Cross-country moves: Hidden costs and tips on how to save

Moving across the country is a major endeavor. You’re uprooting your entire established life and taking on new and unique challenges miles away from your comfort zone. It can be a scary proposition, but it can also be exciting. Regardless of how you view moving, one thing is for certain: A cross-country trek will cost money, so you have to budget accordingly.

U.S. News and World Report said, citing the American Moving and Storage Association, the average cost of an out-of-state move costs $5,630. The average was calculated based on a mean weight of 7,100 lbs. Certainly, the average cost of an out-of-state move will vary depending on how much freight you’re shipping, the distance the cargo is going and if you’re unloading the goods into your new place upon arrival.

Moving won’t be a cheap expedition, but that’s not to say you can’t pinch pennies and save some cash on the way. Here are a few tips on how to spend wisely during a move:

  1. Make sure to time it well: Everybody may want to move during the summer and on a weekend. Certainly, that’s an ideal time to pack your things and go, but there are hidden costs to moving during this specific time. For example, the more you’re working, the more likely you’re going to want to blast the air conditioning in your old or new place, depending on where you’re located. Hotels may charge more during the summer and on weekends if you have to stay overnight and gas has historically risen in price during the warm-weather months. Movers are also busiest at the beginning and the end of the month. A mid-month move may save you some cash.
  2. Keep stuff, or leave it behind: To completely sidestep ambiguity here, it’s a good idea to check out sales tax in your new location and see if it will be more cost-effective to buy new things in your new location or to keep it and ship it the distance between point A and point B. It may be cheaper to stock up on certain things in your old hometown as opposed to the new area you’re moving.
  3. Add up the smaller costs: There are smaller costs that add up when you move to a new location. For instance, state vehicle registration and a new driver’s license will cost a small amount of money. If you’re taking pets with, it may pay to get the required vaccinations, if needed, beforehand. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggest pet owners visit their vet’s office to see what type of blood tests, vaccinations or certificates need to be passed; if you’ve been going to the same vet for years, they may help you out more than a new doctor would.
  4. Save on boxes: Hardware stores will charge a premium price to sell you dense paper products. Don’t fall into the trap! You can purchase used and recycled boxes on the cheap, and if you’re really trying to pinch pennies, go to local merchants and ask to use the boxes they’re going to throw out. Small to midsized businesses toss boxes regularly, and there’s no harm in asking if you can reuse their old boxes to move your personal possessions, including that vintage record collection you’re hanging on to. Even that 1982 vinyl copy of Duran Duran’s “Rio” you own; don’t worry, we’re not judging.
  5. Insure your items: It may seem counterintuitive to suggest paying money to cover the things you’re moving, but a cross-country move includes a lot of miles traveled, leaving room for many unfortunate events. Certainly, that’s the worst-case scenario, but if you don’t insure your goods, then you’ll end up replacing the essential items you need anyway, so you may as well play it safe.
  6. Get multiple quotes: Ah, the wonderful smell of capitalism. A free-market competition for your freight may drive prices down and keep those Franklin’s in your pocket. Consulting different moving firms and getting multiple quotes will help you save on a long-distance move. What’s more, online marketplaces like uShip provide movers with an outlet to seek out various distance movers, all of whom compete for listed freight. When companies are competing for your business, the price is likely going to go down.

Who’s got your back?

Another important question to ask when you’re making the long-distance move is this: Will your company help with the relocation process?

Data compiled by international mobility association Worldwide ERC found each company surveyed spends an average of $15,710,617 transferring its employees annually. The data included international transfers, which may have skewed the statistics slightly, but an underlying theme remains: Corporate-sized firms are willing to spend the cash to ensure their employees are taken care of from the beginning of the move until they’re settled in. Worldwide ERC also found the cost of shipping household goods for domestic employee transfers was nearly $12,500 in 2012.

While it may depend on your job situation, company and position in the organization, it doesn’t hurt to see what programs are available if you’re moving to a different location and working for the same business. If you’re switching companies, it may be beneficial to negotiate corporate’s help in covering expenses and ask what type of acclamation programs the company offers in the new location.

New employees can also see if they’re eligible for a tax break. The Internal Revenue Service outlines how taxpayers can write off certain moving expenses on their website. If you’re moving for a job change, you can deduct specific expenses such as transportation, storage for household goods and travel and lodging expenses incurred while you were in transit.

What’s more, if a company provides acclamation programs, they can help research the area ahead of time and provide you with the necessary information for a happy and healthy life in your new city. If not, it could pay to research the new location in advance and see where the best shopping is, where the best restaurants are, sign up for a new gym close to your new office or home or what types of recreational activities are available to pursue.