On this page:
- Estimating the Cost of Professional Moving Services
- Is it Worth Hiring a Pro?
- The Big Picture
- The Details of Your Move
- Preparing for Your Big Move
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
No matter if you are moving down the street or across the country, hiring professional movers can simplify the entire process, which is typically time consuming, stressful, and exhausting. In addition to sparing you some of the dirty work, pros are qualified to handle heavy, fragile, and unusual items without causing damage to your home or belongings. Pros are also insured, so in the event of accidental damage you can be compensated for any losses you incur.
Depending on the level of service you select, your movers can save you a great deal of time, labor, and frustration as you move to a new location. A number of factors influence the price of hiring movers, from the layout and accessibility of both locations involved to the distance of the move, the type of items that are handled, and the services that are provided. Your mover can help you understand how these, and other variables, will influence the cost of relocating.
Estimating the Cost of Professional Moving Services
Types of Moves
The distance and route of your move is one of the first details to address in planning and pricing the project. Moving from one location to another within the same state without crossing state lines is generally referred to as an intrastate or local move, while a move across state lines is considered an interstate or long-distance move. Since federal laws regulate transporting goods between states, even if your move is to a neighboring city in the same state, it is considered an interstate move if a carrier must cross state lines in order to move your goods from the point of origin to the destination. This distinction is important because movers typically charge differently for local and long distance moving services. Moving rates are often estimated according to the number of rooms and bedrooms in a home, but actual charges come down to the items and locations involved.
Local moves are often charged at an hourly rate, rather than according to the features or distance of the move. The cost of the job typically comes down to the time and manpower required to get the work done, plus the cost of any consumable packing materials provided by the moving company. The billable hours on a local move including time spent packing, loading and unloading, and traveling to the pickup site and between locations.
Long Distance Moves
Long Distance moves are billed according to the volume or weight of the materials moved and the distance traveled. These details influence the type of truck used, and the cost of extra services such as packing will be added to the transportation costs. There are a number of factors that can affect the cost of handling in a long distance move, like accessibility for the truck as well as for the moving crew to carry items out of or into the home.
Services and Handling
The scope of your moving project has quite a bit of influence on the overall cost of the job. The basic function of a moving company is to transport your property from one location to the next, so the more a professional crew handles your stuff, the more the job will cost. From packing boxes to navigating stairs, loading and unloading, moving specialty items, assembling furniture, securing permits, and cleaning up after the job, a higher level of service will carry a higher price tag.
Is it Worth Hiring a Pro?
Time is Money
Any way you slice it, moving to a new place is time-consuming. The extra tasks associated with changing places usually come on top of regular activities, like work, school, and other responsibilities, making it a busy and stressful time. You won’t be able to avoid the hassle entirely, but hiring a pro to handle a lot of the planning and legwork of the move can free you up to manage details like mail forwarding, utility connections, and school changes.
Protect Your Stuff
A lot can happen in the course of a move, no matter how much stuff you have or how far it is going. Professional movers are required to be licensed and insured by state governments, so you can be assured that the crew handling and transporting the contents of your home is qualified to do the job safely and that you will be protected from loss in the event of an accident or mishandling.
Movers generally provide standard liability insurance to protect both your home and your belongings from damage, but be sure to check the coverage before loading up. Reimbursements for items damaged in transit are often based on weight, which may not reflect the replacement value of an item. Check your options for additional coverage from the mover or a third-party insurer, like your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance carrier.
Handling the Logistics
In addition to the planning involved in setting up housekeeping in a new place, the move itself requires a lot of careful planning. Timing your packing and loading, supplying boxes and materials, choosing the right equipment, planning the best route, budgeting for fuel and tolls, scheduling overnight stays, and obtaining any permits needed for parking while loading and unloading can be a complicated job. Professional movers are experts at handling logistical details like these, and can make quick work of what can be a tough planning process.
The Big Picture
The first detail in budgeting for a move is the distance you need to cover. If your relocation is to a new place in the same state, be sure to contact local movers. If you are moving to a new part of the country, or even just across state lines, you will need a long distance mover. Long distance moves are usually much more expensive than local movers, even if the distance covered doesn’t seem significant. The regulations involved in moving goods from state to state create a higher overhead for a carrier, which translates into a higher price tag for you. Most of these carriers charge by weight and mileage, and though there are a number of details that will affect the bottom line, the farther you need to travel, the more the job will cost.
Time and Services
Local movers generally charge by the hour for all aspects of the move regardless of distance, but even the price of a long distance move can be affected by the time needed to complete extra services. Charges for packing, loading, cleanup, assembly, and other extra tasks are not included in base per-mile rates; rather, they are based on the time and manpower needed.
Ease of Access
The difficulty of moving furniture, appliances, and other large items is often influenced by the accessibility of a site. Narrow hallways, staircases, and uneven terrain can complicate the process and call for extra time, equipment or help, and “long carry” fees are often imposed if a moving crew has to carry your things over a long distance to get from the door to the truck, or vice versa.
In addition to accessibility for the moving crew to carry your belongings in or out of the home, parking limitations can affect the cost of the job. If the carrier needs to secure permits to park a truck on the street near your home or provide a smaller truck to shuttle your goods to a location for transfer to a tractor trailer later, you can expect related fees to be added to your bill.
