5 Surprising Things That Can Make Your Move More Expensive

published Dec 30, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Volo

Moving is an expensive proposition. You might be excited to go on a shopping spree to decorate your new place, but you’ll want to save some of your cash to pay for getting your existing stuff from point A to point B. Here are some things that can run up your moving day bill — as well as a few ways to save some money.

1. Lots of Stairs

While you’re focused on getting settled into your new place, it’s important to consider the work it will take to get everything out of your old place. If you’re moving from a walkup, for example, be sure to factor going up and down those stairs as part of the moving timeframe. 

“A move-out that can take 30 minutes to an hour can turn into 1 ½ to 2 hours if there are lots of stairs involved,” says Jeffery Delerme, a New York City-based Tasker on TaskRabbit, an online global platform that allows people to hire freelance workers for assistance with everyday tasks, including moving. 

An elevator can speed things up on moving day, but not if you have to share it with other tenants. “I’ve had moves where we spend more time waiting for the elevator than actually moving,” says Demerle. “Speak to [the building manager] ahead of time, and see if you can reserve the elevator so your movers can work without delay.

2. Taxes and Duties

If you’re moving internationally, you’re looking at a much bigger moving bill, courtesy of taxes and duties. 

“Used personal effects in most countries should have little or no charges if you complete the paperwork correctly, says Paul Stewart, CEO of the professional hauler brand, My Baggage. “Use a company that specializes in relocation or personal effects shipments as the paperwork requirement is different from that of a commercial shipment.”

Stewart also says that sea freight costs have skyrocketed in the past few months, though air freight could be faster and cheaper. 

3. Too Many Boxes

Boxes stack so nice and neatly, making it easy to lose count of how many there are. This is a no-no, according to Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized consumer finance expert. She notes that many moving companies will set their rates based on the number of boxes or pieces of furniture you have. If you exceed the number agreed upon — even by a few — you could get slammed with extra charges by the box.

4. Packing Supplies

Speaking of boxes, Woroch advises that you start collecting boxes and bubble wrap from online shipments, so that you don’t have to pay for packaging materials yourself. “This is definitely one thing you don’t want to waste your money on,” she says.

5. Truck Rental Insurance

Just when you think you should skip the pro movers and DIY it, remember that you’ll need insurance for that rental truck. “Purchasing damage insurance can add a significant amount to your overall bill, but is an important option to consider, since most credit cards and car insurance policies do not typically cover truck rentals,” says Bailey Carson, a home care expert at Angi

This is not to say you should skip out on insurance, of course. But it might make you want to reconsider hiring a professional mover, particularly if it’s going to cost around the same to drive the truck yourself. 

How to Save Money on a Move

Before you start recruiting friends and family with SUVs and minivans to DIY an upcoming move, Woroch recommends a hybrid move to save money. This involves hiring one set of movers to load up your rental truck and then another set of movers to unload at your destination. This saves money on distance traveled, particularly if you’re crossing state lines. Carson also suggests a partial DIY move where you move some fragile or valuable items on your own, then leave the rest of the lifting to the movers. 

If you do decide to stick with professional movers, Carson advises people to move during non-peak times, if possible — she suggests a weekday in the middle of the month, if possible. “People tend to move at the very beginning or end of the month and prefer to move on weekends, so you can usually get a better deal if you move at a different time,” Carson says.