Tips & Advice

How much does it cost to move across the province or country?

If you have a big move on the horizon, you need to know what expenses to prepare for and how to keep costs low

Moving isn’t an easy task. Whether you move across the street or the country, you won’t be looking at a short process. Not only do you have to consider the cost, but you also need to be cutthroat with what belongings come with you and how to make the experience as stress-free as possible.

The challenge of moving was particularly hard for me last year when I transitioned from moving out of my previous rental unit and into my first-ever home. The task of organizing and packing, combined with closing on a property, proved to be costly and time-consuming. Now, add in the stress of doing this while trying to move across the province, and you suddenly have the potential for disaster. Thankfully, I’m not one to let the details slip. As such, I created a comprehensive breakdown of all expenses to consider if you plan to move across the province or country.

What are the costs to move house?

Packing and moving supplies

If you haven’t moved often, or you’ve never really strayed from the grocery and liquor-store cast-off boxes, then you’ll be quite surprised at the cost of solid packing materials. To defray moving costs, we certainly did check out the freebie boxes at the local grocery store, but we also knew that for the more fragile or essential items, we’d need something a bit more robust. That’s when we decided to purchase Rubbermaid bins. But even before you pack, it’s best to determine what’s important enough to keep (and move) and what you can let go. 

How can you decide what’s important to pack? World traveller, Wendy Lee, says it’s all about examining your wants versus your needs. 

“Often, in the chaos of moving, we simply pack everything and move items we haven’t touched in years from one location to the next,” says Lee. “Invest the time to go through things we’ve accumulated and embrace the fresh start.”

Smaller, but still essential expenses that we had to consider when it came to packing supplies were packing tape, moving blankets and a dolly. We had an option to rent these materials from the moving truck company. Still, after doing research and looking around, we found it to be more affordable to purchase these items on our own (plus, we had a feeling we’d use these items again in the future, anyway). 

Your moving date

Believe it or not, something that can increase or decrease the total cost of your move is the actual day you schedule your move. According to MovingLabor.com, the peak moving season is between April to September, in which 80% of Americans move house. 

The main reason most people choose to move during this period is because of the beautiful weather. No one wants to load a moving truck in January. We assume the same applies to Canadians, who also prefer significant life changes during better weather. Not to mention the prevalence of students who often leave university and college during these months to move back home for summer jobs.

Another factor that can add to the cost is when, during the month, you have to move. Quite often, moving companies are hectic at the start and end of a month and mid-month. To save money, you could try and schedule an “off-day” such as a Thursday just before mid-month. 

Just be sure to talk to your moving company before setting up a moving date. You want to verify truck availability and cost before finalizing details. 

Moving truck or professional movers

If you plan to move somewhere that’s within driving distance or that requires a lot of furniture moving cross-country, you are likely in need of a moving truck or professional moving company that specializes in long-distance moves

If you can do it on less and for less, that’s always an option, too. Meagan Loose, a 22-year old student, opted for just that. Her dream plan was to rent a truck and drive across the country, but financially, this wasn’t an option. Her solution was to sell most of her belongings and put what was leftover into three suitcases. 

“The baggage was probably another $150 on top of the plane ticket,” says Loose. “The less you have to carry with you when you move, the better.”

For us, selling everything wasn’t an option. Instead, we chose to complete a full do-it-yourself move. A DIY move meant finding a moving truck from U-Haul and booking the most significant size vehicle they had for three days. This more extended period would give us enough time to travel and unload without trying to do it all in 24 hours. 

Insurance needs for the vehicle

On top of the truck, we also splurged for the additional insurance. When it comes to insurance, make sure you read the fine print. People tend to decline coverage at the car rental shop because, in most cases, your everyday vehicle insurance will cover rental cars. It won’t be the same for larger vehicles like a moving truck. Trailers or trucks over a certain weight require additional coverage.

You have two options to insure the moving vehicle: go through your insurance to add additional coverage or pay for the protection from the moving company. At the very minimum, you should insure the moving truck for its total value in case of an accident.

U-Haul offers a variety of Safemove® insurance package options. According to the website, the very minimum package has protection for the rental truck and everything inside – including the drivers and passengers. They also offer damage waivers, cargo coverage, medical and life insurance. Budget Truck rentals offer similar protection packages. According to the website, they offer Supplemental Liability Insurance Coverage, which will protect up to $1,000,000 in damages.

Quite often, insurance that covers your belongings comes with a variety of caveats. For example, some coverage will limit the claim amount per item. 

Insurance will have standard limits and custom limits. Standard limits have a maximum value no matter the actual dollar value, such as money or spare tires. In contrast, custom limits have individual limits on each item, such as jewelry or a bicycle. Double-check that you have enough coverage if you plan to leave your vehicle unattended for any period. 

If you ever need to make a claim after purchasing insurance from the moving company, be sure to complete an accident report and drop it off to the rental location. You must also deliver written notice of the claim to the rental company.

Storage for furniture

Although this wasn’t an expense for us, for most long-distance movers, storage plays a role one way or another. Most long-distance or city to city movers will provide one month of onsite storage included in your rental price. 

If you need to hold items in storage for longer than 30-days, the average cost of a storage unit in Canada can cost anywhere from $180 to $365 per month. If you have a lot of furniture and aren’t able to move into your new place straight away or need to keep furniture in your previous city until you’re ready to bring it all with you, be prepared for these moving costs. Keep in mind that you need to be present for any moves into a storage unit. 

The storage unit facility is not responsible for the contents of your storage unit. Therefore, if you do have to use a storage unit, your home insurance will typically cover your belongings at no charge for up to 3 months. To be safe, confirm the duration of coverage available with your current home insurance coverage. 

If you have longer-term storage needs or are going through a big transition, you can purchase a stand-alone policy. You can likely find this type of insurance from your current insurance provider, but if you are in the market for a reasonable price, try comparison sites like LowestRates.ca or ratehub.ca

The hidden travel expenses you might forget

Aside from the obvious costs that coincide with moving, some indirect moving expenses might slip your mind, and end up being the ones to tip you over budget. Anne Keery moved from British Columbia to Alberta. Her direct moving costs, such as U-Haul and packing materials, were straightforward and totalled $1,000. Indirect expenses were what came as a surprise. 

Keery says that the new odds and ends they needed when they moved, such as restocking their fridge, getting a new license and paying for a vehicle inspection, cost $700. In other words, every small task or checklist item you think won’t be an added expense, probably is. 

Moving isn’t something that one would do without a lot of time and serious consideration. In fact, for most, a significant move comes with a reason that isn’t always within our control. For Keery, it was a job relocation. For Loose, it was school. For my family, it was merely living in a city that we knew would make us happy and provide us with more opportunities long term. In total, our move ended up costing us $1,548. Included in that price was our Uhaul rental, food for travel, gas for our vehicle as well as the rent, and moving supplies. 

Sometimes, those out of pocket costs are worth more than what your receipt might say. So, instead of stress about moving expenses, the best solution is to over-prepare and do a ton of research. The highest costs are those that will provide peace of mind when making a significant transition from one city or province to another.

Alyssa Davies
Alyssa Davies

Alyssa is an award-winning personal finance blogger and founder of MixedUpMoney.com. She writes about being a mom, overcoming personal debts, and how to get away with affording your ridiculously expensive latte habit. A new homeowner, Alyssa brings her real-life knowledge of the Canadian real estate market and smart money matters to this growing brand.

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