7 Hidden Expenses You'll Face When Moving

by Maurie Backman | Aug. 31, 2019

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Factor these costs into your moving budget to avoid getting caught off guard.

Happy couple in new home

Image source: Getty Images

Whether you're moving for a job, to be closer to family, or to simply get a change of scenery, you can generally count on it being expensive. These days, the average in-state move costs about $2,300, according to the American Moving and Storage Association, while the average interstate move will run you more like $4,300. 

Now you probably know to budget for certain items relating to your move, like actual movers and packing supplies. But before you get too comfortable with the number you land on, be aware that these hidden costs might creep up on you as well. 

1. Storage fees

If you're moving to a home that's at all smaller than your current space, you may not have room for all of your belongings or furniture. And if you're not ready to throw those things away, you'll need to pay to have them stored. A storage unit could cost you up to $300 a month, depending on its size, and in some cases, you'll need to sign a contract where you commit to a certain length of time for that rental. Be sure to price out your options in advance to score the best possible deal.

2. Stair fees

It stands to reason that it's more difficult to lug boxes and furniture up stairways than it is to use an elevator. If your current or new home requires your moving company to climb stairs repeatedly, you may get charged a premium for it. Be sure to ask about stair fees when you talk to moving companies about estimates, because the last thing you want is several hundred dollars (or more) added to your tab unexpectedly. 

3. Oversized item fees

You generally won't pay a surcharge for standard furniture items or boxes. But if you have certain items that are extremely large, bulky, or hard to maneuver, you may get charged a fee to have them hauled. For example, it's common for moving companies to charge extra to move pianos, so if you have one, prepare to pay up. 

4. Takeout meals

It's difficult, if not impossible, to prepare food at home when your kitchen is all packed up. That's why you'll need to pad your moving budget to include several days of takeout or delivery meals. Chances are, you won't want to wait till the last minute to transfer your kitchenware into boxes, and so you may need to pay for a couple of days' worth of meals for the front end of your move. Then, once your stuff arrives at your new home, it could take a day or two to get your kitchen unpacked and set up, so plan to order in at that point as well. 

5. Replacing items that aren't worth hauling

In the course of your move, you'll likely come across certain items that just aren't worth taking with you. For example, you may not want to transport that shower curtain that's starting to look grungy, or the trash can with the offensive smell. And you'll probably need to pay to replace at least some of the items you leave behind. 

6. Replacing broken items

In the course of your move, some of your items might break or get damaged. Now in many cases, your moving company's insurance will compensate you for broken belongings, but the amount you receive may not suffice in actually replacing them. For example, if you have a set of six dining room chairs and one gets broken, you might get a check for $100 to replace it. But if that set is no longer made, and you then have to go out and get a whole new dining set for yours to match, that cost will come out of your pocket, unfortunately. 

7. Tips for your movers

It's standard practice to tip movers, especially when they do a good job. But depending on how generous you choose to be and how many movers you have, those tips could really add up. Some people give each mover a flat tip -- say, $20 or $30 per person for a half-day job. Others might tip a certain amount (say, $5 or $10) per hour. Either way, plan on handing over some amount of cash, especially if your movers prove themselves diligent and courteous. 

Chances are, your move will wind up being more expensive than expected. To avoid racking up debt in the course of relocating, pad your savings account in the weeks or months leading up to your move. It'll give you some leeway to absorb those added costs without stress. 

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