Yearly, millions of people relocate. Moving costs are often underestimated because multiple unpredictable expenses pop up at a time when you do not expect them at all. Relocation is a stressful and significant step on its own, so it is easy to overlook some spending patterns. The solution to the problem is in planning. Yes, planning in advance moving expenses will make your relocation less stressful and even help to save some money.
What Are Typical Moving Expenses?
The first thing that comes to mind while talking about moving costs is the moving service fee. Indeed, moving service costs represent a large chunk of your moving budget, but the list includes many other expense items that sum up to a significant amount. What is included in moving expenses? Typical moving costs for both local and long-distance relocation include:
- Moving service costs. These may vary significantly and depend on the type of service you need (full-service movers, truck rental, or moving container)
- Moving insurance
- Storage services
- Building fees
- Fees for shipping a car (for interstate or coast-to-coast moves)
- Packing services (for a DIY move)
- Expenses on personal traveling (transportation, meals, luggage)
Full-service movers usually handle your move from start to finish, and the price includes packing/unpacking, loading and unloading the truck, disassembling and reassembling the furniture, as well as all required moving tools and supplies (bubble wrap, pads, tape, and boxes of all sizes). At first sight, full-service movers seem expensive; however, when you sum up all costs, time, and efforts spent on a DIY move, a full-service move doesn’t appear that costly.
How to Calculate Moving Expenses
The most practical approach to managing all costs associated with your relocation is to make a moving expenses list. Moving costs add up incredibly fast, so the checklist will help you keep organized and avoid last-minute headaches when something unexpected pops up. Include all the categories mentioned above in your moving expenses list. Next, do your online research for movers’ rates, insurance rates, and storage fees.
If you consider hiring a professional moving company, get a free quote to estimate moving costs. Reputable movers offer online calculators that help to get an idea of how much your move can cost. Besides, you can request free in-person or virtual estimation so that a company specialist could make an exact calculation of the size of your move.
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For all types of DIY moves (truck rental, moving container, etc.), you can also use online calculators provided by truck rental companies. Then, add expenses on packing supplies, rental fees for required tools (ramps and dollies), fuel costs, and building and parking fees.
It is impossible to make precise calculations beforehand, so you can add buffering 5%-10% to your estimations.
Despite the long list of estimated moving expenses, you can still save some money:
- Decluttering. Movers charge by weight or volume, so you can get rid of unwanted and not used items before the move to avoid paying for moving the stuff you no longer need. You can donate some items in good condition and throw away broken stuff.
- Make sure to turn off utilities a day or two after you move out. Relocation is stressful enough with so many things to do, so make sure to cancel utilities, no longer necessary subscriptions, and membership in local clubs.
- Schedule your move during the off-peak season. Typically, summer is a high season for moving companies — moving fees in summer are higher and movers have a pretty busy schedule. Try to plan your relocation during the low season (October-November or February-April) and book a moving company in advance — well-known professional movers can be fully booked during the high season. The end of every month and weekends are also considered peak dates.
- If you plan a DIY move, try to get free boxes and packing supplies. Search on Craigslist or local online boards — sometimes people who have just finished their moves offer moving supplies free.
Unexpected Moving Expenses
Even when you follow precisely your moving checklist and arrange a dedicated budget, there will be some unexpected moving expenses.
- Cleaning services. Etiquette rules require leaving your old place clean and organized. Cleaning is often listed in apartment rental agreements and you cannot get your deposit back until the apartment is ready for move-in. You can do the cleaning on your own or hire a cleaning company.
- Tips for movers. A general rule is to tip $4-5 per hour per person. For example, for a 4-5 hour move handled by 2 movers, you should tip every mover by $20 or $25. If you have many heavy furniture items or narrow staircases, you may pay more for hard work. Moving a house usually takes a full day, so you can calculate tips as 5-15% of the total move cost. It would be nice to get ready with cash and tip every mover individually. For long-distance moves, you can have two teams working on different ends of your move, so you should prepare tips for both teams.
- New license and car registration fees if you move to a different state.
- Various fees you will be charged for your new home (utilities and security deposits, insurance, small repairs, pet deposit, parking fees).
Are Moving Expenses Tax Deductible?
Since 2018, the deduction of moving expenses has been suspended until 2025. The exception for deductible moving expenses is granted only to active military staff and their family members (a spouse or dependent family members).
However, California, Arkansas, Massachusetts, and New York residents are lucky because deductible moving expenses are still available for them. These static states haven’t changed their state laws to adapt to federal changes; hence, moving expenses can be excluded.
Note that if an employer reimburses moving costs, “unless the reimbursement was provided by the government for a permanent relocation”, reimbursed moving expenses are now included in the gross income. Previously, reimbursements were excluded from the gross income.
When you keep tracking all costs as given in your moving expenses checklist, you won’t be taken off-guard by unexpected moving costs.