Housing Finances

Unpacking the Real Costs of Moving

After 13 years, two kids and one dog, my husband and I recently decided it was time to move into a new home. While moving is often an exciting new beginning, it’s also regarded as one of life’s most stressful events. From my experience moving this summer, I would have to agree. After signing endless papers, packing countless boxes and facing an ever-growing list of things to pay for, I’m thrilled to share my hard-learned lessons with those of you getting ready to re-locate. So whether you’re moving into a rental or buying that dream home that you’ve been saving up for, here are four tips to help you manage your money and your time during a move.

Save for the Unexpected

Whether it’s first and last month’s rent or a new mortgage, getting a new place can be expensive. However, it’s the unexpected costs that no one prepares you for. When preparing for a move, save not only for the customary costs associated with a move, but for those that may surprise you. These can be little things like having to dine out during a move because all of your food and kitchen utensils are boxed up. Or perhaps all the furniture you adored doesn’t fit in your new place, forcing you to purchase new furnishings. Or if you’re transitioning from renter to home owner, there may be a host of tools and home supplies you’ll now need to purchase. Ask your friends and family about their past unexpected moving costs, and you’ll have a list going in no time.

Pack or Purge

Moving is a great time to take stock of what you have and what you need. Before we packed, my husband and I evaluated everything in our home, from clothes to kids’ toys to home furnishings. We donated bags of clothes to our favorite non-profit and books to the local library. I even consigned some of my kids’ clothes to make a little extra money.

Think of it this way: “spring” cleaning before you move means less you have to pack and potentially less you have to pay to get moved. Once you are in your new place, evaluate your stuff again while you unpack and ask yourself if you really need it.

Moving Company vs. Friends

If you need to hire a moving company, be selective and explicit with what level of service you need. When choosing a moving company, understand what they cover and don’t cover as well as the minimum hours of service required. For example, do they charge for mileage? Do they take furniture upstairs and downstairs? How many movers are you assigning to my move?

We packed all of our own boxes, which saved us a ton of money, and we only hired the movers to help with the heavy furniture. We also rented a moving truck and enlisted the help of friends and family for the day to help us. It allowed us the flexibility to move at our own pace without the costs. And it’s easy to get friends and family to help when you offer them pizza and beer!

Update Your Contact Information

This may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t forget to update your address. You can get started before you move with the United States Postal Service to forward your mail, but it’s also a good idea to inform your employer, doctors, schools and DMV, among others. Don’t forget to update subscriptions as well such as magazines. It’s important to update your address to avoid any lapse in service or payments. And you want to make sure important, confidential documents don’t end up at your old address.