1 What I’ve Spent to Move Into a New Apartment | The Billfold

What I’ve Spent to Move Into a New Apartment

I lived in a studio apartment for two years. I tell people I moved because I found a place with twice the space—and an awesome porch—for what I was paying previously, but the real reason was because most aspects of my life (family, job, relationships) went absolutely haywire this spring. I thought a move would be a good thing to channel my energy into. Unsurprisingly, I channeled a lot of money into moving, too. Here’s what I spent:

$800: Security deposit

$100: Deposit for movers to move five pieces of furniture and five boxes of stuff. My new unit is the top floor of a row house. The staircases have tight turns. My friends who have moved before assure me movers are the best thing I could possibly spend my money on. My preferred moving day is Sat., June 30. Because Sat., June 30 is the last Saturday of the month, there are zero movers available anywhere in the D.C. area. I schedule movers for Thurs., June 28 instead.

$104: Ceiling fans. I ask my landlord if I can buy ceiling fans and have them installed by his contractor. He says yes. When I come back to measure a few weeks later, there are ceiling fans installed. “We thought that was a good idea,” my landlord says. Because it was! But now I have two ceiling fans, which I ordered online, and no way to immediately return them to Home Depot.

$10: Four big and four small cardboard boxes. The liquor store is out—”When are you moving? Come back Friday. The recycling guys just came”—but I find a moving-supplies place a block away. The guy doesn’t have the right amount of change for the initial total, so he knocks two bucks off.

$66: Five hours of a Scion xB Zipcar rental. I want to preliminarily move some stuff—boxes of books, sheets and towels, magazines, and a few light pieces of furniture. My landlord is out of town, so I call the contractor to arrange to pick up the keys. “We haven’t finished the floors yet. Isn’t your move-in date July 1?” he says. Slightly miffed, I tell him that though my lease begins July 1, I have to be out of my current apartment on June 30; additionally, my landlord had encouraged me to move things in gradually. The contractor says he’ll work around it. My ex-boyfriend seems quite eager to assist me. He’s better than anyone I know at packing and lifting things. I take him up on his offer.

$0: No-longer-being-used air-conditioning unit, obtained from my ex-boyfriend’s place of employment.

$101: The rest of the payment for the movers. I realize far too late—as in, when the two guys are toting the five pieces of furniture and five boxes out of my apartment—that I should have just paid them to move everything. I offer to pay them to move everything. They decline.

$27.50: Lunch at Adam Express for my friend and I. He has graciously sacrificed his Thursday afternoon to help me carry small pieces of furniture, records, and kitchen accoutrements. We schelp two loads of stuff in my other friend’s Toyota Camry. I order the bulgogi, and he orders the kang pung gi.

$160: Dining set, bought off a friend who also just moved. I have a kitchen that’s big enough for a dining set. This is a novelty.

$35.02: Half a tank of gas for my friend’s car, which I had borrowed. I didn’t use half a tank of gas, but I never borrow anyone’s car and so am overzealous in my compensation. I flip through her CDs and find Liz Phair’s whitechocolatespaceegg, put it in, skip immediately to ‘”What Makes You Happy,” and have a moment singing along that is worth at least $10.

$13.81: A labneh platter and kale-apple smoothie from Tryst. It’s too hot in my apartment, and because I skipped out on work to haul boxes I have a ton of things to do. I need an Internet connection, and I’m starving. The kale-apple smoothie is probably the healthiest thing I’ve eaten in a month.

$49.99: A one-time moving and installation fee from Comcast. At least I’m allowed to keep my promotional deal of Internet for only $39.99, which the (admittedly very nice) lady at the Comcast call center initially tells me is going to increase.

$5.18: Clear packing tape, zip ties, and a three-prong outlet adapter from Dollar Star, Mount Pleasant’s premier dollar store.

$5.32: One copy of my set of keys, two little red key caps to differentiate between my front door and apartment keys, and four screws from Old School Hardware.

$77.91: Zipcar Ford E-150 van rental. I employ two of my friends to help me move whatever miscellaneous stuff is left. There is a lot of miscellaneous stuff left.

$32.64: Extension of Zipvan rental so that I can drive unwanted items to Goodwill and return the ceiling fans to Home Depot. Home Depot is unable to process my return because its power was knocked out by the previous evening’s derecho. Goodwill won’t take a wool rug that for the past five years has been the bane of my vacuum’s existence because it hasn’t been deep-cleaned. At least six traffic lights are out along Rhode Island Avenue. Boston’s “Rock and Roll Band” comes on the radio. I turn it up.

$73.10: The tab at Don Juan’s, where in my absence my friends have ordered a few chicken burritos and Coronaritas.

