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How Much Should You Save to Move?

Derek McKinney

Most people feel a little overwhelmed at the very thought of moving to a new home. Between packing, figuring out logistics, and making decisions about everything from hiring and tipping movers to decluttering your possessions, it’s certainly a lot to contemplate. And that’s before you even get to one of the most important moving-related questions: how much is all of this going to cost?

A quick online search will turn up a range of average prices based on average homes and average distances, but, perhaps frustratingly, the real answer is: it depends. Once you factor in your unique circumstances, including all the details of how, where, and when you plan to move, you might arrive at an estimated cost of anywhere from $200 to $10,000. The reason the range is so broad is that so many factors go into determining the price of any individual relocation. These include how far you and your belongings are traveling, how much stuff you own, whether or not you use professional movers, and the cost of living in your region. It also takes into account the nearly endless variety of expenses any particular move might involve – for example, driving cross-country, shipping boxes, renting a storage unit, staying in temporary housing until your new place is ready, and so on.

If you’re feeling even more overwhelmed now, don’t worry. We created this guide to take the guess work out of making a moving budget. In it, we’ll describe the factors you need to consider and help you figure out, based on your own circumstances, how much you need to save to move.

Cost of Moving Expenses

The first set of expenses to consider are the more obvious (and less obvious) costs of moving itself: transporting you and your things to your new location. Not every one of these costs will apply to you, of course, and you may have different additional expenses due to your situation. So picture your personal move, not a generic move, as you add up these budget items.


Many people rent a storage unit when they move, with plans to store some items there either temporarily (say, while their new house is being painted) or longer-term (perhaps while they rent an apartment and search for a house to buy.) The costs associated with a storage unit include not just the rent (different sizes and types of storage unit will have different monthly rates) but getting items in and out of the unit. If movers are transporting your household items to the storage unit and your home, that will cost more. If you’ll need to hire movers to clear out the unit in the future, that, too, is a cost you’ll have to plan for.

Moving Service

There are many options between a full service moving company (i.e., one who packs your home, transports your stuff on their truck, and unpacks at the new location) and a fully DIY move. You may choose to pack yourself but rent a truck. You may rent a pod that’s packed by you and transported by professionals. You may hire a crew to load and unload your boxes but drive the truck yourself. All of these options come with different prices, and even within those categories, the final price can vary widely depending on your location and circumstances.

Transportation Costs

Whether you’re driving your own car or a rented truck, flying, or using any other means of transportation, there will be costs associated with the trip. Try to figure out the price of fuel, tolls, plane tickets, and any other transportation-related charges as well as you can before the actual move.

Moving Supplies

This includes boxes, tape, packing materials, and anything else you need to physically pack up your things. You can probably find much of this for free or at a discount, but think about whether you’ll need specialized boxes (e.g. wardrobe boxes or mirror boxes) which you’ll likely have to buy new. If you’re using a moving company, these supplies may be included; though that option will of course make the service more expensive.


If you’re moving with a pet, your expenses may or may not increase. But while transporting your cat across town in your own car is free, flying your dog across the country will cost you. So, perhaps, will seeking out pet-friendly hotels on a long drive or paying vet bills and fees to make sure your pet’s vaccines are updated and paperwork is in order. Figure out what moving your pet entails and budget for everything whether that means extra food, a new carrier, or additional airline fees.

Extra Moving Charges

Keep in mind those extra little costs you might not immediately associate with moving. For example, you may choose to purchase additional insurance to cover you in case of damage to your belongings during the move. You’ll probably have to tip some people too, whether that’s your movers (remember that each person on the crew should get a tip, even if different people load and unload your stuff) or valets and gas station attendants you encounter along the way.

Soft Costs

This category includes necessities like lodging, parking, food, and all the little things you’ll have to pay for on the day or days of your move. It might involve some items you’d never buy ordinarily, like water – it’s easy to drink from the tap or filtration system at home, but if you’re spending three days on the road, you might need lots of bottled water.

The Unexpected

Your car gets a flat. Your flight is delayed, necessitating a hotel stay. Your movers take longer than planned. The storage unit you chose is too small, so you have to rent a bigger one. Your cellphone breaks en route and you have to stop and have it repaired. It’s impossible to list all these unpleasant possibilities, because, well, they’re unexpected. (And they can be very minor, like needing to buy some allergy medication or scissors.) But while they probably won’t happen, they might, so make sure you have some extra money saved up just in case.

Moving Out of State

An out-of-state move can mean a more expensive move, for two reasons. One is the paperwork required to make your new residence official – think vehicle registration and the like. The other is that out-of-state moves often involve greater distances, which means moving services cost more and even DIY moves rack up higher transportation costs. (Often but not always; a move from Connecticut to Rhode Island might take 20 minutes, while a move from west to east Texas could take 13 hours.)

When you’re moving from one state to another, take the time to research specific costs involved. Ask your moving company what impact, if any, crossing state lines will have on the cost of your move. If you’re driving yourself, plan out your route to determine how long it will take and how the distance or particular route will (or will not) cost you extra money. If you’re coming from a state without tolls to a region where they’re common, you might be shocked at how much cash you need to have on hand for the drive. If you’re moving to or from Alaska, you’ll have to pass through Canada along the way. If you’re moving to or from Hawaii, you’ll need to ship your vehicle and household goods.

Moving Cross-Country

While out-of-state doesn’t always translate to long distance, a cross-country move becomes more complex simply because of the mileage involved. A different set of budgeting decisions comes into play with this type of move, as you have to consider the cost of driving versus flying, and the possibility that your movers might arrive at your new home days or weeks after you do. There are some obvious price increases with a longer move, like more fuel for your rental truck or a higher bill from your movers. But you may also need to spend more on things like mailing those last few boxes you thought would fit in your car (oops.) You might also choose to stay in a short-term rental while your furniture makes its way from Maine to California, or have your moving company store your goods on either end of the move to better coordinate with your own travel plans.

After the Move

Once the physical move is over, you’ll have to plan for a different category of moving-related expenses.

  • Research housing costs where you’re moving as compared to your old location. Don’t assume that renting or buying a house or apartment in your new town will cost the same as it does where you are now.
  • If you’re renting, remember that you will probably have to pay a deposit along with your first month’s rent. (In some cases, you’ll have to pay your last month’s rent upfront as well.)
  • If you’re buying a home, determine what repairs need to be made, both short- and long-term. Anything involving wiring or structural issues will probably have to be done right away; landscaping can probably wait much longer.
  • Add up the cost of utilities like electricity, gas, oil, and water. Research local options for phone, cable, and internet service, as these can vary greatly between different states and cities.
  • If you’re moving to another state and you own a vehicle, you’ll probably have to obtain a new driver’s license and vehicle registration. Find out how soon after your move this needs to get done. Also research other vehicle-related expenses like inspections.
  • Insurance rates for your home and car can vary based on where you live, even for different addresses within the same area. When looking into insurance, also determine whether specific types of insurance, e.g. flood insurance, are recommended or required in your new location.
  • Unless you packed up every last thing in your old kitchen, remember that you’ll have an initial high grocery bill when you restock on pantry staples and basic necessities.
  • You may also choose to buy new furniture and home décor items for your new home. Some of these will be more urgent needs than others. You’ll also probably have to buy all new cleaning supplies, and possibly equipment like shovels, lawn mowers, etc.
  • Unless you brought your shampoo, cotton balls, and other toiletries and personal items with you, you’ll probably have to hit the drugstore for a large and possibly costly purchase of necessities to start you off in your new place.

A tip to help you budget for these expenses is to write a list of whichever of the above apply to you (and add anything else you think of) and figure out the cost for each one. Then consider which are necessities (e.g., heating your home) and which can be postponed (e.g., most new furniture.)

Ways to Reduce Moving Costs

While moving can be very expensive, it doesn’t always have to be. There are ways to reduce the cost.

  • Don’t just dump or give away old items. Instead, have a garage sale. You might be surprised how many people are willing to pay for your cast-offs. And even if you keep prices low, these sales can quickly add up.
  • Find free or low-cost boxes and other moving supplies. There are lots of affordable sources for boxes and other supplies if you have time to seek them out.
  • Take advantage of any discounts you may have access to through memberships or affiliations. For example, if you’re driving cross-country, your AARP membership can reduce the cost of hotel stays.
  • Is your schedule flexible? You can save money by moving during off-peak times. Fewer people move in winter, in the middle of the month, and on weekdays, meaning these time slots generally cost less.
  • If your friends and family are willing, ask them to help you with packing, cleaning, or other tasks that you would otherwise have to pay professionals to do.
  • If you’re moving out of a rental and you put down a deposit, make sure you get it back. This can be easy to forget about in the hectic stages of moving, but take the time to do what your landlord requires and follow up with them if necessary.

Though unexpected costs may pop up along the way, moving expenses don’t have to be a total surprise. With some planning and forethought, you can ensure your move will go smoothly, both for you and your wallet.

Moving? Need maintenance tips for your new home or want to know how insurance is impacted by a move? Get this information and more by signing up for our free newsletter.

Learning to Love Traveling Alone

Extra Mile

Solo female travelers make up an increasing percentage of vacationers, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by the travel industry. In 2015, the New York Times reported that solo leisure travel was up 15 percent from two years earlier and noted that in response, some cruise lines and hotels have dropped long-standing impediments to solo travel, such as single supplements and other fees. And in 2017, Conde Nast Traveler highlighted an exciting aspect of this trend: the growing number of solo women booking adventurous trips.

Despite the image of a young backpacker that often accompanies such coverage, these new solo tourists are not all millennial women setting out to explore the world for the first time. In fact, many are older women who find that they finally have the time and money to embark on an adventure—and they’re not going to stay home just because they’re single, or married to someone who doesn’t share their wanderlust.

If you’re a woman who’s considering traveling alone for the first time, here are some of the benefits of taking a solo journey.

SEE ALSO: Traveling? Are You Covered by Insurance?

You Can Go Anywhere You Want

It sounds obvious—of course a solo traveler can pick her own destination. But this is a big change for people who have always had to make compromises when planning trips—defaulting to a child-friendly hotel, following along as a spouse pursues their hobbies, or selecting a location because it’s a convenient mid-point between reuniting family members. If that’s how you’ve traveled in the past, being able to choose exactly where you go, and when, and for how long—based entirely on your own interests—can be a truly eye-opening experience.

That’s because solo travel forces you to identify and act on your own wants and needs. Maybe you’ve always been willing to endure your spouse’s road trips, but left to your own devices, you realize that you’d prefer a car-free vacation. Sure, you may have a mental image of solo female travelers bravely hiking through South America, but this is your chance to choose a destination that appeals to YOU. If you would rather relax on a beach in Florida, go for it.

You Can Do Anything You Want

Do you wake up at 5:00 a.m. to pack in all the sightseeing you can, or do you prefer to spend your afternoons people-watching in cafes? Do you like to stay in one hotel, or jump around to different lodgings in various locations? Do you like going out for every meal, or cooking in your room? Does your ideal packing list include fancy dresses, hiking boots, bikinis, or all three? Do you want to learn new skills, visit museums, or shop all day?

You get the point of these questions: There are endless variables that go into planning your travels, and when you only have yourself to take care of, you can structure them however you please.

As a solo traveler, you can tailor your trip around the activities you like, and move at the pace you want. You don’t have to accommodate anyone else’s sightseeing goals, food preferences, or bedtime. But perhaps most important, you can be spontaneous.

If a site you’d planned to visit looks dull, you can skip it and move on to something more exciting. If you want to tick items off your bucket list, you don’t have to worry about boring or overwhelming your travel companions. If you feel tired and decide to spend one day chilling out rather than exploring, you can do that, and no one will be there to make you feel guilty about it.

While you are planning your itinerary, you might find a private tour or group tour that happens to provide exactly what you’re looking for. Though this isn’t exactly traveling alone, it could be the best option for you, and one you might not take advantage of if your family or friends were traveling with you. Plus, if you’re nervous about being on your own in a place where you don’t speak the language, signing up for a tour, class, or other activity that incorporates free time can be your gateway to true solo travel.

You Can Spend Time Alone

If you’re an introvert, you know you need time alone to recharge. A trip away from your daily obligations can be just what you need after a particularly stressful time in your life. And if you have a habit of giving too much time to others, and not reserving enough for yourself, this can help you break out of it.

If you’re more extroverted, the idea of spending ten, five, or even two days alone might sound terrifying—or really boring. But the experience can be just as rewarding, forcing you out of your externally-focused comfort zone and encouraging you to be a little more introspective than usual. Besides, if you’re naturally outgoing, you’ll probably end up talking to strangers anyway.

You Can Make New Connections

Sure, you can chat with locals or fellow tourists while traveling with a spouse or a friend. But when you’re on your own, you can engage with new people in a way that you probably wouldn’t if you had a built-in conversation partner. As a solo traveler, you can make a concerted effort to meet new people by attending a public event or finding accommodation with a local host. Or, you can simply remain open to small talk with those you encounter as you explore your surroundings.

Another social opportunity that solo travel brings is the chance to meet up with far-flung friends and acquaintances. Perhaps you have an old friend who has moved to another country, or an online correspondent who lives in another city, or a distant relative who you’ve never met. Reach out and invite them to meet up for a quick drink or a meal when you’re in their town. You’ll get to have a one-on-one talk you might not be able to arrange otherwise, and maybe they’ll even offer to be your personal tour guide for the day.

You Can Focus on Personal Growth

You don’t have to be a fan of the Eat, Pray, Love style of travel narrative to realize that a journey can be transformative. A solo trip is the perfect way to indulge in a so-called “selfish” pursuit, like attending a yoga or meditation retreat, relaxing or concentrating on your health at a spa, or designing your own idea of a restorative getaway.

Maybe you want to read books on a balcony with a gorgeous view, or walk for hours through peaceful woods. When you’re traveling by yourself, no one can tell you that your time would be better spent doing something else. Well, they can, but they’ll be at home, and you’ll be in a new setting having a life-changing experience.

When you venture out on your own, whether it’s on an around-the-world adventure or a weekend getaway to a nearby city, you don’t just learn about life in other places—you learn about yourself, too. Traveling alone is not always easy, but it can be just as exciting and enjoyable as traveling with others. And the confidence that comes from navigating the world on your own will last long after you return home.

READ MORE: 8 Travel Apps to Make Your Next Trip Easy and Fun