The Hidden Costs of Moving
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. CostHelper.com 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.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%"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.