Getting Ready to Move? Here are 7 Miscellaneous Expenses Most People Overlook

Kurt Manwaring
Aug 30, 2022
bullet6 min read

At a glance

Virtually every move comes with costs that most people overlook. Sometimes, they’re legit hidden costs (like moving truck mileage fees). Other times, they’re simply things you don’t think of, such as packing materials, moving insurance, and travel fees. You should even consider whether you need to rent a storage unit or plan to buy furniture for your new home. We’ll walk you through some of the most commonly overlooked fees—and give you a snapshot of how much they cost.

Moving truck mileage

Rental trucks are one of the cheapest ways to move. However, they’re also more expensive than the initial price tag suggests. One of the main culprits is mileage fees. Many rental truck companies charge you a per-mile fee for in-town moves.

For example, U-Haul Truck Rental tacks on up to $0.99 on your bill for each mile. So, if your new home is 20 miles away, the hidden cost for a round trip is approximately $40.

Check with your truck rental company to see the additional fees for local and long-distance moves. You’ll probably need to budget some extra cash to cover the extra costs in the fine print.

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Save cash on truck rentals

The cheapest truck rental companies can save you money on one-way and long-distance moves.

Packing materials

There’s no such thing as a “typical” move. But if there were, it would probably include hundreds of dollars in packing material costs. And they add up quickly. Consider just a few of the standard packing supplies everyone needs:

Common packing materials

Packing material
Sample cost (per unit)
Small moving box$1
Medium moving box$2
Large moving box$3
Sofa cover$11
Mattress bag$12
Wardrobe box$14
Bubble wrap$20
Packing tape$18

Data as of 8/22/22. Costs determined by looking at current prices for packing supplies by vendors listed on Move.org. Prices and availability are subject to change and may vary by location.

It doesn’t take long to see how moving costs accumulate. Do you need 50 medium-sized moving boxes? That’s $100. What about the tape to seal them shut—and the bubble wrap to protect fragile household items? Toss in another $40. And so on.

Before you know it, your packing materials will add hundreds of dollars to your moving costs. We recommend looking for free moving boxes and tracking down cheap packing supplies.

Moving tips

Tipping your movers is a common courtesy. Costs get tricky in the aftermath of COVID, though. Just think of fast food joints that now ask you for a tip before you get your food. Moving tips are a hidden cost that you don’t think about until your final day of moving.

Since you usually tip per worker, it’s not unthinkable that you’ll need to shell out an extra $100 at the very time your cash levels are at their lowest.

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How much should I tip movers?

Our moving tips tutorial walks you through how much to pay your movers. We cover everything from full-service movers to car shipping drivers.

Moving insurance

Wait, I need to pay for moving insurance? Yep. We feel your pain. Now, it’s not necessary for every circumstance. Lots of moves come with insurance coverage included. But there are times you should consider forking out the extra dough.

For example, your entire house is at the mercy of movers if you hire professionals to transport your belongings across the country. They’ll include some standard insurance for free—but it typically maxes out at $0.60 per pound per item. So, for example, if you have a 10-pound vase worth $1,000, you get only $6 if it breaks.

There’s an extra cost for additional insurance. How much? It varies widely, but you could easily see a $500-plus bill.

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Do I need moving insurance?

That little summary highlights the importance of moving coverage. Check out our guide to moving insurance for more details about whether you need it.

Travel fees

The moving cost for travel can add up to hundreds—or thousands—of dollars. Prices vary depending on your family size and trip distance, but travel ain’t cheap these days. Even if you stay at inexpensive hotels, eat nothing but junk food, or choose business class flights, your bill skyrockets to uncomfortably high levels.

That’s why including it in your budget matters. For example, let’s say your total travel fees add up to $800. Well, you must pay the $800 bill whether you planned for it or not. But the stress level is way lower if the costs don’t come as a surprise.

Storage units

Storage unit costs are necessary for every move. But, if you need a storage unit—or aren’t sure whether it’s essential—it’s worth considering how much they cost.

A standard storage unit costs anywhere from $100–$300 per month. The wide range can be frustrating. However, it also highlights the importance of a moving budget (most people can’t afford $300 per month in unplanned expenses).

So, do you need one? It depends. Common uses for storage units include:

  • Home renovations
  • New homes aren’t move-in ready
  • Temporary storage
  • Seasonal storage
  • Vehicle storage

Basically, if you have more stuff than your home has room for, you probably need a storage unit.

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How much do storage units cost?

Size is an important factor in storage unit costs. Our storage unit size guide shows you how to save money by selecting the perfect fit for your household items.

New household items

New household items are one of the most frustrating hidden moving costs. They’re hidden because they typically aren’t a “moving” cost—but they almost always pop up. For example, you’d be surprised how many people splurge for that new couch after moving into a new place. Or, how many folks decide that a new kitchen calls for a new dining room set.

Or new dishes.

Or new bed sheets.

Or new bookcases.

There’s no real way to estimate these additional costs. It’s entirely dependent on your tastes (and discipline).

How to budget for new household items

You can estimate costs by doing a quick home inventory. Walk through each room and closely examine things like furniture and appliances. Is it really worth taking that old barbeque? Is it time to splurge for the new high-tech fridge?

The world is your oyster. You can get anything you want. Just be aware that these costs add up fast.

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Ways to pay for your move and more

Between hiring movers, buying packing supplies, and planning for home renovations, moving into a new home adds up. In How to Pay for Your Move, we talk about ways you can pay for your big life transition like saving and paying with cash, taking out a personal loan, or paying with a credit card.

Bonus tip: Extra moving costs

Sure, we promised to tell you about seven miscellaneous moving expenses that most people overlook. But we’re all about going the extra mile. So, here’s a bonus tip. Please pay attention because it’s a doozy for folks who hire professional moving companies.

What is it, you ask? Just a little something that moving companies call “extra fees.” It’s not a sexy name. Heck, it’s not even sneaky. It’s just… expensive.

Costs vary by company, but here’s a sample of extra fees International Van Lines charges (our pick for the best long-distance moving company):

International Van Lines extra fees

Moving service
Additional charges
Long-carry fee$75
Shuttle fee$0.50 per cubic foot
Elevator fee$75
Stair fee$75 per flight
Crating fee$250–$400

Recap

Unexpected moving fees can quickly add up to hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. For example, moving insurance can set you back $500. Packing supplies might add half that much. Plus, you should consider packing supplies, new household items and tipping your movers. It adds up. You can trim costs by doing things like picking from the best storage unit companies. But the big takeaway is simply being aware of hidden costs. It’s never fun to pay a $1,000 bill—but it’s a million times easier if you aren’t caught off guard.


Hidden moving costs FAQ

What costs are associated with moving?

Moving costs include everything from packing and loading to transportation. Long-distance moving companies charge the most, while moving truck rentals are often the cheapest way to move.

What are some unforeseen moving costs?

Not everyone realizes that there are hidden moving costs. For example, you need to consider less-common costs such as travel expenses, moving insurance, and storage unit rentals.

How are moving costs calculated?

A mover calculates costs by looking at your total belongings and trip distance. For example, the best moving companies typically charge by weight and distance.

What is a hybrid move?

A hybrid move is halfway between a full-service move and a DIY move. Moving containers are a popular example. You pay moving container companies to transport your belongings, but you’re responsible for loading and unloading.

Is there a checklist for moving?

Move.org has a comprehensive checklist for moving that starts two months before you move and concludes six weeks after arriving at your new home. It includes everything from creating a moving binder to getting a babysitter for moving day.


Kurt Manwaring
Written by
Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He brings a BS in sociology and an MPA (masters of public administration) to the Move team. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.