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How to Budget for a Move

Published On: July 23, 2020By

Follow our tips on How to Budget for a Move because moving can be expensive and the best way to make sure everything is covered is to prepare a budget plan.

Moving can be expensive, especially if you are moving somewhere far away. Most people plan for costs like moving companies or moving truck rentals, but are caught off guard when other moving costs occur. The best way to make sure everything is covered is to budget when moving. Creating a moving budget helps you keep an eye on overall cost, understand individual costs, and see where and how spending can be cut at a glance. Keep these tips in mind when budgeting for a move.

Person holding a smart phone with a budgeting app pulled up

Use a Budgeting App

While some people prefer creating physical budgets on paper, budgeting apps are a great way to quickly manage your moving budget. Digital moving budgets do all of the math for you and can be edited anywhere.  Some budget apps may also have a moving budget calculator to help you get a better understanding of what you’ll spend on your move. By having your moving budget on your phone, you can quickly refer to your budget and add new items on the go. Apps like Goodbudget and Mint are free to download and are a great resource for budgeting for your move.

A woman working on her computer creating a moving budget sheet

Create a Moving Budget in Excel

If using a budgeting app is not your speed, try using Microsoft Excel to create your moving budget instead. This is a tried and true program that is easy to use. You can set up formulas and use cells to quickly and easily keep track of all of your expenses. If someone else will be editing your moving budget spreadsheet, consider using Google Sheets instead, as it allows multiple people to edit and keeps track of who added what and when. There are plenty of moving budget templates, including this one

two movers lifting a couch

Budget for a Moving Company

If you are choosing to use a moving company for your move, there are a few things you will need to budget for:

Moving Company Fee

A month or so before your move, get a moving quote from 3-4 moving companies. If you are still deciding, put the highest quote in your budget, as you can always adjust this later. Consider the pros and cons of a flat-rate moving company versus one that charges by the hour. For budgeting purposes, a flat-rate company will give you a better understanding of your final cost.


You may choose to purchase extra moving insurance to protect special items like family heirlooms or art pieces. If so, make sure to add this to your moving budget.

Additional Services

Your moving company may charge extra for moving large, heavy items, pianos, artwork, or other items. Ask them for quotes ahead of time if this is something you think you will need. Add whatever the value is to your moving budget.

Additional Charges

Moving companies may charge additional fees for long-distance moves, homes with stairs, overnight moves, and even for any parking tickets that are accrued during moving. Ask your moving company about all fees and budget accordingly.


Most people choose to pack their items on their own. That being said, if you choose to have professionals pack your items, make sure to add it to your budget.

Claims and Damage

There is always a chance that something will get damaged during the move. In your budget, make sure to set some extra money aside should anything get broken or damaged on moving day.

a couple carrying boxes as they do their own move

Budget for a DIY Move

While moving yourself is a cheaper option than hiring a moving company, there are still some items you will need to consider when budgeting for a move.

Truck Rental

If you are renting a moving truck, be aware that prices vary depending on truck size. Don’t pick the smallest truck simply because it’s the most affordable. You’ll end up having to make more trips and will pay more in rental time and gas. Instead, opt for one that can comfortably hold your belongings.

Mileage and Gas

Before renting your moving truck, ask the rental company if you have unlimited mileage with your rental. Often, companies will charge additional fees for extra mileage over a certain amount. This is something you may need to budget for. You will likely also be responsible for filling up the tank of your moving truck. Plan for your truck to get bad gas mileage.

Moving Supplies

Ask the moving truck rental company what is included in your rental fee. Often, companies will include a moving dolly, ramp, and even furniture covers. If they do not include these, you will need to budget for extra equipment or look into other rental options.

Portable Storage PODs

Many people choose to use a portable storage pod or container as opposed to renting a moving truck. These pods are dropped off at your home and can be filled on-site and shipped to your next location. While they are much more expensive, many people opt for them due to their convenience. Make sure to do your research on pricing and budget accordingly.

Pet or Child Care

If you moving with a pet or small child, you may decide to have someone look after them during the move. The chaos of moving day can be stressful for your pets and your children, so it is recommended that you find somewhere else for them to stay during this time. If so, make sure to budget for this.

a woman taping up her moving box

Budget for Packing and Storage

While it may not seem like a large cost, packing materials can add up quickly. Make sure to save some room in your budget for everything you need.

Boxes and Bins

Determine the number of moving boxes you will need based on the size of your home. Remember that not all items are meant for large moving boxes. Consider buying a variety of sizes to fit the needs of every item in your house. If your items will be going into storage or will not be unpacked for a while, it is recommended to buy plastic storage bins instead, as they help prevent pests, moisture, and damage.

Wrapping Materials

Fragile items will need to be wrapped in bubble wrap or packing paper. If you want to save money on wrapping materials, many people choose to use towels or t-shirts as extra padding. Please note that the newspaper is not a good alternative and should not be used. The ink can easily transfer onto your items and ruin them. Packing peanuts are also not advised for most fragile items, as they shift easily during transit.

Packing Materials

Make sure to budget for other packing materials like markers, packing tape, and labels. You will likely need more tape than you think you do, so budget accordingly.

Mattress Covers and Furniture Pads

You will also need to buy mattress covers and furniture pads to protect your items. Some moving companies may provide these, so check with them before purchasing.

Self Storage

If you will need somewhere to store your items before, during, or after your move, you may opt to put them in a storage unit. Do your storage research online to find a size and price that fits your needs. Keep in mind that some storage companies will let you use their moving trucks, eliminating the need to rent your own. Look into various promotional offers and choose the one that best fits your specific needs.


These are the main costs associated with the moving process that you will need to budget for. If you want to dive deeper into additional costs associated with moving, check out our blog on the hidden costs of moving. Keep in mind that you will be responsible for other costs aside from the move like fees associated with selling and buying homes, or rental fees. For the move itself, these items will get you well on your way to budgeting for a move. For more tips on moving and storage, sign up for our once-monthly blog newsletter.