Making Your Money Last

Keep Moving Costs in Check

If I've learned anything, it's that moving is almost always more costly and time-consuming than I anticipate.

Young people tend to move frequently as they start their careers and change jobs, and the pandemic hasn’t reversed that trend. Members of Generation Z (ages 18 to 24) were the most likely group to have relocated during the pandemic, followed by millennials (ages 25 to 40), according to finance site Bankrate.

I’m no exception. Since I graduated college 14 years ago, I’ve lived in nine homes in four cities. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that moving is almost always more costly and time-consuming than I anticipate.

Expenses vary depending on how far you’re going, how much stuff you’re transporting and how much of the work you do yourself. The average cost to have movers transport about 7,500 pounds from a two- to three-bedroom home is $1,250 for a local move or $4,890 for a move of 1,000 miles, according to Moving.com.

Cut down on expenses. As soon as you know that you’ll be moving, make a plan. “The number one thing you can do to help curb expenses is to start early,” says Kevin Kleckner, of Penske, which rents out moving trucks. That gives you time to compare pricing among services, such as truck rentals or hired hands (get quotes at sites such as Moving.com and MovingHelp.com). And to ensure that you get the services you need, book them well in advance, particularly if you’re moving during the peak season of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, says Andrea Batchelor, of U-Haul International. Prices are typically lower if you move during slower months and avoid weekends. Getting a head start also gives you time to purge your possessions, reducing the amount to transport.

As you draw up a budget, make sure to account for packing supplies, such as tape, bubble wrap and boxes. If you hire movers, see whether they charge extra fees for specific services, such as transporting certain large items or assembling and disassembling furniture.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies often don’t cover your property while it’s in transit. Moving companies must include free coverage of 60 cents per pound, per item, for a move across state lines. For additional mover-provided insurance protection that reimburses you for the current value of damaged items, you’ll pay about 1% to 2% of your property’s total value. If you’re transporting several high-value possessions or if you packed the boxes yourself—which mover protection may not cover—consider third-party insurance, which runs about $1.25 per pound, according to finance site ValuePenguin.

If your move entails a multi-day trip, factor in costs for fuel, lodging, meals and tolls. Have cash ready to tip your movers—about $20 to $50 per person, depending on the move’s length and complexity.

Get your employer to pitch in. If you’re moving for a job, ask your employer whether it will cover at least some of the cost. Housing and relocation benefits are on the decline, but 34% of employers offer a relocation lump-sum payment, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. In some cases, managers extending job offers have the go-ahead to provide such benefits, but the job candidate must request them, says Batchelor.

Because of the 2017 changes in the tax law, most people (except for active-duty military members) can no longer deduct unreimbursed job-related moving expenses on their federal tax return, and employer relocation benefits are treated as taxable income.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco
Smart Buying

25 Best Kirkland Products You Should Buy at Costco

Many of warehouse club Costco's store-branded Kirkland Signature items get high marks for quality and value. Check out our picks.
July 21, 2021
Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments
Tax Breaks

Warning: You May Have to Pay Back Your Monthly Child Tax Credit Payments

Unlike stimulus checks, you might have to repay your monthly child tax credit payments if you get too much money from the IRS.
July 16, 2021

Recommended

15 Home Features Today's Buyers Want Most
home

15 Home Features Today's Buyers Want Most

Thinking about selling your house? Here are 15 home features potential buyers are coveting right now.
August 2, 2021
How to Give a First-Time Home Buyer a Hand
Becoming a Homeowner

How to Give a First-Time Home Buyer a Hand

With home prices soaring, newbies may need financial help from their family. Here’s how to do it right.
July 30, 2021
Win in a Red-Hot Housing Market
Becoming a Homeowner

Win in a Red-Hot Housing Market

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, these strategies will help you get the best deal.
July 30, 2021
COVID Sparked a Surge of Generosity
Coronavirus and Your Money

COVID Sparked a Surge of Generosity

One big focus among donors: charities that address food insecurity.
July 29, 2021