Moving can be equal parts exciting, terrifying, and exhausting. Each move comes with its own rollercoaster of emotions and mountain of to-dos, particularly if you’re moving to a new city.
There are obvious costs that even first-time movers know to expect, like renting a moving truck, or hiring professional movers., But with all of the moving parts associated with changing homes, it can be easy to lose track of other expenses that might not be that obvious.
We’re not here to tear down your dreams of moving to a new place, and there are many ways to make your dream city your home, but it’s essential to get organized. If you’re preparing for a move and need help keeping track of all your various expenses, this is the guide for you.
Moving Mistakes 101
The average cost of hiring in-town movers for a 1-bedroom apartment ranges from $200-$500. That number jumps way up to $2,000+ if you’re relocating to an entirely new state.
Looking to save some money by recruiting friends and family? You’re not alone. Almost half of all movers completely DIY their move. Yet another 33% of movers rent a moving truck but save some cash by doing the heavy lifting themselves.
Here are a few other costs to be aware of.
Before the Move
You’ll probably incur most of your expenses before you actually move, when you have to figure out how to pack up in one place and move everything (including yourself!) to another.
Housing fees + deposits
Traditional house and apartment rentals typically require an application fee, one month’s deposit, and additional deposits for any pets you might have.
Narrowing down the places you want to apply to can help you save some money in application fees.
Save $$: Make sure you’re aware of the security deposit laws in your state and understand when it’s okay to try and negotiate. (Starcity members enjoy paying only $500 of their deposit upfront, with the rest due within 30 days of move in.)
Utility start-up fees
On top of your monthly utility budget, which is $200 a month on average for apartments, there may be costs when setting up new accounts, like cable or wifi. Connection fees and deposits may be required by your electricity provider, and internet and cable often come with equipment fees.
Save $$: Learn about your options when setting up utilities – you may be able to use equipment you already have or set up special payment plans.
During the Move
Ideally, the bulk of your expenses will all taken care of before moving day. Depending on the distance and details of your move, though, you might face some additional expenses.
Flying or driving cross country to start a new adventure can be super exciting, but it also means paying for flight tickets and hotel stays.
Save $$: Book your tickets or hotel/Airbnb stays as early as possible. Some hotels (as well as Airbnbs) will also offer discounts for longer stays.
Tips + overage charges
Depending on how you feel your professional movers did, you might choose to tip them. Cash is easiest in these cases, so plan to stop by an ATM before moving day. A complex or lengthy move may also come with extra fees. Moving companies typically quote you based on how long they believe the move will take, but it is possible for them to go over the time limit a bit.
Save $$: Review the fine print on your moving contract to understand where fees might pop up. (Not the most fun activity, we know, but it matters!)
After the move
There’s no doubt that the time leading up to and including moving day can be tiresome, and it’s important to realize that a post-move transition period is normal too.
On top of getting used to a new space and new neighborhood, you’re also trying to establish a routine that keeps you happy and productive. During this period your spending may also be a little different than usual — it’s not something to stress out about, just anticipate and plan for it.
You’re probably not going to have a lot of time to cook if you’re in the middle of a big move, but it’s definitely not something you should forego.
The days around moving day will be busy, and it’s likely you’ll opt for eating out. You might even buy pizza, snacks, or drinks for those helping you move, and will need to re-stock once you get to your new home.
Save $$: Cooking a meal might be one of the last things you feel like doing after a long day of moving, but preparing and freezing meals ahead of time can be a huge money saver.
Also considering packing as many non-perishable kitchen staples with you so that your kitchen restocking costs are lower. This is also an excellent opportunity to find affordable eats in your new neighborhood.
Similar to food, cleaning supplies are another staple that you may need to restock after you move. Your old plunger and broom may not seem worthy of taking up precious space in your moving truck, but they will add to your settling-in costs. Forgetting about all of the little purchases that will pop up is an easy-to-make moving mistake.
Save $$: Bring your most-used cleaning items with you and buy multipurpose cleaners that can be used all over your new home.
New furniture + decor
If you’re planning on leaving your old furniture behind, you’ve likely already considered the cost of new furniture. But don’t discount the fact that last-minute furniture expenses can pop up once you’re in your new place.
The bar stools you had at your counter may now be the wrong height, your new apartment might need a smaller bed, or you might have less storage space than you expected.
Save $$: Prioritize your upgrades, and work with what you have now. There’s plenty of moolah to be saved when you take the time to look for hidden treasures at flea markets and thrift shops. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and make DIY storage and decor or spruce up secondhand finds. For those items you just have to have, start with a stand-in from an affordable brand; you can always upgrade later.
Getting set up in a new town
A new city or state comes with some admin work. For example, you may need to update your license plates, get a new bank account, and find new gyms for instance.
Save $$: Research local laws if you’re moving out of state, and try a free-trial gym membership before you commit to a new go-to.
Don’t worry! You’ll be relaxing in your new home and the stress of moving will be a thing of the past before you know it
To help you get you there though, we’ve written up a quick expense checklist for you below.
It may not eliminate your moving expenses, but it will make sure you’re as prepared as possible.
And if you’re interested in exploring hassle-free moving, you can read more about coliving and learn how to move to a new place with just a suitcase.
Before the Move
- Make a list of all your upcoming housing fees and deposits, along with the dates they’re due
- Ask your landlord if you can split up the monthly deposit or pay a smaller, non-refundable one
- Call the utility companies (including electric, water, cable, internet, gas, etc) and ask what their setup fees will be
- Check if your existing internet modem (if you own one) will be compatible with your new internet service
- Set up utilities in advance so there’s no lapse in account coverage
- Weigh the benefits and costs of keeping existing furniture/cleaning supplies/decor versus leaving it behind and buying new
- Book your moving truck and/or moving services (don’t forget to compare quotes across companies!)
- Ask about additional fees for particularly heavy items, flights of stairs, time over the quote, etc.
- Keep as many non-perishable pantry staples as possible
- Alert your credit card if you’ll be moving far from home – you wouldn’t want your moving spending to seem like suspicious activities
During the Move
- Book hotel stays ahead of time
- Use a gas price budgeter to estimate fuel prices if you have a long drive ahead of you
- Have cash on hand for tips
After the Move
- Find affordable local restaurants to get easy dinners and explore your new surroundings
- Make a list of priority supplies you need, and stick to it
- Update your address across accounts, switch banks, get new license plates, sign up for a new gym membership