Unexpected Moving Costs You May Overlook

By Ashley Paskill on October 26, 2020

This article is brought to you by GradGuard. We protect college students and their families from the financial risks of college life, like providing a refund for tuition or replacing a stolen backpack when your school may not. When the unexpected happens, GradGuard’s tuition insurance and renters insurance can help you get back on track.

Whether you are moving to a new apartment at college or are moving back in with your family, you will undoubtedly come across quite a few expenses with moving. While some are obvious, like hiring a moving company, others may be less obvious. These can add up quickly, especially since you are on a student budget. However, knowing what expenses may arise can help you have the necessary money set aside so that you are not scrambling for money at the last minute.


If you have a lot of valuables, you may want to consider buying moving insurance for extra protection. That way, if something were to happen to your belongings while moving, you will be prepared. If you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, your policy may cover moving, so definitely check with your current policy before buying into a separate policy. You may even be able to bundle your insurance to save some money if your company offers separate moving insurance. Either way, having moving insurance will likely be an additional expense that you will have to consider.

Also, when you move, you may have a higher car insurance cost depending on your new location, and if you have your car or not. Some states have different laws for the coverage you will need, so check to see if you will need to add more coverage as a student. On the flip side, you may also be able to save some money depending on your new location. If you are moving to an urban setting from a more rural location, your car insurance is likely to increase some, but if you are moving from a city to a more rural place, you may be able to save some money. Check with your insurance company to see what kind of coverage you will need.

Your health insurance may also be impacted by your move. If you are moving out of state, your insurance company may not be available, or you may need to switch plans. It is possible that this will leave you paying more. Check with your school to see if they offer a student health insurance policy that can get you the coverage you need at a good price. If you are still under your parents’ insurance, check to see if you are covered where you are located. While you may not think you will need health insurance, the moment you do not have it is when you will need it, and paying out of pocket for health costs can be even more expensive than paying for health insurance.

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Higher seasonal prices

Due to an increase in demand, moving during the summer months tends to be more expensive than moving during other times of the year. This is due to kids being on summer break and people having scheduled vacation days. Unfortunately for college students who may be moving into new apartments over the summer, that means higher moving costs, especially if they are using a moving company. Even if you are not hiring a moving company, you will need to factor in high gas prices. If you know in advance that you are going to move over the summer, make sure you have enough money in your budget to account for any higher fees that may arise during the move.

Cleaning crew and supplies

While you may wish that moving just means moving your belongings out and being on your way, that is not the case. Many leases state that renters are expected to clean the apartment before moving out. This means that you will have to make sure you have enough cleaning supplies on hand to clean your apartment or hire a cleaning company. Both of these things have expenses attached. To help make these expenses less, clean regularly so that you do not have to scramble to buy all of your cleaning supplies and buy heavier-duty supplies to clean deeper.

Replacing items you did not move

When you move, you will likely decide to not take some items with you, especially bulky items such as furniture. You may either sell them or donate them to help reduce the amount of stuff you have to move. However, these may be items that you need when you get into your new place, so you will need to spend the money to replace them. To help save money, you may decide to rent furniture instead of buying. For other items, consider shopping at thrift stores or discount stores to help reduce the costs.

Along these same lines, you will also have to restock your groceries. Some staples such as flour, sugar, and canned goods are okay to move. However, refrigerated or frozen items can be difficult to move, especially if you are moving during the summer months. You may be able to use a cooler or bags designed to preserve food, but you are likely to be limited on the amount of space you have, especially if you are not hiring movers or renting a moving truck. Food items can be easily replaced, while some of your more valuable items cannot be repurchased. To help reduce grocery costs, use coupons, or store loyalty points that you have saved up.

Short-term lodging

If you are moving to an apartment near your school in a different state, you may need to spend the night in a hotel, especially if there is a significant distance. Some hotels are more expensive than others, but it is still an expense that is often overlooked. Using discount hotel booking sites can help you find the best deals for the area you will be in. Try to split up your trip in a way that you will be at the least expensive hotel for the night. Ideally, you will be able to drive from your starting location to your new place without stopping to spend the night somewhere, which is the most cost-effective way to move. You may also know people between your starting point and your new place, so you may be able to stay with them to help save money on lodging costs.

