Tips for Creating a Moving Budget

Time To Read 3 MIN READ

The much-dreaded moving day looms on your calendar. You know what it means: pulling together an entire household of stuff, an exhausting day or two getting it from point A to point B, and setting it all down -- hopefully undamaged -- in the brand-new abode. Moving a household means time and hassle, but advance planning can keep the expenses under control.

Movers use stretch wrap to protect your big items -- or you can DIY.

Places and Spaces

If you want to carefully control the cost of your big move, start by looking at your residences -- the old one and the new one -- from a mover's point of view. The first consideration is time -- all movers charge an hourly rate, depending on the number of people needed, and a truck or trip rate as a kicker. John Hathaway of St. Paul's Lighthouse Movers advises that, "Long hallways, elevators and second stories slow us down; you also want to make sure the truck can get close to the front door." Ensure that the van has access and there won't be any parking trouble.

Breaking It Down

To save time and money, take apart beds, desks, mirrors -- any large object moves faster to the truck and into your new home if it's in pieces. Empty out drawers and cabinets, roll up rugs, take down pictures, pack up electronic gear and get it back into the original boxes, if possible. Careful movers use stretch wrap to protect your furniture from dings and scratches. "You can stretch-wrap yourself," says Hathaway. "It's pretty easy and we don't mind -- it actually tends to knock our time charges down."

Boxing It Up

Movers charge for time spent packing. To save money, it's best to box up as many of your belongings as you can by yourself and ahead of time. Get boxes packed, taped, down to the first floor and neatly stacked for moving day. If you've got a van or pickup available, plan on handling the smaller boxes and fragile objects yourself.

Calendar Planning

Moving costs rise and fall seasonally. The busy time for professional moving companies is May and June, when college students, families and businesses swamp their phone lines and overload their schedules. A summer move may cost a little extra, but few people like to change residences in the winter, so you can often snag a discount or negotiate lower rates.

Bottom Line

Typical hourly costs vary by region. Your moving bill will be higher in areas with higher costs for labor, fuel, maintenance and taxes. A San Francisco mover, for example, will need to set a higher hourly rate than a company working out of Des Moines. Other variables include the packing materials, insurance, administrative fees, special handling for valuables and a tip for the movers. If you're moving to another state, use an online estimator, such as or, to figure an average cost -- considering the size of your household and distance -- for a move.