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The Hidden Costs of Moving


If you have made a big move sometime in your life, you may know that moving can be expensive. If you are looking at one of the many long distance moving companies, and decide to travel across the country like Derek and Mrs. LAMF did in February, you should be aware of the hidden costs of moving. While some professional movers can cost you an arm and a leg, this company can help you save both time and money. However, have you ever considered the other financial burdens that a significant relocation can carry? My wife and I made a huge trip across the country about two years ago so that I could go to grad school. I know from first hand experience the hidden expenses that come with a big move.

Costs Before the Big Move

If you are moving to an unfamiliar place, either for school or a new job, this can leave you with a lot of extra fees. It is one thing to be moving to where you have family or that you’ve been to before. It’s an entirely different ballgame to go into unfamiliar territory. This requires intense ‘recon’ work. It requires you to make a pre-move trip out to find where you will be living and perhaps even interview for jobs. Here are the fees you should expect for the preliminary trip out to the new destination:

  • Transportation Fees: Is it close enough to drive? If so, you are out gas money. If not, you could be looking at airplane tickets and the fee for a rental car. Having some sort of means of getting around other than public transportation is absolutely necessary when you are trying to cram in a lot of appointments.
  • Hotel: If you don’t have friends in the area, you are left with very little options for housing. Most likely, you are stuck getting a hotel for the nights that you are there. This can be quite expensive, depending on the area. Planning as much ahead of time and having multiple appointments per day can be well worth it if it means not paying for an extra night in the hotel.
  • Food: Between having a full schedule and staying a hotel, you are forced to eat out. Again, this adds up fast!
  • Down payment: Regardless of whether you are renting or buying, you will need a down payment for your new place. This requires you to have a decent amount of cash available. Not having this can make your entire trip worthless. Make sure to plan ahead and have this money ready to go!

Costs After the Big Move

Once you returned from your trip to scout the new area for jobs and housing, the next step is the big move. The costs of the actual move seem pretty obvious as I mentioned. The gas and fees associated with either hiring movers or renting a u-haul. However, the costs of relocating do not stop there. After the move, you are still faced with lots of expenses. Here’s what you can expect:

  • New Furnishings: You may be able to take a lot of your furniture from your old apartment, but living in a new apartment or home requires that you buy different items to make if feel like home. If you are starting from scratch (maybe just out of college), your expenses will be higher, but you can be creative. I was able to furnish my apartment for $600 when I got my first place after college.
  • Dining Out: Moving in doesn’t stop when the u-haul arrives at the new place. Unpacking takes days or even weeks if you have other things to do at the same time. This effort to unpack often takes most of your free time. One of the easiest ways to make up on time is to eat out. Eating out certainly takes its toll on your budget though. If you’re not careful, this can add up fast!

Understanding the hidden costs that will come in your next move is the first step to avoid them. Don’t let the hidden costs sneak up on you and force you into a difficult financial position.

What are some ways you have kept your moving expenses to a minimum?

This post was written by Corey, a staff writer from 20’s Finances. He blogs about saving money and planning for your future. Follow @20sfinances on twitter for updates.



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Most of my moves were right after school and were from apartment to apartment. We always just moved ourselves so the costs were usually the rental truck and some pizza for our helpers. Deposits from the previous place went back into our pockets to take care of a new deposit although there was the time lag.

    • That’s a great way to do it CFM. Yes, it can be much cheaper to do it yourself and have friends come help. Good thinking.

  2. I have been lucky to have family help a lot when I have moved. I have used movers for really large stuff but for all the little things family helped. It saved me a bundle.

    • That’s fantastic! Family is the best way to save a few dollars. It also allows for some quality time.

  3. Good topic! I’ve always found that “random Home Depot” costs are through the roof right after a move.

    We kept moving costs low by using a UHaul for all the little stuff. The moving company rates were good for the major items, but anything minor we packed without professional help.

    • That sounds like a great compromise, AverageJoeMoney.

  4. When I was single, I moved all my boxes myself and usually found some guys from church to help me move the furniture.

    Course, that was never across country, more like a mile or two distance. 😉

    • That sounds great. It’s always nice to have people to help you. Your right though, there is a difference when you are moving somewhere completely new.

  5. The government moved me after I left the army and a company moved me out West. I only moved locally on my own. Moving is a huge disruption in your life.

    • Agreed. Moving is a huge change of pace. It definitely takes time to adjust. I now understand why so many people avoid it.

  6. So true about the hidden costs of moving such as paints, furnishings, new furniture, etc. Like Krantcents says, moving is a huge disruption in your life.

    • Yes, the hidden costs can sneak up on you. Calculating the disruption is equally important as well.

  7. We moved cross country a few years ago, and I wish we would have sold our furniture before the move. Yes, we would have started over, but I think the cash investment would have been the same (less gas without a U-haul.

    • Yes, sometimes it can be better to do that. To me, it just depends on the price of the furniture to see if it is worth it.

  8. First, it’s always a good idea to sort through your stuff before moving so you could potentially get rid of some stuff and have less to move this way; I know I’ve used this strategy. 🙂 Unfortunately, some people buy boxes to pack their stuff 🙁 … a great way to get free boxes is to call your local stores such as grocery stores, Target, Walmart, etc. It’s a great saver if you don’t already have boxes. Boxes at moving truck pick-up locations can really add up!

    • I like the idea of getting rid of stuff! My wife and I did that before we moved. We actually got rid of all our furniture (tables, chairs, sofa, love seat, etc.) to save on moving costs. Plus, we ended up moving into a fully-furnished apartment! It was awesome!

  9. P.S. You can call stores to ask if they have any extra boxes (sometimes these come from their deliveries) or you can even go to the stores and ask at customer service (they will check in the back for you or get someone to do this). I had good luck with my grocery store. Anything that is not fragile can always fit in a trash bag 😛

    • Yep. I’ve actually done this with office supply stores too. Most of the time, they’ll give you all the boxes you want. 😉

  10. We kept moving costs low by using a UHaul for all the little stuff. The moving company rates were good for the major items, but anything minor we packed without professional help.

  11. This is really a helpful read. Very practical and straightforward. Most people don’t realise the hidden costs of moving that just sneak up on you before and after the move.

    Mike @ Relocation – Always Moving Stuff | Sydney’s Premium Removalist for All Your Moving, Removals and Storage Needs

    • Glad you liked it! 🙂

  12. While moving to a long distance, it is always better to prepare foods. Foods are always expensive at any kind of hotels and you may not get the good quality food as homemade foods. Those tips were really great. 🙂

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