The Details of Your Move
Any work you do yourself will help keep costs down, and packing can be one of the most expensive add-on services a moving company offers. Professional movers can pack up an entire home in a matter of hours, but if your budget is tight, consider packing and wrapping your belongings and furniture on your own. Using standard sized boxes can help keep the job organized, but compare prices for buying or sourcing packing materials from the mover and from other suppliers. Many movers offer to supply and deliver materials for you to do the packing yourself, but the service often comes at a premium price.
If you have items that require special handling, your mover may charge extra fees for the extra care, packaging or labor involved in handling them safely. Moving pianos and other large instruments, sensitive electronics and equipment, fragile antiques, or oversized sculptures and art pieces could increase the overall cost of the job.
Loading and Unloading
Loading and unloading are two of the basic services included in a full-service move, but some providers will let you do the heavy lifting and save on the cost of handling. In these cases, the moving company will deliver a truck or container to your home for you to load, then pick it up when it’s time to transport your goods to your new home.
If the timing of your move makes it impractical to take everything at once, your mover can provide storage for some or all of your stuff until you are ready for delivery. The cost of this service will depend on the location of storage and the volume and type of material you need the pros to hang onto for you.
If either your origin or destination site doesn’t have the space for a full-sized truck, your provider may need to use a smaller truck to shuttle your items to or from the larger one for pickup or delivery. The cost of this service will depend on the type of vehicle that can be used, how many trips are required, and the distance from the home to the transfer site.
The timing of your move can affect the cost of the job, since providers may charge higher rates or fees during periods of higher demand, denser traffic, or hazardous travel conditions. For example, scheduling your move for a weekend or during the summer may cost a bit more than the same project on a weekday in the spring. Also, requesting a very specific delivery time on a long distance move could add to the cost of the job, especially if a single truck is dedicated for your belongings since typically, items from multiple households are loaded on a large trailer with delivery times coordinated according to travel efficiency.
Preparing for Your Big Move
Division of Labor
With the destination set for your move, the flexibility of your project budget may come down to the services you select from your mover and the limitations at the origin and destination. If you need to trim down the budget, decide what part of the job you can handle yourself. Packing your own boxes is a natural choice, but check with different providers to see what your options are for self-loading and cost-effective scheduling.
Minimize the Task
One of the most effective ways to simplify a move is to minimize the amount of stuff you need to transport. Preparing to move is the perfect opportunity to weed out clothing, furniture, books, collections, and just about any type of thing you have accumulated. Donations of most goods are gladly accepted by non-profit thrift stores everywhere, but depending on what you have on hand, you might be able to make a few bucks to put toward the move by selling some items through classifieds, consignment, or at a moving sale.
As with any potentially expensive job, be sure to get multiple estimates for your move, whether it is local or long distance. Compare each proposal’s price, but check carefully to make sure each company you contact is pricing exactly the same services so you aren’t surprised by extra charges later.
|$320 - $1,300||$4,200 - $10,500||$8,500 - $18,600|
The scope and distance of each move makes it unique, but taking a look at the details of your move and comparing it to a few scenarios may help you anticipate the potential cost. The specific circumstances of a full-service move for an average three bedroom home can have a great impact on the total expense of hiring movers.
Example 1: Keeping it Local $320 - $1,300
- • Services: By supplying materials and packing belongings, professional services are limited to loading, unloading, and transport. Packing is often the most time-consuming aspect of a local move, so handling it yourself can cut the bill by more than half.
- • Distance: A move of less than 20 miles can be completed in a single work day. Since local moves are billed according to time rather than mileage, the only influence distance has on the price is time spent in transit.
- • Origin Site: In this price range, ease of access for both the truck and crew are expected. Driveway parking for the truck and carrying belongings from a single story home are ideal access features.
- • Scheduling: Planning a move for a weekday in a slow season, such as mid-fall, can help keep costs low since demand is low.
Example 2: Branching Out $4,200 - $10,500
- • Services: Again, packing on your own and limiting professional services to loading, unloading, and transport helps keep costs reasonable.
- • Distance: This long distance move of about 200 miles is charged according to the weight of the load as well as the distance traveled. A typical home of this size may contain 8,000 to 12,000 pounds of goods and be charged at $0.50 to $0.80 per pound.
- • Origin Site: This cost bracket accounts for moving standard items from a two-story house with a basement, and that there is convenient access for parking a truck for loading.
- • Scheduling: A weekend move may carry a surcharge or a higher base rate, but making the move in the off-season still keeps rates lower overall than at peak times of the year.
Example 3: A Whole New Start $8,500 - $18,600
- • Services: A full service move includes packing and handling common household items plus a few specialty services such as custom crating for an oversized sculpture and preparing and shipping a large piano. The materials and labor involved can tack $800 to $1,400 onto the total bill.
- • Distance: This move of over 500 miles comes at a base rate of $0.60 to $1.00 per pound of goods. With that piano, expect a minimum weight of about 800 pounds.
- • Origin Site: Typical access to a multi-story home has little impact on the total, but shuttle service due to limited parking can add several hundred dollars to the bill, depending on the weight of the load and the distance the shuttle must travel.
- • Scheduling: A move like this, with pickup scheduled for a summer weekend, can be expected to cost 20 to 30 percent more than the same move in a slower season.
Level of Difficulty
Coordinating and carrying out a move is time-consuming, complicated, and physically demanding. But, unless you need a tractor trailer to haul your stuff, it is a job you can do on your own with a rented truck, some extra muscle, a standard driver’s license, and plenty of boxes. If your time is short or you aren’t able to do the heavy lifting or driving required, hiring a mover can make quick work of packing and leave the traffic headaches to a pro.