The Hidden Costs of Moving

Transporting your belongings can cost far more than you anticipated.

The Hidden Costs of Moving
Charlie Neibergall/APTransporting your belongings can cost far more than you anticipated.
By Geoff Williams

Are you figuring out the costs of packing up and shipping out? Get out the calculator. And open your wallet.

According to the American Moving & Storage Association, the average cost of an intrastate move is $1,170, and the average move between states costs $5,630. (Both numbers are based on an average weight of 7,100 pounds.) Worldwide ERC, an association for professionals who work with employee transfers, places the number even higher: It says the cost of the average move within the U.S. is $12,459.

Whatever your final moving cost may be, it's often higher than you anticipated. Moving can be expensive, in part because you aren't just hiring movers. You're uprooting your life, whether you move across the globe or a few neighborhoods over, and budgeting for that can be a challenge. Here are some moving costs you might not have considered.

The cost of a cheap mover. Everyone wants to save money on moving, but keep in mind that not every moving company is ethical and transparent.

"People need to do their homework on the moving companies that they use," says Rick Gersten, CEO of Urban Igloo, an apartment finding service in the Washington D.C., and Philadelphia areas. "Where people tend to get hurt [is] they hear a low price going in, and then they find out it's hourly, but they forget to look into the details of what that means."

Gersten says there's nothing wrong with moving services that charge by the hour, but you should ask questions. "How many personnel are they bringing to move your belongings? One person or three?" Gersten says. In other words, if you hire a cheap mover without considering such details, you could spend far more than you intended.

Storage. If your move takes longer than expected because a house closing is delayed, for example, you might have to put some of your belongings in storage. The cost of a self-storage unit varies widely and depends on the location. says a self-storage unit that's 10 feet by 20 feet typically ranges from $95 to $155 a month, and $170 to $180 if the unit is climate-controlled.

The unexpected. The longer your move drags out, the more you may pay. That's what Kate Achille, a public relations executive, found out two years ago. She was closing on a house in Asbury Park, N.J., when Superstorm Sandy hit, "and my scheduled Nov. 8 closing was pushed back somewhat indefinitely," she says.

"The house itself was fine," Achille adds, "but a 90-plus-year-old tree came down in the backyard, taking out part of the fence along with the power lines across the street."

Achille, who was leaving Brooklyn, N.Y., at the time, needed to put her belongings in storage. But instead of renting a U-Haul one time, which she had budgeted for, she had to rent it twice: Once to take her things to the storage unit, and again to transport them to the house once she finally got her front door key.

With the storage space and U-Haul rentals, Achille estimates she spent about $750 more than she had counted on. Not that there was anything she could have done, but it's yet another reason to leave extra room in your moving budget in case the unexpected occurs.

Utilities. Some utility companies insist on deposits or connection fees. But you also need to think about the utilities you may be leaving behind.

Aaron Gould, a 24-year-old business executive, has moved from upstate New York to Boston and then to New Jersey within the past two years. He says it's important to keep track of when various bills are due and notes that it can get confusing if you're leaving an apartment where you shared expenses with roommates. "You could get hit with a retroactive utility bill and a pay-in-advance cable bill while still needing to pay off that electric bill at your old place," Gould says.

Replacements. It may sound insignificant, but "keep in mind the cost of replacing all of the items you threw away when you moved, like cooking spices and cleaning supplies," says Bonnie Taylor, a communications executive who recently moved from Henderson, Nev., to Norwood, Mass.

You might need to replace even more, especially if you're moving several states away or to a new country, says Lisa Johnson, a New York City-based executive with Crown World Mobility, which provides relocation services to corporations and their employees.

She reels off a list of expenses one might not think about: "breaking and renewing gym contracts, [replacing] small appliances, especially for international moves when the voltage changes, pet transportation, additional luggage, bank charges for opening a new account, driver's license fees ... "

Deposits. While you're trying to get from point A to point B without too much overlap on your utilities, do yourself a favor and clean your home before you leave. That's a nice, karma-friendly thing to do for the new buyers if you're moving out of a house you just sold, and it's financially smart if you're departing an apartment.

"That's something a lot of people don't think about," says Gersten, adding that he sees a lot of young tenants lose security deposits because they've left their apartments in such a mess.

True, you haven't thought about the deposit in some time. But if you can clean and reclaim some or all of it, you might get a handy cash infusion you can then use to buy pizza for friends who helped you move, pay the movers or cover a connection fee. It's a truism of this type of life event. When you move out, so does your money.

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This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post. -

December 16 2014 at 1:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If we ever move again, We will sell, or give some items away that we do not want ore need. This includes clothing we do not want and need or wear (which I would donate)
I'd sell most of the furniture minus the end tables, and various small pieces that are still nice,. and are still in good shape . Moving is exhausting and expensive. I'd much rather rent a small truck. As small as possible rather than pay $1000's for a huge moving van, and/or moving men, or us having to haul all the heavy stuff out to load and then unload! We did that 4 times already, and it makes more sense for some people tp just disgard whaever they are able to.

June 02 2014 at 1:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've used before to find movers. The prices were pretty reasonable and it all worked out really well.

