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The Cost of Moving House: How to Budget for Your Move

Blue house on yellow boxes surrounded by gold coins on a light blue background to convey the cost of moving house

Buying, renting, and moving to a new home is expensive and sudden, unexpected costs can quickly add up to far more than you originally anticipated. Below are some of the most common upfront costs you should consider and budget for when moving to a new home in order to best organise for your move.

Removalist costs and budgeting for movers

When moving home, removalists will probably be the biggest expense in your budget (if you decide to hire). The total cost of hiring removalists can cost anywhere from $300 to $3,500 for the entire job, or anywhere from $75 to over $300 per hour for a move in the same city. There’s a number of factors that can influence the cost of hiring removalists, which include:

 The size of the home you’re moving from: Bigger homes will often have more things needed to move, requiring more removalists and more time needed

 Distance necessary for the removalists to travel: The farther the removalists need to drive to your new home, the more it will cost

 Any difficulties involved in the move: Anything from large or complex furniture, to narrow hallways, stairs, or difficult parking

 Amount of service required: Basic service includes packing and unpacking the truck but additional service might include packing materials, storage, or assembling furniture

 Day and time you’re moving: Choosing to move at the start or end of the month, during the weekend, or peak traffic hours can increase the cost of your move

Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce the cost of hiring removalists, such as:

  • Buying your own packing materials and packing up your things yourself
  • Moving smaller items yourself such as dishes, clothes, or kids things
  • Getting everything ready, including disassembling furniture and disconnecting appliances
  • Moving during off-peak times such as the middle of the week or month, or during times of low traffic
  • Ensuring the removalists have easy parking, and no parking limits

When hiring a removalist service, it’s best to get multiple quotes from companies with good reviews. Ask friends and family who have recently moved for recommendations, and if you are moving from a large home consider an in-home quote for the most accurate estimated cost.

Moving truck rental costs

If you’re not looking to hire a full removalist service, you might be considering a more DIY-approach and hire a moving truck or van. Moving trucks and vans are often charged at a daily price, though occasionally you can find them for hourly rates. Depending on the size of the moving truck you need, rental costs can cost anywhere from $50 per day to over $170 per day. It’s best to shop around and make sure to find the best size and price for your moving needs, you don’t want to rent a truck that’s bigger than you need which will end up costing more.

Budgeting to hire professional cleaners

While not a necessity, but certainly helpful especially if you don’t want to clean yourself, professional cleaners can be an additional cost to budget for when moving home. Whether it’s cleaning your old house after moving out, or cleaning your new home before moving in, the size and scope of the cleaning will affect how much professional cleaners cost.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $200 for a small one bedroom apartment, while larger homes (five bedrooms or more) might cost upwards of $1,000 with professional carpet steam cleaning. When looking for a professional cleaner while moving house, get a couple different quotes to get the best price for the services you need.

Packing supplies cost: Boxes, bubble wrap, tape, and more

While many removalist services will offer their own packing materials and even pack up your boxes for you, for an additional fee, it’s often more cost effective to purchase your own boxes, tape, and bubble wrap. Depending on how much you have to pack, this could cost you over $100 for everything needed.

  • Boxes: $1.99 - $5.99 per box depending on size
  • Bubble wrap: $22 for 500mmx25mm moving bubble wrap from Officeworks
  • Packing tape: $6.92 for 48mmx50m heavy duty shipping packaging tape + $8.32 tape dispenser from Bunnings
  • Markers to label: $8.30 bold black paint Sharpie from Bunnings

If you’re not hiring any removalist service, you might need to invest in additional packing and moving materials to safely transport all your belongings, including:

  • Moving blankets
  • Furniture covers
  • Straps and rope

Home utility connection fees

Depending on your electricity, gas, and internet plan, you might have to pay an additional fee for connections, disconnections, and relocation of service. Depending on the specifics of your move, and your current energy provider and internet service provider, you might need to cancel your current service and switch to another. It’s always important to check the specifics of your contract for any fees that may apply to breaking your contract early.

  • Electricity: Starting from $11.58 for Queensland residents on the Energex network, up to $86.21 in the ACT with EvoEnergy
  • Gas: Starting at $7.35 for Victorian residents on the Multinet network, up to $55.67 in NSW with Australian Gas Networks
  • Internet: Setup, relocation, and cancellation costs vary widely depending on your ISP, with some companies waiving the fee while others costing anywhere from $60 to $80 for relocation

The upfront costs of buying a home calculates that the upfront costs of buying a home can add up to 7% or more of the total property price. Here you will find a breakdown of the upfront costs (not including the down payment on your house) that might otherwise be a surprise to you when purchasing your home. Depending on your personal situation, there might be other upfront costs, or some of these fees might be waived or not applicable.

Stamp duty

Also known as transfer duty, this is the general tax applied to the purchase of real estate and is probably going to be your biggest upfront cost. Stamp duty is calculated based on the market value, or purchase price, of the property in question but each state calculates this differently and eachapplies different calculations depending on the property’s value.

Depending on your situation (for example it’s your first time buying a home), and where you live, your stamp duty might be exempt or able to be applied to your mortgage. It’s important to check your state or territory’s government website for the most recent information that best applies to your situation.