Extra housing costs

When you move to a new place, you will likely have to pay more for your first month’s rent or mortgage. Your real estate agent or landlord will let you know what to expect, but it is a good idea to have this money already set aside so that you are prepared. You want to make a good impression, especially your first month in a new place, so it is important to have the extra money you need so that you do not get off to a bad start with your landlord or mortgage company.

Lost wages

You may be moving from one apartment to another nearby, or you may be moving a greater distance. Either way, you will likely have to take time off work until you move or until you find a job closer to your new place. This means you will be missing wages from your time off. While this may seem obvious, make sure you factor your off time into your budget so that you have enough put aside for all of your moving expenses as well as other essentials you will need like school-related purchases and living expenses.

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Transportation fees

If you are planning on having a car with you, you are likely going to need a parking permit for parking on campus as well as in off-campus garages. Your landlord may even charge a parking fee for a spot. However, even if you opt to leave your car with your family, you will still need to find a way to commute to campus as well as other places. Public transportation and car-sharing options still cost money and can add up, so check to see if your school has deals with local public transportation or if your campus has free transportation options for getting around campus and between campus and your off-campus apartment. Also keep in mind that if you have a car, you will have to pay for gas, tires, and other maintenance that is necessary. If you decide to carpool, it is a courtesy that you pitch in gas money for the person driving, even if the person says they do not want to take the money.

Storage unit

If you are switching apartments near campus, you may decide to rent out a storage unit to help reduce the items you will have to replace down the line. While you save money by not having to replace these items, you will have to pay for the storage unit. To help reduce this cost, do not rent the unit for longer than necessary. Also, some storage units may have discounts on your first month of renting the unit, so be on the lookout for these deals to help save some money.

Security deposits

When you move into a new apartment, you will have to pay a security deposit just in case your landlord needs to fix any damage you may have caused to the apartment that cannot be easily covered up. This is charged with your first month’s rent. While you can get it back once you move out, landlords will try to find any reason to not give it back. If you are moving from one apartment to another, do not expect your former landlord to give you the security deposit back, and do not budget for it. That way, you are not let down if you do not have it, and you have some extra money if you do get it back. Be sure to include the security deposit in the list of expenses you will need to have money aside for.

Mover fees

While you will have the obvious costs of hiring movers, there are some hidden fees that are not as known about. For example, if your new apartment is not on the first floor and the apartment complex does not have an elevator, or the elevator is broken, the movers will charge a stair fee for having to move things up the stairs. Also, movers may have specific hours that they are willing to work and if they have to hold your items overnight, they will charge a fee for that. You may also decide to hire additional movers for more valuable items such as art or decorative pieces, which will mean more money.

Most movers will come ahead of time to inspect the amount of stuff you will be moving, but if they do not, you may have some additional fees if you plan on moving bulky items such as furniture. To avoid hefty mover fees, speak with your moving company and ask them for a breakdown of any fees they charge and do your best to avoid them. Communicate with them about any large items so they can prepare for the stuff you plan to move. Even if the movers do not come out to inspect what you plan to move, be open with how much or how little you plan to move, and be honest as this will help you get a better sense of how much you can expect to spend.

Other expenses

Even though you try to be as prepared as possible, there may be other unexpected costs to moving that are not listed or that you have not considered. Make sure you have enough money saved to help cover the costs you know about and some extra money to cover any other expenses that may pop up that you were not anticipating. It is important to be prepared so that you do not have to stress or go into more student debt just because of moving, so allow yourself some wiggle room in your budget. It is better to have too much money put aside than not enough.

Being on a student budget is tough, so knowing about all of the expenses you may come across when moving can help you be as prepared as possible to have money put aside.

It’s no secret that college costs a lot of money. Make sure your investment in higher education is protected with GradGuard. Our affordable tuition insurance and renters insurance plans are specifically designed for college students. Customizable plans make it easy to protect your tuition, room and board, laptop, bike, and so much more.

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