How to budget for your move

Homes & real estate
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How to budget for your move

Homes & real estate

Unfortunately, even the best home loans in the world don’t come with complementary moving included. Even worse, “moving” is not simply a case of 1) buy boxes, 2) hire movers, and 3) drive to your new home.

There may be things you need to buy at your new home, things you have to pay for along the way, and things you need to purchase before you can go. Leaving all of these to your memory or a roll-with-it attitude can end up costing you hours of time and hundreds of dollars.

Your budget doesn’t have to be elaborate. There are plenty of moving budget templates available online, and a simple Excel spreadsheet is more than adequate. Even a pocket ledger will do the trick if you’re old school.

Create columns that are listed:

Item/Service              Anticipated Cost                   Actual Cost

From there you can divide your spending into BeforeDuring, and After.

Keep track of each item when you pay for it so you can make adjustments as needed to keep you from overspending.


Packing Supplies
In addition to the aforementioned boxes, you’ll likely want to pick up stretch wrap, packing tape, marking pens, etc.

If you’re not hiring a service you’ll need TSP, rags or sponges, spackle, and spatulas, etc.

Find out if your moving company is tacking on charges for specialty moving gear such as furniture pads, mattress covers, dollies, etc.


Standard Moving Charges
The moving company’s fee will factor in gas and labor and will be the largest expense, so you’ll definitely want to shop around. One recommendation is to use the highest quote for your budget. That way, you’ll know the most that you’ll be charged.

Non-standard Moving Charges
These include any insurance you may want to purchase, extra services such as boxing up your belongings for you, moving a piano, fast delivery or an extra long trip, etc.

Personal Costs
If your new home is across the city, these costs may be no more than some pizza and beer to bribe for your friends to come to help you pack.

If you’re moving across the state or country, however, you’ll want to factor in gas, food, and lodging, or plane tickets, rental cars, etc.

If there’s a gap between your old and new homes, your stuff may have to go into storage, and you into a hotel.


  • Are there any items you’ll need at your new home that you don’t currently own such as a shower curtain, new appliances, gardening equipment, etc.?
  • Will you need to pay a deposit to set up any utilities?
  • Are there any taxes or fees that need to be paid such as property tax or HOA dues that you’ll need to cover within the first few weeks?

Once you’ve got a rough idea of what your big move is going to run you, include another row at the bottom for Contingencies and add at least 5% to the sub-total.

That’s your estimated budget.

Tips on Trimming Moving Expenses

Packing. Do it yourself and you can save a lot of money.

Even better, create a code that will indicate which room each box goes in so the movers can clear the van as fast as possible. Alternatively, they can bring everything into one location such as the garage and you can use your system from there.

Timing. If possible, plan your move for between autumn through spring. Movers are booked up and more expensive during the sunny, snow-free summer.

Insurance. If your credit card company covers moving, that’s one more cost trimmed.

Disassemble As Much As Possible.

  • Beds and furniture
  • Leaves from tables
  • Drawers from dressers (Bonus tip: use stretch wrap to transport everything in the drawer as is.)
  • Pictures from the wall and wrap them for travel
  • Shelves from cabinets and refrigerators

Collect All the Cords. Paper towel and toilet paper rolls are fantastic cord wranglers. Use painters tape to label what goes with what. (Bonus tip: take photos of how everything is set up before so you can easily re-set up after.)

Box Up As Much As Possible. Lamps, knick-knacks, and objets d’art can be moved faster and more safely if they’re in boxes. Let your rule of thumb be: If it can fit in a box, it goes in a box.

Lend a Helping Hand. Liability will likely keep you from being able to go into the truck, but you should still be able to take boxes out and leave them by the side of it.