Rights & Money

The Hidden Costs of Moving

Moving house always involves surprises—don’t let them be financial shocks

By Matt Smith

It’s easy to underestimate the costs of moving. The process is rarely as simple as hiring a crew and a truck—and even that can get tricky: hiring the cheapest company you can find might seem a good idea, but it may well end up costing you more in the long run. Nobody wants to have to fork over extra cash to replace items damaged—or lost—in a move. What’s more, companies that advertise themselves as a less expensive option may not be completely up front about their total costs. Be thorough—and realistic—when comparing your options and bear in mind that choosing a company with an hourly rate might result in a total cost higher than you would have paid had you gone with a competitor charging a flat fee.

Many companies add on additional fees for things such as large furniture pieces or for navigating a flight of stairs. If you have delicate or unusual items—such as artwork or a piano—you may need to hire specialist movers in addition to the regular crew. If it’s a big job that can’t be completed in one day, be aware that some movers charge an additional “overnight fee” for hanging on to your belongings. In some circumstances, you may even need to rent storage space while transitioning homes.

It’s not only your stuff that may need a home-between-homes, but you. If you’re planning a big, multi-day move, don’t neglect the added cost of a hotel for the nights you’re transitioning. If you have pets, this may mean booking them a stay at the kennel, as well.

Even if you choose to tackle the move yourself, there’s no escaping hidden costs. Be mindful of the effect that taking time off work may have on your paycheque. In addition, don’t underestimate the cost of gas and truck-rental fees. If you’re renting a vehicle, you may also want to consider investing in insurance.

However you get from A to B, there are more costs to consider. For an apartment, there may be a security deposit. And don’t forget about any installation fees for utilities, cable, and Internet at your new home, or any possible cancellation fees for those at your old one. Then there’s the cost of painting and redecorating.

Finally, if you’ve moved to a new house or condo, there will be transaction costs such as the fees that your realtor or mortgage broker may charge, as well as land transfer tax (also known as welcome tax) to consider.


Photo: iStock/Lordn.