Prepare for Those Hidden Moving Costs
One way moving can be stressful is that it seems like it costs more than most people were expecting. Many experts suggest that whatever amount you think a move might cost, you should add at least 10% to 20% for all those hidden expenses. One way to get your moving budget ready is to think about all the factors that catch people by surprise. These tips should help you come up with your plan, so that you’re ready for any hidden costs or challenges.
Onsite Estimates Are the Way to Go
Even the most reliable moving company can’t be sure what it will be like to move you unless they can see your home or office for themselves. makes it fast and easy to sign up for a free onsite estimate, but you should always get a few estimates to compare for the best prices. If the company gives you an estimate based from an online form or phone conversation, see if you can follow that up with an in-person estimate. You want to make sure everyone involved knows what complications might come up, so that there are no surprises on moving day.
This also includes asking questions about what your movers may charge in fees for unusual circumstances. Ask about mileage fees, distance-from-door, elevator fees, storage, different prices for moving specialized furniture such as pianos or fragile items in boxes, or needing to help you pack.
Consider Your Insurance Options
Most moving companies and truck rental firms offer some form of insurance. You’re allowed to turn down this insurance, but think twice. You can probably remember several times when something went wrong on a move which led to someone losing personal items, breaking furniture, or possibly even damaging your old (or new) home. Look at your homeowner’s insurance to see what it covers. If moving isn’t included, then find out what’s covered by the moving company. Even the basic insurance is better than having to replace your couch or books, or worse, pay for repairs to something, completely out-of-pocket. However, basic insurance is usually based on coverage per pound moved–about 60 cents in most places–and that can put hard limits on what insurance will handle. The full insurance option often turns out to be the best deal in the long run.
Moving Yourself Doesn’t Necessarily Cost Less
Many people try to reduce costs by assuming they will be able to handle the move by themselves. At first blush, this may seem like it will definitely be cheaper, but take a good long look at your situation. If you have only a few days to get everything together, think about the time, stress, and effort involved. Can you take the time off from work? Do you have friends or family who are willing or able to volunteer their time and effort? (And don’t forget about paying these helpers, even if it’s just in pizza and beer.)
You need to get boxes, some of which you can find at various stores, but you might need to buy others, such as wardrobe or dish boxes. You’ll need to pack everything yourself, which takes time. Be realistic about how much effort it can take to get even one room packed up. Are you giving yourself enough time to get things done, or are you throwing things into boxes or bags at the last minute? How heavy did you make those boxes–are you risking injury by lifting them?
Also, trucks and storage still cost a fair amount of money, and things like mileage or fees for returning the truck late can add up. Think about the wear and tear on your own vehicle if you plan on towing a trailer. You’re still responsible for any damage that happens to the truck or your belongings, so once again, don’t skimp on the insurance.
Remember Details Like Utilities and Cleaning
Many people get so caught up in the logistical challenges of putting their lives into boxes that they forget the more abstract parts of moving until the last minute. Almost every utility company charges a fee to disconnect and set up new service, and will often need someone present for one step of the process–some utilities may charge a fee if you aren’t there when they are. Also, remember that last-minute scheduling is a bad idea, because you don’t want to find out you won’t have hot water or electricity until a week after you move in.
Another thing to keep in mind is that whether you’re renting or selling a place, you’ll be responsible for cleaning when you move out, and will probably need to do some cleaning when you move in. If you get professionals, for example to steam-clean your carpets, don’t forget to budget for that work.