There are a lot of reasons that moving can become overwhelming. It can also become an expensive endeavor. Thankfully, you can save money and stay on top of your budget with proper planning.

There are a lot of factors to consider when planning your moving budget. Moving locally can range anywhere from $300 to $1,000, depending on the details of your move. A long-distance move can cost $2,500 to $5,000 or more depending on variables such as the distance you’ll be traveling and how much you’re transporting.

Let us help you budget wisely for your move, so you don’t get caught with any surprises.

Assess Your Inventory

%name How to Budget Wisely for a Move

Before you can do anything else, you need to see what you have and what’s coming with you. You can’t start to collect quotes from movers and assess the costs of packing and moving your things if you don’t know what items you have.

You can easily list the bigger or more obvious items like pieces of furniture, big appliances, and gardening equipment. Feel free to start there if you’d like to list the easy stuff. Then, go room by room in your home and make a note of everything you’re taking. Dishware, linens, clothing, kids toys, lamps… add it all to the list.

You don’t need to get so specific that you count how many pairs of socks you have. But you should be clear enough that it’s obvious just how much stuff is coming with you.

Create a Budget Template

There’s no need to be a computer wiz or find a fancy budgeting program to write up a moving budget. You can use a simple piece of paper or a spreadsheet to track your moving expense categories and easily keep track.

Here are some critical tips for designing your moving budget template:

    • At the top, add columns for Category and Cost
    • In the first column, add three sections: Professional Movers, Self-Moving, and Other
    • As you determine costs and budget, you’ll fill in the associated costs under each of the appropriate categories. Consider:
      • Moving Fees
      • Packing Services
      • Moving Insurance
      • Specialty or Extra Services
  • Subtotal
    • Add a bit of a buffer – we recommend 5% at minimum

Once you’ve factored in each of these items on your list, you’ll have a good idea of the comparative costs of each type of move to help you decide.


%name How to Budget Wisely for a Move

Devote some time to researching to understand both what you need and the going rates in your area. Once you’ve done your inventory assessment, you’ll be better prepared to evaluate your options and begin to collect quotes.

Estimates consider a few factors, such as:

  • Your Mover’s Base Moving Fee – most movers have a base rate that they start with before factoring in the specifics of your move.
  • Fees for Specialty Items – If you’re moving large or specialty items such as a pool table, piano, safe, antique furniture, or large pieces of art, you’ll likely see an extra fee on your quote. These items require particular expertise and equipment to move safely.
  • Moving Insurance – Moving companies are required by law to offer basic insurance coverage at a minimum. This is most often valuation insurance, which will repay you for loss or damage. This option will be free of charge, but it will cost you if you want more comprehensive coverage.

Basic Costs to Consider

Professional Movers

While it’s tempting to opt for a DIY move in an attempt to save money, hiring a mover can be less expensive. As movers charge by the hour, you can organize yourself – and your things – in advance to help save time and money.

  • Moving rates/fees
  • Moving insurance
  • Packing services
  • Moving specialty items
  • Hidden costs (such as damage claims, delays, tips, fees for complicated entry, etc.)
  • Unpacking services

Add these items to your moving budget under your Professional Movers header.

Plan to Save and Earn

%name How to Budget Wisely for a Move

To balance out your budget, it’s helpful to plan not only for how much you plan to save but how much you can earn along the way.

While your day-to-day expenses carry on during your move planning, you can also cut some extra expenses out to save a bit of extra money. Eating out or splurging on little things can wait for your new neighborhood if having more cash will help make your move easier on you. It’s worth it in the long run.

When it comes to packing materials, give some thought to how you’d like to approach the move. You can save money by getting free used boxes from the local grocery, liquor, or book stores which will cut your expenses. You can also invest in plastic storage boxes which not only help with your move but double as storage and protective boxes in your new place.

Save on packing materials by using clothes, rags, or towels to pad your fragile items. You can also use suitcases, duffel bags, and dresser drawers to transport items without using boxes.

Of course, while you go through the process, it’s not all spend-spend-spend. There may be chances to earn a little money, too. Will all of your furniture fit in your new place, or could you sell some pieces? Are you moving somewhere warmer and have winter clothes that won’t end up in your wardrobe rotation? Maybe you can take them to consignment. Those must-have small kitchen appliances that have hardly made it out of their boxes? Try Facebook Marketplace and see if you can recoup some funds.

Have a Buffer

When you’re budgeting for your next move, don’t max yourself out with your estimates. Oftentimes no matter how thoroughly we plan, things happen. Surprise costs show up or we missed something we need and now have to pay for it. Make sure you factor in a bit of a buffer with your estimates to protect you from any overage.

Review Additional Costs

%name How to Budget Wisely for a Move

There are a few additional moving costs that you may not have considered. Are any of these questions relevant to you? If you answer yes to any of them, consider the cost.

  • Do you have kids? Do you need to pay for childcare during your move?
  • Do you have pets? Do you need to pay for a pet sitter or kennel?
  • Will you need a professional cleaner? Particularly if you’re renting, a professional cleaner can save you time and ensure you receive your deposit back.
  • Are you taking time off work to complete your move? Will you miss any pay for this time, and how will that affect your moving budget?

When creating a moving budget, it’s important to consider the bigger picture and take all of the costs into account.