Moving Cost Checklist: The Complete Guide to Budget For Your Move

One of the most important things to consider for any move is how much it will cost. But before you can truly budget for anything, you need to know what items you need to budget for in the first place!

With that in mind, this comprehensive moving cost checklist will help you break down the various moving expenses you’ll need to consider. By understanding what you need to budget for at all stages of the move, you can set your moving budget with confidence.

Before Your Move

Before the move is where the bulk of your moving expenses will take place. Generally, the more you do yourself, the cheaper the move will be. However, for many people, doing the move themselves is not an option. For example, a family with young children and pets doing a three-bedroom move themselves can get surprisingly difficult and stressful.

It’s also worth noting that although a professional mover is more expensive, they have all of the supplies, equipment, resources, and expertise to make sure the move goes as smoothly as possible. If you’re doing a DIY move, you’ll have to come up with all of this yourself, which could add to your costs.

Booking a Move With a Moving Company

If you plan on working with a professional moving company, one of your first steps should be booking your moving day with them. Hiring professional movers tends to be more expensive, but it can save you a lot of time and effort. Our list of the best moving companies in the US is a good place to start your search.

When using a professional moving company, the average cost of a local move is $1,710, while the average cost of a long-distance move is $4,823. Of course, your expenses can vary based on how much you need to move and how far you’re going!

The following tables can give you a general idea of how much it costs to move cross country for both local and long-distance moves based on various factors:

Long-Distance and Local Moves Costs

The following table will give you a general idea of how much it costs to move cross country for different size moves and for different moving options.

Moving Company Pricing
1 bedroom 2 – 3 bedrooms 4 – 5 bedrooms
<50 miles $399 – $1,200 $657 – $3,308 $1,194 – $6,101
250 miles $1,000 – $3,419 $2,009 – $5,530 $3,133 – $11,955
1,000 miles $2,211 – $4,532 $3,500 – $12,129 $5,207 – $17,375
2,500 miles $3,215 – $6,901 $4,450 – $14,601 $9,000 – $20,018

To get a free and personalized quote quickly, consult our moving cost calculator.

Additional Costs for Professional Movers

Aside from the base booking fee, there are usually other costs associated with a professional move you’ll need to prepare for:

  • Insurance: Many moving companies offer insurance coverage for any items that are lost or damaged during the move. This coverage is often optional, but it’s usually a good idea to get some level of coverage in case of unexpected issues. You can also get third-party liability insurance to cover things standard insurance won’t. The more coverage you get, the more expensive the move will be.
  • Packing Services: Some moving companies will even offer to help pack your household items before the move. Some full-service movers handle all aspects of the moving process, including unloading the truck and unpacking your items at your new home. While this can certainly be convenient, it will significantly increase your total moving expenses.

Common DIY Moving Expenses

The most immediately obvious expense for a DIY move is renting a truck or a storage container. A truck rental for a local move will typically cost $20-$100 per day, with more expensive rental fees for larger trucks. Many truck rental companies will also charge a mileage fee if you go over a set mileage limit. These fees range from $0.59-$1.00 per mile.
Aside from renting a moving truck, there are several other items to consider for your DIY moving cost checklist:

  • Moving Equipment: Depending on what you are moving, you will likely need dollies to help transport heavier items. You may also need to rent moving straps, blankets, furniture covers, and moving blankets to protect the items in the moving truck.
  • Insurance: Many truck rental companies offer optional insurance for your move. This can include coverage for damage to the rental equipment, damage to your possessions, and even medical coverage if you were to get in an accident. Though optional, this can add much-needed protection and peace of mind.
  • Gas: Moving with a rental truck might seem more affordable than it is if you don’t factor in the cost of gas. Aside from filling up at gas stations during a long-distance move, most truck rental companies require that you return the vehicle fully loaded with gas. Many moving trucks only get 10-12 mpg, so fuel costs can add up quickly.

Packing Supplies

Regardless of whether you’re doing a DIY move or using a professional moving company, you’ll usually be responsible for obtaining your own moving supplies. Essential packing materials include packing tape, moving boxes, markers, scissors, and bubble wrap.

Fortunately, you don’t have to buy everything from the store. There are actually several creative ways to get free boxes so you can save money on this unavoidable expense.

Housing-Related Costs

Whether you’re selling your house or your lease is ending, there will be a few things to take care of before saying farewell to your old home.

  • Cleaning & Repairs: For most moves, you’ll likely need to take care of some cleaning and repairs before you leave. Here are a few reasons to get your spot spick and span: 
    • A clean and well-maintained house can fetch you a higher selling price and even sell faster.
    • For renters, cleaning can be especially important for getting your security deposits/first month’s rent, pet deposit, and utility deposits back — which can help offset the cost of your move!
    • Professional cleaning services could help you save time, but it will add to your total expenses. Though they can also help with repairs and making the move seamless.
  • Real Estate Agent(s): When selling your home, it may be helpful to consider real estate agent fees and commissions as part of your moving budget. Although you’re not paying them directly, they’re still getting a cut of your home’s sale price. In a sense, their commission is also a moving expense, even if it’s not coming out of your bank account.

