Tales from a Tenant: The Cost of Moving

Last Updated on August 17, 2020

Tales from a Tenant is a new series featured here on My Life, I Guess… that chronicles the ups and downs of being a tenant. If you are interested in contributing your tenant (or landlord) tales, please contact me.

Today’s post is by yours truly. On February 1st,
I moved into a 3 bedroom townhouse with my boyfriend (“R”) and 2 cats.

A quick Google search tells me that the average American moves 11.7 times in their life. Although I’m not American (I couldn’t find Canadian statistics) I’m above average, with my latest, 14th move. Majority of these moves were done as a student when all of my belongings fit into a cargo van, but two of these moves were bigger “across the province” moves – once with my family and once on my own.

The move on my own didn’t actually cost me much since everything fit into a 210 cubic foot trailer. Setting up the apartment, however, came with a decent price tag because I needed pretty much everything. When the mice took over and I moved into a different apartment, I kept the costs down by moving majority of my stuff by myself, one car-load at a time. I then paid $125 for two guys with a truck to come and move the furniture.

So when it came to moving this time, a part of me expected it to cost roughly twice this amount – we were combining two apartments into one and were doing it ourselves (with the help of friends). I didn’t factor in that my stuff alone now filled a 750 cubic foot truck, 3 cars, and then some. (Guess it’s time to take a better look at a this minimalism thing, huh?) and therefore, I wasn’t anticipating the actual price tag:

So far, this move has cost us $2,455

But… thankfully there’s a but. Let’s break this number down, shall we? (Since I know how much you all love pie charts!)


Almost 60% of this expense was more of a “want” than a “need” – brand new living room furniture. I have a loveseat, chair, coffee table and end tables that could have held us over, but we wanted this place to be ours and a home and the living room was the best place to start. I was hesitant at first, but we found a great deal on the whole set and obviously went for it. With the help of the remaining balance of a Canadian Tire gift card (thanks, dad!), we also decided to paint the living room and dining room for only $35 out of pocket. And look at how awesome our place looks already!


If you eliminate this expense (and I probably should because there is still more furniture and decor to buy in the future), we get a more accurate picture:

This move cost us $1010

But… there’s another but. This isn’t entirely accurate either. Since we both lived in apartments that included utilities, neither of us had an account for hydro or gas in our names – which meant we had to pay $380 in deposits to open new accounts. However, we’re going to get this money back, provided we pay our bills on time. Within a year this money should will be credited back to our account.

Moving actually cost us $630

Moving day itself was about $480. We rented a uHaul van which ended up costing more than we anticipated as we had to make a second trip across the city to my apartment (a.k.a. I have too much stuff!). We had 6 of R’s man friends helping us move, so we also fed and beer-ed them. (Technically, there was food and beer left over, but I’m far too lazy to calculate how much was actually consumed on moving day.)

The remaining $150 “admin stuff” expense includes the increase in tenant’s insurance, the mail forwarding fee, a bank fee for a certified check, and (admittedly) a wee bit of interest charged on the credit card for carrying a balance. (Crap.)

We’re still struggling to make the place feel less like a rental and more like our home, but it’s getting there. If you follow me on Pinterest (and you should!), you’ll see that I’ve been pinning home decor and DIY projects like crazy, trying to find exactly what our house needs – and what our wallets will allow.

If you have an interesting tale or important tenant lesson, I’d love to feature it in an upcoming post. Please contact me for more information, and let’s make this happen!

Amanda Kay

Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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10 thoughts on “Tales from a Tenant: The Cost of Moving”

  1. Looking good so far!! I wish I’d at least tried to make my rentals more homey now that I look back. Moving sucks and it’s expensive! I dread the thought of ever moving again now that we have a house full of stuff and will never be able to move our selves again. I mean we could, but it’s probably not worth the stress and agony.

  2. I would love to paint in our place but the ceilings are too high (we’re in a pre-war brownstone). I love painting but I know how much work it is when I don’t know how long we’ll be here as my husband doesn’t necessarily love it (but I love the cheap, rent-stabilized rent).

    I know this past move we did into our current place, we spent around $450 in cash to move out of a one-bedroom, including gratuity. The company seemed a little like the we’re-cash-only-to-avoid-taxes type of business but they moved us quickly and nothing went missing. It was a lot of money but they did all the hard work and heavy lifting. Husband and I just had to pack the boxes. We also moved roughly 13 miles away and everything fit in their truck in one go. I know next time around, it’ll probably be a bit more though, especially now that we’re a two bedroom and we added a chest freezer to the mix.

  3. Moving is so expensive! I’ve moved 6 times in the past 6 years. I have friends that have moved way more too. It’s nice you are making your house a home, but it does come at a price. I hope you guys settle in nicely.

  4. I feel your pain, girl. I just counted it up, and I’ve moved 16 times so far in my life. I told my fiance when we moved into our current place in September that I am not moving again unless one of us gets a job that requires us to relocate to a different city, or if we buy a place, which I am actually not even all that keen on.

    This post is very timely for me (especially thank you for your Pinterest link!) because I have never really settled into places I’ve rented or made them my own, and so even though we moved in September, it is still very much a work in progress. Our landlord is a nice older gentleman who just owns 3 units, so he’s allowed us to paint and customize, and even paid us back for the supplies from painting the rooms (because, trust me, the hours I put in turning the rooms from cracked, holey pumpkin- and toothpaste green-colored walls into nice, modern colors probably increases the amount of rent he can collect from future tenants more than it probably should — the old colors were SO. BAD.)

    Anyway, congrats on your new place, I think it looks awesome so far and I think you’ve done a good job keeping costs down for how awesome it looks! xo

  5. I counted, and I moved three time with family (lived at home until 22), and since then, I’ve moved 4 times in the last 6 years. Ick! Our last place was supposed to be home for awhile, but my job prospects said otherwise. All those moves were just inner-city, so cost about $250 or so.

    The last one was a budget breaker – $3,000 out of pocket for the move itself (hired movers to pack etc), but it was reimbursed from my employer. Just finished doing my taxes, and all told, it was closer to 6k because of carrying costs of the old place, etc.

    We’ve been here 10 months, and I definitely don’t want to move for another couple years. I’m happy renting.

  6. Ugh! Moving is the worst- such a pain and so expensive. I have been living in an apartment I hate for far too long because I’m dreading the expense and process of moving!

  7. I am really surprised how much you paid! Of coarse, moving a house is not an easy event and help from a company is really necessary ….


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