This article marks the beginning of an occasional series of articles in which Mary will highlight some offbeat ideas to keep more money in your pocket.
Psychologists say that moving to a new home ranks with divorce and death as one of life's most stressful events. It's also one of the most expensive. In fact, if you want to protect your bank account, don't move.
I can say this from experience, having moved like a modern nomad through a desert of low-wage jobs throughout my 20s. I've purchased enough mops, dish drains, and halogen lamps to furnish an entire apartment building. One year, I had to file tax returns for three different states. I even took a hit on my credit report for a lost bill that took three months to arrive in my mailbox.
Pick every new apartment or house as though it will be your last, and you may cut some unnecessary relocations out of your future and save thousands of dollars over your lifetime. The cost of moving just gets steeper as you get older and accrue more responsibilities ... and more stuff. Consider the following points.
- Renters can expect to plunk down a security deposit at each new apartment, with varying levels of guarantees that they'll ever get it back. Even though I probably got 90% of my security deposits back from my numerous apartment rentals, that missing 10% still adds up to hundreds of lost dollars.
- Preparing your home for sale can be an expensive proposition. A new coat of paint in a few rooms won't cost a lot, but any necessary repair work may get expensive. It's also not uncommon for home sellers to update the bathrooms or kitchen, in hopes of fetch a higher asking price. But studies have shown that you rarely recoup 100% of your remodeling costs.
- If you're like most people, you'll probably end up paying for two homes for a few months just to keep a roof over your head. That's a risk, especially for those who find themselves forced to move suddenly. Even if you choose to rent out your old home, it can often take a month or two for you to find a tenant.
- Buying a new home isn't cheap. Bankrate reported last year that the average closing cost runs buyers $3,024. And that doesn't even include county recording fees, or costs such as insurance and property taxes that often get paid at closing.
- You can't live in a house without electricity, gas, and water. I've paid hundreds in utility hook-up fees with each move. Funny -- I've never once seen a utility worker actually hook up the service.
- Buying a bigger and better house doesn't just get you more square footage. It also means higher utility bills, more rooms to furnish, more windows to dress, fancier appliances to replace, higher property taxes, more expensive insurance ... you get the drift. When you upgrade your house, you upgrade all of the expenses that come along with it.
- Here's hoping you can pack all of your belongings into your car, my favorite method of moving for many years. If not, start plying your friends with promises of free pizza and beer if they'll give you a hand with their own muscles and vehicles. If you do need a professional mover, which can be money well spent, expect the bill to hit four figures. You'll pay even more if you ask the moving company to pack for you.
- Is it just me, or does everyone dread that first trip to Wal-Mart or Target after moving in to a new home? When you add them all up, the cleaning supplies, light bulbs, and condiments always cost a lot more than you expect.
There you have it. Hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars' worth of good reasons not to move.
Of course, you may be in a situation that leaves you no choice but to pack up your old record collection and head across the country. If so, read on for some suggestions that may help you cut the price of your next move.
Wal-Mart is an Inside Value recommendation.