8 Hidden Moving Costs and How to Handle Them

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated December 28, 2021
Father and son moving boxes
Photo: MoMo Productions / DigitalVision / Getty Images


  • There are hidden fees such as assembling furniture and tipping movers when moving.

  • Packing a home costs $270–$2,200

  • It costs $4 to $8 per hour to tip a mover. 

  • Cut costs by having friends help you or borrowing moving supplies. 

  • Look into low-cost services to reduce moving costs.

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Moving day can be an exciting but overwhelming time, with boxes all over your home and movers coming in and out. While most homeowners know that moving may take a toll on your wallet, it can be challenging to calculate relocation costs. Below are some common hidden moving costs and tips for being as cost-efficient as possible. 

1. Packing and Unpacking

If you’re hiring professional help when packing up your home, this will significantly factor into your total moving cost. On average, the cost of packing a home ranges from roughly $270 to $2,200. If you’re going a step further and hiring someone to also unpack for you, you can expect to pay from $370 to $3,600. To get the best bang for your buck, do some research on local packing andunpacking services to ensure you get a good deal and that the company is reputable.  

To save in this area, you can opt to pack all of your items yourself. This may be more manageable for people who live with someone else. Pick out a day to allocate toward packing, and make sure this day stays free on your calendar. 

If you live by yourself, consider reaching out to friends and family to ask if they’d be able to lend a hand. As long as you ensure you’ll reciprocate the favor, your loved ones will likely be happy to help. 

2. Packing Supplies

Using tape to pack cardboard boxes
Photo: boonchai wedmakawand / Moment / Getty Images

One of the biggest time-consuming activities when moving is packing and will likely involve purchasing moving supplies, such as boxes, tape, plastic wrap, and bubble cushioning. This will add to your moving cost. On average, packing materials cost $170 to $740, depending on the size of your home and the amount of furniture you have. 

To save on supplies, check around your home to see what you already have. It’s common to find cardboard boxes and tape lying around or stuffed into boxes in the attic. You can also pack in tupperware, suitcases, or plastic bins that have no other use. 

Once you’ve used all of your existing items, you can save more by buying supplies from a recycled box company or see if you know anyone who has extra packing supplies lying around. You may be surprised to find that your local grocery store or bakery has some boxes to spare. 

3. Moving Insurance

You may not consider moving insurance necessary, but once you lose your favorite blanket in the moving process, you might think differently. If you purchase moving insurance, you’re guaranteed to receive some amount of reimbursement if there’s a problem, such as a lost or broken item. 

The most cost-efficient option here is to purchase moving insurance since you’ll likely have to pay more to get valuable goods fixed or replaced. 

4. Tipping Movers

Professional movers loading moving truck
Photo: MartinPrescott / E+ / Getty Images

This is one hidden moving cost you shouldn’t try to get around. Moving pros work hard and will understandably expect a tip. The typical cost for tipping movers/packers is around $4 to $8 per person per hour.

Since this is a courtesy expectation, the only way to lower your moving costs is to hire a low-cost moving company.

To do this, research several companies and figure out which one best fits your budget. Make sure you plan for this by setting aside money before the end of your moving day comes so you can be ready. 

5. Boarding Pets

Young woman on an airplane with her pet
Photo: Su Arslanoglu / E+ / Getty Images

Of course, leaving your pet at home isn’t going to cut it. If you’re flying to your new home, bringing a furry friend on the plane will be a cost to consider. On average, it costs around $50 to board a dog, but prices can range from $40 to $60

6. Bulky or Heavy Items

Unsurprisingly, if you have bulky or heavy items, expect to pay additional fees. It’s good to be aware of these costs in advance. For instance, if you’re moving objects such as pianos, large tables, or hot tubs, your moving costs will increase. You can expect to pay about $550 to move a pool table. To reduce these fees, consider selling any item you don’t want or use anymore. You can use eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or virtually any social media platform to sell your belongings. Or set up a garage sale or an online sale, and wait for the dough to roll in. 

7. Assembling Furniture

Some furniture pieces are complicated to assemble, so it’s understandable to want to hire someone for help. On average, it costs roughly $120 to $180 to assemble furniture, depending on its size and the specific piece. 

If you’re set on hiring a professional furniture assembler near you, one way to reduce costs is by picking the most low-cost service you can find. That being said, you also want to choose a reputable service. Do your research and weigh several options before hiring a company. 

On the flip side, the most efficient way to cut costs here is by doing the task yourself. You can usually find detailed instructions on user manuals and videos online of other homeowners assembling their furniture. 

8. Express Delivery

If you’re trying to get your new home set up as quickly as possible, you’re not alone. It can be a pain to have a drawn-out moving process. Expect to pay extra when requesting express delivery. 

The only way around these extra costs is to get in line and ship via standard delivery. While this will likely take longer, your wallet may thank you later.

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