Moving can have many benefits for your quality of life and financial future — especially if you relocate to an area with a lower cost of living. However, a move itself can be financially draining.
According to Zillow, it costs around $80 to $100 per hour to hire a moving company to move locally, and the average cost of a long-distance move can range from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the distance.
In many areas, moving grants and financial assistance programs are available to help you cover some, if not all, of your moving costs. In this article, we will explain exactly what a moving grant is and how to apply for assistance.
What is Relocation Assistance?
Relocation assistance programs are government or community initiatives that help families in need cover the costs of moving. These programs can take many forms, including grants, loans or rental assistance programs.
Relocation assistance programs can help give you increased mobility in facilitating your move from one location to another, providing myriad benefits to both your family and the surrounding community.
Benefits of Moving Assistance
Considering that the median savings of Americans under the age of 35 is around $3,240, the cost of a long-distance move can be financially depleting. The price tag alone often deters people from moving.
However, taking advantage of financial resources — like moving assistance — can help you afford to move, which can be advantageous in the long run. Having the ability to move can help with the following:
- Improving quality of life: Mobility allows individuals and families to move to different neighborhoods or school districts, which can offer access to new opportunities and resources.
- Reducing homelessness: Relocation programs can help people transition out of homelessness by providing individuals the ability to secure stable housing and employment opportunities.
- Positively impacting physical and mental health: Moving assistance programs allow families to move out of the nation’s growing food deserts, access supportive services like child care and relocate to areas that better suit their needs.
- Remain debt-free and support financial independence: Moving assistance can help people avoid financing a move with a credit card or personal loan, which in turn avoids costly debt and boosts self-sufficiency.
Where To Start: Moving Grants and Government Assistance Programs
The most common forms of moving assistance are moving grants and government assistance programs. These are typically administered by a state or local government, but the federal government also offers options. We have outlined some of the largest sources of moving grants and government-sponsored assistance programs in the following sections.
Federal Relocation Assistance Program
If you are affected by a natural disaster, the Federal Relocation Assistance Program can help provide monetary assistance, temporary housing and home repairs. The program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
- Who can qualify: Your housing must be rendered unlivable by some sort of natural disaster and inspected by a FEMA official to determine eligibility
- Who should apply: People who have to move due to a natural disaster
- How to apply: Applications are available through the Disaster Assistance website
- Learn more: Speak with a FEMA representative through disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362
It’s important to note that it will take some time to receive assistance from FEMA. You can use the FEMA app to find local emergency shelters or emergency solutions grants if you are in immediate need of housing.
Rural Housing Service
The Rural Housing Service is a federal agency that can help people move to rural areas. Administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Rural Housing Service works in partnership with nonprofits to issue grants to those in need of relocation assistance.
- Who can qualify: You must live in close proximity to a local USDA office and be under a certain income threshold
- Who should apply: People looking to relocate to rural areas
- How to apply: Contact your local USDA office for additional details, as programs and application processes vary by location
- Learn more: Visit the Rural Housing Service website or call 800-414-1226
Veterans Affairs Relocation Assistance Program
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can help veterans find the support they need in all facets of life, including moving and housing. This federal agency has a Relocation Assistance Program to help veterans avoid eviction, find affordable housing and access financial support to cover a move.
- Who can qualify: You must be a veteran of the U.S. military with a service-connected disability
- Who should apply: Veterans who need help relocating and/or paying moving costs
- How to apply: You can apply on the VA website, by mail or in person at a VA office near you
- Learn more: Visit va.gov/housing-assistance or call 877-424-3838
Community Development Block Grants
A Community Development Block Grant can help to develop communities by providing funds for housing and other community-based initiatives. These federal grants are awarded to cities and states to be used to address community needs, such as low-income moving assistance and housing.
The program is overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which awards annual grants to Community Action Agencies, like local charities and nonprofit organizations, in various parts of the country. Those local agencies then issue aid to the communities they serve.
- Who can qualify: You must demonstrate that you or your family cannot afford moving costs due to low income (each issuing Community Action Agency may have different requirements)
- Who should apply: Low-income households who need to move but don’t have the financial means to do so
- How to apply: After reaching out to your local Community Action Agency, you will likely have an assessment appointment to evaluate your needs, and aid will be disbursed as needed
- Learn more: Since Community Action Agencies oversee the issuance of grants, you must get in contact with your local branch, which you can find contact information for online
Where To Start: Charities and Nonprofits that Help with Moving Expenses
For those who may not qualify for government assistance or housing grants, a wide range of charities and nonprofits also help people cover the costs of moving.
We have listed some of the most widespread charitable organizations below, along with information about how to apply for their programs. We have also noted each organization’s Charity Navigator score, which measures a nonprofit’s impact, financial health, accountability and transparency.
