Many first-time homebuyers are so focused on saving up for a down payment of closing costs that they forget that there are also costs (which can be pretty hefty, by the way) that come with getting your stuff from your old home to your new home.
Whether you’re moving down the block, from the city to the suburbs (or vice versa) or going all the way across the country, moving costs can quickly add up. Start factoring in these costs ahead of time, and you won’t end up in panic mode when your move-in date arrives. Getting ahead of the curve is the best way to make your transition easier without breaking the back with last-minute movers — and without paying to move a lot of stuff you don’t really need in your new place anyway.
Let’s get started.
Why are moves so expensive?
How far you’re moving is one of the biggest expenses when it comes to moving costs. If anyone says otherwise, call them out. Moving across town will likely take a few brawny guys and a truck, as they can make multiple trips if necessary. Moving cross-country takes logistics, multiple crews, and a whole lot of fuel.
The cost of a move is also dependent on how much stuff you’re moving. If you’re single, you probably have a lot less to move than a married couple or a family. Less stuff = lower costs. Likewise, if you’re moving from an apartment to a home, you probably have less than someone moving from one how to another. Consider the reality. You’ve probably accumulated more items than you thought if you have a garage, basement, and attic in your old home. So keep that in mind when you start to untangle and estimate potential moving expenses.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a budget to cover your move:
Supplies. Sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape. All these things add up.
- TIP: check Craiglist or Facebook for people who have recently moved and might be giving away their moving boxes. They can be expensive, but they’re typically tossed out after a single use. You’ll be saving the planet and your pocketbook.
Cleanouts. You’ll want to do a clean sweep of your prior home — especially if you’re a renter — or you may be charged a fee.
- TIP: Do it yourself if you can. Or hire a cleaning service to handle the dirty work for you. Your out-of-pocket costs will certainly be less than a landlord will change you.
Movers. If you’re young enough, rent a van and tap some friends to help you move (you spring for the pizza and beer, of course). This can get tiring by the time your gang reaches their thirties (or starts families), so eventually, you’re going to have to spring for movers.
- TIP: Save your back. Injuries happen more than you care to know when moving heavy furniture and appliances. Be smart and hire professionals. And make sure they are insured
Packers. We’ve learned from personal experience that a real sign of adulting is having the moving company pack your things for you as well. It costs a little more to add on a packing service, but it’s so worth it.
- TIP: Before packers descend on your home, give yourself plenty of time to weed out the stuff you no longer need. There’s nothing worse than getting to your new home and realizing you have too much stuff you don’t need, like, or have room for. Then you have to pack it all up again to donate or dispose of.
What costs can I expect?
The cost to pack a home, according to Home Advisor, depends on the size of the home. But typical ranges — including materials and labor to packing boxes and furniture — are from $270 to $2,200, with $100 being the average. Hiring a mover to pack and unpack runs from $370 to $3,600.
Reaching out to a reputable moving company is one of the best calls you can make to help reduce the stress of moving. You might be wondering, “How much does it cost to move?” According to moving.com (and based on a 2-3 bedroom move of approximately 7,500 pounds), local moves average out to about $1,250. The average cost of a long-distance move (about 1000 miles) is $4,890.
If you’re moving into (or out of) a condo or apartment building, you might be charged a moving service fee. This is to cover the use of a freight elevator or make up for inconveniences to other tenants by decommissioning a regular elevator for a short time. You may even have to pay for a superintendent to supervise the move. You may even be required to move out/in on certain days of the week. Check with your buildings before arranging movers.
The specific date you choose to make your move can affect the costs dramatically. For example, a move during peak season, or a weekend move on or near the end of a month — or any weekend, for that matter — tends to cost much more than a week-day, off-season move. From our experience, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the cheapest.
Our big pre-move tip: Purge your unnecessary belongings
If you’re like most Americans, you have closets and drawers full of stuff you haven’t used in a long, long time. And the thought of boxing it all up and moving it all can be overwhelming. So, why not use the months before your move to declutter? Having a yard sale — either in your own yard or garage, or digitally — can be profitable and great fun, but you need to figure out WHAT you will sell first.
There are decluttering services you can hire, but seriously, you got this yourself. Need a little help? We’re stealing decluttering tips from best-selling authors and organizing guru Marie Kondo.
Marie has six basic rules. To purge successfully, you must follow the six rules in order.
- Commit yourself to tidying up. This may seem simple, and it is. Set your mind to it. Do a little every day. Little by little. Don’t give up. Take breaks if you need to.
- Imagine your ideal lifestyle. Write down what you want your life to look like moving forwards. Consider what matters most.
- Finish discarding first. Go through older items before sifting through the things you love.
- Tidy by category, not by location. Do your purging by category, not by room. Start with clothing and move on to books, paper, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items.
- Follow the proper order. Don’t veer off the course. You’ll be tempted to go on to other categories while finishing one. Don’t! Do your best to finish one by one.
- Ask yourself if it sparks joy. After removing unnecessary things, pull out the essentials and ask, “Does this produce joy?” If you don’t get pleasure from it, get rid of it.
Don’t get caught short.
Unless you currently own nothing and are free of possessions, moving to a new home will carry some sort of cost. Deciding what you’re willing to spend money on — and what you’re not willing to spend it on — will help you estimate and optimize your family’s moving costs. Budgeting to cover these costs is the key to managing a stress-free move.
And if you’re lucky, there may even be a few dollars left over to treat yourself to pizza and a bottle of wine (juice for the kiddos) for your first meal in your new place.