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The Costs of Moving During the Holidays


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There are a couple of advantages to moving during the holidays: You probably already have some time off work, so you won’t have to use your paid vacation days to move. And your friends and family may have some free time, too, making them able (although not necessarily willing) to lend a hand to help pack your Jazzercise VHS collection or haul your Barcalounger to its new home .

But despite those (kind of/sort of) advantages, the cost of a holiday move can leave you feeling more like Scrooge McDuck than Santa Claus. It turns out, you pay more for some relocation-related expenses during the most wonderful time of the year.

So after you’ve dropped a hefty down payment, keep in mind the extra out-of-pocket costs you’ll encounter should you decide to make your big move during what’s left of this magical month:

Feeding your tank

A move across the country—or even across town—can guzzle more gas now than at other times of the year, says Mike Glanz, co-founder and CEO of HireAHelper, an online marketplace for hiring hourly moving labor.

“Holiday traffic is typically more dense, so there’s often more time spent idling—especially in metropolitan areas,” he says. “And some of those moving themselves also tend to let their rented moving truck or van idle to keep the cab warm.”

Extra cleaning products

The holiday season is also flu season. Add in the fact that you’re inviting into your home movers who might have been in another germ-filled house just that morning, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, Glanz says. If you don’t want to foot the bill for some doctor appointments and flu meds, you should expect to dole out some change on cleaning supplies.

The winter weather is another reason this stuff will come in handy.

“You’ll also need to have cleaning products—lots and lots of them—on hand to clean up messy boot prints left from all the feet being run in and out of the house,” Glanz says.

Delayed delivery

The increased travel traffic from holidays and winter weather can significantly delay delivery times of moving trucks, says Ryan Carrigan, founder of, a website changing the way people find and book moves online. That means while you wait for your bed or sofa to arrive, you might have to stay in a hotel or spend money on emergency supplies.

“I see a lot of extra money being spent because of slow delivery times during the holidays.” Carrigan says.

Climate control

Depending on your region, you may need a few extra precautions to make sure your move goes smoothly.

Start with a shovel and de-icer on any potentially icy surfaces to make sure movers or helpers don’t take a tumble, Glanz says. Sprinkle some salt or sand to be extrasafe.

And while you’re at it, be prepared to buy a decent weatherproof lock if you’re moving items into a container or truck that will be outdoors overnight. You’ll need a lock with a rubber stop over the keyhole, otherwise the lock can freeze.

And according to truck rental company Penske, tire chains are not provided with your rental truck. If you’re moving through mountain passes or northern states, more likely than not, you’ll need them. (Although with this year’s weirdly balmy temps in the Northeast, who knows for sure?)

While you won’t be able to control the weather, keeping these budget busters in mind can help make your holiday move a little smoother. And after shelling out a boatload of cash at closing—and on Christmas presents—that can be the key to a move that’s merry and bright.