What to Expect: Unexpected Moving Costs

There’s no way around it: moving is a chore. There’s the planning, organizing, thinking about it 24/7, convincing your friends to help… and that’s just for pre-moving party. The entire process of moving tends to take more time, energy and boxes than you could have imagined—and more money. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up running out of gas in the moving truck, half way to Buffalo. (This scenario is especially tragic if you aren’t actually moving to Buffalo.)

The fact is unexpected moving expenses can sneak up on you. Being prepared for them can help you plan your move and take some of the stress out of the process.

Here’s a list of 10 unexpected moving costs for which you can get prepared (and a few tips on how to save money along the way):

  1. First, last and deposit. If you’re renting, you will typically need to come up with about three months’ worth of rent to move—more if you have pets, less if you have roommates. Sometimes the landlord will be flexible, and accept ½ month’s rent as a deposit. It’s worth asking.
  2. Credit checks or “application fees.” Who wants to pay $25 to submit a rental application? You can save money buy getting your credit report (free) and making copies for your potential landlords. If they still want to charge an application fee, you may want to think twice about living in the complex they own or manage.
  3. A deposit to “hold” the rental. Unless you have a contract, and the deposit to hold the place is (or will go toward) your actual deposit, don’t do it.
  4. Moving services. I’ve been down this road—hiring a moving service to take care of everything. There are full-service movers who will actually pack your stuff, take it to the new location, and set it up for you. If you are a high-paid exec and your company is paying for the move, awesome! If, like me, you are a regular person who thinks about things like money, not so awesome. If you are using a moving service, be sure to ask (before you sign the contract) what is actually included: mileage, hourly fees for the movers, unpacking, blanket rentals (yes, that’s a thing—a fee for the moving company using the blankets they just happen to have in the moving truck). If you are moving your things into a storage unit, ask if the moving fee includes packing the items into the unit, or just dropping them off at the storage unit location.
  5. Packing supplies. Luckily, there are lots of ways to save money on this expense (whether you are moving some things into a storage unit or bringing it all with you). When you are packing breakable items, remember that newsprint is your friend.
  6. Pizza and beverages. When your friends are helping you move, be sure to provide them with fuel. The most expensive way to do this is taking everyone out after the move. A less expensive, but still so thoughtful, approach is to have the pizzas delivered to the place you’re moving from. And have the drinks and ice (and plastic cups, since all of your glasses will be packed) on hand.
  7. Gas. For you and anyone who is driving with you to your new place, have some cash on hand for gas.
  8. Cleaning supplies. You definitely want to get your deposit back, so don’t pack away the Mr. Clean. Leave all your cleaning supplies unpacked so that you can clean up as you go. Pack them last, so they’ll be handy as you move into your new place. When you’ve just spent thousands of dollars to move, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend $10 on a new Swiffer because you can’t find your old one.
  9. Auto insurance. If you are changing ZIP codes, call your insurance provider with your new address. You may end up saving money if the new location is considered less risky than the old one. Either way, keeping your address information current with all insurers (rental, car, boat, etc.) is a prudent thing to do.
  10. Party supplies. This is for your first weekend in your new place. Have a BBQ, throw a party, ask your old friends—the really good ones, who helped you move—and your new neighbors. You’ve moved. Time to celebrate.
Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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