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Return to The Fine Print for Moving: Finances & Legal

Money & Moving Budget Smarts

Moving can be an expensive proposition, whether you’re moving down the street or across the country. Here’s a checklist of things you need to think about to make your move as cost effective as possible – and to make sure you don’t spend more money than you need to when it comes to making that move.

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Plan Ahead and Create a Moving Budget

Plan ahead and create a move budget as far in advance as possible. This budget should take into consideration the following factors:


Moving Expense #1: Move Out

  • House Touch Up/Repair – Carpet cleaning, touch up painting, and fixing items like leaky faucets can add up quickly, and whether you are selling or renting and trying to get your security deposit back, you will want to leave the house in good shape.
  • Cleaning – If you can afford it, you may also want to hire someone to thoroughly clean the house after you move out, including refrigerator, oven and bathrooms because you will have your hands full with the move.
  • Junk and Trash – To get rid of larger items in the basement or attic, you may need a hauling service to take away old TVs, broken furniture and other large items.

Moving Expense #2: Packing and Moving

  • Boxes – Do you want to buy new boxes or collect them at liquor stores, groceries and other retail outlets?
    • If you collect them on your own, start early. It can take a while to gather enough to move an entire household. Also be sure to inspect your box and avoid importing travelers such as cockroaches that might be hiding in boxes from food-related stores.
    • Schools are another place where you might get boxes. Ask your local school janitor to set aside boxes for you.
    • You can buy moving supply packages from retailers based on the size of your household or purchase individual boxes based on your needs.
  • Food/Beverage – If you’re renting a truck and using friends and family to help you move, factor in the cost of feeding them during/after their labors.
  • Check Insurance – If you’re renting your own van,
    • Call your credit card company and insurance company to verify your insurance coverage on do-it-yourself moving vans prior to accepting the expensive collision and liability coverage you will be offered.
    • Negotiate your upfront mileage usage allowance and allow for an overage of 15-20 percent to make sure you are well covered. If you’re renting by the day, make sure you factor in enough time to load, travel and unload.
  • Materials – If you’re packing yourself, make sure you have scissors, packing tape, markers, labels. You can use towels, T-shirts and socks instead of expensive bubble wrap to wrap and buffer breakables and save money, especially for less fragile items.
  • Professional Movers
    • Most calculate costs in terms of pounds and cubic feet of materials to be moved. They can help give you an estimate of what your costs will be.
    • Some, however, especially short haul movers, will calculate costs in manpower hours.
    • A good way to start getting estimates from professional movers is to go to start here
  • Packing – If you’re using professional movers, are you packing your own boxes, or are the movers packing? This can have a significant budgetary impact.
  • Travel – factor in the cost of lodging, meals, cost of gas, and air transportation if applicable.
  • Pet Transport – Are you moving Fido and Fluffy? Factor in pet boarding costs (if they are coming later), plus extra pet hotel fees if they are coming with you.

Moving Expense #3: Move In

  • Utility Deposits – unless you’re moving across town, you’ll probably have to put down new utility deposits – long before you’ll see deposits returned from your former residence.
  • Damage or Pet Deposits – If you’re renting, expect to pay damage and/or pet deposits.
  • Restocking Groceries and Supplies – You’ll need to replace the half-consumed jars of olives, mustard and jam you didn’t pay to move, as well as the flammable cleaning supplies the movers wouldn’t transport.
  • Window Coverings – The curtains and the blinds from the old house are unlikely to fit the new windows, yet privacy is one element you’ll want to address fairly quickly. New curtains and/or blinds – even temporary ones – will probably be high on a priority list, unless you live in a remote country setting.
  • Car Registration/Driver’s License – Different states vary as to how long you have to transfer your car registration and get a new driver’s license if you move from another state, but transfer taxes in some states can be hefty. And in some states you have as little as 15 days to register. Find information from the Division of Motor Vehicles in your new state here
  • Calculate First Month’s Expenses – If you’re changing jobs, it could be up to a month before you see your first paycheck after you move. Calculate and set aside enough money to get through this potential lapse in pay.
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