June 01 2014 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

also beware some places require moving permits= mo money for the move

June 01 2014 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to albertbbruno's comment

If you are talking about city permits, the moving company did move there you did....fact of life,,,,

June 01 2014 at 10:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Short list of tips:
1. Want to make the movers drag their heels? >>>>> Have a bunch of small crap for THEM to box up. Anything easy/simple to box, DO IT YOURSELF.
2. Box up everything in drawers. One thing that irritates movers is having to "Juggle" drawers full of clothes etc while the wind blows **** from them.
3. Fridges MUST be empty and not dripping with something that leaked in there. I knew my fridge was an inch or two too wide to fit out of my kitchen door so I removed the door ( 2 minutes with an ordinary screwdriver) for them ahead.
They seemed to appreciate I was thinking of them.
4. Talk to them in a respectful tone. They are not merely brutes with low IQ. They are doing you a back saving service and an honest living.
5. Number boxes as........ "# 1 of eleven" "# 2 of eleven" etc. It may reduce the chance of one of your boxes ending up with others with different destination on the same truck .
6. The same as with the fridge....... If I have stuff that doesn't fit the doors, or BARELY does, I take a few minutes to remove the doors and any jutting hardware ( as on screen doors.)
These guys tend to move well when they are in mode and not constantly breaking the routine.
7. MAJOR ticks that piss movers off >>>>>>>>>> They get there to move big stuff and the paths they will take are cluttered everywhere by your small crap with a narrow path.. They get paid by the hour, but still dislike farting around with junk organization.
8. PETS friendly or not >>>>>>> Keep them out of the way. Secured and WAY out of the way. "Oh he doesn't bite" doesn't mean Fido might not trip up and injure them!
9. Sounds too obvious but..... Even on a cool day you could have some ice tea or ONE beer each to offer.
One FREEZING day, I had hot coffee and hot chocolate available. The crew moved me in 2 hours and 51 minutes. ( 3 hours per man charge.) What do you bet had I barked at them etc they might have dragged butt and made it last 3 hours and 5 minutes? ( 4 hours per man charge.

June 01 2014 at 9:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to abourge458's comment

You know better than that...NO BEER,,,otherwise good ideas....most important, not babysitters, dog sitters, or any other kind of sitter. Be organized, ready, most people think it easy to pack ect have 6 weeks to do it, put it off because everyone wants to throw a going away party or go out to dinner, all of a sudden 1 week left and you haven't done anything, now the stress comes in, day of move 8 am its time to move not pack, clean fridge out, best of all during a hot day, don't turn the stove on and put the crap to clean it , the fumes are a killer....

June 01 2014 at 10:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alex Greyon

It seems like to me that people (myself included) accumulate so much stuff that they believe is "necessary." My moving plan is to sell all furniture (minus a 30yr old hutch), clothes that I did or would again fit, and most of my electronics.....who wants the pressure of paying a ton to move stuff that might get broken (electronics like tvs) and stuff that wasn't made that great to begin with (pretty much most furniture bought from a furniture chain).....

June 01 2014 at 9:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alex Greyon's comment

As a mover, it boggles my mind that people don't understand, like particle wood furniture, ie saw dust. It was made to take out of the box and sit never to be moved! Movers idea of this, if it came in a box it needs to leave in a box but people don't understand this. Common sense is the rule, I have moved furniture that I wouldn't put my pads on because of filth, dog crap, urine, smells. Move the sofa and find dirty dippers, dog and cat poop and a few used condoms, yeah please let us move you!!!!

June 01 2014 at 10:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a friend who's a dumpster diver, he suggests dropping all those's things that won't fit in the moving van like, personal property, valuable stuff like a Rolex, x-box, you know that just won't fit. He claims it's in your best interests to unload it into a dumpster, rather then the usual first rest stop the moving van makes, where some how every thing of value seems to fall out of the back of the truck, and nobody notices or seems to care? Just a thought

June 01 2014 at 8:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Might someone be looking to hire a mid age multi-talented male for a decent wage? I am a very hard worker and consistant. Just me and my dog, so we can move anywhere. Pls reply.

June 01 2014 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This article is merit-less. Deposits are not extra costs but are either applied to outstanding debts or future anticipated costs. Moving has its fixed costs that you know in advance such as boxes, etc. They can be re-used.

In terms of replacements, why pay for weight when it is cheaper to replace. You can spend $100 to move an item that cost $150 (when new) or save that $100 and just buy a replacement with a "net" cost of $50.

June 01 2014 at 7:45 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I am a mover and you have NO idea, first thing, reason you want some to move your stuff, you don't want to be bothered or it is too heavy, have stairs don't have the time, it doesn't matter. My profession is just as good as yours, I elected to be in the moving business, buy a truck approx cost of a new vehicle $140,000, insurance, tabs, fuel by state tax permits abount $1,000 a month plus the labor I have to find to move your goods, my outlay is about $5,000 a month before I make a dime. Not to include I get home about every 6-8 weeks for a couplke of days. Now alphainspection, why would I want some used kitchen stuff as you put it. Here is a hint, if you haven't used something in the last 3 years get rid of it, don't start thinking about getting rid of items 2 days before the more----PLAN YOUR MOVE---Don't blame the guy trying to make a living if you want to move rocks go ahead.

June 01 2014 at 4:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply