When relocating, you’ve got a million things on your to-do list. No matter how busy you get—don’t skip creating a moving budget! Preparing your finances ahead of time by doing things like making a moving expenses list will help relocation be a breeze. And who wouldn’t want that?
We’ve created this moving budget template (a free download!) and guide to highlight common moving expenses and help you create your budget.
Moving Budget FAQs
The biggest moving expenses are typically hiring professional movers, truck rentals, and transportation (such as buying your flight tickets or arranging transportation for your pets). Based on data from thousands of projects completed through its platform, Angi (formerly known as Angie’s List) found that hiring movers for local moves cost between $913 and $2,528, while cross-country moves were between $2,700 to $10,000+.
But don’t forget the more “hidden” costs like HOA fees, homeowners insurance, security deposits, and all the other expenses associated with purchasing or renting a new home.
How do I keep my moving costs down?
If you want to move as cheaply as possible:
- Do it during non-peak seasons. In the United States, peak moving and rental season is typically the summer. Try to move during fall, winter, or spring.
- Get rid of as much stuff as possible before the move. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you’ll have to move—and that can add up when you factor in boxes, professional movers, and transporting your belongings. To save money, donate and sell as many items as possible before the move, as long as you won’t need those items in your new place.
- Plan the move as early as possible. Finding and scheduling movers last minute will be more expensive than doing so months in advance.
- Ask friends and family for help. Need recommendations for good movers? Or need to borrow a truck to haul stuff? Ask your loved ones!
- Borrow instead of buying. Tapping into your local Buy Nothing groups is a great way to save money. You might be able to borrow moving blankets, boxes, dollies, and more to help you with your move.
How do I financially prepare for a move?
- Track your current expenses. Budgeting for a move is tough if you’ve never even budgeted before. A good place to start is simply tracking your current spending. Once you know your typical expenses, you’re in a better position to start budgeting.
- Cut back on spending in the months leading up to the move. There’s no doubt about it: Moving is pricey. You’ll incur extra expenses that you wouldn’t typically incur in regular months, so be sure to cut back on unnecessary spending, such as dining out, monthly subscriptions, and entertainment, to save for the big move.
- Ensure you have a job lined up in your new town. While many people move to a dream city without having lined up a job—it’s a big risk. If you’ll be moving far away, it’s financially wise to start interviewing for jobs now and secure one before you arrive.
- Make a moving budget. Lucky for you, we’ll walk you through that exact process next!
How to Make a Moving Budget Template
Below, we’ll show you how to create a moving budget using Google Sheets, Excel, or a pen and paper.
Short on time? We’ve got you covered. Customize our free Google Sheets moving budget template based on your needs.
To set up your moving budget template:
- Add the following columns in the top row: Category, Estimated Cost, Actual.
- Insert the moving expenses listed below underneath the category section.
- As you get estimates, fill in the Estimated Cost section.
- Once all categories are added, create a row titled Subtotal and add up all the Estimated and Actual Costs using the appropriate formula.
Try Our Moving Budget Template for Free!
*An important note about the moving budget template: Before you can edit it, you must first save a new copy of the file. You can do this by clicking “File” > “Make a copy…”
Basic Moving Costs to Consider
1. Professional Movers
Believe it or not, hiring professional movers can sometimes save you money by saving you time, particularly if you’re moving a long distance. Here are some basic costs to consider. Remember, most moving company estimates are based on the weight and distance of the move.
- Rate of move
- Packing services
- Hidden costs
Since movers often bill based on time spent, you can save money by strategically planning time with your movers. My Guys Moving has a helpful six-tip list to help you do that. For example, they recommend disassembling furniture before the movers arrive. Check out the rest of their time-saving moving tips here.
Can you negotiate a moving estimate? Yes! As with all negotiations, you need to first increase your leverage. You can do this by gathering a few quotes and then showing the lower estimates to competitors and seeing if they’ll match or beat that price. Another smart tip is to start far in advance; the more time you have between now and the move, the more flexibility both you and the moving company will have.
Here’s an example negotiation script:
“Hey, I’m looking to hire movers on October 15, and I’ve gotten a quote from one of your competitors for $300 lower than what you quoted me. I’d really prefer to work with your company, though, so what kind of deal or price matching could you offer me if I choose to hire your movers instead? I’d be willing to give you a three-day window around October 15 for added scheduling flexibility as well.”
2. Self Moving Expenses
You might be moving to save money in the long run, but it usually comes with some upfront costs, which we’ll outline in bullet points below. We recommend renting a covered storage truck to help prevent unnecessary damage to your belongings.
- Truck rental
- Food and drink
- Rental equipment
3. Packing Materials
Invest in quality packing materials for the smoothest move possible. Old cardboard boxes can be flimsy and fall apart during the move. Also, it’s worth investing in some dishware boxes to protect your most fragile items.
- Packing tape/labels
- Mattress and furniture covers
- Packing material
If you’re moving more than 50 miles, include this category in your moving budget template. Also, if you’re moving far away for a different job, talk to a tax professional about deducting your moving expenses from your taxes.
- Car shipping
- Fuel/car maintenance
5. Real Estate Costs
Costs like these will be incurred whether you’re renting or buying a place. Make sure you understand the various fees and deposits that will be required. Also, if renting, understand what utilities you’ll be responsible for paying.
- Lawyer/realtor fees
- Home inspections
- Cleaning and repairs
- Mortgage down payment
- Rental deposits
6. Storage Fees
Sometimes, when we move out of one place, the next place we’re going to live isn’t quite ready yet. This displacement is when renting a storage unit becomes an integral step in moving.
- Storage unit rental
- Cost to move to/from a self-storage facility
- Lodging costs
7. After Moving In
If this is your first apartment, you’ll have a lot more items on this section of your moving budget template than someone who already has all the necessary home essentials. Reference our first apartment checklist to get an idea of the staples you’ll need. Customize this section to work for you, but don’t forget to include it. Even small expenses like toilet paper and paint can add up quickly.
- Utility set up
- Miscellaneous household items
So how much money should I budget for moving?
After you’ve used our moving budget template and accounted for the moving expenses listed above, you should have a pretty good idea of how much it might cost to move. However, it’s tough to be exact because things can change at a moment’s notice.
To help cushion the budget, create a row beneath the subtotal and title it: Contingency Fund. Multiply the total estimated moving expenses by 5% to develop a figure. Add a Total row beneath the Contingency row, then add the subtotal and contingency together to determine your estimated moving costs.
This moving expenses list was by no means exhaustive, especially if you’re traveling across state lines. Assess your specific situation and add categories as needed. The more you can predict, the less likely you will be blindsided by hidden costs.
We hope this moving budget template and guide helped get your moving process off to an organized and stress-free start.
Read Next: 10 Money Saving Tips When Moving on a Budget
This post originally appeared on the Life Storage Blog 3/2/18 and was updated 6/27/23 with new information.