Budgeting for Your Move

Moving certainly taps your bank account. How much depends on a number of factors: whether your employer is helping with the cost, how much ‘stuff’ you have, and how far you are moving.


To get an idea of how much your move will cost, start calling service providers for estimates and list your expenses, which may include:

_______Home Repairs
_______Cleaning supplies/services
_______Rental expenses new city
_______Application fees (varies – estimate $15 to $35 per application)
_______First and last month’s rent
_______Damage/security deposit
_______Pet deposit
_______Utility deposits
_______Storage unit rental

_______Professional moving services or truck rental
_______Moving supplies
_______Food and beverage for volunteers
_______Tips for professional movers/Gifts for volunteers

Moving travel
_______Airline Tickets
_______Meals: per meal $______ x ______ meals
_______Hotels: per night $______ x ______ nights


If you don’t have the money saved, start saving as soon as you can. Other potential sources of money include:

  • Income from the sale of your spare car, furniture, or other belongings (hold a garage or yard sale).
  • The cleaning/damage deposit on your current rental and any utility deposits. You probably won’t be reimbursed until AFTER your move, though, so you’ll need to pay moving expenses up front some other way.
  • Your employer: payout for vacation time not taken.

Moving without breaking the bank

You can save money on your move by following these suggestions.

Saving on moving supplies

  • Obtain boxes in the cheapest way possible.
  • Ask a friend or colleague who has recently moved to give or sell you their boxes.
  • Check the classified ads; people sometimes sell all their moving boxes for a flat rate.
  • Ask your local grocery or department store for their empty boxes.
  • Borrow a tape dispenser instead of buying one.
  • Instead of buying bubble wrap, crumple newspaper, plain unused newsprint, or tissue paper to pad breakables.
  • Shop around for the cheapest deal on packing tape and other supplies.
  • Instead of renting padding blankets from the truck rental company, use your own blankets, linens, and area rugs for padding. But bear in mind that you may have to launder them when you arrive, which is an expense itself.

Saving on labor

  • If you use professional movers, consider a “you pack, we drive” arrangement, in which you pack boxes, and the moving company loads, moves, and unloads your belongings.
  • Call around and compare moving cost estimates.
  • If you can live without all your stuff for a while at your new or old location, moving companies sometimes give significant cost reductions if they can short-term-store and consolidate your moving items with other customers’ items.
  • If you move yourself, round up “volunteers” to help you load and clean on moving day. It’s still customary to reward them with moving-day food and beverages (and maybe a small cash gift). You may also have to “volunteer” to help them move some day. But you may still save some money compared to hiring professionals.
  • Save on child and pet care. Ask family or friends to watch your young children and pets on moving day.

Saving on trip expenses

Overnight the night before you depart

  • Where will you stay the night before you depart? A hotel or motel might be most comfortable and convenient, but you could save a little money if you stay the night with a friend or relative.
  • If you have the gear, maybe you’d enjoy unrolling your sleeping bag and “roughing it” on your own floor the night before you leave town. If you do this, try to get hold of a camping sleeping pad or air mattress, which will help you get a good night’s sleep and start your move rested and refreshed.

Overnight on the Road

  • Look into motel discounts along your route. Your automobile club membership may qualify you for a better rate.
  • When you call about rates, ask if the hotel or motel includes a breakfast with your stay.
  • If your move travel involves an overnight stay and you’re game for camping, check into campgrounds and RV parks along your route. Be sure to ask whether a moving truck is allowed. Some parks have size restrictions; some RV parks may not welcome moving trucks; and some limit the number of vehicles allowed in a campsite.

Food While Traveling

Food is one of those comfort factors that can help make the upsetting aspects of moving and traveling more acceptable. Eating also give you a reason to stop and rest, which may be exactly what you or your family needs if you’re rushing to get there. Here are a few pointers to consider.

  • Try to balance your need to save money with your (and your family’s) health and comfort needs.
  • Try to have at least one solid, nutritious, sit-down meal each day.
  • Breakfast can be a budget – and schedule – friendly meal purchased at a grocery or convenience store and eaten on the road: fruit, muffins, and juice, for example.
  • Lunch prices at sit-down restaurants are typically cheaper than dinner prices. Consider having a hot lunch and then picnicking in your hotel or motel on supplies from a grocery store

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