The Miser’s 3 Things:

  1. When you move out of state, see if your new company will provide a relocation bonus and set that as your moving budget.
  2. Have enough of an emergency fund to cover unexpected moving costs.
  3. Find savings by reserving the moving truck and the moving services that best fit your needs.

Moving. It’s scary to many. Exciting to some. Expensive for all.

Here were my expenses for the recent move to Minneapolis ($2,130 total!):

  • Moving company (#1) – $450
  • Storage unit – $215
  • Moving truck – $425
  • Moving company (#2) – $180
  • Hotel rooms – $235
  • Gas – $170
  • Food – $230
  • Moving company (#3) – $225

And the true cost of moving doesn’t start and end when the moving truck pulls up or drives off. There are also rental security deposits and new-to-your-state fees, like vehicle registration.

The cost of my move rose considerably because I needed to finish up some things at my old job beyond the date my lease expired. Additionally, my Minneapolis apartment wouldn’t be ready for a few more days beyond that. So, I hired movers to get my belongings into a storage unit, then more movers to get everything into a moving truck when the big day finally arrived, then a third set of movers in Minneapolis.

Fortunately, I had two things working in my favor. First, my new company was reimbursing a significant part of my actual moving costs. Second, I had my six-month emergency fund to front the costs, and to cover what wasn’t being reimbursed.

Not everyone has both – or even one – of those benefits, though. It’s important to have a plan.

Finding savings


I’ve made several long-distance moves throughout my career, and there’s one constant: moving companies are all over the board when it comes to their rates.

I’ve got a one-bedroom apartment. I don’t have a lot of heavy stuff. Should be pretty simple, right?


Some moving companies insist on having three workers come out for the job (this included Two Men and a Truck, which seemed strange. Their name is Two Men and a Truck.) Ask about this before booking. I didn’t. The third person costs more, which resulted in my $300 estimate turning into a $450 charge.

Many moving companies also bill you for travel time. This is pretty standard, but the question to ask is, “Where are you coming from?” If they’re located just down the road, that’ll be 15 minutes of travel time on the front and back end. If they’re coming from across town, well, you might end up paying 1-2 hours so your movers can be stuck in traffic.

What about if you’re making a long-distance move using a U-Haul truck, like I eventually did? All you need to get your stuff onto the truck is labor help.

In this case, paying a full-service moving company is wasting money. Many of these companies will still have their employees drive their own truck out to meet you – even if they’re not putting anything in that truck. A Two Men and a Truck representative told me that company policy prohibited their movers from placing anything on a U-Haul truck.

Instead, go to a website like to find a labor-only moving company. They’ll show up in a car, usually with a dolly or a cart, and get you moved just as quickly. I did this to find Moving Company #2 and Moving Company #3, and combined they didn’t cost as much as Two Men and a Truck’s $450 charge for Move #1.

UHaulMoving truck

During a previous move, I reserved one of those behemoth U-Haul trucks “just to be sure” everything fit, instead of the smaller 10-foot or 15-foot truck. This worked out predictably:

  • The cost to reserve The Behemoth was more.
  • The Behemoth was a gas guzzler.
  • My dad, who volunteered to drive The Behemoth across three states, did not enjoy the experience. The truck maxed out at 55 miles per hour and did not offer a comfortable ride.

If you have a one-bedroom apartment or home, you’re not moving appliances, and you don’t have a ton of stuff in storage, a smaller truck will do. It saved around $100 this time around.


I mentioned that I needed to book three nights in a hotel, one on the front end and two once we got to Minneapolis, because my new apartment wasn’t ready.

Luckily, I had enough IHG Rewards points to get one of those nights free.

Emergency fund for the additional costs

My new company reimbursed a significant part of my moving expenses, but this is where it’s critical to have that all-important emergency fund so you can front the money. There are other costs, too.

If you’re renting, you know about security deposits. They’re a $500-750 up-front cost (or more, if you live in a high-cost city). Speaking of added costs, the rental application usually comes with a fee between $35 and $100 so the apartment company can squeeze a little more money out of you.

And, once you move to your new state, you’ve got to stand in line at the DMV to get your driver’s license and registration. In some states, this can cost as little as $100. In other states like Minnesota, where you have to pay a registration tax based on your vehicle’s estimated worth, this can stretch to $300 or more.


Bottom line: moving is stressful, even without worrying about money. Having a financial plan can relieve part of the burden.

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