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15 Hidden/Invisible Costs of Moving

Published by Chris Townsend

15 Hidden/Invisible Costs of Moving

Moving is stressful enough without having to worry about hidden fees at the end of the day. While you've certainly budgeted for the move, you may not realize that a variety of unanticipated costs might add up. Add-on charges from the moving company, difficulties you leave behind, and snags you encounter after you move can all eat into your budget. After all, a move can only be deemed successful if all moving expenses are reduced to a minimum.

Let's explore how you can identify these hidden moving costs and also avoid them.

1. Connection/Termination Fees

When you relocate inside a city, you may be able to keep your current utility providers and merely transfer the service to your new location. However, if you're moving across the country, you'll need to deactivate your old utility accounts and open new ones for your new residence. Both of these options would entail paying early closure fees, enrolment fees, deposits, and connection or set-up expenses.

Furthermore, it's easy to forget that almost all utility companies need you to pay in advance as soon as you move into your new home, amidst all of the hustle and bustle. Deposits can range from $170 to $450, so call your new utility provider ahead of time to find out how much you'll have to pay – and budget for it.

2. Storage Fees

The expense of storage is another one of the hidden costs of moving. Your belongings may need to be temporarily kept at the mover's storage facility depending on the circumstances (warehouse).

When you request for a delay in delivery of your possessions – for example, when your new house is not yet ready due to renovations, repair work, documentation issues, and so on - you will most likely be charged a storage fee.

After you've notified the moving firm of the exact delivery date, the storage fee should be factored into the pricing estimate. Keep in mind that the longer you store your belongings, the more your additional moving costs will be.

3. Membership Charges

While home utility fees are considered standard moving expenses, the cost of several memberships that you failed to cancel before relocating may take you off guard.

If you don't cancel your gym, country club, or spa membership, it will automatically roll over to the next month. You won't know unless your credit card statement indicates an unanticipated charge.

Before you move out, cancel your memberships, but keep in mind that you may incur an early termination fee in some situations.

4. The Timing Matters

The time, method, and season you're planning to move also matter.

  • Emergency Move: These types of moves occur far more frequently than you might think. That's why we're always available to assist you with your move. While your mover will work overtime to ensure that they have a crew and the right vehicle for your last-minute relocation, these resources may incur additional costs to be accessible on short notice.
  • Beginning or end of the month: Given that the majority of leases end on the final day of the month, it's no surprise that these are the busiest days for movers. A simple strategy to avoid an increased booking rate is to schedule a relocation during the middle of the week during off-peak hours.
  • Weekend or weekday: Many customers prefer weekend relocation to avoid missing a working day or disrupting their children's school schedule. They may have a steeper booking fee and longer wait times due to their high demand.

5. The Cost of Underquoting

When you start calling around for estimates from movers, you may find that vendors' underquoting is appealing, even if you have doubts about their credibility.

The biggest hidden cost of your relocation might be the loss you'll incur if you hire a mover that isn't insured, has a high claims rate, won't respond to your claim quickly, and whose process could end up costing you some of your possessions as well as stress.

6. Specialize Moving Items

If you're a serious art collector, some professional movers may refuse to transport your valuable paintings and sculptures, which often necessitate specialized packing and handling. You'll need to employ a moving company that specializes in relocating artwork in this scenario. This may come at an additional cost, but your valuable possessions will be well-cared for.

7. Set Up Cost

When employing professional moving services, the cost of restocking your pantry is one of the most unanticipated costs of relocating.

Since perishable food items tend to spoil quickly after being removed from the refrigerator or freezer, professional movers are not permitted by law to pack and move them.

The problem is that transporting frozen foods in your vehicle while driving across the state or the country is not something you'll look forward to.

When moving, it's better to just leave all perishable food behind. However, after you've done it, you'll have to replenish the new-home pantry after the move is finalized, which is an additional cost that few home movers factor into their moving budget.

