $500. (Yes, this is a real thing!)
- That first trip to your new neighborhood supermarket to restock items like cleaning supplies ($50) and spices ($50 and up) can be pricey. Don’t forget to budget another $20 for stuff you swear you did pack but can’t seem to find: toothbrush, razor, deodorant, etc.
- Uh-oh. You find out your new place won’t be ready the day of your move, and it’s too late to reschedule. Temporary storage for your stuff could cost $200 a month for a large unit.
- At least you’ll get to write off some of this if your move is job-related, right? Probably not. The 2017 tax overhaul eliminated such tax breaks for everyone but members of the military.
- Think you’re done paying once you’ve left your old rental? Turns out there was a nasty, sticky spill under your fridge that you never noticed. Your previous landlord deducts $250 as a cleaning fee before refunding the balance of your security deposit.
Talking about money can leave you tongue-tied. My weekly newsletter is full of financial conversation starters.