During the Move

While you’ll handle most of your moving expenses before moving day, there are also costs you’ll need to consider for during the move itself. This is especially true for out of state moves, where there is often a lengthier period between moving out of your old home and moving into your new one.

Moving Day Expenses

The following are expenses you may need to pay on your actual moving day:

  • Babysitter/Petsitter: You’re going to be busy during your move — especially if it’s a DIY move. With all of the moving around and time spent outside, consider getting a babysitter and/or petsitter to keep children and pets occupied and out of the way while you’re loading up the truck.
  • Snacks, Drinks, & Gifts for Helpers: If you’re having friends or family help with your move, treat them well. Provide lunch or refreshments. Obviously, the amount of money you put aside for this is completely up to you.
  • Cash for Tips: When using a professional moving company, it’s expected that you’ll tip your movers. The general recommendation is to provide a tip that is 15-20% of the total cost of your moving fees.

Transition Time Living Expenses

During the time you’re traveling from your old home to your new home, there are some other expenses you’ll rack up.

  • Living Costs: You might be eating out more than you’re used to during the move, so you’ll want to consider this in your budget. Other expenses could include things such as water, entertainment, and anything else you’ll be doing at this time.
  • Hotel: In case you don’t have a place to stay for a night or two, you should consider accommodation costs in your budget. If you’re able to stay with family or friends for a night, this can cut costs.
  • Airplane/Gas & Tolls: Whether you’re driving or flying to your new home, you’ll need to consider the cost of transportation. As part of this, many people opt to have their car shipped for them. If this is true in your case, set some money aside to book a car shipping service.

Storage-Related Costs

Many people require a temporary storage option for their move. Perhaps their new home won’t be available for another month or so. It could also be that they will be living in temporary residence while house hunting until they find the perfect forever home.

Whatever the reason, renting a storage unit will add to the total cost of your move. Storage units cost an average of $190 per month, though your exact costs will vary based on the size of your unit. Renting a climate-controlled unit will offer additional protection for your valuables, but it will increase your monthly fees. Many facilities also offer optional insurance to protect your valuables.

You’ll also need to consider how you’ll transport items from the storage facility to your home once you’re ready to move in. Some facilities offer free truck rentals, but in other cases, you might need to rent a moving truck again.

After the Move

Once everything is moved in, there are still a few more areas where you might find yourself needing to spend money. Fortunately, most of your spending is already out of the way at this point.

Still it’s a good idea to get these post-moving costs out of the way as soon as possible to get fully settled in quickly:

  • Extra Moving Fees: There are actually a few legitimate reasons a moving company might charge you more than they had previously quoted. Be sure to review your contract so you’re aware of any reasons why there might be last-minute changes to your total cost. Budgeting a little extra money toward these potential expenses will ensure you’re prepared for any extra charges.
  • New Household Goods: When you move in, you’ll likely need to buy essentials like cleaning supplies and toiletries, as well as items you couldn’t move like flammables and perishables. If you’re moving into a larger home, you may eventually want to buy new furniture or decor to fill the space. Immediately after the move, focus on essential supplies that you need right away for daily living.
  • Safety Items: Every time you move into a new house, you should invest in basic safety and security precautions. New locks for the doors, getting copies of the new keys, a security system, a fire extinguisher, and pest control will keep your family and house safe.

Ways to Cut Costs

While moving can be expensive, there are a few noteworthy ways you can cut costs and make it more affordable — especially when you are moving because of a job.

Expense Reimbursements From Work

Many companies will offer reimbursements for your out-of-pocket expenses when moving to a new residence because of your job location. Every company has different policies for reimbursing moving expenses. Some might have a standard mileage rate based on how many miles it takes to move from your former residence to your new home. Others may only reimburse specific travel expenses.

Regardless, when moving for work, it never hurts to ask what your new employer’s reimbursement policies are.

Why The Moving Expense Deduction Doesn’t Help

Back in the day, the IRS offered a moving expenses tax deduction. This deduction was applied to a taxpayer’s income tax, even if you were taking the standard deduction on your federal tax return. In 2017, the tax law overhaul eliminated this benefit. Today, the only people who can take advantage of a moving expense deduction are military members who are being relocated.

Since the moving tax deduction is dead, it’s more important than ever to shop around and compare prices, negotiate with your desired movers, and figure out what parts of the move you can do yourself.

Feel Prepared With Your Moving Cost Checklist

Moving is expensive. However, as with anything, the more prepared you are, the better decisions you’ll make. Making sure that you know all of the possible moving expenses before your actual move will help you prepare your budget by anticipating these moving costs ahead of time.

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure this all out on your own. With our moving expense calculator, you can get a fast moving quote so you can start getting ready!

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