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Updated on Monday, September 21, 2015
I’m 25, which puts me firmly in the Millennial generation. People my age tend to value flexibility in their living situation, and that’s certainly true of me, too.
But I also like taking advantage of financial opportunities when I can, which is why I chose to buy a home as soon as I could instead of continuing to rent. Buying a home ended up being a good investment for me, as I was able to sell for a profit – but there was a cost of three years of living in the suburbs and being very much stuck in terms of where I could work and choose to live.
I’m back to renting now and after my foray into home ownership (which was a good experience), I’m happy to be living with less responsibility and annual costs and more flexibility and freedom in what I can do and where I can go. However, there was a big financial burden I completely overlooked in my transition from homeowner in Atlanta to apartment-renter in Boston: the cost of that big move.
Nomadic Millennials Need to Prepare for the Cost of Moving
I was born and raised in Georgia. Although I’ve always had a case of wanderlust and itchy feet, I’ve always lived within about an hour of Atlanta my whole life. When the opportunity to experience life in a nice place arose, I took it – and landed in Boston.
Selling my house to make the move was actually no problem. The market was hot and it moved quickly, with the accepted offer coming about 7 days after the listing was live.
But then came the tricky part: figuring out the logistics of moving a whole lot of stuff – and two cats! – 1,100 miles up the East Coast. And then figuring out how to pay for it.
The good news is that I lean minimalist and have very few material possessions. I looked into the cost of renting the smallest U-Haul truck available, as well as the smallest POD shipping container. The bad news? Both those options, which were the cheapest available, would run me between $1,500 to $2,000. And that was just the cost of moving my things.
Millennials who want to take advantage of the flexibility that renting allows need to plan for the expense of frequent moves. Not everyone will choose to move up an entire coast, so a $2,000 shipping cost may not apply – but even renting a moving truck to go less than 50 miles can cost $100 or more.
Moving Costs More than Just Moving Stuff
I decided to ship my stuff via a POD because the cost difference between that and renting a truck and making the drive up the coast – with a car in tow – wasn’t too much cheaper. And there was an opportunity cost associated with that. It would take me far longer to make the drive in the moving truck rather than just my small car, which meant more time I couldn’t work and earn money.
But the cost of shipping my possessions is only the start of my laundry list of moving expenses. There’s still the drive I need to make, so that’s wear and tear on my car plus the cost of gas. I was able to pack the POD with the help of family members, but when I arrive in Boston I’ll need to hire movers to help me get everything up a very small, windy staircase. And because I’m moving to Boston proper, I also needed to purchase moving permits so the POD could park outside my building for the day.
This all adds up to an additional $500 or so in the total cost of my move. If everything goes well, I won’t have too much more to budget for – but just as you should have an emergency fund for life in general, it’s smart to plan for the unexpected in something like a big move, too. I fully expect to have miscellaneous expenses to cover, and I need to account for more intangible things, too.
I’m sure I won’t feel like going to the grocery store and stocking up on ingredients to prepare my own meals at home right away; I’ll be tired and more focused on getting everything unpacked and set up than on living as frugal as possible right away. I fully expect to prioritize convenience over what makes the most financial sense in that first week of settling in.
Account for All Possible Costs
While I prefer to live well on less, I’m still human. And humans tend to be exhausted after big life changes! Millennials who are ready to make their own big move should account for both the tangible costs that are easy to add up – and the costs that come from more intangible things, like how you feel after a long day of moving and the chaos that comes from living out of boxes for a week or so.