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The Actual Cost of Moving Yourself

When you have to move into a new apartment or house, you have only two choices. You can either do it all yourself, or you can hire professional movers. In most cases, the first choice ends up being much cheaper, which is a big reason why 75 percent of all moves are do-it-yourself affairs. Still, it’s by no means free and still can rack up a pretty bill.

To make sure you’re financially prepared and don’t suffer sticker shock, here’s a breakdown of common do-it-yourself moving expenses you need to consider, not including elements like security deposits and break-lease fees.

Here are 7 factors to consider when planning to move yourself.

1. Boxes

One of the simplest ways to save during a move is to get the boxes you need from grocery stores or other retail companies. These businesses get shipments regularly and so would simply recycle the boxes if you didn’t ask for them. Most will give you whatever boxes you need for free. Friends and family members also can provide boxes at no cost.

If you have to buy your boxes, look at home supply and department stores like Home Depot first. Movers and moving supply stores are happy to provide the same fare, but they generally do so at a markup from retail. Individual, run-of-the-mill boxes usually run between $1 and $3.75, depending on their size. Boxes that are appropriate for extremely large or awkwardly shaped items can run as much as $4.50 apiece.

It can be cheaper to buy boxes in a kit than individually—a kit usually contains at least one marker, roll of tape and box knife in addition to the boxes. Small 14-29 box kits, which are appropriate for one-bedroom apartments, usually run $69 to $90. The largest kits, which have 86 to 119 boxes and can handle a four-bedroom home, can run $311 to $404.

2. Packing materials

A general rule is that $100 should cover the cost of tape, bubble wrap, paper and Styrofoam peanuts.

3. Moving pads and blankets

As with boxes, moving companies tend to overcharge here. Home Depot and Harbor Freight typically can give you a better deal. Most people need 20-50 pads and blankets, and you can expect to pay $7-$20 each.

4. Moving truck

The cost of renting a moving truck varies based on the truck size, mileage and time used. For example, it costs an eight-hour (daily) rental is $20-$30 for a 14-foot truck and $40-$70 for a $24-foot truck. Companies then typically charge an additional $0.68-$1.10 per mile for local moves. (If you’re traveling across the country over several days, mileage fees are often capped at 3,450 miles, or mileage is unlimited.)

5. Insurance

Both rented moving trucks and car trailers normally aren’t covered under personal auto policies. Rental agreements usually include state minimum liability coverage, but you can purchase more coverage for better protection. Plans usually include coverage like damage waiver, towing, supplemental liability, cargo and personal accident. On average, the cost of insurance ranges from $14 to $30 per day.

6. Fuel

The default type of fuel for moving trucks used to be diesel, mainly because it offered better mileage than unleaded gasoline. But because companies are finding ways to improve unleaded mileage, and because unleaded trucks can be easier to maintain, this no longer is a hard rule.

With this in mind, the average cost of unleaded gasoline ranged from around $2.10 to $2.68 per gallon between May 2016 and November 2017. The average cost of diesel ranged from $2.38 to $2.92 per gallon for the same period.

7. Food

Stocking coolers with sandwiches and drinks can save money. If you eat out, plan $20 to $40 per person per day of the move, depending on whether you grab fast food or select a sit-down restaurant.

You might find your move has additional expenses aside from those listed here. For example, you might need to stay in a hotel, which can run anywhere from $60 to $120 a night. Use these points as a jumping off point to get you started, and then break down the deeper logistics of the move to consider if any other costs might come into play.

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