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Moving costs: Useful tips and hidden fees

Many homebuyers are so preoccupied with budgeting for their new home purchase that they forget to factor in moving costs. From packing supplies to transportation and home installations, moving costs add up quickly.

Whether you’re moving around the corner, to a different city or across the country, estimating your moving costs will help you avoid any financial hardships during your move. The best way to get ahead of any surprise expenses is to plan ahead. When you’re putting together your budget, include moving costs during your preliminary planning. You may also want to start packing and making arrangements after your offer is accepted and you’ve received your official move-in date.

What is included in moving costs?

If it’s your first time moving, you might be wondering what’s included in moving costs. In reality, it will depend on how far you’re moving, how much you have and what you may need help with. For example, an individual moving from one apartment to another will likely need less help than a family moving homes. Despite these technicalities, here’s moving expenses list to keep in mind when creating your moving budget:

  • Moving supplies. Boxes, tape, packing peanuts — anything you’d need to safely package your items for the move. This can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 on average depending on how much stuff you have and whether or not you already have some supplies on hand.
  • Cleaning service costs. Before moving to your next house, you’ll want to do a deep cleaning of your current home. You can do this yourself or hire a professional service to do the dirty work for you. Cleaning services usually charge per square foot, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 for a heavy duty apartment or house clean.
  • Physical moving costs. Whether you’re renting a truck or using a moving company, this includes any hired help to help move heavy objects like furniture or appliances.
  • Packing services. If you hire a moving company, they’ll often offer a packing service for an additional cost. 

Budgeting for your move may be more expensive than expected, especially if you're looking to use a full-service moving company. Don’t forget to budget for a cleaning service if that is something you’re interested in as well. As mentioned, the prices for each service will vary depending on your location, what you’re looking to move and the size of your home.

What’s the average moving cost?

According to Home Advisor, the cost of packing a home ranges from $270 to $2,200, with an average of $1,000. This includes materials and labor to packing boxes and furniture. A lot of the time people hire a moving company for the whole kit and kaboodle — packing, moving and unpacking. Hiring a pro to pack and unpack runs from $370 to $3,600.

Unexpected moving costs to keep an eye out for

Outside of standard moving costs like supplies and transportation, other unexpected costs may pop up along the way. For example, some condominiums and apartment buildings charge a moving service fee. They may require new tenants to use a special service elevator or for management to help supervise the move. It’s key to find out these details after closing.

The bottom line

Moving to a new place will inevitably carry a cost. Deciding what you are and aren’t willing to spend money on will help you both estimate and optimize your moving costs. Leaving money in your budget to cover these costs is key to a stress-free move. If you’re lucky, there may even be some funds left over from your budget to treat yourself.

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