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How to Plan and Pay for a Move

How to Plan and Pay for a Move
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated February 24, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
You can get a personal loan to move if that’s what you decide is best for you.Whether you’re headed to a new home across town or across the country, moving is a big job. The process can quickly become overwhelming, so it’s helpful to have a checklist you can work through to help you stay organized. Moving can also be pricey. If you’re moving for work, your employer might cover the cost. But more often than not, you’ll have to pay for a move yourself, in which case it’s important to know all your options. Moving expenses almost always end up costing you more than you expected.

Moving Checklist: Before Moving 

Creating a moving checklist will keep you focused on the right priorities.

Pick a Moving Date 

First thing on your checklist for moving: Pick a moving date. You may not have much say in the matter if your lease is up or you’ve sold your house and the new owner needs to move in on a certain day. But if you do have some flexibility, you may want to schedule your move on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. On weekdays movers are in less demand and more likely to offer you lower rates. May through September is the most expensive time to move, since the weather is good and children are out of school. If you have a lot of leeway in schedule and can move in the off season, you’ll also likely find cheaper rates.  

Find a Moving Company 

When you know when you need to move, get a quote from a handful of moving companies to get an idea of what you’ll pay and who offers the best deal. Keep in mind that cheapest is not always the best, especially if a budget company ends up being rough on your stuff. Make sure that your moving to do list includes asking if the moving company has insurance, and if not, consider seeking it out yourself.

Create a Moving Budget 

The cost of a local move ranges between $875 and $2,350, according to HomeAdvisor. Cost could include an hourly rate for movers, a flat fee, or a combination of the two. A cross-country move will cost anywhere from $2,200 to $5,700 and price will depend largely on distance and weight. When building your moving budget, factor in the cost of movers, but also items like repairs you need to make to your old place and the cost of transporting yourself to your new home. 

Sell Unwanted Goods 

If there’s furniture, kitchen items, clothing, or anything else you don’t want to take with you, consider selling it online or at a vintage store. The extra cash you generate from these sales can help offset the cost of a move or help you buy new things when you’re in your new home. 

Cancel Subscriptions 

If you’re paying for any local subscriptions, like a gym membership or CSA, you’ll want to cancel those before you move. You may have to do so a month in advance to ensure you aren’t charged for an extra month. 

Start Packing 

One you’ve whittled down your belongings to the things you want to transport, next on your moving-in checklist is collecting boxes. You can purchase new boxes or reach out to friends or local listservs to see if anyone has used boxes they’d be willing to let you have. Start by packing items that you don’t need currently in your day-to-day life, such as Christmas ornaments or extra bedding. You’ll want to pack your essentials last, like kitchenware you use daily, electronics, and clothing. 

Finalize Important Details 

Last thing on the checklist for moving: Once packed and ready to go, confirm all or your bookings for movers and any travel plans you have for yourself. There may also be some loose ends you’ll still need to deal with in your old town. For example, if you banked locally, you may need to close your account, switching to a national bank or a regional bank in your new hometown. 

Paying for Moving Expenses 

Personal Savings 

There are a few different ways of paying for moving expenses. If you have the cash on hand, this may be the cheapest way to fund a move. In fact, some moving companies may even offer you a small discount if you’re willing to pay upfront in cash. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding the money to pay for your move later. So, if you have the time in the run-up to your move, make saving for your move a line item in your budget. 

Personal Loans

If you don’t have the chance to save the money to pay for a move in cash, you may want to look into different types of personal loans, especially if you have good credit. You can apply for a personal loan for moving at a bank, a credit union, or other lender. There are a number of pros of obtaining a personal loan. The loan lenders offer an unsecured lump sum and don’t restrict how you must spend the money. You’ll repay the loan each month with interest. Terms and interest rates will vary by lender, and whether you qualify for a personal loan will be determined in part based on your personal finances, including your credit score. Defaulting on a personal loan is bad for your finances in many ways. The higher your score, the more likely you will be offered preferable rates. You can read more on paying off personal loans.

Credit Cards 

Ideally, you would only use your credit card to pay for a move if you can pay it off at the end of the month. Doing so might be a good way to earn points and other rewards. You may even get a credit card that offers zero interest rates for an introductory period of time, during which you’ll have time to pay off the cost of your  move. That said, credit cards tend to offer extremely high interest rates, which hover around an average of 16%, so if you’re unable to pay your bill, you may find yourself in ever widening circles of debt. However, if you don’t have the cash for your move and you don’t have the credit score to qualify for a personal loan, a credit card may be your only option. Just be sure to prioritize paying down this debt as fast as you can. 

Moving Checklist: After You Move 

When moving, a checklist is key. And after moving, it is important too.

Confirm New Property Is in Good Condition 

When you move in, make sure that everything is in good working order. If you’re a renter make note of any existing damage or items in need of repair. Take a photo and alert your landlord so you’re not dinged for the repair when you eventually move out. Do this before you even start unpacking so it’s clear the damage was done before you moved in. If you own the property, have repairs made as swiftly as possible, so you’re able to comfortably settle into your home. 

Begin Unpacking 

Once you’re in your new digs, start unpacking. Focus first on essential items like kitchenware, clothing, and bedding. Once you’ve unpacked these, start unpacking the rest of your belongings room by room.

Turn on Utilities 

Important utilities like gas, electricity, and water will likely still be on when you move in. However, make sure to start an account for each in your own name to ensure they stay on. Call your internet provider to install the equipment you’ll need to get online. 

Change the Locks 

You never know how many people the last inhabitants of your home gave a key to. To ensure your pad is safe, consider changing the locks or at least adding a deadbolt. If you’re renting, ask the landlord if they changed the locks before you moved in, and if not, have them changed. 

The Takeaway 

Moving doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. A checklist for moving can help you plan and execute your move with a minimum amount of stress. Make paying for the move a part of the planning process, so you have  time to save enough cash or take out a personal loan. To learn more about personal loans and compare rates, visit Lantern by SoFi. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do You Need to Do Before Moving?
What Is a Moving Checklist?
How Do You Create a Moving To-Do List?
Photo credit: iStock/Shutter2U

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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