A Proven Checklist for Moving to Colorado on a Budget

by Carrie Nicholson | Last Updated:  December 28, 2021

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Are you thinking of moving to Colorado from another state?

Moving costs are not cheap and there’s always a good bit of planning that goes into a success cross-country move.

In this podcast episode, we explore the costs of moving as well as the costs of living in any of the best cities on the Front Range.

It’s a question that affects both newcomers and natives: where should I live and how much does it cost to move?

Why did we move to Colorado?

Over the years, I have moved to many different places. Some were just down the street while others were in the same state but a completely different city. 

Seriously, I moved from one apartment to the other in Texas, but didn’t change the street name! Ha.

But the move from Texas to Colorado was the first cross-country move I ever made. 

If you have moved house (and I’m sure that you have!) then you know that it is time-consuming and expensive, especially for a cross-country move.

As Ryan and I looked at all of our options for moving to Colorado, we wanted to save money but also make our move as easy as possible. 

We budgeted $3,000 in 2015 for our move from Tyler, Texas to Boulder, Colorado, a distance of just over 1,000 miles. 

We planned to pack, load, and move our belongings ourselves and drive our personal vehicle rather than hiring a moving company, and we expected to make the whole move in one trip. 

Once we were loaded up, the drive was estimated to take 14 hours. So we planned to drive 7 hours on two days and spend a night on the road.

I kept track of all of our expenses in a spreadsheet and used the MileIQ app so we could get a tax deduction for moving costs.

However, the tax deduction for moving has been suspended and will not be available until after 2025. 

Here is a screenshot of our actual spreadsheet expenses from our cross-country move in 2015.

cost of moving to Colorado

Budgeting for expenses when moving to Colorado

Moving is always time-consuming and expensive, even more so when you’re moving across the country.

When we moved from Texas to Colorado a few years ago, we looked at all of our options. We wanted to save some money but also make our move as easy as possible.

To start, we compared the cost of renting a moving truck versus the cost of renting a uPack or PODS container.

Here is the checklist of moving expenses that we used while moving. I hope you find it helpful so you don’t have any surprises that bust your moving budget.

Moving truck or storage unit

Sites like U-Haul or Penske make it easy to get a quote to rent a moving truck. Just put in the number of miles you will be traveling, the start and end destination, and the moving equipment you will need.

Initially, we planned to drive our Ford Bronco with a trailer behind, but ultimately we opted to rent a big moving truck and tow our Toyota Scion behind, then come back for the Bronco on a second trip.

Depending on your timeline and how much stuff you need to move, you may have to rent a storage unit or rent something like a PODS portable moving container. 

Be sure to list all the estimated expenses for moving your items including, hiring a moving company, renting a moving truck, or paying for a storage container.  

Apartment or mortgage fees

Another big budget-buster when moving across the country are the fees paid to cancel your lease or to sell your current home. Obviously, these fees will vary widely depending on your location and situation. Here is what happened to us.

When we moved, we lived in an apartment and our lease was coming to an end anyway. So, we took this opportunity to move without having to pay a lot of early cancellation fees. 

We paid for a few additional month’s rent for our garage unit to store the Bronco. This set us back $114.

Fuel and food

Aside from renting a truck, or paying a moving company, the rest of your moving budget will likely be spent on gas and food throughout the trip. 

We stopped 5 times to fill up the moving truck enroute to Colorado. This was a total of just over 100 gallons of gas.

Food is obviously a variable cost because you can eat out for every meal or pack food to make lunches and dinners along the way.

We also spent $4.25 on a tollway fee. This was a cost we forgot to budget for as it’s easy to forget about parking fees and tolls along the drive across the country.

Hotel and lodging

As mentioned, driving to Colorado from Texas takes roughly 14 hours. We could have made the trek in one day, but we wanted to take our time.

Our packing timeline didn’t quite line up with our expectations (they never do!), so we stayed an extra day in Texas to put our remaining belongings and the Bronco in the garage rental for the day while we moved everything else into the moving truck. We stayed in a hotel that night.

(However long you think it will take to move your stuff, double the time. It will be a lot more work than you think!)

Once on the road, our U-Haul trailer got a flat tire so we stopped for the night to get it fixed. There were no additional costs incurred, thankfully, since we have an annual membership to AAA which covered the costs.

We stayed at two different Holiday Inn Express hotels, since you get free parking, free WiFi, and free breakfasts every morning. Still, the extra hotel night was a cost we hadn’t budgeted for.

The additional cost of moving supplies

In addition to the cost of moving mentioned above, there are even more costs for actual moving supplies. These will vary greatly based on your needs and how many items you are moving. 

Here are some additional things that will likely pop up during your move.

Moving boxes

Look for boxes available at stores like Lowes, Home Depot, or online at places like Amazon. These tend to come in bulk and can be a good deal cheaper.

Another option is to get a box bundle deal from a storage unit facility, if you end up needing to rent a storage unit during your move.

This is what we did.

Storage facilities often sell premade moving kits that come with the essentials needed, based on the square footage of your current place. 

For example, if you have less than a 700 square foot apartment you might get 6 boxes and 2 furniture covers, while a 1,500 square foot home package might come with double the amount. 

Typically if you purchase boxes from a moving company, they will cost quite a bit more than if you buy them yourself.

Packaging material

In order to keep your belongings safe and secure, you’ll need a lot of packaging material. This includes lots and lots of newspaper, bubble wrap, and strong moving tape.

