17 Hidden Costs of Moving Nobody Really Talks About

From deposits to delays, the true costs of moving you need to know.

Couple moving
Updated July 18, 2024
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Whether you’re trying to keep up with your mortgage payments or land an apartment before the rent rises, moving into a new home is expensive. 

It’s not just the housing prices that are hard on your wallet, the actual costs of moving from point A to point B can make a dent in your bank account. Unexpected expenses can pop up and trip up even the most well-prepared, financially savvy renter or homeowner. 

Here are 17 of the most common hidden costs of moving so you don't get caught off guard next time you have to move.

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Elevator fees

makedonski2015/Adobe Woman holding moving box in elevator

If you live in a high-rise or low-rise apartment building with a specific loading elevator, you may have to pay an additional fee to reserve the elevator.

It also may not be an optional expense if you’re moving any furniture that will require holding the elevator.

Packing supplies

Dmitry/Adobe Tape and knife on packaging box

Boxes, bubble wrap, and tape can be surprisingly expensive. But you may regret it if you skimp on supplies and end up with broken items.

There are ways you can find these items for less, though, or even free. Try posting on free neighborhood groups or asking local businesses if they have leftover newspapers and boxes. 

You may find someone who moved recently and will sell you their used boxes at a discounted price.

Reserved parking

cpcthatsme/Adobe Reserved parking spot

In big cities where street parking could be difficult, or there are specific permits for parking during certain hours of the day, you may have to get a moving permit to park a moving truck.

Depending on the city, this may have to be done through the DMV or a city agency and could run up to $80.

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Parking tickets

Paolese/Adobe Parking violation ticket on windshield

On the other hand, if you don’t get a moving or parking permit in your city, you could end up racking up parking tickets, which isn’t a warm welcome to your new home.

You could also end up with parking tickets if you try to take your chances by parking illegally when you drop by to unload a few items.

Pet boarding

frank11/Adobe Dogs in a dog house

Whether you have to find a home for your pet for a few nights between your old place and your new one, or you want to save your pet from the stress of movers and disruption, you might need to board your pet.

The average cost of a night boarding at a kennel is between $30 and $50, depending on your location. A couple of nights can add to the cost of your move, so make sure you factor it into your estimate.

Overnight storage

tapui/Adobe Truck with moving stuff

Even if you don’t have to store your items for many days, an overnight stay in the moving truck may also come with a fee.

Expect to pay additional fees if your movers hold your items from one evening until the following day.

Hotels

Zoran Zeremski/Adobe Family checking into a hotel

Of course, your pets and your things aren’t the only ones that need to find a place to go between residences. You may need to stay in a hotel or a short-term rental if you aren’t able to time move-out and move-in dates.

Wasted food

Pixel-Shot/Adobe Woman disposing food in trash bin

If you’re about to move and have a fridge full of food, where will you keep it? If you don’t have immediate access to your new refrigerator, you could lose all that food — and money.

Think about how much everything from milk to mayonnaise and perishable food costs, and you might think twice about grocery shopping before a big move.

Try to use as much food as you can before you move, and have a plan to move refrigerated items like condiments so you don’t have to toss them.

Storage unit

David Gales/Adobe Storage unit with furniture

If you can’t make your move-in and move-out dates align perfectly, you could need to put items in a storage unit for a few days or even a few months.

This could run you $80 to $150 a month or even more if you have a larger home. And you’ll have to pay a mover twice.

Try to overlap your closing dates if you’re selling or your lease end and start dates if you’re renting.

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Moving insurance

Clayton Daniels/peopleimages.com/Adobe Couple reviewing budget after moving house

While the movers you hire are ideally insured, it doesn’t hurt to get third-party moving insurance on top of the insurance legitimate movers are required to have.

There are three types of moving insurance to consider: full-value insurance covers the entire replacement value of your items; released-value insurance, which is a lower-cost option that covers items on a per-pound basis; or separate liability coverage.

Security deposit

Wasan/Adobe Man signing mortgage contract

Most rentals require you to pay the equivalent of a month’s rent before moving into your new digs. This fee, called the security deposit, is a sort of insurance policy for the landlord.

The landlord can keep the security deposit if a tenant abruptly moves out. If a tenant caused damage to the rental that the landlord must fix before renting to a new tenant, the security deposit will help cover those costs.

A security deposit is a significant expense that you may not have accounted for. And before you sign a lease, be sure you understand the terms for getting your security deposit returned to you in total when you move out.

Specialty movers

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe Movers packing sofa with transparent roll

An average moving company may not be able to pack and transport high-value pieces properly.

If you have rare decorative items, antique furniture, or valuable artwork, you may need to pay more for movers with specific experience handling and moving these items.

Moving scams

Elnur/Adobe Male scammer on the phone at work

Have you ever heard this horror story? People found a great deal on movers, who then packed up the truck with all of their worldly possessions, and drove away — and never arrived at their new home. 

It happens. And it’s why you should make sure any mover you hire is properly licensed and insured.

Tipping movers

Grispb/Adobe Man counting money

Always build in a tip for your movers and offer them water and snacks throughout the day. 

Plan to tip your movers at least $5 to $10 for every hour they work. You may have to adjust that amount if it’s a particularly strenuous move or the weather isn’t cooperating.

Cash is king, but many movers now accept digital payment options like Venmo, Cash App, and Paypal too.

Utility activation fees

pkstock/Adobe Home expenses on post it notes

Besides remembering to turn off your old utilities and turn them on at the new place, you also need to consider whether there are any activation fees. Some companies charge a transfer fee, while others charge for a new service or setup.

Make sure you have everything arranged before you move in so there’s no disruption in service.

Buying new items

AntonioDiaz/Adobe salesman talking-to female customer

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of moving into a new home. You may want to spring for everything from new cooking utensils to new furniture.

While you may not need everything new, it’s helpful to build in the cost of things you might need to buy, such as window treatments. And you may want to splurge on a few items to make your new space feel like a home.

Out-of-state charges

Mak/Adobe Car on highway

Are you relocating from Minnesota to New York for a career move or do you want to retire early from Maryland to Florida? 

If a move crosses state lines, additional charges could drive up the cost of hiring movers significantly. Plus, you’ll need to make sure the movers are insured for interstate travel.

Bottom line

Rido/Adobe Family in a house with moving boxes

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Author Details

Heather Bien

Heather Bien is a writer covering personal finance and budgeting and how those relate to life, travel, entertaining, and more. With bylines that include The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, and mindbodygreen, she's covered everything from tax tips for freelancers to budgeting hacks to how to get the highest ROI out of your home renovations.