The Most Common Moving Expenses: Ultimate Moving Cost Checklist

The moving process is time-consuming — and it can also be expensive. To get to your new home, you’ll need to spend a fair amount of money, regardless of whether you use one of the best moving companies.

You don’t want a move to put you in a tough financial situation. By understanding and budgeting for the most common moving expenses like packing materials and moving labor you can ensure that you are financially prepared for your move.

Here’s what you should consider.

Table of contents:

The 6 most common moving expenses

The following are the most common moving expenses you’ll need to prepare for as you get ready for moving day.

1. Hiring a professional moving company

When most people think of moving expenses, they think of hiring full-service movers… and for good reason. Professional movers take on the heavy lifting of loading and unloading, but you have to pay for all that help.

Most moving companies charge an hourly rate for local moves, with total costs ranging from $800–$2,500. Long-distance moving fees are based on the size and distance of the move, and can cost upwards of $10,000.

It’s important to remember that most full-service movers only include loading, unloading, and transportation in their base fees. If you want help with additional assistance like packing services or disassembling furniture, you’ll need to pay extra. Similarly, many moving companies charge extra for oversized or fragile items like pianos and antiques.

2. DIY moves

A DIY move will be cheaper than hiring professional movers, but you still need to pay for the moving truck rental! For local moves, expect to pay $20–$100 per day, plus mileage for a rental truck. For long-distance moves, you could pay $800–$2,000 on average, depending on your total mileage and the size of the truck.

Most rental truck companies also require that you return the moving truck with a full tank of gas, regardless of whether you use it for a local or long-distance move. Depending on what you’re moving, you may also need to rent equipment like furniture dollies.

Moving container companies are another popular DIY moving option. You order one or more moving containers based on the size of your move. After the moving container company drops off the container, you’ll generally have three business days to load the container yourself.

The moving container company then takes care of the transportation for you. Once you unload everything, they’ll pick up the empty container.

Not all moving container companies service local moves, but you can expect to pay $350–$550 for local moves and as much as $5,700 for a long-distance move, depending on your mileage and the size/number of containers you need.

3. Packing supplies

Regardless of whether you use professional movers or go the DIY route, you’ll need moving boxes and packing tape for your move. To protect fragile items, you should also consider bubble wrap, moving blankets, and furniture pads. You may also need to purchase specialty boxes like wardrobe boxes, TV boxes, and filing boxes. Make sure you also have something to label your boxes with!

Depending on the size of your move, you could expect to pay at least $100 to get all necessary packing supplies.

4. Storage

Though not a part of every move, many families find themselves needing to rent a storage unit to temporarily store their belongings until they can move into their new home.

Storage unit prices can range from $50–$450 per month, depending on the size of the unit and the location of the storage facility. You’ll also pay more for climate-controlled units, which provide greater protection against extreme temperatures and humidity.

Company Quote Rating Price
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1-800-Pack-Rat Check prices
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5. Travel expenses

Aside from the cost to transport your items in a moving truck, you also need to consider your own transportation costs.

Travel expenses include food, fuel, and lodging if driving to your new home. You’ll likely be eating out more often than you would under normal circumstances, so it’s important to set some extra money aside. If you are moving across the country and prefer to fly, your plane tickets should also be part of your moving budget.

6. Moving day expenses

For the day of the move, you should set aside a little bit of money to purchase snacks and drinks. Whether moving yourself or using professionals, some extra water and food can make all the difference in keeping energy and morale up!

If you have pets or young children, you’ll likely need to hire a sitter for a few hours to keep them out of the way. And when using professionals, you’ll also need to have cash on hand to tip your movers. It’s generally recommended that you give a total tip that is 15%–20% of your moving fees.

How to make a moving cost checklist

While the above items will naturally make their way onto any moving expenses checklist, there are additional costs that can increase your moving expenses. Even though some of these expenses aren’t directly related to the cost of moving itself, they are still a part of the total cost of getting to a new location.

Be sure to add these items to your moving cost checklist, as well.

Real estate costs

If you own your old home, you’ll have to pay a fee to your real estate agent as part of the selling process. This can represent several thousand dollars of the total sale price of your home.

House hunting can also add some expenses to your move, particularly if you are moving across the country. Traveling to check out potential homes — and potentially paying for food and lodging in addition to fuel or plane tickets — should absolutely be considered part of your moving budget.

Rental fees

If you’ll be renting a home or apartment, there are several potential fees you’ll need to plan for.

Renters are often required to pay a security deposit and their first month’s rent before they can move into their new place. You may also have to pay utility deposits to set up your new accounts for electricity, gas, and other services.

This can add up to several thousand dollars, depending on your security deposit and rental rate.

Car shipping

Planning to fly to your new home? Or do you own multiple vehicles, but only wish to drive one of them across the country? Then you’ll need to use one of the best car shipping companies to transport your vehicle.

Car shipping costs can range from $500 to $2,500 depending on the type of vehicle, shipping distance, and whether you use open or enclosed transport.

