Cancellation and late fees. If I was ever unsure about the advisability of automatic debits and online bill payment, those doubts were erased the last time we moved and the U.S. Postal Service forwarded our mail — for weeks — to a complete stranger in Newport Beach, Calif. (It took so long to straighten out because the venerable USPS argued that what was happening couldn’t possibly be happening … ah, bureaucracy.) If I’d been waiting for bills to arrive to trigger the payments, I would have racked up a host of late fees.
If you can’t bring yourself to automate the process, at least be sure to make a list of all your bills and their due dates. That way you can make payments on time even if your statements go awry. Also, check to make sure you give sufficient notice to utilities, phone providers, cable companies and other vendors so you don’t incur cancellation fees.
Getting set up again
The nickeling-and-diming has just begun. Empty fridges, empty rooms, empty phone jacks and empty light sockets must all be filled.
Deposits and connection fees. Utility, phone and television companies typically charge $50 to $100 each to establish service, depending on the provider and area; deposits also may be required. You may be able to get some of these waived if you have good credit or if the particular provider, like a cable company, is providing free installation deals. Be sure to ask.
Re-keying the locks. This is a security essential. Who knows how many keys the previous occupant gave out? If you’re renting, the landlord may have already taken care of this. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire a locksmith to change the pins in your lock cylinders. It’s cheaper than replacing the locks, but expect to spend $10 to $25 per lock.
Filling the space. You may need to buy appliances, window treatments, lamps, rugs or more furniture to make your new space liveable. Then there are all the little piddling purchases that add up. The last time we moved, I was amazed at how many trips I made to Bed, Bath & Beyond for various hooks, racks, shelves and organizers .
Stocking up. You didn’t want to pay to move a dozen half-empty bottles of condiments, but now you have to replace them all — and also buy cleaning supplies and light bulbs. (Why do departing tenants always take the light bulbs?) YM poster Mich said a usual grocery bill of $50 a week spiked to $300 after a recent move.
Licenses and registration. If you’re changing states, you’ll typically need to register your cars in the new state within 10 to 30 days of moving. That usually means paying for new plates ($10 and up) plus vehicle registration fees that often are tied to the weight or price of the car. In Florida, for example, you’ll pay an initial registration fee of $100 plus $28 to $46 for passenger cars; New York dings you $20 to $100 for registration plus a “use tax” that varies by county and weight, from $10 to $60.
You’ll need a new driver’s license as well, which typically costs $25 to $75 plus a few hours at the local motor vehicles department.
If you have any professional licenses, you’ll need to get those switched. That can cost a few hundred dollars, depending on your profession.
The costs of living
You can find relocation calculators on the Web to help you estimate how much more (or less) your lifestyle will cost you in your new city or state. But some of the specifics on how expenses can differ may surprise you.
Energy costs. The same electricity flows through light bulbs in Hawaii and Idaho, but Hawaiians pay three times as much for their power. Gas prices don’t vary quite as much, but filling up a tank costs about 20% more in California than in many states in the South.
Insurance. What you pay for auto and homeowners insurance is profoundly affected by where you live. Move from North Dakota to New Jersey, for example, and your auto premium could double.
Even moving from one community to the next can have a profound impact on your costs. Your Money poster Nervous1 reported his family’s auto premiums rose 10% after they moved three blocks — from the north end of one California county to the south end of another.
Homeowners’ premiums can be almost as volatile. They vary widely by state and can be affected within states, or even within neighborhoods, by perceived risks for floods or fires.
Estate plan. You might call this a cost of dying rather than a cost of living, but state laws on estates and probate differ enough that you’ll probably want to have your will and trusts at least reviewed and probably revised.
“You should review your estate plan after any major life event,” said Cathy Ward, a wealth consultant with Bryn Mawr Trust Co., “but definitely after a move.”