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Moving soon? Keep costs under control

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EVEN IF you’re only moving across town, it’s likely to cost more than you think when you change your home.
According to the latest figures from American Moving And Storage Association, the average cost of an in-state professional move – based on 7,570 pounds of stuff – is $1,170. The average state-to-state move costs $5,630.
How can you control moving expenses? Start making a master checklist to collect data and consider all costs and personal aspects of a potential move. You might even want to include a pro-and-con list that addresses all conceivable economic and lifestyle outcomes – the real long-term costs and benefits of a move.
After deciding whether the move is worthwhile, consider these subsequent steps:
Seek solid advisers. Whether or not you plan to sell your home through a licensed real-estate broker or agent, most are open to conducting a market valuation of your property and suggesting repairs or improvements that could maximize its sale price.
If you use a qualified financial planner or tax adviser, include that individual in early discussions on how a move might affect your finances. Also, if you’re selling property, find an experienced real-estate attorney to review your broker and sale contracts.
Take estimates from movers. An early walk-through at your home or apartment by two or three movers registered with the US department of transportation, or DOT, can provide a reality check on how much you’ll want to take and whether you can afford luxuries like packing or storage. Online resources can also help you evaluate those estimates.
Watch for fraud. Recent news reports have highlighted a trend called “hostage load”, a practice whereby unscrupulous moving companies demand more money from customers before finishing a delivery.
Obtaining references from trusted friends and advisers is a good first step to finding the right registered mover for your relocation. DOT has launched a site called Protect Your Move that allows you to download a moving fraud protection guide and offers tips on proper ways to investigate and hire a mover.
Start downsizing – now. Obtaining early estimates from movers certainly helps you decide what you’re really willing to take. If there are valuables you think you can sell, consult professional appraisers and even general marketplace sources like eBay to find a realistic idea of value. Otherwise, consider garage sales and donations for the rest.
Insure what you’re moving. Whatever plans you’re making for home or renter’s coverage at the new destination, make sure you have proper coverage in place for the contents of your move. Insurance Information Institute provides a useful guide to properly insuring the possessions you’re moving.
Build a cash reserve for deposits, fees and incidentals. Keeping moving costs low can help you handle dozens of smaller and sometimes unexpected expenses that crop up immediately before, during and after a move. Budget for hidden costs that can include deposits, fees and numerous trips to a discount shop, home center or grocery store.
Bottom line: Thinking about moving? Give yourself adequate time and resources to plan all aspects of this major life and money event.
Editor’s note: You can find further advice online through the links included in our electronic version of this article at thepostnewspaper.net.
Nathaniel Sillin directs Visa’s Practical Money Skills For Life financial education programs. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PracticalMoney. His articles are intended to provide general information and should not be considered legal, tax or financial advice. Always consult a tax or financial adviser for information on how the law applies to your individual financial circumstances.

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