$139: Flat-rate fee for an apartment-cleaning service from Maids in Black. No, the apartment wasn’t fastidiously cleaned when I moved in. Yes, I will try to get the landlord to compensate me for this.

$62.14: A gallon of Indian Necklace (ugh, paint names), a quart of something-I-can’t-remember-that-looks-like-whatever-I-painted-my-old-apartment, and a kit with a roller, paintbrush, and paint tray from McCormick Paints. I test the colors out when I get home, but it’s too hot to think about painting. November sounds like a good time to get started.


Alex Baca will pay movers to move everything next time. Photo: Shutterstock/Everett Collection


31 Comments / Post A Comment

BananaPeel (#1,555)

I just decided to move within my city (St. Louis) when my lease is up in November, so this post is super-relevant to my interests! More tales of moving, please! Especially ones that reinforce my decision that hiring a moving company is well worth my money.

bgprincipessa (#699)

That was a lot of money!! Like, whoa. This is making me consider sitting down and adding up how much it cost me a couple months ago. But maybe I’m better off not knowing. I did have the advantage of using all borrowed cars/borrowed helpers though.

Ugh. Jesus. I’m moving from Silver Spring into DC in August and I don’t even want to think about it.


@stuffisthings Silver Spring, eh?! How close to the metro? If close, is the rent reasonable? If I may be a bit more nosy, why the move and to what neighborhood?

Signed, someone-who-very-much-wants-to-live-near-the-metro-but-is-stuck-in-Langley-Park-for-the-time-being

@LibLady88 I haven’t found a place in DC yet. My girlfriend has been scouring Craigslist for about six months, though. Right now I live actually sort of in Kensington — it would be an easy walk to Forest Glen metro if the roads were arranged differently, but as it is I usually take the bus (which stops right outside my house) into Silver Spring, which takes about 10 minutes but is a very annoying additional step. My rent is $600 but I have a certifiably crazy live-in landlord and can’t wait to leave. The other housemates are great, though. Hopefully we can find something in the District where my 1/2 the rent is not much more than the $600 I’m paying now, but I won’t hold my breath.


@stuffisthings My apartment building forms a perfect isosceles triangle with the Silver Spring and Takoma park metros, so it’s a 25 minute bus ride no matter which one we go to. If it weren’t for that, where I live would be perfect! Wonderful landlords, big windows, lacquered wood floors, thick walls so you never hear neighbors, a pool, gym, laundry room, and all very affordable… but sooooo far from the metro.

Missmetrodc (#1,564)

@stuffisthings I’m going to be moving closer to the city in the next few months (currently in the middle of nowhere VA….ugh commutes), and I need ALL of your apartment finding tips and magic spells. It’s like the Hunger Games out there for apartments.

jfruh (#161)

Hiring movers is one of those things that when you don’t have money is luxury to hold in contempt and when you do have it seems like an absolute necessity. I hired movers for two moves and then for the next one stuff was a little tight so I just hired a one guy to drive a truck and help me carry stuff and I swore, God as my witness, NEVER AGAIN.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@jfruh U Haul has a pretty cool feature where you can reserve movers with your truck. It’s a little bizarre, but very affordable. I don’t believe these are bonded/insured movers, but it’s a step above picking a few burly guys out of your local park and offering them $50 for a hand with your bedroom suite.

But yeah, the first time I hired movers I told myself I would always make room in the budget for them. NEVER AGAIN is right.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS POST. Are new places not the best thing in the whole world? I think they are anyway.

The costs of moving are completely ridiculous, but movers are the best thing you can ever pay for. When I lived in Baltimore I used a kind-of-sketchy-but-super-cheap company (the “movers” were always drug addled teenagers, but the same owner was always there), but don’t really know any comparable companies in DC. Regardless, when I look at all the other costs involved in moving, throwing a couple hundred bucks to not have to do the heavy lifting is really quite insignificant.

And now I wish I lived somewhere where apartments were not all available “immediately” so I could really look at some real estate to potentially transition into in 2 months.

alexbaca@twitter (#1,557)

@MuffyStJohn I used Beltway Movers. They weren’t super-cheap, but they did a good job. I would have paid roughly the same if I hired them for everything as I did the way I did it, but it would’ve been far less sweaty. And just, like, easier.

@MuffyStJohn I’ve heard good things about My Truck Buddy. I hired them to haul me and my new furniture from IKEA to my house, and it was cheap and pleasant.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@stuffisthings Thanks for the recs! I’ve heard good things about Bookstore Movers too but they book up really fast.

$578.32 for just STRAIGHT MOVING EXPENSES. I didn’t even count the meals bought for self, or the paint, or the furniture, fans, or security deposit. Maybe she should have just hired movers for everything!

