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No matter if you’re moving neighborhoods or moving cross-country, moving is expensive.
While there’s no way to get around these facts, it will help if you go into your move with some awareness. We consulted two professional organizers, Laura Cattano and Lisa Zaslow (who is also the founder of Gotham Organizers), about some of the less obvious expenses that come along with a move.
From parking tickets to stair fees, here are 16 hidden costs you should know about prior to moving day.
Not getting your security deposit back
According to Cattano, getting your security deposit back isn’t always a given. It’s possible – and even likely – that you’ve done things, like put holes into your walls, that will be hard to cover up once moving day rolls around. “When you’ve lived somewhere for a certain amount of time, you don’t even realize all the damage you’ve done to a space,” Cattano says.
Plus, Cattano says that some landlords will try their best to find a reason not to give you your deposit back.
Spending more money on a better moving company
Cattano says that when it comes to choosing a moving company, many of her clients make the mistake of trying to save money. “Cheap movers can cost you more,” she says. “Movers are expensive for a reason, and a good mover is not going to damage your things. If a good mover does damage your things, they’re going to fix it.”
So, although you might not have been planning on spending a few hundred extra dollars on your movers, you, and your valuable items, will be happy you did.
Packing supplies (if you’re packing yourself)
Cattano recommends letting movers do the packing for you, but if you’re moving on a budget and decide to do the packing yourself, don’t forget that you’ll need to invest in supplies like bubble wrap, boxes, and tape.
These items can add up quickly, and Cattano says that being cheap here won’t help in the long run. The better quality – and therefore more expensive – supplies you buy, the more protected your things will be.
Purchasing moving insurance
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Although Cattano says that most movers will be careful with your belongings, things happen and items break, which is why she always recommends getting insurance. The majority of moving companies will offer insurance options, so you can choose how much to get, depending on how much you have to move and how valuable your things are.
Boarding your pets
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Many of Cattano’s clients who are moving locally and who have older pets or pets who are prone to anxiety end up boarding their animal overnight. This way, your pet will be out of the way and they won’t be exposed to the stress that moving often brings. However, boarding can be pricey, even if it’s just for one night.
According to Cattano, if you’re moving into a building that has stairs but not an elevator, you might get stuck paying a stair fee. Many moving companies charge extra money if they have to lug your items up a stairwell instead of just sticking it in an elevator.
Even if your building does have an elevator, if it’s not working on the day of your move your moving company might still charge you a fee.
Fees for moving especially large items
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According to Cattano, most good movers will come to your apartment and conduct an inspection to see how much stuff you have before your move. That way, when moving day comes, they’ll know exactly what they’re going to be packing and transporting.
If they don’t, you might be hit with some additional day-of charges. If you own any especially large or cumbersome pieces – think a piano, a pool table, a big armoire – Cattano says you should make sure your movers know about that in advance.
Paying for separate movers to handle your valuable artwork or decorative pieces
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According to Cattano, if you own artwork or decorative pieces – like mirrors – that are especially valuable, you’ll want to have professionals who are trained to handle those pieces be the ones to move them. These people will have the means to wrap your valuables individually, as opposed to just placing them in cardboard boxes.
Cattano says that some moving companies have an in-house division that deals with these kinds of pieces. But if the company you choose doesn’t, you’ll want to look into hiring separate professionals. It’ll be expensive, but it’s better than having to replace an even more expensive piece of art that you love.
Renting storage space
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For many people, moving is a chance to upgrade to a bigger space, but that’s not always the case. Cattano recalled one client who wasn’t able to fit a shelving unit into his new apartment, and was forced to find storage space for the item while he figured out what to do with it.
Having to store items could mean an additional monthly expense.
Overnight fees if your movers have to hold onto your things
According to Cattano, some buildings have certain hours during which work can be done or moving can happen. If this is the case in your new building, and your movers spend the whole day packing your things, it might be too late for them to actually move you in after packing you up.
While movers will hold on to your stuff overnight, they won’t do it for free, and you will most likely end up paying some sort of additional fee for the service.
A hotel stay
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If your move doesn’t happen in a day, Zaslow says you might end up booking a hotel room for a night – because who wants to sleep on the floor? Even less so after a stressful, long day of moving.
If you’re moving in a city, you might wind up paying for a parking ticket, Zaslow says. If your movers end up having to park in an illegal spot or park in the same spot for too long, it’s your responsibility to pay for the ticket if they get one.
It’s a good idea to figure out parking before moving day: that way, you can get a permit if needed.
Tips for your movers
Cattano says that she would never tip a mover under $50. They’re doing a lot of hard work and heavy lifting, and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. So keep in mind that the sticker price of your movers isn’t all you’re going to pay.
Re-buying items once you’ve moved in
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While you shouldn’t get rid of everything before a move, there are going to be some items that you’re not going to want to bring to your new space.
“Who wants to bring their old dirty plunger and their old broom that they’ve had for 10 years? You want to buy a nice fresh one for your new space,” Cattano says. “The Bed, Bath, and Beyond run that everybody does when they move – that’s going to be $200.”
Disassembling and reassembling furniture
Some furniture in your home might be impossible to move in just one piece. And while movers can disassemble and reassemble some simple pieces, other pieces, like a lofted bed or a particularly big couch, might require you to hire someone else, Cattano says.
Buying furniture to fill your new space
- Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters
What people often forget when they move to a bigger space is that they’ll need to fill that space with furniture. Chances are, the amount of furniture you had in your old home won’t be enough.
Let’s say you’re moving from a small apartment in the city to a multi-level house in the suburbs. Cattano says that means buying some costly pieces like beds, dressers, couches, and more.