How to Budget for Your Next Move

Jon Fesmire |

Whether you’re moving across town alone or across the country with your family, it can be difficult to predict how much money you’ll need to spend. Here’s how to create a budget for you next move, and the sorts of expenses you’ll want to include on it.

Create a Budget Spreadsheet

There’s nothing quite like a spreadsheet for keeping track of expenses. Using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, create a new file to keep track of your expected moving expenses and to calculate how much the move is going to cost. Using mathematical functions, you can have the file add the expenses to give you a total. When you change a value, the total will automatically update.

You’ll need at least two columns: one to list expenses, and another to record how much each will cost. The rest of the article will cover the major expenses you’ll want to include.

Self Storage

Self storage can be a big help when you’re preparing to move. For example, you can start packing early and put boxes in your unit. This makes it easier to clean your old place, and you can bring everything left in your house on moving day to your new place, and come back for the rest at your leisure.

If you use self storage, you’ll want these items listed on your spreadsheet:

  • Self storage rent

  • Insurance (offered by the facility)

  • Boxes

  • Packing paper

  • Bubble wrap

  • Tape

  • Gas to and from the storage facility

Movers

If you’re going to handle all packing and moving yourself, or with the help of family and friends, you can skip this part. However, if you hire movers, this will make moving much easier for you. There are also associated costs. First, we recommend you have about three moving companies give you an estimate based on a walk-through of your home. They’ll come by to do this. Let them know if you want a full service move, meaning they’ll pack everything, drive everything to your new home, and unpack it all for you. Or, you can get basic service, meaning you do all the packing, and they load the truck, drive your things to your new place, and put everything in your home, but don’t unpack for you. After you get your estimate, you can decide which company seems best, balancing your impression of them and the expense.

Associated costs for your spreadsheet include the following:
  • Assessment fees

  • Estimate

  • Insurance

Truck Rental

If you don’t hire movers, you’ll need to rent a truck. Call several truck rental companies, let them know when you’ll need to pick up the truck and how long you’ll need it for, and if you plan to drop it off where you picked it up or at an office closer to your destination. Pick the one you like best and reserve a truck a few weeks before your move. Also, ask what kind of mileage the truck gets so you can estimate how much gas will cost you.

For the truck rental, include these on your spreadsheet, depending on what you’ll need:

  • Rental cost based on how long you plan to use it

  • Approximate gas cost, which is miles to your destination divided by the truck’s miles per gallon times the price of gas per gallon

  • Moving blankets

  • Dolly

  • Furniture covers

  • Moving straps

Travel Costs

If you’re moving a long distance, we encourage you to plan your route. Figure out how far you can get comfortably every day. Book your motel and hotel rooms in advance and know how much you’ll pay each night. You’ll want to record how much you expect to spend on these things in your spreadsheet.

  • Gasoline for cars besides the moving truck

  • Lodging

  • Meals

  • Souvenirs

Temporary Housing

Hopefully, you’ll be able to move right into your new place, but if not, figure out where you’ll stay until your new place is ready. This might be with a friend or relative, or in a hotel. Find out how much it will cost and put it in your budget.

Getting Hooked Up

When, or before, you get to your new home, you’ll want to make sure various services and utilities are hooked up, and these sometimes cost a bit to get started. In your new area, contact the electric, utility, and cable companies. List these on your spreadsheet.

  • Gas

  • Electricity

  • Water

  • Cable

  • Internet

Small Items

There are some things you’ll want to get brand new when you move into your new home. These include, but may not be limited to, the following.
  • Shower curtain

  • Broom

  • Groceries

  • Soap

  • Shampoo

  • Dish soap

  • Laundry detergent

  • Clothing for the new climate

This list will give you a strong start and help you get a good idea of how much money you’ll need to spend on your move, but it’s not exhaustive. If you think of other expenses appropriate to your situation, add them to your spreadsheet, check how much they will cost, and input the price.

We wish you the best of luck on a safe and affordable move.