You can also use any towels, sheets, and other linens to help pack your valuables tightly (these are free if you are using what you already own!)

Markers or Sharpies

Always properly mark your boxes as you pack them. This is one tip that can save you a ton of time when done right!

Use assorted marker colors to color-code the boxes for each room in the house, as well as each of your kid’s rooms.

Otherwise, you could be endlessly searching for boxes or items while in mid-move. Not fun!

Scissors or box cutters

You probably already have a pair of scissors or box cutter lying around the house. But if not, now is a great time to buy a really good pair and will only set you back about $9.

Mattress and furniture covers: $7-14 per cover

The goal of moving is to arrive at your new place without breaking any valuables or scratching up any furniture. In order to do this, I highly recommend buying (or renting!) a mattress bag and furniture covers.

Another alternative is to buy some plastic wrap in bulk and use this to cover all of your furniture and beds. Just make sure it’s very heavy duty and can stand up to the moving process.

It may cost a little more right now, but you’ll be glad you spent the money instead of having to replace or pay to fix a broken bed frame or couch. 

Safely packing and covering your furniture will be even more important if strangers will be transporting your things. 

Generally speaking, you will be more careful with your belongings than a moving company will, so safely packing and covering your furniture can save them from a lot of damage.

Plus, you’ll keep all of your belongings clean and free of dirt and bugs.

A Dolly for heavy things

If you have a lot of heavy items, you may need to rent a dolly. You can often rent this directly from the moving company for the day and it usually doesn’t cost too much. 

Surprise expenses

In addition to all of the items listed above, there are bound to be some surprise expenses you forget to budget for.

We got a new wiring kit for our Ford Bronco to pull the moving trailer. This cost ended up being a waste because we opted to rent a moving truck and come back for the Bronco later.

We bought additional mattress and furniture covers and an outdoor lock for the moving truck. U-Haul also charged us for an extra day (since our timing was one day off) and extra mileage.

Additional costs for moving can add up quickly.

From my personal experience, additional costs might be anywhere from $150-350. So, you may want to add a small contingency budget to your overall moving budget. 

A moving supplies checklist

Use this moving supplies checklist to help you budget for all the costs involved when moving to Colorado. 

What is the cheapest option for moving to Colorado?

After comparing our options, we decided to go with renting a moving truck. However, looking back we wished we would have rented a uPack or PODS container.

Our moving process would have been soooooo much easier and nearly about the same cost.

Best Places to Live in Colorado

How has Colorado grown and expanded over the years?

As a native of Colorado, and being away from this state for nearly a decade, I was really able to appreciate all it had to offer.

I came back and fully experience the impact of all the growth my home-state experienced in this timeframe.

Of course, some of the growth and expansion has been good, and some not so great, while other things have mostly stayed the same!

With any population growth comes “the sprawl”. The towns getting bigger and bigger with more infrastructure and less nature.

Towns along the Front Range, specifically, are backed up to the west against the mountains, which leaves the east plains as the easiest place to build and expand.

It’s not as picturesque here, and the lifestyle is much different than being close to the mountains.

With more people comes the inescapable traffic which means there is a lot more trash, and longer commutes.

Higher demand of houses can often mean less inventory and the cost of buying a home continually increases along with the general cost of living.

But growth isn’t all bad.

The Colorado food scene, particularly in Denver, is growing and really developing into its own unique style and cuisine. And what usually comes with unique cuisine is a unique culture as well.

Colorado is establishing itself as being just as dignified and a young city as other places in the country.

Here we are able to experience a variety of museums, plays, and exciting activities daily!

But one thing that has stayed relatively the same are the people. They remain friendly and welcoming — even to great amount of change.

The lifestyle, for the most part, still remains as I remember it! The healthy, outdoor-centered way of living takes paramount above all else.

And to me this is the number one reason there is such a draw for others to move to this great square state.

Nicholson home purchase

Tips for moving to Colorado from another state

If you’ve ever moved from one place to another, you already know that the logistics of moving are often hard and expensive.

Even more so when you’re moving across the country to another state!

When we first started thinking of moving to Colorado, our main motivation was to have a healthier lifestyle that promoted adventure, less work and a better climate for outdoor living.

During the time of quitting her day job to become full-time self-employed, Carrie had gained 30 pounds in Texas.

Most of this was due to working long hours and not having an environment that promoted getting outside.

Texas is hot, y’all!

We also enjoyed traveling and visiting many different places, and Texas made it more difficult to accomplish this.

It’s a very large state, and traffic is always abundant, so travel days are long and hard.

After planning and saving money, our idea for moving to Colorado from another state took an additional year longer than we previously planned.

But it was all worth it!


Need more ideas for the best places to live in Colorado? Be sure to check out their YouTube channel and subscribe for weekly videos and travel updates.

And check out our new book, Moving to Colorado: Where Should I Live? which has been newly updated for 2022.


Carrie Smith Nicholson is one of the co-founders of Hashtag Colorado Life. After living in Texas for her whole life she moved to Colorado 5 years ago. As a travel blogger and entrepreneur for the past 10 years, her writing has been featured on NBC News, HuffPost Live, Glamour Magazine, Inc Magazine and many other media outlets. When she's not writing about new travel locations, she enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, camping in her NuCamp teardrop trailer, and trying new foods. You can follow her outdoor adventures on Instagram, @hashtagcoloradolife.