This is terrifying. I move in like three weeks.

alexbaca@twitter (#1,557)

I priced it out and hiring movers to move everything would have cost roughly the same amount as the Zipcar rentals and the food/beer I bought people as repayment for their help. But it would’ve been a hell of a lot easier.

This last time I moved, I had to buy a bed, night stand, and a mattress, so that was like $1000 right there. Granted, I got a nice mattress (because I tend to keep such things forever and I’ve never really had a nice mattress), but still. I’m terrified about the next move that is probably coming in November because my family has refused to help with it and I’ll have to shell out for movers *sigh*

Megano! (#124)

Man, when I moved from Ottawa to Toronto JUST THE TRUCK cost more than the movers! It would have cost like $800 to get movers. I have to get movers next time I move though, because my relatives don’t want to do it again. Hopefully I can get some for $200.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@Megano! Long distance moves scare the everloving crap out of me. I love the idea of moving far across the country, but the cost to get my meager possessions to the midwest or god forbid the west coast would be more than what it’s all worth.

bibliostitute (#285)

@MuffyStJohn which is why i usually jettison all my stuff!!!!!! get rid of your things seriously the way they hold you down is disgusting!

la_di_da (#1,425)

I’m a little bit terrified of the day I have too much stuff to sell it all off and move across the country at a month’s notice.

Movers are the shit. Anyone in NYC, Rabbit movers are lovely. We split a 700 moving fee (tip included) between 4 roommates, so it wasn’t sooo bad.

Any Chicago moving recommendations under $200? Anyone?

I’ve been seriously contemplating moving from California to Pittsburgh (BECAUSE IT’S CHEAP) and now I want to cry.

@beatricks@twitter I feel like, if you’re moving that far, just sell everything and start over. I moved 8000 miles a few years ago and narrowed my possessions down to whatever could fit in two suitcases. It was nerve-wracking at the time but once it was over I felt so free.

so, I am moving from the midwest to the west coast. A whole house. You can only imagine how much money this costs. I’m at $7300 now (for moving van and automobiles). $2,300 for deposit on a new rental home.

This is before I count the loaders and unloaders, the moving blankets, straps, boxes, tape, utilities, transportation out there, hotel stays, rental cars, utility appointments, alarm system and the thousands and thousands of dollars involved with putting one’s house on the market.

probs (#296)

Last time I moved the main expense was just the deposit. I was only moving by 5 or 6 blocks, so I just crammed stuff in my Buick and made multiple trips. Only hair-raising part was moving the box spring and mattress, all strapped to the top and such. I also don’t have much furniture (cheapo computer desk, mattress, box spring, bed frame, and drafting table), so that helps. Moving is one of life’s premiere hassles, really just a frontrunner in the field.

orangezest (#317)

I just moved (also in DC!) and was considering doing this myself. My expenses:

$960: Security deposit. More than the deposit at my old place, so I lost money on this from the beginning.

$75: Fee to DC for permits to park my moving truck.

$147.50: U-Haul truck and gas for 2 days. (To be fair, I shared this with my former roommates, who have yet to pay me back.)

$367: IKEA. $150 of this was a dresser. I do not know what the other $200 was for, which is mildly alarming.

$127.50: Various Home Depot improvements, including a new showerhead and a new drill, because I lost the old one in the maw of the old house.

$100: New bedframe for new room.

$22: Snacks and beverages for the lovely friends who helped me move. This was a bargain.

Total: ohgodIdon’twanttothinkaboutit.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@Emma Peel That’s not too bad! I mean, subtract what you get back from your old deposit and you’re not doing too awful. Especially since you bought furniture that you’ll theoretically be bringing to your next place.

And I am all too familiar with the “I don’t know what the other $200 was for.”

Posts like this are always helpful. Thanks!

If I can make a request, could The Billfold please do a post or series on moving to NYC? I’m in the process of moving and it’s daunting. I’m sure it would be a popular post to answer some of the questions that arise.

Broker or no?
Moving truck or UPS/FedEx?

Ken (#1,569)

This is one of the stupidist and most inaccurate assessments of expenses I could have imagined. You list an expense for an item that you returned (the fans), you add in the cost of lunches and random bar tabs with “friends” who ran up your tab with Coronitas and didn’t contribute?! Add in the added costs of poor planning and gas for borrowing a friend’s car (with no attachment to the move of course). This has got to be among the most uninformative posts I’ve seen….thanks.

I’ve moved countless times in the past seven years, and managed to do most of it for free (http://eemusings.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/moving-house-the-cheapskate-way/). Our last move was probably the most expensive – $300 plus for the nonrefundable agency fee, plus we paid for a moving truck (but my BF and a friend did all the actual moving, with help from me).

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