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How much does a move cost?

09 February 2012 by National Bank
cost of a move

Moving soon and trying to decide between hiring professional movers or asking your friends to lend you a hand in exchange for pizza? Here are a few things to consider before you lift that first box.

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A truck, a strong back, and pizza with the works

If you’re on a tight budget and have lots of friends, you might be tempted to do the work yourself. You'll have to borrow or rent a truck. The cost of renting a truck can vary, depending on how many hours you need it for, the pick-up and drop-off locations, the size of the truck, the distance travelled and the time of year.

In the off season, it’ll cost you about $75 to $130 per day, including insurance, to rent a 16-foot truck. That’s big enough to move the contents of a two-bedroom apartment. But if you’re moving in July, at the same time as virtually everyone else in Quebec, you can expect to pay more, sometimes even double. That said, booking a truck well in advance can lower the rental cost.

Even with the cost of pizza and drinks, moving yourself is much cheaper than using professionals. The downside? Your friends probably don’t have much moving experience or moving pads, lifting straps, and other equipment to move your stuff—so they’re more likely to hurt themselves or damage your furniture or your place.

How much does it cost to hire professionals?

If you decide to use professional movers, in the off season, the cost can vary between $100 and $130 an hour for three workers, and that usually includes damage insurance. You should do all the packing yourself and let the movers do the rest of the work.

Budget at least an hour to load and unload the contents of each room, not including the time it takes to drive between locations. For an eight-room house with an hour and a half of travel, you’re looking at between $950 and $1,495. Keep in mind that most movers have a four-hour minimum charge for any moving job. To keep costs down, be as ready to go as you can by the time they arrive. For instance, disassemble all the furniture that comes apart and take a few loads of smaller boxes to your new place.

Remember: the cost of moving skyrockets around July 1—some movers even charge double their regular hourly rate.

Moving by bike

In Montreal, a small number of businesses specialize in moving by bike. The advantage? A greener move. And the cost? The hourly rate is lower than if they used a truck (about $70/hour), but the movers will have to make more than one trip to move everything. In which case, moving by bike is only cheaper when your new place is close to your old place, in general less than 5 km.

Avoiding nasty surprises

Moving companies will give you an estimate, but the final bill may be higher. To avoid paying overtime, the Office de la protection du consommateur du Québec (OPC) recommends giving as many details as possible to the moving company when asking for an estimate by phone or online. Try not to underestimate how much stuff you have—it’s better to be more specific than too conservative.

For example, give them a list of your large pieces of furniture and indicate, for both locations, how many floors and stairs there are and if there’s an elevator. Some moving companies charge more for moving heavy, fragile, or oversized items, like a glass table, a large mirror, a safe or a piano.

Be sure to choose a moving company that has a valid address, basic coverage for the goods to be moved and third-party moving insurance of at least a million dollars. You can also check if the company has received any formal notices by using the OPC’s search tool.

Be wary of movers that advertise their services on classifieds websites that don’t give a phone number—you might have a hard time being compensated should a problem arise.

Other than the cost of transporting your things, moving also comes with other expenses, like buying boxes ($1 to $2 apiece), packing paper and packing tape. If you’re moving without professional help, you’ll also have to budget for the rental of a dolly and straps ($10), moving pads ($5 for 6) and a furniture dolly ($7). Be sure to budget for other expenses related to moving into a new home, painting and decorating, etc. Buying your first home? Don’t forget to keep in mind all the other fees besides your mortgage when determining your moving budget.

Are moving expenses tax deductible?

Moving expenses are deductible if you’re moving to start a new job, run a business or study at a post-secondary institution. To qualify, your new home must be at least 40 km closer to your new workplace or school.

You can claim transportation and storage costs, travel expenses to move to your new home, the cost of cancelling a lease, the cost of selling your old home, and many others. Your accountant can help you figure out which expenses you can and cannot deduct.

Found the home of your dreams? Moving requires good planning, and the costs involved can pile up quickly. No matter what choice you make, you’ll avoid any nasty surprises by taking the time to budget for your expenses and by reserving your movers and truck as early as possible.

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