Renter Advice

Estimating Moving Costs & Preparing for a Move-Out Inspection

373 views January 11, 2024 Karina Jugo 5

Anyone who’s been renting a home or apartment knows how moving from one property to another can be a hassle. As much as one would like to stay put, however, there are a number of reasons why tenants will need to move homes at some point.

People move when they are in transition. Changes in personal relationships, such as getting married, having children, or going through a divorce, may warrant a change of residence. People also move because of their jobs or in search of better housing.

Moving costs can add up quickly if you don’t know how to prepare for a move. But there are many ways that you can plan your move, estimate moving costs, and consider the charges before you pack up. In addition, knowing what to expect can help you set a moving budget and keep to it.

How professional movers determine moving costs

If you have ever called a professional mover, you know that they can give you an estimate. When you’re thinking about moving, you may wonder how to do the same. The formula is simple: professional movers calculate this by time and weight. As you can see, estimating moving costs is more manageable than it may seem.

When you hire a mover, they charge by the hour. Time will always play the most crucial role in calculating your estimate. When your move is local, movers will simply figure out the distance between the old and new locations. Then, they factor in travel time and work hours based on how long it will take to load and unload the truck. That is usually determined by the number of rooms you’re packing up. The minimum charge that is generally applied is about two hours’ worth. 

As of 2022, hourly rates for local moves (within the same city or nearby) range anywhere between $100 to $200 for a team of two movers.

The final rate depends on the area, the amount of stuff you need to transfer, and the moving company you select. If you’re trying to keep moving costs low, hiring a mover may not be how you want to go. However, if you anticipate your expenses and they’re comparable, it can save you a lot of headaches.

moving costs

Moving on your own vs. hiring professional movers

You will only need to factor in time if you’re also factoring in work time lost while moving. Of course, if you’re a university student moving to a different campus or heading home after graduation, it’s more economical to do things on your own. However, if you have a regular day job, it might make more sense to hire professional movers, especially if you’re employed under a “no-work, no-pay” arrangement.

What you will likely work with is weight. When a professional mover factors in weight, this is often because the move is more than a local one. Distance moves are calculated with a written estimate based on how heavy everything you need to move will be.

Movers can determine a more accurate weight after you pack everything up, and that’s most likely what you will need to pay. That seems like a peculiar way of doing things, and you may wonder how accurate they can be. But there’s an art to it for ethical and reputable movers.

To see it broken down and for help with personal calculations, check out’s moving calculator.

Still, if you are working with a mover, get more than one estimate and ask if the company uses origin weighing or destination weighing before you hire. That will help a great deal in figuring out your moving costs.

Things to consider when moving

So, how do you use all of this professional know-how to your advantage when you’re a DIY mover? Consider these five things:

  1. If you rent a truck, you’ll need to shop around for the rental price and add in gas and insurance if your policy doesn’t have that type of coverage. The rental company should give you a good idea of how much these things will run. Also, consider lodging and food prices along the way if this is a long-distance move.
  2. Packing supplies are costly. Those offered by moving companies can be much more expensive. While that may be the case, the more expensive options are also usually the most convenient. Several companies offer box kits, so think about that, as well. One great way to save on moving supplies is packing your breakables using your clothes. You can often get free boxes from retail stores, and packing tape is pretty inexpensive. If you’re trying to keep moving costs low, you can get creative with clean laundry and checking for those boxes. Also, consider beer boxes for your books. The handles on most of them make toting the heavier boxes much more manageable.
  3. Consider a box labeling system. Mark each box with a number, and then keep a file or folder with the box numbers and their contents as you pack.
  4. Remember to check and factor in hooking up utilities in your new location. It may come as a surprise as many require deposits.
  5. Before you move anything into the new apartment or home, take pictures. You’ll be glad you did when it comes time to move out. Also, take photos after you get everything moved out. This protective move can save you hundreds when getting your security deposit back.

Getting ready for the move-out inspection

moveout inspection

Now that you’ve dealt with the costs of moving, it’s time to prepare for the move-out inspection. A move-out inspection enables both landlords and tenants to assess any damage or changes to the property that are not a result of normal wear and tear. In most cases, landlords will use the tenant’s move-in checklist to compare the condition of the property when they first moved in to its current state just before they move out.

Is a move-out inspection required?

Not all states require one, although some do. For example, landlords in Alabama are not required to do a move-out inspection by law, but they are in California. If you live in an apartment, an inspection will almost always be performed no matter what state you live in. If you’re in a home managed by a property management company or the landlord themselves, it’s hit or miss.

Whether it’s required or not, I personally recommend move-out inspections for the benefit of both parties. Inspections conducted with both the landlord and tenant present will prevent any possible disputes that may arise in the future.

What if I don’t want an inspection?

These inspections are meant to benefit both the landlord and the tenant. The tenant can benefit because if the landlord doesn’t find significant damages, they can get their security deposit back in full. And even if damages are found, the landlord can point them out and ask the tenant to fix them so the security deposit can still be returned.

The landlord benefits because they aren’t surprising the tenant with anything later. They are able to tell the tenant immediately if there are any issues. It also helps the landlord anticipate costs if they find anything they’ll need to fix themselves.

Setting up the move-out inspection

It’s generally best to set this up early in order to ensure that you find a time that works for both the property manager and the tenant. A general rule of thumb is that the move-out inspection should happen at the end of your lease after the property has been vacated and properly cleaned. That way, damages and other issues will easily be identified.

What to expect during the move-out inspection

The first thing the inspector will look for is that everything looks satisfactory. Most rental properties will accept general wear and tear and will not fault you for things like routine maintenance. On the other hand, things like major damages to the home, extremely dirty or stained carpets or an unkempt yard may result in the loss of the security deposit.

Make sure to read any documents from your landlord or property manager about move-outs closely. Many landlords will provide renters with a basic list of things they need to have done or even a more detailed document about what constitutes normal wear and tear. As a tenant, it is important to take photographs at move-in and keep a record of any maintenance requests or complaints that you make. That way, way there is a running record of the condition of the property until the move-out.


  • Karina Jugo

    Karina Jugo is a content administrator at RentPost who works directly with real estate and property management experts to create resources and guides for property managers. She has more than 15 years of experience in content research and writing for various industries.

  • Jacob Thomason

    Jacob Thomason is the CEO and co-founder of RentPost, software platform providing property managers, landlord or owners with the tools necessary for property management. Jacob is a software entrepreneur with with a vast array of expertise ranging from business concept design to software architecture and development. He is running RentPost for more than 14 years and helping property managers and property owners.

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