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Managing moving costs: tips for first-time homebuyers

By: Movement Team
June 12, 2024

Many first-time homebuyers are so focused on saving up for their down payment and closing costs that they forget that there are also costs that come with getting the stuff from your old home to your new home.

Whether you're moving down the block, from the city to the suburbs (or vice versa) or going all the way across the country, moving costs can add up quickly. Start factoring in these costs ahead of time and get ahead of the curve to make your transition easier without breaking the bank with last-minute movers — and without paying to move a lot of stuff, you don't really need in your new place anyway.

Let's get started.


Why should I save up for moving costs?

How far you're moving can be one of the biggest expenses when it comes to moving costs. Moving across town will likely take a few brawny guys and a truck, as they can make multiple trips if necessary. Moving cross-country takes logistics, multiple crews and a whole lot of fuel.

The cost of a move is also dependent on how much stuff you're moving. If you're single, you probably have a lot less to move than a married couple or a family. Less stuff = lower costs. Likewise, if you're moving from an apartment to a home, you probably have less than someone moving from one home to another. Especially since you may have accumulated more items than you thought if you have a garage, basement and attic in your old home. So keep that in mind when you start to untangle and estimate potential moving expenses.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating a budget to cover your move:

Supplies. Sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape. All these things add up.

  • TIP: check Craigslist or Facebook for people who have recently moved and might be giving away their moving boxes. They can be expensive, but they're typically tossed out after a single use. You'll be saving the planet and your pocketbook.

Cleanouts. You'll want to do a clean sweep of your prior home — especially if you're a renter — or you may be charged a fee.

  • TIP: Do it yourself if you can. Or hire a cleaning service to handle the dirty work for you. Your out-of-pocket costs will certainly be less than a landlord will change you.

Movers. If you're feeling up to it, rent a van and get some friends to help you move (consider offering some pizza or refreshments to soften the deal). But if that’s not possible, you may have to spring for movers.

  • TIP: Save your back. Injuries happen more than you care to know when moving heavy furniture and appliances. Be smart and hire professionals. And make sure they are insured!

Packers. There’s no shame in having a moving company pack your things for you. It may cost a little more to add on a packing service, but it's so worth it.

  • TIP: Before packers descend on your home, give yourself plenty of time to weed out the stuff you no longer need. There's nothing worse than getting to your new home and realizing you have too much stuff you don't need, like or have room for. Then, you have to pack it all up again to donate or dispose of.

What costs can I expect?

Packing Costs

The cost to pack a home, according to Home Advisor, depends on the size of the home. But typical ranges — including materials and labor to packing boxes and furniture — are from $280 to $2,200, with $1,000 being the average. Hiring a mover to pack and unpack runs from $380 to $3,600.

Moving Costs

Reaching out to a reputable moving company is one of the best calls you can make to help reduce the stress of moving. You might be wondering, "How much does it cost to move?" According to (and based on a 2-3 bedroom move of approximately 7,500 pounds), local moves average out to about $1,250. The average cost of a long-distance move (about 1000 miles) is $4,890.

Moving Fees

If you're moving into (or out of) a condo or apartment building, you might be charged a moving service fee. This is to cover the use of a freight elevator or make up for inconveniences to other tenants by decommissioning a regular elevator for a short time. You may even have to pay for a superintendent to supervise the move or be required to move out/in on certain days of the week. Check with your buildings before arranging movers.

Weekend Rates

The specific date you choose to make your move can affect the costs dramatically. For example, a move during peak season or a weekend move on or near the end of a month — or any weekend, for that matter — tends to cost much more than a weekday, off-season move. From our experience, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays can be the cheapest.

Our big pre-move tip: Purge your unnecessary belongings

If you're like most Americans, you have closets and drawers full of stuff you haven't used in a long, long time. And the thought of boxing it all up and moving it all can be overwhelming. So, why not use the months before your move to declutter? Having a yard sale — either in your own yard or garage or digitally — can be profitable and great fun, but you need to figure out WHAT you will sell first.

There are decluttering services you can hire, but you can always do it yourself! Need a little help? We're stealing decluttering tips from best-selling authors and organizing guru Marie Kondo.

Marie has six basic rules. To purge successfully, you must follow the six rules in order.

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up. This may seem simple, and it is. Set your mind to it. Do a little every day. Little by little. Don't give up. Take breaks if you need to.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle. Write down what you want your life to look like moving forwards. Consider what matters most.
  3. Finish discarding first. Go through older items before sifting through the things you love.
  4. Tidy by category, not by location. Do your purging by category, not by room. Start with clothing and move on to books, paper, miscellaneous items and sentimental items.
  5. Follow the proper order. Don't veer off the course. You'll be tempted to go on to other categories while finishing one. Don't! Do your best to finish one by one.
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy. After removing unnecessary things, pull out the essentials and ask, "Does this produce joy?" If you don't get pleasure from it, get rid of it.

Here are some extra tips to help relieve your stress around moving:

  1. Plan out your packing and moving schedule: Don’t be afraid to lay out the process ahead of you; get a notebook and even write it down. This can help keep the process organized and structured.
  2. Transfer your utilities: With all the hustle and bustle of moving, don’t forget to transfer your utilities. This way, you can make sure you get your final bill that aligns with your move-out date and even get your utilities set up at your new home.
  3. Change your mailing address: Don’t forget about your mail, too! You can easily change your mailing address online on USPS’s website. Usually, your mail will be forwarded within three business days of your request, but it can also take up to two weeks. If your move is coming up fast, it may be worth going into your local post office to get the address changed.
  4. Do a final lap around your home: It’s always smart to check one more time around the house to make sure everything is packed up and ready to go to your new home. Check all the drawers and closets so you don’t leave any valuables behind.

Take control of your moving costs!

Unless you are free of possessions, moving to a new home will carry some sort of cost. Deciding what you're willing to spend money on — and what you're not willing to spend it on — will help you estimate and optimize your family's moving costs. Budgeting to cover these costs is the key to managing a stress-free move.

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Author: Movement Team

About Movement Mortgage, LLC (“Movement”)

Movement is not just a mortgage company – they’re an Impact Lender and force for positive change. With more than 4,000 teammates across all 50 states, they reinvest the majority of our profits back into the communities they serve. Movement is the 10th ranked top-producing residential mortgage company in the U.S., funding more than $20 billion in residential mortgages annually. The company has contributed nearly $400 million to the Movement Foundation since 2012, funding the Movement Schools network, affordable housing projects and global outreach efforts. For more information on Movement and Impact Lending, visit .