Illustrated by Cristi Cash
Last Updated December 12, 2023

Moving is a big undertaking, but planning a budget can help make it go as smoothly as possible.

To start your budget, it’s important to decide how you will execute the move. Will you hire a moving company, ask for assistance from friends and family, or a combination of the two? For small, local moves, asking friends and family for help and paying them in pizza could be a good option. For larger or farther-away moves, professional assistance may be required.

When moving, you are working with two main resources: time and money. Where you save on one, you normally will pay more in the other. Keep that in mind as you plan out the financial side of your move.

A good rule of thumb is that it’s always going to cost more and take longer than you expect. With that in mind, make sure to give yourself plenty of buffer when budgeting both resources.


If you plan on moving yourself, remember that self-moves cost more in time, though they usually are less expensive financially. Be sure to schedule things out well in advance and include extra time for any surprises.

Truck Size: It’s important to select the right size of truck. Too small and you won’t be able to move all your things in one trip, and too big means you’ll pay extra money. This can really hurt your budget. Other truck costs typically include the fuel for the truck and the miles driven, on top of the actual hourly or daily rental fee.

Moving Equipment and Supplies: While you can occasionally pick up empty boxes from your local grocery or liquor store, you may need to budget in the cost of moving boxes. Picture boxes and other specialty boxes may cost more. Other supplies include packing tape, tape dispensers, permanent markers, index cards or labels, and packing material such as bubble wrap and tissue paper.

Moving Help: While some family and friends are happy with a few pizzas for their trouble, you may need to budget in hiring some extra hands—especially if you are short on time. Take a hard look at your time-money ratio and see what works best for your move.

Hidden Costs: Servicing your car, road tolls, and food and lodging along the move route all need to be budgeted into your move. (Even if you aren’t moving far away, you probably will want to eat out while your kitchen is packed up!) If there are special considerations such as moving a piano or other specialty items that require professional assistance, be sure to include those in the cost of the move.

mount everest
Illustration: Cristi Cash

Professional Movers

If you have a company coming in to pack and move you, or to assist with any part of that, there are other costs to consider.

If possible, get quotes from several moving companies. This will allow you to get a pretty good picture of how much the move ought to cost you, which will help as you plan your budget. Going with the cheapest option may not always be in your best interest: consider things like risk of damage to your property, extra insurance and other perks that may be offered, and the time it will take to accomplish the move.

When a company gives you a quote, they are taking many aspects of your move under consideration. Some of these things include:

Weight and Distance: The biggest factor in a company’s calculation tends to be the combination of the weight of items moved and the distance traveled. Some companies charge less per pound/kilo, but longer per mile/kilometer; some charge the opposite. Make sure to check both rates to determine the true cost of your move.

Insurance and Services: Budgeting for full-coverage moving insurance is usually a good idea, especially if you own things that are valuable. Typical limited coverage simply won’t do the trick if your 65” flat screen TV gets smashed! Be sure to fully understand the insurance coverage you are getting and consider paying a little more for peace of mind.

Additional Services and Fees: Read the agreement carefully and make sure you know what services you have purchased. Many moving companies offer extra services for an additional cost, such as packing, unpacking, preparing appliances for the move, moving specialty items (such as pianos, pool tables, hot tubs, etc.), disassembling and moving large furniture, and so forth. You may be charged fees for carrying things up and down stairs (often called a flight charge), making extra stops along the way, a travel fee (usually an extra hour of labor for the time the crew needs to get to your home), or a cancellation fee.

Moving Your Vehicle

For short moves, and some long ones, driving your car is the obvious option. Make sure you budget adequately for gas and maintenance or repairs that need to be done to make your car safe to drive.

For long moves or moving overseas, shipping your car may be a good choice. This means you will be flying or driving another vehicle to your destination, so be sure to include the cost of tickets or gas in your budget.

Summer is peak moving season, so moving trucks and services tend to be more expensive during those months. Try to schedule your move for something between September and May to avoid higher moving costs.

When you're getting ready to move, it's important to be sure you'll be prepared for the costs associated with living in a new city. Use this Cost of Living Calculator to get an idea of the changes you can expect.

Click here to read how this tool works, and for disclaimers.
While we hope you find this content useful, it is only intended to serve as a starting point. Your next step is to speak with a qualified, licensed professional who can provide advice tailored to your individual circumstances. Nothing in this article, nor in any associated resources, should be construed as financial or legal advice. Furthermore, while we have made good faith efforts to ensure that the information presented was correct as of the date the content was prepared, we are unable to guarantee that it remains accurate today.

Neither Banzai nor its sponsoring partners make any warranties or representations as to the accuracy, applicability, completeness, or suitability for any particular purpose of the information contained herein. Banzai and its sponsoring partners expressly disclaim any liability arising from the use or misuse of these materials and, by visiting this site, you agree to release Banzai and its sponsoring partners from any such liability. Do not rely upon the information provided in this content when making decisions regarding financial or legal matters without first consulting with a qualified, licensed professional.