Moving: How Much Will It Cost You?

Who to Call to Get the Best Information

► At least three real estate or rental agents. Ask them to research home prices for you.

► The local newspaper. Temporarily subscribe to your future hometown journal. The classifieds will clue you in to home prices and jobs. You can also get a good idea of the cost of living in your future location by perusing grocery and department store flyers.

► If you are moving for a new job, ask if your employer offers a concierge service that will make calls on your behalf to line up realtors, moving companies, or air travel. 

Maybe you’ve considered whether it makes more sense for you to remodel or move and “move” is the right answer. Or perhaps you just accepted the perfect job ─ 1,000 miles away. Whatever the reason, you have to nail down how much this move is going to cost. But where do you begin?

First, you need to get an accurate picture of your expenses in the new location. If you don’t know where you’ll be living, you must look for a new home or at least a rental from which to launch your new home search.

But it isn’t just the new mortgage and property taxes you must consider. Be sure to investigate the bills you will incur year-round. Are you moving to a town where cable television is extremely expensive? Is there a palatable, but less expensive, alternative such as a satellite dish? How much does gas and heating fuel cost? If energy prices are high, is there access to reliable public transportation?

Most folks underestimate what their new life in a new location will cost. To be prepared, use the worksheet below and fine tune it to your needs. First add up your income, including salaries and investments. Then add up your future expenses, using the worksheet below as a guide. Estimate as accurately as you can. From your total income, subtract your net expenses. Do the same for your current location and compare your results. This will show you whether your new lifestyle will cost you more, less, or remain about the same.

Estimate Your New Lifestyle


Monthly mortgage or rent



  Security deposit  


  Condo fees  


  Homeowners insurance  










  Trash collection  


  Property taxes  



  Commuting cost, parking  





  Auto insurance  


  Auto maintenance  


  Auto registration fees  


Everyday expenses








  Restaurant meals  


  Lawn service  


  Cable television  


  Hair care  


  Medical care  


  Dental care  


  Kids' activities  


  Pet care (grooming and vet)  


  Family vacations  


  Long-distance phone bills  





You Haul? Or Hire Movers?

According to moving professionals, the average move costs between 10 to 15 percent of the value of your home. You may save money by renting and packing your own truck, but it pays to research your options carefully. How much the move ultimately costs depends on many factors, including the time of year you relocate. Prime moving times are during the summer when children are out of school and at the end of any month. That’s when movers and trucks will be solidly booked and highest priced.  If you have the luxury of waiting, a move during January or February could save a lot of money.

Moving professionals charge around $25 an hour.  The industry is regulated when it comes to interstate transit charges. You can estimate long-distance moving costs with a moving calculator that uses standard industry cost information. Keep in mind, however, that each company adds charges for various circumstances, such as moving furniture down stairs, carrying boxes more than 75 feet from the main door, and moving large items like pianos. Make sure you ask movers about all the charges you may incur.

If you decide to move yourself, don’t overlook “hidden” charges. Beyond the cost of the truck, you need to make a list of expenses associated with extra equipment such as dollies, furniture pads, and packing material.  And what about gas for the truck, as well as lodging, if you will be traveling for more than a day? Also include the cost of keeping your possessions in temporary storage while you figure out what to do with all your stuff. Plus the cost of corporate lodging if your new home isn’t ready when you are.

When getting estimates from professional movers or from self-service rental truck companies, make sure the companies are licensed and listed with your local Better Business Bureau. Ask for references and check them out. Moving is stressful enough when everything goes smoothly. You don’t want to fall prey to a fly-by-night operation that damages your most valuable possessions.