The US cities with the highest moving cost

  • Los Angeles locals pay the most to move house compared to any other major U.S. city, costing first-time buyers 133% of the median income and 127% for sellers

  • Six Californian cities appear in the top ten

  • New York, Honolulu, Miami, and Boston round out the list of most expensive cities to relocate


New research has revealed that Los Angeles is the most expensive city for first-time buyers and sellers to relocate.

Storage experts FindStorageFast studied U.S. consumer and housing data to reveal how affordable it is to relocate within each major city. 

The team used consumer and housing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Association of Realtors, and minimum wage data from the U.S. Department of Labor, moving costs from, and real estate commissions and closing costs from, to determine which major cities cost its residents the highest portion of their income to relocate locally.


The analysis revealed that Los Angeles is the most expensive, costing a third more than the median yearly income for first-time buyers and sellers and over double for repeat buyers to relocate. Home buyers in LA must pay an estimated $92,949 to cover the downpayment on a new home, closing costs, and moving costs. 

The cost breakdown includes the average local downpayment for a first-time buyer, $57,852; closing costs, $33,747; and $1,350 average cost of relocation. To pay for the upfront costs, the average buyer must afford 133% of the local median wage, one-third more than the yearly salary, the highest nationally. 

Excluding the cost of buying somewhere new, sellers face preparation, closing, and moving costs, including local agent commissions, which all add up to an estimated $88,331.


New York is the second most expensive place to relocate for homeowners, with a total cost of $84,618 for first-time buyers and $80,434 for sellers. The cost is 20% more than the median yearly salary for first-time buyers and 14% for sellers. 

Repeat buyers must afford a higher downpayment, which takes the total cost to $145,974 or over double the median salary. 

On a typical New York home, sellers should expect to pay an estimated $96,547 in closing costs, including agent fees, $355 in housekeeping, and $1,350 to move locally.


San Francisco has the third most expensive relocation costs in the U.S. Local homeowners spend an estimated $141,542 upfront to buy and $134,524 to sell, just over the city’s median salary. 

San Francisco has the highest average home value and, therefore, the highest downpayment and closing costs of any major U.S. city. However, the median household income is also the highest. Downpayments cost an estimated $88,543 for first-time buyers and $191,843 for repeat buyers. The average closing costs are an estimated $51,650. Adding the moving cost makes the initial payment for a first-time buyer in the city a whopping $141,542, 112% of the median local wage. 

Sellers must pay an estimated 107% of the median local salary to sell up, including an estimated $72,458 for agent fees. 


Miami has the fourth highest relocation cost: $47,717 for first-time buyers, the same as the median local salary. Sellers pay an estimated $45,406, 95% of the median salary. 

The average closing costs are $17,082, with a $29,285 downpayment and $1,350 moving costs. It is the fourth highest cost in the U.S. compared to the city’s median salary. 

Repeat buyers require a payment equal to almost double the typical salary. 


Oakland is the fifth most expensive, costing typical first-time buyers an estimated $85,183 and sellers $81,000 to relocate, almost an entire year’s salary for locals. Repeat buyers can expect to pay around $146,955, or 172% of the typical salary. 

The upfront payment for a first-time buyer is based on an average downpayment of $52,947, $30,885 closing fees, and a £1,350 average moving cost.

Sellers will pay almost $80,000 in closing costs, as Oakland has some of the highest house prices of any major U.S. city, around $882,456. 


Long Beach is the sixth most expensive, costing $65,050 for first-time buyers and $61,883 for sellers, or around 90% of a local’s salary. Repeat buyers require an upfront $111,987, on average.

A typical first-time buyer will pay an estimated $40,232 downpayment, $23,468 in closing costs, and $1,350 to move.

Based on the average house value of $670,529, sellers pay just over $60,000 in closing costs, over four-fifths of the median salary. 


Boston has the seventh-highest local relocation cost in the U.S. A typical first-time buyer needs to pay 90% of their salary, or $74,846, and sellers will need $70,234. Repeat buyers require around $127,264.

The average closing costs for first-time buyers are $26,709, a $45,787 downpayment, and $1,350 moving costs. 

Repeat buyers require a payment of 156% of the typical local salary. 


San Diego is the eighth most expensive city for locals to relocate within. It will cost a local first-time buyer $77,473 upfront, 87% of the median salary, and a seller $73,701. Repeat buyers will need an estimated $133,565, one and a half times the median salary.

Based on the average local house value of just over $800,000, a typical first-time buyer must afford a $48,078 downpayment and $28,045 closing costs, and the typical $1,350 relocation fee. 


Honolulu is the ninth most expensive, with local first-time buyers paying 85% and sellers 81% of the median salary. This equates to $78,556 for buyers and $74,776 for sellers. Repeat buyers need an estimated $135,446. 

The local average house is valued at $812,701. This means a typical first-time buyer should afford an average downpayment of $48,762, $28,444 closing costs, and £1,350 to pay movers. 

For sellers, closing costs are an estimated $73,143, including agent fees. 


San Jose has the tenth highest cost for locals to relocate in the U.S. and is the sixth Californian city on the list. This is based on the average first-time buyer requiring an upfront payment of 83% of the median local salary, or $103,261. Sellers can expect to pay $98,252. Repeat buyers should look at around $178,354, or 143% of the local salary.

The average San Jose home value is $1,072,750, the second-highest of any major U.S. city. However, the median salary is higher, too. 

The typical first-time buyer will pay an estimated $64,365 downpayment, $37,546 closing costs, and $1,350 to relocate locally. 

Sellers will pay $98,252, or 79% of their yearly salary, on closing costs, agency fees, housekeeping, and relocation fees. 

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson from FindStorageFast said: “Buying a home is a common goal for many of us, and our study shows that some major cities, especially in California, are the most unaffordable for locals. Los Angeles is at the top of the list, requiring local first-time buyers to save more than an entire year’s salary to afford the upfront payment. While LA is known for having high costs, it is staggering to see six Californian cities make the national top ten. This reveals how difficult it is for Californian locals to achieve home ownership and many may need to move elsewhere to get on the property ladder, despite having higher salaries”.

The research was conducted by, FindStorageFast, the world’s largest online marketplace for storage.

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