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Creating a budget may not be the most exciting part of moving, but this step is crucial to ensuring a smooth and stress-free transition. Whether you’re planning a quick local move or a complicated cross-country relocation, it’s important to account for every expense. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to create a realistic moving budget that includes everything from obtaining packing materials to hiring professional moving services. We even provide a budgeting template to get you started.
Determine Your Moving Inventory
Creating a moving budget should be high on your moving checklist, but it’s not the first step. Before diving into financial considerations, take the time to inventory your belongings. A detailed moving inventory will help you decide what size moving truck or container you’ll need for a DIY move. If you decide to hire professional movers, having this inventory ready will help you obtain an accurate quote.
To create your moving inventory, go room to room and make a list of all the items you plan to bring with you to your new home. Organize the list into categories, such as furniture and electronics. Make note of any particularly fragile, valuable, or heavy items that may require special handling.
Declutter as you go. If you run across any items you no longer want or need, consider selling or donating them. Whether you hire professional movers or go the DIY route, paring down your belongings will save you time and money on moving day. Less stuff means a smaller truck or storage unit, fewer packing supplies, and lower moving costs.
Assess Your Moving Expenses
Once you have your moving inventory, use it to assess your needs and expenses. We’ve listed the most common moving expenses below:
- Moving company: If you plan to hire professional movers, a big chunk of your moving budget will go toward paying them. Be sure to factor in extra fees for stairs, elevators, and long carrying distances, as well as for bulky, heavy, or delicate items, such as pianos.
- Moving truck or container: If you are planning a DIY move, your budget should account for container or truck rental fees.
- Insurance: Consider purchasing moving insurance to protect your belongings and/or cover damage to the rental truck.
- Packing supplies: Factor in the cost of packing materials and moving supplies, such as cardboard boxes, packing tape, and bubble wrap.
- Travel expenses: Your moving budget should include any travel expenses you might incur during the moving process. Depending on how far you are moving, this might include gas, airfare, hotel accommodations, and meals.
- Storage fees: Determine whether you will need a short- or long-term storage solution. For instance, you may need a small storage unit for seasonal decorations, or you may need somewhere to put your belongings while you finish renovating your new home.
- Security deposit: If you are renting a new property, include the cost of your security deposit and any application or administrative fees.
- Utility and connection fees: Many companies charge new customers a security deposit or connection fee to set up electricity, water, gas, internet, or cable service.
- Cleaning fees: If you plan to have your old home or your new home professionally cleaned, include the cost of that service.
- Childcare or pet sitting: Consider hiring a babysitter to keep an eye on the kids while you pack or unpack. You may also need to board your pet at a kennel for a few days during the transition.
- Additional services: Decide what, if any, additional services you need. The best local and long-distance moving companies offer a variety of professional services, including full or partial packing, vehicle relocation, and furniture assembly.
- Emergency fund: Create a catch-all fund for additional costs and unexpected expenses.
Create Your Moving Budget
Follow these steps to create a realistic budget for your move.
- Assess your finances. Review your current finances to determine how much you are willing and able to put toward your move. Consider your income, savings, and any other financial obligations.
- Determine your needs. Clarify the specifics of your move, including the distance to your new home, your moving inventory, and any special services you require.
- List potential expenses. Create a comprehensive list of the items and services you need to budget for. We have listed several examples above. You can also consult the blogs and resources offered by reputable local or interstate moving companies.
- Research costs. Gather as much information as possible about moving costs, including the factors that affect pricing. Research average moving costs for the time of year you’re moving and determine any seasonal discounts.
- Request moving quotes. Request a free quote from at least three moving or truck rental companies. Price out what your move would cost if you rented a truck or portable storage container versus if you hired a full-service moving company.
- Give yourself a buffer. Set aside a little extra money to cover emergencies, unforeseen expenses, hidden costs, and price fluctuations.
- Monitor and make adjustments. Keep track of your actual expenses as you go and adjust your budget accordingly. If one category goes over budget, look for opportunities to make up the difference elsewhere.
We’ve included a moving budget template below. Yours can be as simple or as detailed as you’d like. At a minimum, you need two columns: one for expense categories and one for estimated costs. You can add or remove subcategories to suit your needs. You might also include a “notes” column to keep track of due dates, receipts, confirmation numbers, and other important payment details.
Creating a realistic moving budget takes time and research, but it is well worth the effort. A detailed budget and moving inventory will empower you to make informed decisions and avoid unpleasant surprises. Be thorough and tailor the template above to fit the specifics of your move. Then, track your actual expenses, make adjustments, and keep an eye out for cost-saving opportunities.
Moving Budget FAQ
How do I financially prepare for a move?
Follow these steps to financially prepare for a move:Start planning and saving well in advance.Assess your finances and create a moving budget.Declutter and downsize to save money.Compare quotes from multiple providers to find the best deal.Review insurance policies and purchase additional coverage if needed.Build up an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses.
What are the best ways to save and earn extra money for a move?
Here are the best ways to save and earn extra money for a move:Cash in rewards points or use member discounts.Cut back on discretionary spending for a few months.Look for freelance opportunities.Rent out space in your home.Sell items you no longer need or want.Start a side hustle in your free time.Take a temporary, seasonal, or part-time job.
What are some common moving expenses that people forget to include in their budget?
Here are some common moving expenses that people forget to include in their budgets:Cleaning servicesFees for specialty itemsHousehold essentialsMoving insuranceNew or replacement itemsPacking materialsTips for the moversTravel expensesUtility connection fees