8. Overnight Fees

If the mover you hired is unable to unload your belongings on the scheduled day (some areas prohibit service operations to specific hours), you will almost certainly be charged an additional overnight cost. The company will advise the driver to leave your belongings locked safely in the truck overnight, and you may be required to pay additional fees as a result of the change of plans.

9. Unplanned Hotel Costs

Just because the moving truck has unloaded all of your belongings into your new house doesn't guarantee you'll be ready to set up your bed and settle in on that particular day. No doubt sleeping on the floor is inconvenient, and after a long journey, you might want to consider staying at a hotel overnight. Before you arrive in your new home, it's a good idea to plan for at least one night in a hotel

10. Packing Supplies

You've planned your budget for your relocation, but have you thought of how many boxes, rolls of tape, blankets, and bundles of packing paper you'll need?

Full-service moving firms provide a packing service and packing materials as an add-on option. It's totally up to you whether you want to pack your belongings yourself (the moving company cannot cover any potential damage to your belongings unless packing is done by them) or hire expert packers.

The packaging service pricing may or may not include the necessary packing materials. Study the price quote carefully or just contact the mover for clarification to learn this information.

11. Under-Insured Items

Accidents can happen at any time, but when they happen to your cherished possessions while you're moving, you could lose money. A reliable moving company will include basic damage insurance, although if you're transporting high-value items like a painting or chandelier, you may want to acquire additional insurance to cover the expense of replacement.

12. Move Cancellation Fee

Your moving plans may have changed at the last minute, or you may have opted to use a different moving company. However, be aware that canceling a scheduled move may result in additional costs.

Every moving agency has its policy about cancellations. And, since it's one of the most common hidden moving fees, you must make sure you understand the terms to prevent incurring additional costs.

You won't generally be charged a cancellation fee if you give more than a week's notice, so there will be no unanticipated moving costs.

13. Tipping Fees

Your movers will ask you to sign any final papers and hope to obtain a tip for their services after the work is over.

The majority of moving companies do not include a tip in their estimates. The basic rule of thumb is to calculate your tip on a percentage of your overall moving cost; the industry norm is 15%–20%.

Don't feel obligated to tip if you don't think it's necessary; nonetheless, movers love being recognized for their work.

14. Costs of Boarding Pets

When your long distance movers arrive on Moving Day, the packing and loading process can become a bit frantic, so any pets roaming around the movers' feet while huge and heavy furniture pieces are being taken out of the house will be unsafe.

Ideally, you should keep your dog or cat in a room away from the packing and moving hub. However, if that isn't possible for any reason, you may have to entrust your pets to a boarding kennel until the movers are finished.

15. Pricing Method

Customers are increasingly preferring movers who offer a flat rate for moving because it offers them predictability and peace of mind. However, not all movers charge the same amount. Thus, it's important to be aware of the three different ways.

  1. Hourly rate movers: Which can sometimes be impacted by the travel time and unanticipated delays
  2. Weight-based: This can’t be confirmed until the truck is loaded and ready to be transported
  3. Volume: Based on cubic square feet of furniture being moved
  4. Flat rate movers: Fixed pricing on entire moving job

Having known all about the hidden moving costs, it's time to take action and ensure you don't face any hidden charges when moving. Contact us today to get a free quote from us.

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving. Chris has a keen eye for detail and brings intelligence and passion to every project he’s involved with.

While getting his degree in communications from Santa Clara University, Chris started out with the company working in the field as part of our team of professional moving associates. Following graduation, he was promoted to our main office, where he has thrived in a role that involves increasing responsibility and requires him to wear many different hats. Some days, you may find him answering the phone and providing moving estimates, others he may be writing for our moving blog, and another day he may be coordinating a large corporate moving job or helping us with our marketing efforts. Chris has authored many of our in-depth moving guides, as well as provided our clients with information and advice to handle the complexities of their upcoming moving plans. Simply put, there’s nothing he can’t do and we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.

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