What’s the real cost of moving house?

The bills you’ll need to budget for

Moving home is an exciting experience – but it can be an expensive one too. From solicitors’ fees to stamp duty and storage costs, it all adds up. To help you budget, here’s our breakdown of the bills to prepare for.

The average cost of moving home in the UK is £11,777, although it can be far less – or much more – depending on where you live. And whether you’re a first-time buyer or experienced mover, it can be pretty tough on your finances if you don’t know what to expect. To help you avoid nasty surprises, here are the taxes, fees and other costs you’ll need to factor in.


Your upfront costs to consider

1. You might have to stump up for stamp duty

This tax usually has to be paid whenever you buy a property in the UK. But how much you pay depends on your personal circumstances, the property price and where your home is in the UK.

First-timer buyer looking in Leeds, and found a home for £280,000? You’ve no stamp duty to pay on the property. Yet if you’re already an owner and want to move to the very same home as a step up from your current place, your bill will instead be £4,000. Got a growing family and moving from Bristol to Cardiff? A £330,000 home will cost £6,450 in duty. Switching to a new £750,000 home in Edinburgh for work? Your bill will be £48,350.

To find out how much it might cost for you – or, if you’re a first-timer, if there’s nothing to pay – pick the right online calculator below.

Moving to a home in….

  • England or Northern Ireland? The Government’s stamp duty calculator will help you work out how much you’ll pay.
  • Scotland? Here, it’s called the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT). Take a look at the Scottish Government’s LBTT calculator.
  • Wales? It’s known as the Land Transaction Tax (LTT). The Welsh Government website has an LTT calculator.

2. A property survey could save you serious money

A survey simply sees you arrange an expert inspection of your intended new home. It will identify any structural problems or parts of the building that need repair. You don’t have to get one but it’s a very good idea - and could save you a lot of money in the long run, if it uncovers serious issues with the home.
  • Is it different to a valuation? Yes. A valuation is a basic check arranged by your mortgage lender to ensure that the property’s price is realistic. Many lenders, including Barclays, don’t usually charge for these.
  • How do I arrange a survey? The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors can put you in touch with a qualified surveyor in your area.
  • What will it cost? It depends on the thoroughness – or level – of survey you choose, as well as the size and value of your home. A basic check can typically set you back from £500 to £600 on a property worth £250,000 to £350,000. But if you’re buying an old, unusual or very large property valued at a much higher price, you’ll probably want a much more detailed report. This could cost anywhere between £630 and £1,500.

You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of getting a property survey done before purchasing a house. Its main purpose is to highlight hidden issues that could crop up later, which will save you money in the long run.

Dave Sayce, Compare My Move co-director and co-founder

3. Put legal fees high on your list

A good solicitor (or conveyancer) can make a huge difference when you buy a home. They can speed events up, sort out problems, and ensure key bits of admin are done on time to get you into your new home as quickly as possible. Crucially, they’ll also handle your contracts, give you legal advice, do property searches to find out if there’s anything you should be aware of, transfer your funds and register your ownership of the property.

You don’t have to hire a legal representative when you move, but the vast majority do. Licensed conveyancers are usually cheaper than solicitors, but they’re not qualified to deal with complex legal issues – so you could end up paying more. 

  • How much do they charge? Expect to pay between £800 and £1,500. Get a few quotes from different firms, and check whether the prices include VAT, search fees and Land Registry fees. If you’re not sure where to start, ask friends and family for recommendations.

  • Will there be any other legal costs? Possibly, if your solicitor has to do extra work due to your personal circumstances. For example, if you’re buying a property with someone who isn’t your partner (e.g. a sibling), your solicitor might recommend setting up a deed of trust.

  • What’s a money transfer fee? Also known as an ‘electronic transfer fee’, this is a fee of usually around £40-50 charged by your mortgage lender. It covers the cost of transferring your mortgage money to your solicitor, so they can complete your property purchase. Look out for it on your solicitor’s bill.
  • Buying a leasehold property? You might have to pay ground rent and maintenance costs. Your solicitor should be able to confirm this, so it won’t be a surprise.

4. Insurance – what you need and what’s advised

Buying a home can often be a fraught business, and it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and end up buying all sorts of insurance for peace of mind.

However, there’s a difference between what you need and what’s a ‘nice to have’ when you’re buying your home.   

Here’s what you need to know

        Buildings home insurance 

This is a vital policy to consider – it covers you for the cost of damage to your new home’s structure in the event of fire, flood or storm damage. It usually covers permanent fixtures too, such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms.

You’ll need to buy it if you’re buying a freehold property, since most lenders won’t give you a mortgage until you show you’ve got it.

