The Ultimate Moving Costs Checklist

Posted in Moving on Mar 02, 2022, tagged with checklists and printables, moving costs

The Ultimate Moving Costs Checklist

Moving costs money, especially when you’re moving to a new state, but exactly what you will have to budget for will depend on your unique situation. This includes what you are moving, where you are moving from, and where you are moving to. 

When you’re moving out of state, you can expect to incur more costs than a local move. Understanding exactly what costs you can expect to face will help you build your moving budget and plan for your out of state move. To help you get a handle on which moving costs might be relevant to you, we’ve created a comprehensive moving costs checklist, including:

  • Moving and shipping costs
  • DIY moving costs
  • Packing supplies
  • Housing-related costs
  • Storage-related costs
  • Transportation and accommodation 

Not all of these items may apply to your out-of-state move, so check off items that you need and want and cross out those that don’t apply to you. Once you know what costs you might incur, you can start to build a moving budget.

Let’s jump in. 

Moving & Shipping Costs

If you’re hiring a moving or residential shipping company, you can typically expect to incur some of these costs: 

  • The actual cost of the move: This is the amount quoted to you by your moving and shipping company, which reflects factors such as the cost of labor, the distance of your move, and the amount of stuff you are moving. There may also be extra fees for challenges like stairs or long carries. 
  • Insurance: Moving and shipping companies typically include limited liability coverage as part of their cost, but this level of coverage pays out at a very small amount based on weight of item (not its actual value). We always recommend asking your moving company if they offer additional insurance options and opting to include those. If you prefer, you may be able to take out your own insurance. 
  • Cash for tipping your moving team: Like with most customer-facing service jobs in the U.S., tipping is always appreciated. How much you should tip your movers can vary, but it is usually recommended that you tip 5-10% of your total bill to each member of the team.  
  • Full service: If you don’t have time to pack things yourself, or you would simply prefer not to, you can opt for a higher tier of service that includes packing. 

DIY Moves

If you’re handling your move on your own, your checklist of moving expenses will look more like this: 

  • Rental fee: If you have to rent a truck, trailer, or van from a provider, there will be a rental fee. You may also be charged based on the mileage used and sometimes the duration of your rental. 
  • Gas: On top of the rental fee, you will have to pay to refuel the vehicle. 
  • Insurance: Whether this is insurance for your rental vehicle or insurance for your belongings while they are transported, insurance should be factored into your moving budget. 
  • Moving equipment: This includes items you likely don’t already have yourself but can typically rent from many DIY suppliers, such as dollies, lifting straps, cargo straps, ramps, and moving blankets.
  • Food & rewards for helpers (and yourself): It is generally expected that you provide your kind and generous friends, roommates, and family with lunch and/or dinner, as well as snacks, drinks, or other rewards to compensate them for taking time out of their day to help you move.

Packing Supplies

Regardless of which type of move you select, you will need to acquire packing materials (unless you opt for a full service packing option). This includes items like: 

  • Boxes
  • Cardboard sheets
  • Packing tape
  • Packing paper
  • Permanent markers
  • Shrink or plastic wrap
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Tool box (including essentials like scissors, box cutters, and screwdrivers)

Housing-Related Costs

Housing-related expenses will vary a lot depending on your current and upcoming housing situations. Only some of the costs listed below will apply, so consider carefully what you need to include in your budget: 

  • Cleaning: If you’re renting your current home, you’ll have to clean or hire someone to clean out your rental after you leave to receive your deposit back. If you own your home, it is considerate to leave your dwelling in move-in condition for the next owners. 
  • Repairs: When selling a home, there are things that might need to be repaired or updated in order to get the highest value for your house, condo, or apartment. When renting, you will have to repair any damages you may have caused to get your security deposit back. The cost of these repairs and updates varies wildly depending on what needs fixing. 
  • Real Estate Agent(s) and lawyer fees: If you are selling your home, the real estate agent fee will come out of the money earned from the sale of your home, so while you don’t pay them directly, it should be factored into your costs. You may also need to pay lawyer fees for land transfers and other services they provide during the home selling/buying process. 
  • Deposits: This includes one time payments for things like security deposits, first and last month’s rent, and utility deposits.
  • Monthly utility costs and/or condo fees: If utilities aren’t included in your condo or rental agreement, you will have to pay for these expenses in addition to your mortgage payment, rent, and/or condo fees. This may seem obvious, but it should be always included as an expense in your budget when you are planning to move. 
  • Mortgage: Your mortgage will already be on your mind if you are planning on buying a home, but include it here to get a full picture of your living expenses. Don’t forget to include both the money you’ll put down plus the monthly payments. 
  • New furniture and home decor: If this is your first time living alone or you are moving to a larger place, furnishing it may feel pressing, but is usually not an immediate priority (beyond essential items like a bed, couch, or home office). There’s no need to rush decorating your new space, so stick to just the essentials and shop around till you find exactly what you’re looking for. Secondhand shops are ideal if cost is a concern, or if you’re seeking vintage pieces. 
  • Groceries: In a new home after a long distance move, you will typically have to rebuild your pantry from scratch. Budget a little extra for groceries till you’ve stocked up on the essentials. 
  • Renters or homeowner's insurance: It’s a good idea to protect your investment when buying a home, and some mortgage lenders make homeowner’s insurance a requirement. You aren’t typically legally obligated to have renters insurance, but it’s not a bad idea to have it if you have items that would be costly to replace. 
  • Property taxes: If you are buying a home, you’ll also have to budget for property taxes. According to, “at closing, you will be required to put into escrow your first year or so (generally around 12 to 13 months) of property taxes. That’s because in most cases it is your mortgage lender who takes care of paying out your property taxes, either from funds collected in escrow or from your monthly mortgage payment.” 

Storage-Related Costs

If you have to put some items into storage during your move, you should consider these costs as well: 

  • Rent: You’ll have to pay the rental fees for storage for as long as you have it.
  • Insurance: That’s right, insurance again. Regardless of how secure and well-maintained your storage facility is, you will want to make sure any valuables kept in a storage location separate from your home are insured separately against any damage or theft that might occur.
  • Transportation: Depending on what is going into storage, you may need to rent a truck or van, or at the very least pay for gas. 

Transportation and accommodation

If you are moving long distance, your move might take place over multiple days or even weeks. This can mean you’ll incur expenses such as: 

  • Food and drink: In the midst of your move, making food is often difficult. Factor in the cost of pre-made meals, fast food, or restaurant dining. 
  • Lodging: Whether this is a hotel, motel, AirBnB, or other short-term rental, you’ll need a place to stay between closing dates. 
  • Babysitter and/or Pet-Sitter: With everything going on, it can be a good idea to invest in sitter services for your children and/or your pets on moving day to keep them safely out of the way. 
  • Tickets or Gas & Tolls: Whatever method you decide on for getting to your new home, it will involve an expense in some form or another. This can mean plane, train, or bus tickets, or the cost of gas, highway tolls, and other vehicular expenses. 
  • Car Shipping: If you are keeping your car but don’t want to drive it to your new home, don’t forget to factor in the cost of hiring a car shipping service. 
  • Money for unexpected expenses: In the event of an emergency or unplanned problem (for example: having to change flights, repair your car quickly, pay for a tow truck, cover the cost of an additional and unexpected overnight, etc.) it’s a good idea to have money set aside to cover unexpected expenses. 


With your moving costs checklist in hand, you know what costs you need to consider when preparing for your move and, hopefully, you can get a better idea of what tasks you need to complete and what items you might need to buy. 

Learn more about building your moving budget:

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