Modest Needs is a nonprofit organization that helps people who aren’t eligible for traditional forms of financial assistance. Instead, the organization connects those in need to donors who can help cover moving expenses.
- Who can qualify: You must show proof that your family’s income is at or below the poverty line, and that a dire need or extenuating circumstance requires you to move
- Who should apply: Low-income families who aren’t eligible for traditional forms of financial assistance, like government-issued grants
- How to apply: Create an online account with Modest Needs and fill out a simple application
- Charity Navigator score: Modest Needs holds a 97% rating and 4.0 out of 4.0 stars
- Learn more: Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 844-667-3776
211 is a hotline supported by United Way that focuses on connecting those in need with the right resources. Hotline operators can help you find assistance from local organizations or provide information about programs you might be eligible for. In addition to helping homeowners secure funds to move into a new home, the service can also connect renters to local organizations that help pay for security deposits and other expenses.
- Who can qualify: Since 211 is an informational resource, you do not have to qualify to use the service — anyone can call the hotline or access 211’s website
- Who should apply: People looking for help finding local moving assistance programs
- How to apply: No application is needed to utilize this service — you simply have to call 211 and tell the representative that you are looking for moving assistance programs
- Charity Navigator score: United Way Worldwide holds a 91% rating and 4.0 out of 4.0 stars
- Learn more: You can dial 211 to speak with a representative or visit 211.org
The Salvation Army is one of the most well-known charities in the U.S. The organization has over 1.8 million members who help roughly 30 million Americans each year. In addition to its charity shops and relief shelters, the Salvation Army also offers relocation assistance to help individuals and families with moving costs.
- Who can qualify: You must show documentation to prove low-income status and confirmation of why you need monetary assistance
- Who should apply: People looking for moving assistance in areas with few local charities and nonprofit organizations
- How to apply: Moving assistance programs are location specific, so call your local Salvation Army office to learn more about the programs in your area
- Charity Navigator score: Salvation Army holds a 100% rating and 4.0 out of 4.0 stars
- Learn more: To find local Salvation Army branches, visit salvationarmyusa.org or call 800-SAL-ARMY
Catholic Charities is a religiously affiliated organization dedicated to fighting poverty worldwide. The religious organization works to achieve its goal in many ways, such as offering financial assistance to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness through its Stable Homes program.
- Who can qualify: Eligibility extends to anyone who is at risk of or experiencing homelessness and needs rapid re-housing, as well as those who are fleeing from domestic abuse
- Who should apply: People who haven’t been able to find assistance through traditional means, like housing agencies or government programs
- How to apply: Catholic Charities administers aid locally, so you will have to contact your nearest agency for information on how to apply
- Charity Navigator score: Catholic Charities holds a 93% rating and 4.0 out of 4.0 stars
- Learn more: Visit catholiccharitiesusa.org or call the organization’s main phone number at 703-549-1390
The YWCA is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower women, eliminate racism and foster peace and justice for all. Many local YWCA branches can aid women in leaving domestic abuse situations by using various methods such as moving grants and other forms of financial assistance.
- Who can qualify: To qualify for a moving grant, you must live near a YWCA location
- Who should apply: Women who want to relocate due to domestic abuse
- How to apply: Because applications are processed through local YWCA offices, call or visit your nearest branch to learn about available grants
- Charity Navigator score: YWCA USA holds a 92% rating and 4.0 out of 4.0 stars
- Learn more: Call 202-467-080 or visit ywca.org
Other Low-Income Financial Assistance Programs and Resources
For those who aren’t able to qualify for assistance from charities or a government program, there are still ways to receive moving assistance. We outlined a few options below.
Local Charities and Organizations
Communities across the country are home to local charities and organizations looking out for those in need. While these groups may not be able to provide large sums of money to finance your move, they may offer smaller sums of money or donations in the form of goods and services to ease your financial burden.
In addition to moving expenses, local organizations may also be able to help you find housing support such as financial assistance for renters, programs that offer housing vouchers or public housing options.
Ask for Nonmonetary Assistance
Although monetary assistance can solve most moving-related problems, nonmonetary assistance can get the job done, too. Although not all people or organizations can provide financial aid, they might be able to help you move physically. While hiring movers to pack all your belongings into a moving truck may be more convenient, asking for some help from your friends, neighbors or other community members is an alternative and affordable option.
If you have to relocate due to work, be sure to talk with your employer to see if they offer any reimbursements for your moving expenses.
The Bottom Line
While moving to a new area can benefit you and your family, moving can be very expensive. If you are having a hard time covering moving expenses, you may be able to get financial assistance through a moving grant, charity or community organization.
In addition to the programs listed in this article, you can always reach out to local charities, city or state government offices and community groups for further assistance. While federal assistance is a great option, countless U.S. states, counties and cities may have local programs to help residents like yourself pay for moving expenses.