While there are several ways to make it less expensive, moving may never be as cheap as you want it. It's easy (and common) to underestimate your relocation costs as the hidden fees multiply. But as long as you know how much you can spend and what to expect in advance, you won't be shocked with the final tally of your moving expenses.
The best way to go about budgeting your move is to create a spreadsheet listing all of your expected moving costs. Download our template, so you can record everything you will spend money on.
Unlike a paper copy, spreadsheets can be easily updated and changed as needed. Save it to your Google Drive and access it from any computer!
Expenses prior to moving
The first step in creating a moving budget
is to figure out how much you will be spending before you leave your old home. We recommended getting estimates from at least three moving companies
. Until you decide which company you will use, include the highest estimate you are given in your budget.Costs prior to moving:
- Final utility bills
- Any repairs you have to make to your old home
- Possible lease termination fees
- Any other costs associated with leaving your old home
- Packing supplies or preassembled moving kits
- Moving labor, helpers hired to pack your belongings
TIP: If you have flexibility in your timeline, book in the non-peak season (fall/winter) to save money. Some companies also offer an activity-based pricing model -- meaning slow days (Tuesday or Wednesday) are reduced. If you can only schedule during a weekend in the summer, reserve the date at least 6 months in advance for a discount.
Expenses during the move
Once you know how much to allocate on shipping your items, figure out how to get yourself to your new home.
- Transportation (plane/rail tickets, baggage fees, taxi service)
OR gas mileage of personal vehicle
- Lodging during your drive
- Storage fee
- Auto shipping
- Gratuities for the movers
Know the difference between valuation and insurance. Valuation refers to a predetermined limit of liability in your contract and is assessed by the weight of your belongings. Full value protection, based on actual worth, covers repair and replacement with deductibles. Check the company's claim process and if they have outstanding complaints or bad reviews.
Some homeowner policies cover a percentage of your personal property for damage or theft. It's important that you keep a detailed inventory of everything you move and its estimated value.
TIP: Recognize quality service by tipping 5 to 20 percent, divided equally and handed to each member of the crew individually. You can also show your appreciation for a job well done by leaving shining reviews or providing snacks and water throughout the process. Even a simple "Thank you" goes a long way.
Expenses after the move
Don't forget the costs you will face upon moving into your new home.
Include closing costs and basic necessities, such as:
- Lawyer/realtor fees
- Security deposits
- First rent/mortgage payment
- Connection fees for various utility services
- Replacements (small appliances, utensils, cleaning supplies)
- New groceries, snacks and water for moving crew
- Any other services you need to pay for, like parking permits or pet fees
Once all of these costs are added to your spreadsheet, add everything up. Unfortunately, your budget isn't yet finalized. The next thing you want to do is add an additional 10 percent of the final cost to your tally as a contingency fund. This extra amount will cover any unexpected fees that you may encounter during the move.
If this final amount ends up being more than what you can afford, review your budget and find areas to cut corners. As long as you prepare your moving budget beforehand, you can adjust accordingly.