You might also need to pay a mortgage stamp duty, in addition to the property transfer stamp duty, which is charged based on the amount of money you borrow to purchase a property.

Title transfer fee

Not the same as stamp duty, the title transfer fee or lodgement fee is the cost to transfer the legal ownership of a property from one owner to another. Like the stamp duty, the title transfer fee varies by state but the cost is usually anywhere between $100 and $200.

Mortgage registration fee

The mortgage registration fee is paid when a mortgage is established (or discharged or paid out) as the security on a home loan. The cost of the mortgage registration fee (you guessed it) varies by state but unlike other fees, mortgage registration is fixed no matter the cost of your property.

Mortgage registration fee by state
State Registration fee
New South Wales $141.69
ACT $145
Victoria $116.80
Queensland $187
South Australia $163
Western Australia $171.20
Tasmania $134.09 to register
$167.48 to discharge
Northern Territory $145

It can be a nightmare to try and purchase property on your own without the services of a lawyer or licensed conveyancer. They’ll assist you with all the paperwork, handle the transfer of the property, and advise you on the legal processes and requirements involved with buying and selling property. Depending on your unique situation involved with purchasing a property, these legal fees can range anywhere from $100 to over $1,500.

Mortgage application fee

Also known as start-up cost, set-up fee, or establishment fee, this upfront cost is charged when you apply for a new loan, get additional funds, or change your loan. While the mortgage application fee can cost anywhere between $150 to $700, lenders will sometimes offer special promotions or waive the fee on certain mortgage products.

Lenders mortgage insurance

Lenders Mortgage Insurance, or LMI, is insurance that protects the lender when a buyer takes out a loan to purchase property. The actual cost of LMI varies depending on the loan amount taken out and is a one-off cost. The LMI can often be included in the loan amount, increasing your monthly mortgage payments but not your upfront costs.

Property valuation

Property valuation is a detailed report of the estimated market value of a property. It’s not a set amount anyone must pay for a property, nor accept as payment for their property, but it’s good as a “jumping off point” for negotiations. The actual cost of getting a property valuation report depends on the size and value of the property, as well as the rates individual valuers charge, but expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300, up to $600 for a standard three-page report.

Search processing fee

The search processing fee is a simple upfront cost (usually $50) charged by the lender or bank to cover the cost of title searches or other searches in relation to your mortgage application.

The upfront costs of renting a home

Paying your rent isn’t the only cost you’ll need to consider when moving into a rental property. It can be expensive to move into a new rental home, so budgeting for these upfront costs is a must.

Rental bond cost

A rental bond, or security deposit, is paid at the start of a tenancy agreement. Depending on which state the property is located, and the amount of rent paid, this amount might vary and must be lodged with the state’s bond authority. At the end of your tenancy, you’ll likely get your rental bond back, so long as the property is left in a reasonable state, and there is no major cleaning or repair needed to be done, and you don’t have any unpaid rent or other debt.

Rental bond cost by state
State Rent bond amount
NSW Maximum 4 weeks’ rent
ACT Maximum 4 weeks’ rent
VIC Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $350. If rent is more than $350 (short-term lease) or $760 (long-term lease) this can be more than four weeks and should be negotiated.
QLD Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $700. If rent is more than $700, there is no maximum amount and should be negotiated.
SA Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $250. Up to 6 weeks if weekly rent is more than $250.
WA Maximum 4 weeks’ rent unless weekly rent is $1,200 or higher, in which case the bond is negotiated.
TAS Maximum 4 weeks’ rent
NT Maximum 4 weeks’ rent

Rental application fee or option fee

Rental application fees aren’t very common, but might be charged to a prospective tenant while their application is being considered depending on where the property is located. This fee could be anywhere from $50 to $100, or more and is calculated based on the location and weekly rent of the property in question. However, it’s important to note that if the application is successful, it must usually be paid back to the tenant directly or deducted from the first rent payment.

Rent in advance

In addition to a rent bond, you’ll usually need to pay rent in advance. Depending on the state or territory you’re renting in, the amount of rent in advance will differ.

Rent in advance by state
State Rent in advance
NSW Up to two weeks’ in advance
ACT Up to two weeks’ in advance
VIC Maximum one months’ rent in advance unless rent is paid weekly. In which case it’s only 14 days’ in advance. If rent is more than $900 / week, there is no limit.
QLD Up to two weeks’ in advance for periodic agreements or one month for fixed-term agreements
SA Up to two weeks’ in advance
WA Up to two weeks’ in advance
TAS Usually two weeks’ in advance
NT Often only one weeks’ rent in advance

Pet bond fees

While charging a pet bond in most states is illegal in Australia, if you live in Western Australia and own a four legged friend, you might be asked for a pet bond when renting. A pet bond is an amount you pay, in addition to a rental bond and rent in advance, for animals capable of carrying parasites which can affect humans. In Western Australia, pet bonds are restricted to a one-off payment of $260, unless weekly rent is more than $1,200.

If you own a pet in any other Australian state or territory, it's up to your landlords’ discretion as to whether or not they allow you to keep them in your rental property and must usually be approved in writing by your landlord but they cannot ask for an additional pet bond.

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