The TRUE Cost of Moving

I’m a numbers guy – which makes sense since I enjoy using my free time to obsess about my finances (in a public forum too). I analyze and crunch the numbers to make sure that almost every decision I make really makes sense when considering the financial impact. In many ways, it makes difficult decisions much easier.

It’s a way of simplifying life into numbers, even though we know that REAL LIFE decisions are much MORE COMPLICATED.

Take moving as an example – something that my wife are on the verge of doing.

I used to think that calculating the cost of moving was simple. The calculation looked something like this:

Cost of packing supplies + cost of movers (optional) + uhaul rental = cost of moving

Oh boy, was I wrong…


This is one corner of our living room…

The Real Cost of Moving

While that may give me the surface-level financial impact of moving, it doesn’t even come close to capturing the “cost” or the total that we are giving up to relocate. Here’s a better picture of what it costs to move.

Say Goodbye to Friends

If you are moving out of state, like we are, it first and foremost means a sad goodbye to your friends. My wife and I have spent 4 years living in New Jersey and we will be sad to say goodbye to many of our close friends. We moved here without knowing a soul – and we are happy that we made friends and were able to journey with others – if only for a moment.

While I am sure many of you know the true impact of saying goodbye to friends, for those who are financially-minded, saying goodbye to friends means fewer free nights of enjoying other people’s company, which means more expenses in entertainment. It’s easy to watch a basketball game at the home of someone you already know. It’s impossible to do with a complete stranger. This means more going out, public events, and so forth are in our future as we try to make new friends in a new place. This comes with a cost, but again, another example of how money doesn’t measure the true cost.

Friends are more than money – but losing them is still a “cost.”

Having a Home/Apartment, but Lacking a Home

Just last night as I was packing up while my wife finishes her thesis, I got around to our coffee table. It has a glass top and it was taking up too much space in our living room. We were trying to keep it in it’s normal position so long that we were forced to jump over boxes in our narrow hallways.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed the space for boxes. It was time to wrap it up and stand it on end in a corner to free up the space.

That’s when my wife, in the other room, rejected this (arguably brilliant) idea.

“I don’t want to pack it. Having that there makes it feel like home,” she remarked.

While she is clearly adjusting to the inevitable fate of living with boxes for the next couple of days, her comment helped me see the true cost of moving more clearly (and is the inspiration behind this post).

Moving isn’t just about numbers and dollar signs. Of course I can tell you that we’ve used 19 medium boxes, 8 large boxes, and a number of other plastic tubs. All of these cost money (except we got the boxes for free thanks to my savvy planning). But, it’s more than that.

It is about not feeling at home – both in the place that you are leaving and in the new place.

Having a place to call home is a powerful thing – it provides shelter (protecting you from storms, cold & hot temperatures, etc.) at it’s most basic sense, but it is also the most common place where memories happen.

For us, we’re now in a stage where that feeling of being at home is quickly disappearing – if not gone already. It’s only temporary, but it’s not something to ignore.

While I am still days away from the big move, I have already learned that moving, like all of life is more than numbers and dollar signs. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the financial impact, but instead avoid simplifying everything into these numbers – as I tend to do.

5 Responses to The TRUE Cost of Moving

  1. Nick says:

    We just moved from NJ to MA and had a similar experience. What a pain. But the plan is to stay where we are until they bag me and tag me. I’d rather staple my tongue to a burning building than go through that big of a move again… (only slightly exaggerating).

    Good luck with the move, Corey.


  2. Micro says:

    I had a similar situation when I moved but I was looking at it with a different analysis. I usually tend to compare rents and also subtrack the cost of moving supplies. What I didn’t take into account was all the application fees and deposit that come with a new apartment. These all add up and made a bigger difference than I was expecting. I still saved money over the long run but it wasn’t as much as I originally thought.

  3. You’ve hit the nail on the head, this is one of the reasons I’m reluctant to move. For me moving makes financial sense however leaving friends and memories behind stops me. I will eventually move though as finances must come first if you want to build wealth. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  4. If a move makes financial sense you need to move. If you want your friends and family more than future security you need to be fully aware of the choice you are making. I like this post, thanks for sharing Mr Fick.

  5. Kylie Ofiu says:

    Yep. I added up all the costs of moving recently when my rent came up for renewal. I plan on buying again at the end of 2014 (got divorced and sold my house in 2013, so starting over). After adding up ALL the costs, including the emotional (my daughters need stability at this time), best idea was for us to stay.

    Financially, I could rent for less elsewhere, but when I factored in the costs such as renting a truck, cleaning out the house, time to pack etc. I was only going to be in front by about $20 a week. And my daughters have settled here, it’s our home and we haven’t felt at home in a very long time.

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