The Hidden Costs of Moving – Part 1

This month is part 1 of our 2-part article on the less obvious costs of moving:

You’ve sold your home and you’ve found the perfect place to relocate.  All that’s left to do is pack up your belongings, arrange for some movers, and be on your way.  But don’t be in a hurry to pack your calculator, because moving households can add up in ways you may have not expected.  

  1. Storage – you’re all ready to move to the next location.  But is your new place ready? If not, be prepared to either rent back your own home from the folks you just sold to, or place your goods in storage.  If you choose a self-storage unit, you will need to hire movers or rent a truck to take it there, or have professional movers place it in their warehouse storage. The average cost of a 10′ x 20′ storage unit is about $100 a month, according to  If you’ve hired professional movers, many offer Storage In Transit (SIT), which is warehouse storage at their facility.  But beware of the costs here, because your goods must be taken from the truck, inventoried, then placed in a vault (like a wooden box, which then can be stacked atop others), you will incur a warehouse handling fee, which includes getting that same vault down, unboxed, and placed back onto a truck to your destination when your new place is ready.  While goods are in storage, most movers require that you maintain the same level of protection coverage as when your goods are on the road (but usually calculated at a lower per hundred pound weight cost).
  2. Choosing valuation coverage – if you value your goods and they are not easily replaceable, it’s a good idea to go for full valuation protection for your move.  While the cost to you can vary by deductible and specific mover, the value of the amount of protection received is calculated on average at $6 multiplied by the total weight of your shipment.  However, if you’re moving inexpensive furniture that you assembled yourself, it may be a good idea to pass on protecting it, because the insured costs may not be worth it if you can buy new just as cheaply.  According to the Federal Motor Carrier Association, the standard coverage for moving companies across the country insures that the client receives $.60 per pound per item if they choose basic liability, which is no cost to you as a consumer. Even the most professional and careful movers can damage an item, so consider this factor when tallying up your moving costs. Your goods may be protected under your current homeowner’s insurance, so it’s a good idea to check in advance.
  3. Third party services – from marble sculptures to very large mirrors, the outsized, fragile and bulky items in your home may need special handling from a third party service.  Some professional movers may suggest employing an experienced move partner like The Move Makers to arrange this service. Items like large paintings, mirrors or very wide flat screen televisions may require wooden crates, as do large marble or glass tops from tables. Sensitive items like the inner workings of grandfather clocks, the assembly and disassembly of adjustable beds  and the removal of chandeliers will require special handling as well.
  4. Elevator buildings or long carries – if your home is only accessible by an elevator,  or a moving truck cannot get close to your front door, you may incur extra fees either in the form of more time for a local hourly-rated move, or specific add-on pricing for intra-state (a move of over 50 miles) and  interstate moves.  
  5. Not understanding your move estimate – understanding the type of contract you are signing will eliminate any surprises down the road.  Your move estimate can be one of three types: binding, not-to-exceed, and non-binding. Depending on the type of estimate, you may have one expectation of your final fees, but if you move more than is indicated on the estimate, you could be hit with further charges.

Be sure to check out next month’s newsletter for Part 2 of our list of hidden moving costs, when we consider pets, service contracts, closing dates and more!