The Real Cost of Moving


Moving day is always a bit exciting and very stressful. You’re ready to start the next phase of your life, and you need to bring all your stuff with you. How are you doing that?

The DIY crowd is at one end of the spectrum: you can do your own packing, rent a truck, drive it to your new home, and unpack. Or you can go with the “hands off” approach and hire packers, movers, drivers, and unpackers. Of course, you can mix and match in whatever way suits you. At Liz & Ellie Real Estate, we want our clients to have enough information to make the right choice, so today, we’re going to look at the two ends of the spectrum: Do it Yourself; and Pay Someone to Do It All.

Do it Yourself—is saving some money worth all the sweat and (potential) tears?

UHaul is the first company we think of when planning to move ourselves. They have over a dozen locations in and around Boston, those vans and trucks have signs that advertise a $19.00 rental fee, and you get the control you want over your stuff. In reality, your moving costs break down like this:


15-foot truck (2 bedrooms) $110 26-foot truck (3-4 bedrooms) $138

  • Insurance $14-$28
  • Dollies $10 each
  • Protective pads $10/dozen
  • Moving boxes $2/each
  • Mileage $.89/mile
  • Gas $2.96/gallon (as of June, 2018)

If you are moving within 10 miles, truck rental might be a good choice.

It’ll fit all your stuff, and even with insurance and dollies, mileage and gas fees, it is possible to move fairly cheaply. But with this plan, you’ll have to take on a huge amount of work:

  • buy your own packing materials and tape
  • pack and label all your stuff
  • load the truck
  • drive to your new home
  • unload the truck
  • unpack

What if you’re moving out of state?

When you’re moving to another state, most of the base costs stay the same with truck rentals. But that UHaul mileage fee can really ramp up. Moving to Chicago would cost you $875 just for mileage, never mind gas costs (UHaul trucks get about 12 miles per gallon). Do the math and compare with a moving service in order to decide what’s the best choice for you. Remember that some employers pay some or all of your moving costs; if so, relieve some of the burden on yourself and consider hiring a moving service.

Hands-off moving: Is the convenience worth the cost?

Hiring professional experts to care for and transport your precious items can take a huge load off your mind. They can pack you up completely, supply all boxes, do every bit of physical labor, and protect your stuff on the trip to your new home. Moving companies do cost more than truck rentals, though; so you need to decide how much your time, energy, and peace of mind are worth to you.

We talked to local moving expert Mike Bavuso from Big Foot Moving & Storage to get a sense of the costs associated with hiring movers. Because a moving company takes care of all the details, there’s obviously a price range. Mike says, “Every move is totally unique and all relocations are custom quoted due to all the variables.” Still, he was kind enough to give us ballpark figures for a variety of moving scenarios (remember, every moving company is different; get quotes from a number of places before choosing):

Moving nearby

If you live in a smaller space, like a 2-bedroom condo, the price for a local move (within 10 miles) ranges from $1,000-$1,500.
If you’re moving stuff from your 4 bedroom home to a location nearby, you’re looking at $2,500-$4,000.
No matter the size of your home, your quote will be based on the level of packing you require, the time of year, or any special services needed.

Moving long distance

Transporting your 2-bedroom condo to a location 500+ miles away averages approximately $3,500-$6,000
Moving all the stuff from a 4 bedroom house to a location 500+ miles away will cost somewhere between $5,000-$10,000.
Costs for a long-distance move depend on the level of packing you require, the time of year, any special services needed, or if a tractor trailer can fit at destination.

Hiring non-professionals: it’s always an option!

I know we said we’d highlight DIY and Hands Off moving options, but it’s also important to note that there’s a lot of room between these two choices! If you live near a college, which is true for everyone in the Metro North area of Boston, you can easily hire a few college kids for $20/hour to get that couch into or out of the truck. Or you could hire a smaller moving company like Man with a Van, which provides services for small, local moves. You get a van, and two guys, and that’s it! Finally, you can always go on your local message boards and Facebook pages and ask for recommendations, too. Every move is indeed unique, so there are really infinite possibilities, depending on how much research and work you want to put in.

A note about moving insurance

No matter how careful you or your movers are, your stuff could get scratched, cracked, or broken during transport. To ease your mind and protect your belongings, you may decide to purchase insurance. In Massachusetts, there’s a “Released Value Coverage” that is mandated by the State. For no extra cost, your items will be insured for $0.60 per pound, per article. Yes, it’s free; but if a claim arises, it is very minimal coverage protection. Reputable moving companies offer several tiers of insurance plans, some with deductibles, others with full cash refund or replacement options. Talk to your moving company or insurance agent to learn more about your insurance options.

The takeaway

What are your time and energy worth to you? What’s your level of fitness? How much money are you prepared to spend on your move? Your answers to these questions will guide you towards the moving choice that fits you best. It’s no surprise that college-age people frequently go for the truck rental; but it truly might be the way for you (college student or not) to move. Conversely, some people just don’t want to worry about any of the details involved in moving. Or maybe you’re in the middle and you’re still not sure. We suggest you sit down and really do the math. Call a few moving companies and get quotes. Price out a few rental trucks, and include time for packing, loading, transporting and unloading in your calculations. Seeing it down in black and white might make your decision crystal clear, which will make your moving day a little less stressful, and a little more exciting!

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With their complementary communication styles, responsiveness, competence, and ability to truly listen, Ellie and Liz enable their clients to feel at ease throughout any real estate transaction. They would welcome the opportunity to be your next real estate advisors.

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