Relocating for a new job can be incredibly rewarding. According to a survey of over 3,000 people who’ve gone through the process, 71% report enjoying new experiences, 51% say the move put their career on a better track, and 40% found a community they like more as a result.
But before you can get to all the good stuff, it can be difficult to see past the initial hit to your bank account, depending on how generous of a relocation package you can negotiate.
We’ve pored over the budget estimates for different steps of process and scrounged up various expense tools so you can find out how much you’ll need to spend to sell your house, move from point A to B, get settled, ultimately better calculate the total cost to relocate.
Costs of selling your house: Factor in home prep, agent commissions, and extra fees
The thought of selling your home might bring dollar signs to mind, but don’t forget about the costs that go into this process. Depending on your state’s customary fees and the condition of your home, you should budget 7%-10% of the total sale price toward home prep, commissions, and closing costs.
You should also factor in the time and energy you’ll spend on getting the house market-ready and finding a buyer. If the hassles of repairs, stagings, showings aren’t worth it or you’re new employer’s given you a tight timeline, accepting a cash offer could be an attractive option.
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Costs to move your stuff: Comparing trucks, containers, and full-service movers
When it comes to relocating a long distance, or even out of state, you can expect the move to be more expensive than one across town. You likely won’t be able to rely on a local moving company, or the kindness of friends and family to get your stuff from one city to another.
Generally, there are three recommended routes to take on your long distance move:
- Rent a truck
If you don’t mind a DIY move, renting a truck might be the low-budget solution to your move. If you just rent a truck, you’ll have to pack, load, move, and haul your things across the country.
- Get a container
A newer and mid-budget alternative to hauling is using a container service (like PODS or U-Pack). These companies will drop an empty container at your home. You’ll pack it, they’ll transport it, and you can unpack it at your destination.
- Hire a moving company
Experienced professionals will come to your home, load everything up, haul it to your new home, and unload it there. This service typically comes with carrying insurance, so your property is insured during the move.
HomeAdvisor estimates the cost of a truck rental move to be $3,000; a container at $4,500, and moving company at $10,000, but all of this can vary greatly depending on how much stuff you have and how far you’re going.
Account for hauling heavy items
Awkward, bulky, or oversized items come with challenges of their own in the move. Many times, they’ll require additional costs or even specialty movers.
Specialty items include:
If you’re not driving your vehicle in the move, you’ll need to pay to have it transported. Depending on the distance of the move, as well as the size of your car, you’ll pay anywhere between $700-$1,200.
Moving this bulky musical instrument typically requires special equipment and professional movers. The total cost of the move will vary based on distance, the size of the piano, and how it’s moved out of the home, but you can expect to pay $600 or more.
- Pool tables, jacuzzis, and other specialty items
Large, bulky specialty items often require a particular moving expertise. With intricate and delicate pieces, you don’t want to risk damaging or breaking these things by moving them yourself. Professional moving and hauling companies will often add these services on, but if you want to use a specialized mover, prices start at $400 on average.
Costs of getting there: Transportation, food, and temporary housing
You might’ve figured out how your stuff will get from one point to another, but you’ve still got yourself to consider. While the tried-and-true rule was that anyone relocating over 50 miles for a job could deduct moving expenses, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of January 2018 amended it to only include active military.
- The total cost of packing materials, moving, and storing (up to 30 days after your move) everything in your home
- Hotel bills during the move itself (but no meals or snack breaks!)
- Gas and oil bills for the trip, or the standard mileage rate of 18 cents a mile
- The cost of disconnecting utilities at your old home and hookups at the new home
If you’re a civilian, spend a few hours mapping out your route and all of your food, gas, and lodging costs for the journey (you’ll need to pay them anyway). This way, even if you can’t document these expenses when you file taxes, you at least won’t have sticker shock in the middle of a stressful move.
Costs of settling in
Once you get yourself and your possessions to your new city, you’ll have to factor in any expenses related to your new housing set up such as finding a place to stay (permanent or temporary), storage unit rental, and utilities.
Buying a new home
Cursory research of the market and a great real estate agent can help you understand how far the profit from your home sale can take you in a down payment and closing costs (approximately 2%-5% of the sale price) on your next property.
Depending on where you’re headed, you might find it easy and affordable to make a down payment on a property quickly.
Top performing Kansas City, Missouri, agent Tim Ray sees this happen frequently in his market:
“For people moving here, it’s still so stinking affordable to live here. So coming from almost anywhere you’re going to sell a house, you’re gonna be able to buy a bigger one for less money in Kansas City. So it’s easier for them to make these remote decisions on purchasing.”
