Photo: Marco Verch/Flickr
Discarded furniture, sweaty brows and illegally-parked vehicles can only mean one thing — summer moving season is upon us. While most people tend to focus on big-picture items when planning a move, like hiring a moving company or forking over realtor commissions, it’s the hidden costs that really add up. We asked PODS Lifestyle and Organization Expert Melissa Pollock to share her top tips on avoiding unexpected fees and expenses. After all, saving money on your move allows you to spend that cash on more important things, like pizza for your extremely generous friends or a sofa that actually fits through the front door.
1. Declutter before you move
Photo: James Bombales
“Many moving companies and labor help will charge you based on the amount and weight of stuff you’re moving,” says Pollock. Begin paring down your belongings a couple months before the big day — selling whatever you can and donating the rest to charity (hello, tax breaks). “This can both help cut costs and reduce stress,” says Pollock.
2. Don’t forget costs that moving calculators may not take into account
When your moving checklist is several pages long, it’s easy to forget about the elevator-usage deposit or hiring a dog sitter for Spot. “Even the most minute aspects of moving can add up,” warns Pollock. “Boxes, bubble wrap and other packing accessories can quickly add to your moving costs.” Be sure to check in with your moving company and the building manager to enquire about any unforeseen expenses. “There are sometimes charges for using elevators, stairs or moving bulky items like pianos. In addition, it could cost extra to haul your car, some companies have fuel surcharges, and other companies charge truck cleaning fees.”
3. Understand insurance-related charges
Photo: Sunset Removals/Flickr
It’s tempting to say ‘no thank you’ to insurance coverage when you’re already spending an arm and a leg on your move, but it can save you from experiencing major headaches later on. “Full-value protection moving insurance (over and above weight of items) can be purchased from most movers to cover the true cost of replacement for damaged belongings, rather than a per-pound reimbursement,” says Pollock. Those shattered crystal glasses ain’t gonna pay for themselves (unless you have insurance).
4. Make note of cancellation costs and important dates
You’re all packed and ready to go when suddenly you receive a call from your landlord — renovations are taking longer than expected and the unit won’t be ready until next week. “Cancellation costs for moving trucks or help may be hidden in your contract and can charge you up to $100 for a cancellation made one week from your scheduled date, and up to $300 or your full deposit if you’re cancelling less than five days before your scheduled move,” says Pollock. If this situation does arise, the onus is typically on the landlord to pay for alternate housing and storage fees — know your rights as a tenant!
5. Explore your options before deciding on a moving company
“Check out at least three different moving companies to make sure you’re finding the best fit for your needs,” suggests Pollock. While your Uncle Lewis might “know a guy” it’s wise to compare rates, read online reviews and verify credentials. “Also look outside the traditional moving solutions. If you have some tricky moving and closing dates, research portable moving containers so you can move and store your stuff only once, even if your timeline changes.”
6. Use what you have before buying more
Photo: Kelsey Pudloski
Who knew cardboard boxes could be so expensive? Pollock recommends using alternatives such as “suitcases, leftover TV boxes, laundry baskets, and bins.” Avoid landfill fillers like packing peanuts and bubble wrap and opt for “sheets, linens, scarves, towels and clothes” when padding delicate items. “Once you’ve used your items the best way you can, gather the materials you still need. You can collect boxes from friends, family members or local businesses,” says Pollock.
7. Don’t do it alone
“If you can get help from friends and family, you can save a lot of money,” says Pollock. As the old adage goes, “there are friends, and then there are friends who are willing to help you move.” If the move is a large undertaking think beyond pizza and beer — Pollock suggests giving a gift card as a more meaningful thank you.
8. Keep receipts and document donations
“Save your receipts and definitely document everything you donate to deduct from your taxes at the end of the year,” says Pollock. Buy an accordion pocket folder to keep everything organized and do some basic research on what you can claim on your tax form. Canadians moving at least 40 kilometers to be closer to work or school can deduct moving expenses, while Americans who move for a new job that is at least 50 miles away from their previous home can “deduct expenses for packing, transporting or storing household goods,” notes Pollock.
9. Don’t forget personal living expenses when you’re between homes
Photo: James Bombales
Moving across the country? “You’ll need to purchase plane, train or bus tickets if you’re not driving your belongings, and if you are driving, take into account gas, tolls and other road-related travel expenses,” says Pollock. Map out your route and search for discount hotels on sites like Hotwire or Trivago, or consider staying in an Airbnb for a more homelike environment. You can also pack your own travel snacks (much healthier than munching on Slim Jims) or use an app to locate the cheapest gas prices in your area.
10. Keep track of dates and fees for both where you’re leaving and where you’re going
“If there is a delay (between the end of your lease and your new home closing date, for example) that impacts your move, you may need storage for your belongings temporarily,” says Pollock. Other not-so-fun moving expenses that may arise include utility deposits, connection fees, cleaning services and “replacement costs for everything you didn’t move, but need to buy again, from food to cleaning products and toiletries.”