CFI Blog

Moving Costs You Didn’t Think About

Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new
–John Milton

As you know, we recently moved from Virginia to Texas. Being the diligent financial planner that I am, I budgeted for the move, and we set aside money each month so that when the move came, we could pay for the move with cash.

That was well and good had I only accounted for all of the expenses which actually fall under the rubric of moving. Instead, I figured out the cost of the movers fairly accurately and completely shut off any brain cells which might have been shouting loudly to me in their little squeaky brain cell voices: “That’s not all!”

Learn from my mistakes.

Let’s Play List the Moving Costs!

Let’s Play List the Moving Costs!

 If you’re deciding to up sticks and move somewhere and you don’t have an employer paying for it (thank you very much, Army, for most of my previous moves), then there are a lot of items to account for. Here are the ones I can think of, and I doubt that this is a complete list!

  • The movers. If you’re going to rent two guys and a truck, then you’ll probably get an all-included price for your move. This will include, if you desire, packing, loading, driving, unloading, and unpacking. The unpacking service is called maid service. You can have any or all of these services done. If you don’t, you may also need to buy the boxes, or do like my mother would do, and collect empty boxes from the local grocery store. If you are using a major chain for moving, then the price is probably not negotiable, and if you’re using a local company, then you can haggle on the price. Regardless of who you use, it’s probably worth trying. On the other hand, if you’re using friends and family to move, you’re still going to want to pay them something, even if it’s pizza and beer. Don’t go cheap on the beer; otherwise, you may find your great great grandmother’s prized china packed with the dust bunnies you’d been storing underneath the guest bed.
    Also, don’t forget to contact your insurance carrier about coverage for your household goods while they’re in transit. You don’t want to file a claim if one plate gets broken, but you do want to be covered if the truck goes into a river and you lose everything.
  • Gas for the drive. If you’re driving the truck yourself, you need to account for gas for the truck. If you’re driving your own vehicle(s), you want to account for the gas to get to your destination. We wound up spending nearly $400 on gas to get two cars halfway across the country.
  • Acceleration of car maintenance. You might have to do an oil change, get tires rotated, or do an alignment early because of the additional wear and tear that you’re putting on your car(s).
  • Food and lodging for the drive. We broke up our trip into three segments, meaning that we stayed overnight in hotels for two nights. We also had to eat, and while we packed oatmeal bars and drinks, we stopped for lunch and dinner.
  • Carrying costs for one or both locations. If you rent, then you may have to eat a day or two of empty rental space or pay an early break fee. If you own, then you may not be able to sell your house and move into a new one on the same day. If you can’t, then you’ll have to pay one or two mortgages for residences you’re not occupying.
  • Getting both locations into move in ready condition. It’s rare that you’ll buy a place that’s exactly how you want it, and it’s rare that you’ll leave a place in pristine condition. If you’re a renter, again, this might not be as big of an issue. If you’re handy, it also may not be a big deal, as you’ll only need to buy supplies and you can use your Tooltime Tim skills to fix anything. Since I’m only good enough to change the oil in my car and to hit a tank with a tanker bar as hard as I can, I have to get professional help lest I cause significant damage.

This was the expense that seemed to really creep up on me. I mentally underestimated the amount it would take to get our new place into the condition that we wanted it to be in so that it would feel more homey. Happy wife = happy home, so this was a cost I was willing to bear!

  • New furniture and home supplies. Our old place had a lot of shelving and storage space, even though it was a smaller condo. Our larger house did not, so we wound up short on places to put our clothes and files. Our loss was Lowes’ gain.
  • Gap in a paycheck. If you’re moving to a new job and quitting your old job, chances are that you’ll go for at least a little bit of time without getting a paycheck. You’ll need to account for that break in income as well, since you’ll still need to eat and keep the lights on while you’re waiting to start the new job.
  • Deposits. While this isn’t an actual expense, since, hopefully, you’ll get your money back, it is a cash flow issue. Landlords usually take one and sometimes two months of rent as a deposit. The water company takes a deposit. The electric company sometimes takes a deposit. Pretty soon, the deposits add up

Monkey Brain was all over my move. I practiced avoidance every day because I didn’t want to think about (and therefore, budget) all of the other expenses. So, instead of budgeting all along for all of the expenses from the point when we’d decided to move until we actually moved, I only budgeted for the movers. As a result, I winced every time we had to write another check to pay for an expense I hadn’t accounted for Monkey Brain even beats financial planners sometimes.

Did I miss any moving expenses? What moving horror stories do you have? If you need a recommendation for a mover in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, let me know.

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John Davis
John Davis is a nationally recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring, and identity theft. He has written four books about his expertise in the field and has been featured extensively in numerous media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS News, CNBC, Fox Business, and many more. With over 20 years of experience helping consumers understand their credit and identity protection rights, John is passionate about empowering people to take control of their finances. He works with financial institutions to develop consumer-friendly policies that promote financial literacy and responsible borrowing habits.

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