The True Cost of Moving

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Moving to a new city or town can involve costs that exist far beyond simple finances. For the 40 million Americans who relocate annually, many will be forced to juggle standard moving costs (such as rent, utilities, and security deposit), additional costs (home improvement and grocery store trips), and the stress of the process all at once. As a result, many turn to friends and family to offset the work and costs associated with moving.

Figuring out a plan for moving can be time-consuming and hard to manage, so many people ask for help. Due to job changes, family demands, or personal reasons, people often need to relocate—an experience that can be painful for loved ones and the mover’s wallet at the same time.

To find out what the average person deals with and spends during a move, we surveyed 963 people who have moved at least once in the past five years to determine collective experiences and feelings while relocating to a new place. What do people spend, on average, during a move? And what advice do people have for those who are about to move for the first time?

Read on to uncover all of our findings (and review a handy checklist) below.

The money involved in moving

By far, the expense that made the biggest dent in our respondents’ moving budget was new furniture and decor costs, amounting to an average of $1,818 per move. Other costs that respondents spent the most on during a recent move involved hiring movers and shipping items from an old home to a new one, totaling $903 and $874, respectively.

Someone who chooses to move by themselves will avoid these costs. However, for people who live alone and have a lot to transport, a professional moving company is oftentimes the only way to go. Innovations in the industry are bringing high-tech solutions into the moving sphere, including more advanced tracking methods and more diligent trip updates, which will hopefully result in more ease of moving for people looking to make the process as painless as possible

When people move to a new place for a fresh start, they tend to change up other aspects of their lives too. As a result, someone may feel a desire to shake up their surroundings with new home decor pieces and furniture to arrange a new house, which allows these costs to add up quickly.

Moving budgets included various compensation for help they may have received, and they were likely to not forget the people who helped during their time of need: respondents made sure to compensate moving help with a drink or two, with the average set aside for alcohol totaling $32 in refreshments.

Helping Hands

Nearly half of all respondents had help moving from friends and family, a crutch that we tend to rely on when dealing with relocation. While 21.5 percent of respondents did compensate their loved ones financially (with an average of an $80 payout), nearly triple the number of respondents (58.3 percent) were likely to cover food costs for their friends or family.

One of the reasons people don’t hire a moving company is to keep costs low. As a result, more respondents were likely to compensate their friends with food or alcohol. This is a micro-example of work exchange, the act of someone putting in work in exchange for various compensation offers (like meals). This concept is not new, as a majority of survey respondents of all generations compensated moving help with food.

Helping a friend or loved one during a move can strengthen your friendship and assist someone in a major task that they likely couldn’t complete by themselves, which isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon. Still, a quarter of respondents tackled the feat alone.

If the opportunity presents itself and you are available, offering that helping hand (even in exchange for pizza and beer) could be doing your friend a massive favor. However, if some respondents were able to go back in time, they may have reconsidered the low-cost help and opted for a professional job.

Even though moving companies led to issues with broken items for 20 percent of respondents, 30 percent admitted that their friends and family members were the ones to damage items during a move. Since this help is usually low- or no-cost, these accidents are much more acceptable, versus a professional company that is tasked to take care of your precious housewares and furniture.

Despite the risk involved with moving companies, over 15 percent of respondents regretted taking the moving process alone and would have hired movers if they could go back. There are many costs associated with moving, and vetting your moving company can help prevent beloved items from breaking (and becoming yet another cost).

The unseen emotional toll of moving

Regardless if someone is embarking on a new journey or moving due to reasons out of their control, not all relocations result in a happy ending, especially if loved ones are separated due to the move. Fewer than 1 in 3 people who moved away from someone they loved or cared for were left in emotional turmoil after their move, calling the process “very or extremely stressful.”

Respondents who didn’t leave anyone behind were most likely to say their move wasn’t too bad, with 2 in 5 people surveyed saying their experience was only “slightly stressful.” This would account for the typical stressors that come from moving. However, respondents who reported having to leave behind a loved one were more likely to consider the process to be stressful (33.3 percent), very stressful (22.1 percent), or extremely stressful (11.4 percent).

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