Many buyers intend to relocate and immediately move into a place they’ve already purchased, but Ray says about 40% of people who relocate decide to wait on buying a home until they’ve checked out their new city.
“They say, ‘There’s so many great areas in Kansas City. I think it would be best for me to get like an executive suite or something like that for a year until I really get my feet wet with the market, and then we’ll buy.’”
Temporary short-term housing is worth considering while searching for your new home. Depending on your timeline for buying a new home, as well as the relocation package your company set you up with, you might opt for short-term corporate housing.
The cost per night will vary depending on the market, but these fully furnished units will cost about $150 a night on average.
Other options for temporary housing include searching Airbnb, Craigslist’s sublets section, Apartments.com, or your personal network within your new city.
While the cost of your temporary housing will vary by market, you can expect it to cost more than an average rental in the area.
If you’re looking for a short term and furnished unit, you’ll pay between 20%-40% more than unfurnished options in your area.
Utilities will vary by the size of your home, your cost of living, as well as the climate you live in. However, on average, monthly utility bills are priced as follows:
- Electricity, $183
- Natural Gas, $82
- Water, $40
- Cable, $100
- Internet, $47
- Garbage/Sewer/Recycling, $12-$20
Storage unit rental
While you’re waiting for that perfect property to hit the market, you might choose to stash some furniture and home goods in an offsite storage unit. Cost of a unit ranges based on size, as well as if the space has climate control or not. Move.org offers a rundown of national averages:
|Average price per month||$60||$70||$110||$130||$180|
|Average climate-controlled price per month||$75||$88||$138||$163||$225|
A good rule of thumb is you can spend 20%-30% of the cost of the home furnishing it. But there’s no hard and fast rule. When you factor in the quality of the furnishings, as well as the size of your home, budgets range all over the place. On average, a person spends about $8,176 on furniture in their home.
Taking advantage of second hands, yard sales, and Craigslist could help you reduce this cost.
Costs of your new job
When it comes to relocating for a job, over half of those who have done so cite career advancement and/or money as the main driver. But you want to make sure that a flashy title and higher paycheck will bring you the prosperity you envision, and not lead to disappointment down the road.
Salary and cost of living
Your new job offer might come with a shiny new salary bump but beware of cost of living increases. What seems like an amazing salary for your current city might not take you nearly as far in your new town.
To get a better idea of your new financial footing, you can use Salary.com’s Cost of Living calculator. You can see how far your current salary spends in your new city or vice versa. To get an overall sense of cost of living and quality of life in your new locale, try Numbeo—the world’s largest cost of living database.
You’ll also want to factor in the cost of your commute to work from your new place. If you’re driving, Rideshare.com can give you an estimate of the cost of your commute annually, as well as wear and tear to your car.
Assuming your drive to work is around the 19-mile average and considering the IRS standard mileage rate for 2019, your commute will cost you around $110.20 weekly.
What can’t be factored in is the value of your time, or the opportunity cost. If you’re between a few neighborhoods, it’s worth considering one closer to work for a better commute.
Costs covered by your employer
Among people who have relocated for a job, 62.6% of them were offered relocation packages by their employers. Relocation packages vary by company and offer, but most will include some or all of the following:
- Lump sum
- Covering a portion of moving expenses
- Temporary living expenses
- Miscellaneous expense allowance
- Trips to search for housing before a move
According to national professional movers Atlas Van Lines, employers offering lump sum payments is on the rise (56%), while full reimbursement is at a historic low (36%). The lump sum payment can seem mouthwateringly appealing when you see it on a job offer, but depending on the method with which you move, your budget can quickly go out the window.
Don’t forget, the lump sum typically shows up as salary on your W-2, meaning you’ll need to account for taxes before budgeting the money out.
Larger companies might connect you with a relocation services subcontractor, or ask for receipts to be reimbursed. Check the fine print of your contract to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits offered.
If your offer doesn’t come with a relocation package, consider countering with one. The package or partial reimbursement is a one-time payment—it could be easier to obtain than a higher salary overall. If you’re negotiating for relocation fees, remember:
- Do the research on how much the move will cost you and have a budget in mind.
- Make it ironclad. Ask for your written offer to be amended and updated with details on relocation reimbursement.
Don’t let the expense or stress of relocating keep you from a new opportunity, city, and life. Through planning and a well-planned budget, one of life’s most stressful events can become a manageable one.
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