Some, like Barclays will offer you a quote for insurance, but you can choose any provider you like. If you’re buying a leasehold property, the freeholder will probably arrange the buildings insurance and bill you for it each year. Be sure to ask your solicitor to confirm this.

  • How much cover should I get? You need to make sure it’ll pay out enough to rebuild the property if it’s destroyed. However, that’s not the same as the price you’re paying for it now. The Association of British Insurers has a handy calculator to help you figure it out.
  • When should my policy start? It needs to cover you from the day you exchange contracts, not the day you move in (which is usually afterwards). If there’s a gap, and disaster happens, you won’t be covered.

              Contents home insurance

You don’t have to buy this different type of home insurance policy ahead of your move as you may already have it on your current home. (It covers you for the cost of replacing household items like furniture, tech or personal valuables in the event of theft.)

If you do have an existing contents policy, remember to tell the insurer when you move so the cover can be adjusted.

            Life insurance

This isn’t compulsory but it can give you peace of mind that your mortgage debt will be covered if the worst happens. It’s something no one likes to think about, but it means your family won’t have to worry about losing their home. You can get a life insurance quote from us.

5. Selling a home too? Add in estate agent fees 

If you use a high-street estate agent or an online service to market and sell your current home, you’ll need to pay a fee. The cost will either be a percentage of the sale price (often between 1% and 3%) or a flat fee. Compare local agents’ fees, and ask friends or colleagues about service, reputation and sale price expectations. Make sure you pick an agent you feel comfortable with; you’ll likely be dealing with them a lot, so a good personal rapport will go a long way. And make sure the estate agent’s quote is clear about whether VAT is included.

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Your moving in costs to manage

1. A helping hand with the heavy lifting

If you’ve got a lot of hefty furniture or – like many – have simply built up ‘lots of stuff’ to take with you over the years, professional movers could be the way to go.

First check with friends and family to see if they can recommend a company. If not, check out the National Guild of Removers and Storers for local operators.

Next find out if you need a permit to park a removals van (or even your own car) outside your new home – contact your new local council to find out.

For lighter loads, a man-with-a-van service should be a lot cheaper. Regardless of the load, always check with any removal firm that they offer insurance to cover the cost of any breakages.

Pick a company with a good reputation within the industry, which generally comes by being affiliated with the removal ombudsman. Don’t be afraid to check if they have insurance. Your possessions could be at risk otherwise.

Kieran Coughlan, Sales Manager at Simply Removals.

Still looking for an alternative? Consider hiring a self-drive van and ask family or friends to help – just factor in the cost of a few pizzas to say thanks. 

2.  Stash your stuff between moves

Need to bridge the gap between moving out and moving in? Storage costs vary across the country but you can expect to pay at least £30 a week. Have a look at Compare the Storage to get an idea. As a very rough guide, you’ll need around 50 square feet of storage for the contents of a one-bedroom flat. For a large three-bedroom house, think 150 square feet.

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3. Redirect your mail so you don’t miss out

It’s an easy one to forget, but setting up a mail redirection could save you lots of hassle. Prices start at £33.99 for one person for three months, plus £8 for each extra person. Head to Royal Mail to find out more.

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4. Clean exit etiquette 

If you’ve been renting ahead of buying your first home, check your tenancy agreement – there will likely be a clause that says you must leave the property in the same state as when you moved in.

You can give your rental home a deep clean yourself, and save yourself hundreds of pounds. But be prepared to put in the hours – a top-to-bottom clean can easily take a day or more and use up a lot of products. And if the landlord believes you haven’t done a decent enough job, they can then ask you to contribute to the cost of bringing it up to scratch.

If you hire a cleaning company instead, take photos as evidence of standards and keep your receipt as proof.

  •  What if I’m selling my house? You don’t have to pay for a professional clean if you’re selling your house, but it’s good practice to leave it spick and span. And make sure you dispose of all rubbish. As a general rule, any contract for the sale of a residential home will be clear that a property should be empty and have nothing left in it (unless agreed earlier between yourselves). 

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5. Nearly there – what you’ll spend on settling in

If you’re a first-time buyer, you might not even have your own bed or sofa. But it’ll be much easier to feel comfortable if you’ve already sorted out your furniture. Second-hand might be best if you’re on a budget or in a hurry.

  • What about utilities, broadband and TV? Before you move, check which services you can get at your new home, and start comparing quotes. There’s often a wait to get connected, especially for broadband, so it’s a good idea to sort it as soon as you’ve got your completion date.

  • How much will council tax be? If you’re upsizing or moving to a new area, it could be more than you’re used to. You should be able to find out the cost on your new local council’s website.
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