Costs such as the ones Madren and her husband paid may be a standard part of buying a home, but they can still catch first-time homeowners off-guard. Even for renters, a move is more than comparing the costs of living between two locations and how far much accommodations will cost in a new place. A deposit on a new apartment, a driver's license, car registration and license plates and fees to turn on new utilities are just some of the extra costs that can derail a moving budget.
The Costs of the Search
"It's one thing if you can go to your intended town for three days and find your new home, but that rarely happens," said Chapel Hill, North Carolina, real estate broker Michele Burris. "Most people make repeated trips, which turns into more airfare, more hotel stays, more gas for the car." Burris said that most of her clients make, on average, two or three trips to visit their new town before finding the perfect home, but recently some have had to make up to seven. Burris recently sold a home via a video tour to clients who, after months of searching, simply couldn't afford another trip. "I can't tell you how relieved I was when they arrived and loved it."
Those moving to be closer to a new job before they've sold their current home might also have to rent a new place first or be forced to sell their home quickly, for less than they might have hoped.
The Costs of Re-establishing a Home
"There are always more expenses when you move that you don't expect," said Burris. "Something as simple as restocking your pantry with all your spices and ingredients, or buying new cleaning supplies because you didn't ship your old ones, can cost several hundred dollars."
"Some people don't realize how much renovations and upgrades will cost and don't factor that in (to the moving budget)," Pryor said. "Maybe you'll want a security system, or a backyard fence for your pet, or find your old house had additional storage and now you need to build shelves."
The Emergency Moving Fund
Pryor recommends drawing funds for unexpected expenses from a regular savings account, and replenishing it as quickly as possible, while Burris recommends having a moving slush budget, not only for the practicalities, but to make the transition seem less daunting.
"During the process of moving, the sense of normalcy of your day-to-day routine gets really disrupted. Being able to do something as simple as go to the grocery store and cook a dinner gets harder," she said. "If people can plan ahead a little, and know that the move is going to be stressful, and meals are going to be difficult, setting aside a little extra money to splurge on a pizza or dinner out at a restaurant can make things much easier."