Moving is expensive: Here’s how to pay for it


This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet

Packing your things and moving to a new home is a financial hurdle even in the best of times, but higher demand for moving-related services in the summer can send prices skyrocketing.

If you’re wondering how to pay for an upcoming move, there are financing options, including credit cards and unsecured personal loans. You’ll want to minimize interest, though, and only borrow what you need.

By taking the time to get multiple quotes, moving some stuff yourself or getting rid of belongings, you can lower the amount you need to borrow or avoid financing altogether.

What to expect for moving prices this summer

One piece of good news for prospective movers: The cost of moving this summer will likely be lower compared to summers prior.

“The COVID years proved to be some of our highest demand periods where people were making housing decisions and work location decisions that were completely out of the norm,” says Steven McKenna, vice president and general manager of Allied Van Lines, one of the largest moving companies in the country. “This year, it’s come back down to earth a bit.”

Higher interest rates and a slower housing market are likely behind the decrease, says Ryan Carrigan, co-founder of moveBuddha, a website where you can compare and book movers. The company’s data and data from major partners, he says, already show a drop in demand for the first half of this year.

Still, prospective movers shouldn’t expect too much of a break. Though prices are down year-over-year, you can still expect to pay a 10% to 20% summer premium, says McKenna.

Also see: Here’s how much to tip everyone — and a list of people you should never tip

Financing options for your move

It’s best to pay for your move with savings, but if that’s not an option, you could finance.

Rob Bertman, a certified financial planner based in St. Louis, advises picking the product with the lowest interest rate to reduce the cost of borrowing.

A credit card with an introductory 0% annual percentage rate may be an especially good option, says Bertman. These cards are interest-free if you pay off the debt during the promotional period, which can last up to 21 months. You’ll likely need good or excellent credit to qualify.

Moving loans — unsecured personal loans offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders — are available to borrowers across the credit spectrum, but interest can be high, depending on the rate you qualify for.

Bertman urges borrowers to focus on a plan for repayment, regardless of the product they choose.

“That’s actually the most important thing,” Bertman says. “Above and beyond how someone goes about financing is, ‘How am I going to pay this back and how long will it take me to pay it back?’”

Also see: ‘That can actually throw you into a tailspin’: Monthly credit card fees have been a rarity—until now

Ways to save on your move

There are ways to reduce moving costs, which can help you borrow less or even pay in cash. Though you can’t control factors like distance, you can control hiring, packing and overall weight.

Get multiple quotes: Quotes from professional movers can vary by thousands of dollars, particularly if it’s a long-distance move, Carrigan says, so get three to four quotes minimum.

“Pricing is dynamic and comes down to factors like does the company have trucks built up in that area, or do they need a reverse route covered so the truck doesn’t go empty,” he says.

“DIY” what you can: Moving yourself is cheap, but it’s not an option for everyone. Consider a partial do-it-yourself approach, where you move lower-weight items, but use professional movers for heavy items like furniture. You can also pack yourself, but know the risks.

“If you’ve got the mover packing, it’s done in a professional way, and there’s more protection if there’s damage,” McKenna says.

Purge your things: One of the simplest ways to reduce costs is to move less stuff. Weight is a major factor in the cost of your move — and more stuff takes longer to load and unload. Sell or donate what you don’t need.

Also see: How to finance a summer vacation

Beware of scams: Look for online reviews or ask for references when considering a moving company. Interstate movers must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and have a U.S. DOT number, a unique identifier that tracks safety information. If something feels off, listen to your gut. It can save you from a bigger financial headache later.

“At the end of the day, you don’t just want to go with the lowest-cost provider,” Bertman says. “You want to go with the person who’s going to do the best job at the lowest price.”

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Jackie Veling writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected].

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