Plan Ahead: Anticipating Moving Expenses

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Moving Expenses

Moving expenses can add significant costs to your annual budget. Whether you’re moving down the street or across the country, you’ll want to get a handle on moving costs and create a realistic budget. You’ll need to weigh the cost of several categories of expenses regardless of whether you are moving yourself or hiring movers. Here’s what to consider for moving and tips to keep a budget for the move. 

Types of moving expenses 

The first step to planning for moving expenses is to understand total moving expenses.  You’ll want to factor in transportation, materials, movers, cleaning, and items for your new home. 

1. Transportation

Transportation expenses include toll fees, gas, meals, and lodging while moving. This will also include a rental truck or a moving storage unit. If you plan to hire a car transportation company and fly to your new home, be sure to also account for travel expenses and airfare. And if you’ve hired someone to help you unpack, coordinate the move, or drive your car, you’ll need to account for their travel expenses. 

2. Packing materials

If you don’t plan ahead, packing materials can add up significantly. Prepare with boxes, packing tapes, scissors, labels, permanent markers, bubble wrap, blankets, and other materials needed for packing. You can source boxes from family or friends or ask local stores like grocery stores for extra boxes, usually for free. You can also use t-shirts, socks, or household goods as a protective layer and save on packing materials.

3. Hiring movers

If you plan to hire movers, account for the fees for professional movers or truck rentals. Average costs before tip are between $25 to $50 per mover per hour for local moves, usually about $800 to $2,500 total. Cross-country moves can be more, usually around $2,200 to $5,700 total. 

4. Cleaning costs

Be sure to account for cleaning the old house after you move out and the new one before moving in. You may need to buy cleaning supplies to clean either house or hire someone. While this won’t be a significant moving expense, including it in your budget is important to get a more accurate total estimated costs.

5. New household items

Regarding more fun purchases, you might need to buy new furniture, equipment, supplies, or other items for your new house. This budget line item will vary significantly based on what you need. If you only need basic cleaning supplies, $50 could be more than enough. But your budget could be $10,000 or more if you need to purchase new furniture. For most people, new items will cost between $200 and $2,000. 

Tips for budgeting for moving expenses

Saving money is important and especially during a move, where a lack of planning could cost you thousands of dollars. When planning to move, consider these tips to reduce costs and stay within your target budget.

1. Create a moving budget 

Use the categories above to list all the possible expenses and estimate the budget you’ll need. Add at least 10% to the total for unexpected moving expenses. This cushion will help cover anything you’ve missed in the original budget list or extra expenses you didn’t expect. 

2. Consider DIY options vs. hiring professional movers

A DIY move can be more cost-effective and practical compared to hiring professional movers. But that’s only sometimes the case. If you don’t have time to pack with work and other commitments, professional movers can be more than worth the expense. 

Weigh whether the costs or the time are more important to you for this move, and then research the best options. If you hire professional movers, you’ll need to research the best companies. 

3. Use cost-saving packing strategies

Cost-saving packing strategies like packing on your own can be made even cheaper with these tips. Use clothing instead of bubble wrap. Ask for boxes from family instead of buying. Pack in garbage bags and suitcases and move several loads with your car or local moves. 

4. Research and compare moving companies

If you plan to hire a moving company, that will be the most significant moving expense. Do thorough research and get at least three quotes and compare them. Weigh total costs and customer reviews to choose the company offering the best service and cost value. 

5. Factor in additional and unexpected expenses

Additional expenses include cleaning and storage fees, extra movers on the day of, and unexpected delays or breakdowns that cost extra. Maybe flights cost more, or furniture is broken on the move and needs to be replaced. 

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6. Keep track of expenses and prioritize them

Even while preparing for a move, you can reduce expenses by tracking them in a spreadsheet or with a budgeting app. Then see where you can reduce and which expenses you want to prioritize. 

Are moving expenses tax deductible?

Since 2017 when President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law, moving expenses aren’t tax deductible for most people. The exception is military personnel and armed forces members, who may be able to take moving expense deductions. Here’s what to know.

The current requirements

According to the IRS, “For tax years beginning after 2017, you can no longer deduct moving expenses unless you are a member of the Armed Forces on active duty and, due to a military order, you move because of a permanent change of station.” 

That means that private individuals can’t deduct moving expenses. Likewise, military personnel can only deduct moving expenses if they move because of a permanent change of station from a military order. This change is based on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Tips for Moving by Yourself 

Whether moving alone or with your family, accounting for moving expenses is important to financial planning. Creating and sticking to a budget will mean more money in the bank for other financial goals. When moving by yourself, account for all the same budget factors plus additional help on moving day. Remember to plan ahead, take your time, and research options. With careful planning, moving expenses can stay within budget, and you’ll soon be enjoying your new home.


Who pays for moving expenses?

Normally, an individual pays for their own moving expenses. But sometimes, a company will pay for moving expenses for employees. You can also ask for expense reimbursement if you move for a job. 

How much should you tip movers?

You can choose how much to tip movers. Generally, a good figure is $5 to $10 per mover per hour. That becomes $20 to $40 per person for four hours or $40 to $80 for eight hours of work per mover.

How do you resolve disputes with a moving company?

If you need to resolve a dispute with a moving company, first try to work it out with the company. If you cannot resolve the dispute, you can choose to contact an attorney to help. You could also contact the card issuer to dispute the charge if you paid with a credit or debit card.

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