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How Much Does It Cost to Move in the United States?


May 08, 2020 by Matt Frankel, CFP

If you're going to be moving soon, the costs involved can certainly be stressful. But exactly how much does it cost to move?

Unfortunately, just looking at the average cost to move isn't very useful. According to IRS data, the average moving expenses deduction when taxpayers were still allowed to use it (more on that later) was $3,256, based on more than 1.1 million taxpayers who used the deduction in a recent tax year. This includes expenses such as hiring movers, driving vehicles to your new home, supplies, and storage costs, just to name a few possibilities.

While this is the average cost to move, it's important to realize that there is a wide range of potential moving costs you could face. Just to illustrate how much your expenses can vary, consider that a full-service move costs anywhere between $550 and $12,000, according to Move.org.

What expenses should you plan for?

Let's try to answer the question of how much does it cost to move for you. The main reason for the wide range is that not all of the potential moving costs will apply to every situation, and each cost has several variables that could make them small expenses or large ones. With that in mind, here are some of the most common expenses people face when moving.

Hiring a professional moving company

Most people have to choose between hiring professionals to move their belongings or renting a truck themselves. And while hiring movers is certainly the easier way to go, it can be rather expensive to pay for moving services. The average cost of hiring a moving company is $1,250 for an in-state move and $4,890 for an interstate move, according to Moving.com.

However, there are a few big caveats. These figures are based on moving a home with no more than three bedrooms, and the interstate move is based on a distance of 1,000 miles. If you hire movers to move a larger house or moving a long distance can dramatically increase these costs -- obviously, moving a five-bedroom house will cost more than moving the average two-bedroom apartment. One compromise you may want to look into if hiring long distance movers is too expensive is packing services, which are local movers who will help you get everything boxed up for an hourly rate and loaded onto a truck that you'll drive to your new home. You can also hire movers to provide packing services to meet you at your new home to help unpack, effectively taking the chores of packing and unpacking off your hands.

Renting a truck

If you don't want to pay for a professional moving company, you can choose to rent a truck and do it yourself. This is certainly cheaper than professional movers, but it can cost more than you might think. While renting a truck might have a base rate of just $30 to $50 per day, companies like U-Haul typically charge per mile, and for long moves, this can add up quickly. Not to mention, the larger moving trucks don't exactly get excellent gas mileage. As a personal example, when I rented a truck to move from Florida to South Carolina a few years ago, the total charge for the truck itself was in the ballpark of $600, not including fuel, and the truck got about 8 to 10 miles per gallon for the trip.

Buying moving supplies

Things like cardboard boxes or another type of moving container to pack your household items, tape, furniture pads, bubble wrap, and labels aren't expensive individually, but these costs of packing up your belongings can add up. You can try and save money by sourcing many of these items (especially cardboard boxes) from friends and neighbors, but you might be surprised how many you end up needing. And you'll also need to buy or rent a utility dolly to help move furniture and heavy moving containers.

A good rule of thumb is to expect to need about five small moving boxes, five medium moving boxes, three large moving boxes, one roll of packing tape, and a roll of bubble wrap per room. This might not be a huge amount of supplies if you're moving a one-bedroom apartment, but if you're moving, say, a five-bedroom house, this translates to a massive amount of moving supplies you'll need to find or buy.

Moving your vehicles

You'll need to get your vehicle(s) to your new home, so be prepared to account for this cost. If you drive them yourself, you'll have to pay for gas, tolls, and, depending on how far the move is, a hotel room on the way. Or, you could choose to ship your vehicles. According to Consumer Affairs, the cost to hire a company to ship a vehicle can range from $500 to $1,500 depending on the type of vehicle and the distance of the move.

Move-out costs

You might have some costs involved with moving out, such as a deep cleaning of your home. This is especially true if you were a renter and have things you need to repair before you leave for good in order to get your security deposit back from your landlord (typically a month's rent). Be sure to factor these costs into your budget.

Other expenses

Depending on where you live and where you're moving to, there are several other expenses you could face. For example, you can expect to pay a fee to obtain a new driver's license and register your vehicle(s) if you move to a different state, but you won't have to worry about this cost for an in-state move. Or, if there's some in-between time between moving out and moving into your new home, you may need to pay for a storage unit or container to keep your belongings. There can also be costs involved with setting up utility services like electricity and natural gas during a move, as many want a deposit or connection fee, and there also might be charges associated with canceling with your old utility service providers.

Are moving expenses tax deductible?

Unfortunately, no -- in most cases, anyway. Until the 2018 tax year when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was implemented, moving expenses related to long distance moves could be deducted as long as the move was job-related and met certain distance requirements.

However, the point of the tax reform efforts wasn't just to cut taxes but to simplify them. And one of the simplifications was to eliminate the deduction for moving expenses. The only exception is moves by active-duty military personnel, and the expenses you deduct must be related to a permanent change of station.

This new version of the moving expense deduction is currently set to expire after the 2025 tax year, at which point the old rules will go back into effect. However, there's a lot that can happen over the next five years, and there's no guarantee the broader moving expense deduction will actually end up being reinstated.

It's also worth mentioning that this only applies to the federal moving expense deduction. Some states still have moving expense deductions that largely conform to the old (pre-2018) standards, so that may be worth looking into when the time comes.

The Millionacres bottom line

The key takeaway is that there's no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how much it costs to move. There are simply too many variables involved -- a single person moving from one furnished apartment to another in the same area who doesn't need many supplies or local movers could end up spending a few hundred dollars or even less while families moving across the United States who hire movers can easily face a five-figure price tag.

The better question is how much will it cost you to move. Consider the potential expenses listed earlier and how much each one could cost for your situation to get a ballpark estimate of how much you should expect to spend on your next move.

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