Prepping your new space

There will be several additional expenses upon moving into your new home. Quite often, families find themselves needing to buy new furniture or appliances to furnish their new space. You might also wish to have cleaning services scrub your home from top to bottom before you unpack so you don’t have to worry about cleaning while moving in.

Finally, many homes require small repairs upon moving in. From replacing the locks on your doors and installing blinds to replacing burned out lightbulbs, these to-dos can add up surprisingly quickly even on a well-maintained property.

Unexpected expenses

Even when you get a binding estimate from a moving company, it’s always best to prepare for unexpected fees that could arise.

Common fees include:

  • Cancellation fees
  • Shuttle service fees (when a moving truck can’t access your property)
  • Stair and elevator fees
  • Bulky items fees for big items like pianos or pool tables
  • Fees for making extra stops

Check with your moving company in advance to confirm if any of these apply to your move.

How to cut moving expenses

While moving can become rather expensive, there are fortunately several ways you can reduce your moving expenses. Below are some of the most common options available to families.

Choose movers based on your budget

While a DIY move requires a lot more heavy lifting on your part, there’s no denying that it is much less expensive than hiring full-size movers. A DIY or portable moving container will almost always be less expensive than full-service movers.

Even when you use full-service movers, you can save money by not opting for additional services like unpacking or furniture assembly. Most movers only include loading, transporting, and unloading your items in their basic quote. Get free quotes from multiple companies using our moving cost calculator so you can compare your options to find what best fits your budget.

Company Quote Rating Price
Safeway Moving
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American Van Lines
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Mayzlin Relocation
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Downsize

The more household items you need to move, the more expensive your move will be. As such, downsizing before your move can go a long way in cutting costs.

Go through each room of the house and identify items you no longer want or need. Items that are broken or no longer work should be thrown away. Items that are still in good condition can be sold or donated, potentially helping pay for your moving costs.

Getting rid of items you won’t need at your new place means you can get a smaller moving truck and pay less for moving labor.

Choose the right time to move

While you can’t always choose your preferred moving timeline, trying to schedule your moving day during the best time to move can help you save money.

Weekdays tend to be less busy than the weekends, and fall and winter are considered the off season for moving companies, which are much more booked up during the spring and summer months. Scheduling your move during these low-demand periods can result in lower rates and better availability than if you moved during the peak season.

You can also save by scheduling your move in advance. Many companies charge extra for last-minute moves, and you may have a harder time booking a truck with your preferred provider.

Find affordable moving supplies

Buying moving supplies from a moving company can be surprisingly expensive. However, you can ask for free boxes and other moving supplies through neighborhood Facebook groups or NextDoor — you’d be surprised how often people are giving away used moving supplies! You can also check with local businesses to see if they are giving away free boxes or other supplies.

You can also usually find boxes, packing tape, and more at retailers like Walmart or Home Depot. Their prices tend to be lower than if you purchased directly from the moving company.

Check out our guide to cheap or free moving boxes for some more money-saving tips.

Get expense reimbursements from work

If you’re moving because of a new job, you should see if your full-time employer will provide a reimbursement for your moving costs and out-of-pocket travel expenses.

  • Each company has their own policy for reimbursing moving and travel costs, including: Providing a standard mileage rate based on the distance to your new job location
  • Giving a flat-rate daily stipend
  • Reimbursing based on receipts for tolls, fuel, food, and lodging

Be sure to confirm your company’s policy so you can provide all necessary documents for your reimbursements.

Moving expense deduction for members of the armed forces

This income tax break was once available to all taxpayers and is now largely defunct, but it’s still worth mentioning. IRS form 3903 allows active duty members of the armed forces to get a deduction for qualified moving expenses if they receive a military order for a permanent change of station.

This is filed as part of your federal tax return for the tax year in which you moved. A standard mileage rate applies when you use your own vehicle to move to a new home. Military service members can also claim expenses for moving household goods and personal effects. You cannot claim expenses that were provided or reimbursed by the government. A CPA can help if you have questions about these tax laws or need tax preparation help for moving-related tax forms.

Of course, limited eligibility means most families can’t benefit from this option.

FAQs about moving expenses

What costs do I need to consider when moving?

The price of moving to a new house or apartment is often higher than expected. In addition to the expected costs like purchasing packing supplies, hiring a moving company or renting a truck, and shipping a vehicle, you must be mindful of potential hidden costs like:

  • Food and fuel costs for driving across the country
  • Making small repairs at your new home
  • Temporary storage
  • Additional fees for select moving services

What is a reasonable moving budget?

The average cost for a move will vary significantly between a cross-country or long-distance move and a local move, as well as whether you do a DIY or professional move.

On average, moving a two-bedroom home 1,000 miles will likely cost $2,500–$5,500 for professional movers and $850–$1,600 for a rental truck. Our moving cost calculator can help you determine a reasonable moving budget range based on the size and distance of your move.

What do moving costs include?

Some common moving costs homeowners should plan for include:

  • Moving supplies
  • The cost of a truck rental or professional movers
  • Any additional services (such as unpacking or furniture disassembly)
  • Insurance
  • Cleaning and repairs at your old and new homes
  • Fuel, food, and other related transportation costs for yourself

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