Moving can be expensive. According to the American Moving & Storage Association, average intrastate moving costs totaled $1,170, and interstate rates averaged $5,630.
However, the price can vary dramatically depending on where you live, where you’re moving and how much stuff you’re moving, according to Michael Keaton, senior director of communications for the American Moving & Storage Association.
Related: Are Moving Expenses Tax Deductible?
“Someone in a one-bedroom apartment will have a significantly different cost from someone in a three-bedroom house,” said Keaton.
Then there are the unexpected costs of moving — expenses you didn’t anticipate or costs you could have prevented if someone had told you how to avoid them.
Click through to read more about moving money traps so you don’t get scammed on your next move.
Getting an Estimate Over the Phone
You should be wary of any company that offers a guaranteed estimate of moving costs without coming to your home to see what needs to be moved, according to the American Moving & Storage Association. Movers who visit your home will be able to give you a more accurate estimate based on the weight of your items, so you’re less likely to encounter an inflated bill on the big day.
AMSA also recommends getting estimates from at least three companies in writing, so there is no confusion about the terms of the agreement. If an estimate seems surprisingly low, don’t assume you’ll get a better deal by going with that company. Most likely, additional charges will be tacked on once your items have been loaded on the truck. And if a company tries to charge you for an estimate, definitely steer clear.
Forgetting to Factor in Additional Fees
If you hire a moving company, ask about any fees you’ll be charged in addition to the cost of transporting your belongings. For example, you might have to pay an hourly fee based on the number of employees helping with the move, said Brian Davis, the director of education at SparkRental. For the best results, ask how many employees will be sent and how long the company expects the move to take.
Customers should note that additional fees might be charged for packing and unpacking their items, mileage, temporary warehouse storage of belongings and the use of a shuttle service if the moving van can’t be parked near the residence.
If you don’t ask about additional money traps when moving, or pay attention to the details of your contract, you might not budget enough for your move.
Paying the Mover a Deposit
A mover might ask that you pay a deposit to hold a particular moving date. If so, you should be wary because it’s most likely a scam, according to the Better Business Bureau.
If you make any upfront payments, there’s a good chance that you’ll never see the money again. The BBB recommends that people who are asked for moving deposits move on to other companies.
When you decide to make a big move, read up on these tips for starting over in a new city.
Not Calculating the Hidden Costs of Moving on Your Own
About three-quarters of movers are do-it-yourselfers, according to U-Haul. The rental moving equipment company estimates that handling a move on your own can cost half as much as hiring a company to do it for you.
Still, it’s important to recognize that when you rent a truck, you get nothing but the truck, according to Cheryl Brouse, a real estate sales representative with Coldwell Banker Sarazen Realty. You’ll have to pay extra for gas, each mile driven, truck rental damage coverage and supplies like dollies and furniture pads.
“All told, the extra fees and cost of supplies can end up totaling more than the truck rental in the first place,” Brouse said.
There’s also an additional cost if you hire people to help you load and unload your truck. Mike Scanlin, CEO of portfolio management software company Born To Sell, said that he paid three laborers about $40 to $50 an hour each, plus a tip of $40 per person, to load and unload a moving truck he rented. He also had to pay for a one-way flight to pick up his car because he wasn’t able to tow it behind the moving truck.
Paying for Packing Materials
Simply tossing your stuff into the back of a moving truck is a bad idea. However, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on unexpected moving costs like packing supplies, either.
For example, you can find used cardboard boxes for free at liquor stores and other retailers. Check online classifieds — such as on Craigslist — for free or cheap boxes, or post a message on Facebook that you’re in need of moving supplies.
If you’re planning to hire a moving company but pack your own belongings, you should be aware that movers typically won’t accept liability for damage to items they didn’t pack, according to AMSA.
Failing to Get a Moving Permit
In big cities like San Francisco, you can’t just pull up in a moving truck and park it on the side of the road as you unload. On the contrary, you need to purchase a moving permit, which can cost over $200.
It might seem like a high price to pay, but you could end up shelling out even more for parking violations if you don’t have a permit. So, call or check the website of the city where you are moving to find out whether you need to reserve a space. As an added bonus, having a reserved parking spot for your truck will help you avoid paying shuttle fees if movers have to park far from your home or apartment.
Not Protecting Your Move
Interstate movers are required by law to provide both released value protection and full value liability protection for items that are lost or damaged during a move, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
There’s no additional charge for released value protection, so it might seem like the best choice if you’re looking to save money on your move. However, with this protection, the mover must only pay 60 cents per pound per damaged item. So, if your $1,000 HDTV weighing 10 pounds is damaged, the mover will only have to reimburse you $6.
With full value protection, the mover must pay the replacement value for all lost or damaged goods, according to FMCSA. However, liability might be limited on items that are worth more than $100 per pound, unless you specifically list them on the shipping documents. The cost for this protection will vary from mover to mover, according to FMCSA, but getting full protection will ensure that you’re adequately reimbursed for damaged items.
Click through to read more about how the stress of moving can affect your finances.
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