The American Moving and Storage Association states that the average cost of a long distance move is $4,300. And that’s just the average. Costs can balloon if you get stuck needing temporary storage for your belongings or your professional movers encounter unexpected hassles (or are unscrupulous) and stick you with surcharges for things like handling large or fragile items.
Whether your move to New Mexico is about upgrading to a larger space, or it’s to be closer to a new job or distant family, with a little planning (and a little willingness to roll up your sleeves) you can certainly move into your new home for less than the average cost.
Preparing to Move
The night before moving day is not the ideal time to reckon with the volume of stuff you have accumulated in your current home. It’s never too soon to pare down your belongings. Not only can you enjoy the life changing magic of parting ways with things that no longer bring you joy, you might find some valuable items you can sell in order to save up some cash for your move. And less stuff to move can add up to a quicker and cheaper move as well.
If you haven’t emptied your closets and cabinets in a while, you might be shocked to find out how much space all the things in your home take up once they are packed in boxes and stacked into a moving truck. This is why it’s really smart to get an in-home estimate from a mover rather than relying on your own best guestimate of how much square footage will be required to haul all your worldly possessions. If the mover ends up needing a larger truck than anticipated on the day of your move, they may charge you handsomely for it.
Up Front Costs
If you’re renting your new home, be prepared to have cash on hand for a security deposit, which is generally one-month’s rent. At least the deposit will eventually return to you, as long as you don’t trash the home or violate your lease.
If you’re buying your new home, the up front costs are more complex and hefty. A down payment of typically 10 to 20 percent is expected, though deposits of 5 percent and lower are sometimes available to first-time home buyers through government programs. There’s also an “earnest money deposit” required as a show of good faith the seller. Both these payments go into the equity of your home, so it’s kind of like you’re paying yourself, if you think about it. But you still need to be ready to fork over the cash! This might be one of those moments where you turn to your parents or grandparents to ask for a personal loan of some liquid cash that they may be in a position to lend you, especially if they have built up real estate equity of their own.
Then there’s a variety of fees that are, unfortunately, sunk costs of home buying — a home inspection, an appraisal, lawyer fees for handling the paperwork, and fees to the title company. But guess what, you can get around paying for most of these expenses by negotiating with the seller to cover the closing costs as part of your offer on the house. If they are eager to sell, they will likely oblige, especially if you are meeting their asking price for the house.
Moving Day: Do It Yourself
Finally, moving day! When you’re moving across state lines, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to ply friends with pizza and beer to help you move. But you can still get around paying the high costs of a full-service moving company by taking care of many aspects of the move yourself. First, pack your own boxes. You can also save money by asking local businesses for old shipping boxes which they may be more than happy to have you take off their hands before recycling day. (Tip: wine boxes are particularly sturdy.)
Second, rent your own moving truck. U-Haul makes the renting process pretty simple and even has a service that connects you to moving professionals on either end of your move in case you need help loading or unloading your truck. Just be honest with yourself about how much square footage you need inside that truck (it will be more than you think) and about how comfortable you are with driving a large truck down the highway.
Moving to New Mexico will bring with it so many joys that the cost of making the move will be well worth it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead to avoid any unnecessary expenses and start enjoying your new home without going into debt.