Is It Worthwhile To Move To Save Costs?

Are you trying to cut costs?  Did you have a sudden drop in income?  Are you a college student trying to avoid student loans?

One of the most common suggestions personal finance authors make is to move to a cheaper location to save costs, but does it really save that muchHow long do you have to be in the new location to reap the rewards of moving?

My husband and I currently live in a spacious, 1,000 sq. foot, two bedroom apartment.  We live in an urban area and find our $1,000 a month rent competitive with the area.  We have not had a rent increase in two years, and most two bedroom apartments cost more than ours does.  I will use our current situation as the example for the purpose of this exercise.

If we were willing to live in an area with a (much) higher crime rate, we could get a two bedroom, 800 sq. foot apartment for $769 a month, which would save us $231 a month in rent.  Just like our current apartment, the cheaper apartment’s monthly rent includes heat.

Moving Costs

If we could move all of our belongings ourselves and just rent a truck, it would cost $87.95 to rent the truck for the day.  However, because we don’t have friends in the area who would be willing to help us move, we would need to hire movers to help us get all of our furniture out of our 2nd story apartment.  Did I mention the staircase is a narrow, winding staircase?  Movers for 3 hours are $222.50.  Our total moving costs are $310.45.

Security Deposits

At our current apartment, we paid a security deposit of $1,400.  I am assuming that we will not get this back as we have been in this apartment for 7 years and have a two year old who furtively colors on walls when no one notices because she thinks the apartment is her canvas.  Three kids in general are hard on an apartment.

The new apartment requires first and last months’ rent up front, which would equal $1538.  True, we would get $769 of it back immediately for the first month’s rent, but we would be out the other $769 until the month we move out of the apartment.  Therefore, these expenses are $1,400 forfeited security deposit from our old apartment and $769 in last month’s rent for the new apartment for a total of $2,169.


Installing cable and Internet at the new location will cost us $50.

The Final Calculations

All told, it will cost us $2529.45 to move. We would be saving $231 in rent.  At that rate, it will take us 11 months to recoup our expenses from moving to start to see savings.  However, because the area is much more crime ridden, we would be highly unlikely to move there.  We would be more likely to move to a smaller apartment nearer to our current location that would run about $900 a month.  If that were the case, it would take us over two years to recoup our expenses.

The calculations in this post are highly subjective as it applies to our current situation. I do agree that moving to a different area of the country with a much lower cost of living would perhaps yield a much quicker savings.  However, if you are a college student or have a young family and are considering moving to save costs, make sure you calculate all of the costs involved before taking the arduous leap of moving to a cheaper apartment.

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Published or updated March 26, 2013.


  1. This is a good reminder to look at all the costs involved in making a decision.

    That said, I still advise a number of my home buying clients to consider moving to save money. The tipping point? Our state has a 4-to-1 matched savings program for first time home buyers. If they can save $188 each month (by moving or doing something else to free up money) for 10 months, they’ll gain $7500 to put toward buying a home.

    • If you don’t mind me asking, what is the state? That is a fantastic incentive!

      • New York. The Federal Home Loan Banks offer something called the First Home Club. I’d be surprised if Federal Home Loan Banks in other states weren’t offering them as well.

        IDAs (Individual Development Accounts) are available in different forms nationwide. One program is run by Health and Human Services and helps Section 8 renters buy homes.

        Feel free to email me, Melissa, if you want more info.

  2. So funny because I was just writing a draft post on this very topic. I get really frustrated with people who say that you should “just move” to save on costs. I live in a major metro area and if I moved into town to be able to take advantage of public transportation (and reduce my car costs), I’d have to nearly double my rent in order to live in a place half the size of where I am now (and we’re talking a small 2 bedroom townhouse, not a McMansion). Plus, the cost of moving, as you said … deposits, the moving itself, etc., all add up. Even if I could find a comparable place for less, and even factoring in transportation savings, it would still take me 3 years to recoup the cost of moving overall. It’s just not worth it!

  3. Matt (with The Online Budget) says:

    I’ve moved many times, across the country or across town – but have done so to take on opportunities (job-related or otherwise); never to save a couple of bucks. While it might make sense to initiate a move solely on the basis of cost savings, I think one should look at “big picture” benefits first. If money can be saved as a result of a move, then great – but it should be in no way a primary reason to pull up stakes. Another view: $2,529 divided by $10 (what most part-time jobs pay) can be gained by working roughly 20 hours per week in three months. That’s three months of working weekends at a coffee shop (and getting tons of free coffee) to avoid the hassles of moving.

  4. I moved every 1-2 years to save costs actually. I’ve always gotten my deposit back though and I move within the same 5 block radius in a neighbourhood I love. I find I can get a moving truck for a day for $50-60 and my friends always help me in return for a dinner afterwards. And I’ve often lived in places without elevators!

    It really depends on the situation and your own willingness to do work versus hiring out. But for me, moving has always saved me money.

  5. Last year we moved to save money. We saved $250/month in rent and our utility bills have been significantly reduced since we moved from a 1950’s era home to a condo built in 2007. I also have the opportunity to manage the rental properties that our landlord owns in lieu of rent when he semi-retires in a couple of months. That was a large factor in moving as we will be living rent free and our rent money will go towards paying off our debts.

  6. I thought about moving to save money, but it will cost a commission to sell and buy. It affects how much I can buy since I would be paying cash. Instead I think we will remodel in the next year or two and stay until we need a one story. I may change my wind before we remodel.

  7. The prudent planner says:

    It cost us less than 500 to move (this included three guys and a truck). We found some good quality boxes at an arcade down the street, saved us a lot of money. We also had a coupon for the first hour for free, this was a huge help. If you are planning to move make sure you shop around for coupons first.

  8. Don’t forget that you will often have to redecorate and buy or sell furniture if the new space is a different configuration. You may need window coverings and storage as well. You may want to repaint if the colors are horrible. This all could cost $1000 or more.

  9. Add in the higher cost of car insurance when you move into a high-crime area: your vehicle is likely to be broken into or stolen if you have to park in an open carport.

    And the cost of losses to burglaries and car theft or vandalism.

    And the psychological cost of feeling like a potential victim, or of becoming a real victim. And the risk to your kids in a lower SES school.

    Love Matt’s comment! The guy has got something there…

What Do You Think?