Everything you need to know about moving costs
Over 70% of new homeowners hire a moving service, making it the most common service people hire when they purchase a new home.
Bidding for a moving company can feel overwhelming. There are numerous options when hiring a mover to help you, from full-service to just one helper for an hour. We'll also take you through how movers price their services and how to minimize costs.
How much will your move cost?
According to the National Moving and Transportation Association (NMTA), hiring movers for a local move costs between $632 and $1732, or $1180 on average. They determined this range by taking the national average of $25-$50 per hour/per service provider for a local move less than 100 miles.
However, many factors go into determining how much your move will cost. The size of your home, if you have stairs, the weight of the items you are moving, the time of the year, the distance–even the weather!
Cost of Packing and Moving
More than likely, you’ll want a moving service that includes packing to cost around $1000. This is something that your mover will go over with you to get an accurate estimate.
Full-service Movers Cost
Full-service moves are just what they sound like. You don't have to lift a finger!
If this is what you need, expect a base of $2300.
Full-service moves include:
- Disassembling furniture
- Loading the truck
- Transportation to your new home
- Unloading and unpacking
- Furniture assembly
Ask your mover how long it'll take to complete your move - often, full-service moves can take several days. Discuss what things you needed to be unloaded right away. Be sure to take personal items that you will need immediate access to. Pro-tip - be sure you have a shower curtain and towels for your first nights in your new home!
Cost to Move Other Items Like Cars and Pianos
Moving unusually large, heavy, or delicate pieces can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000 extra, depending on the item and its size. For example:
- Price to move a car: $1,000
- Cost to move a piano: $400
Moving Company Prices
The most expensive moves are full-service or long-distance moves. The cheapest movers only move one or two large items. Movers often have a minimum charge, even for a few things.
The price you end up paying starts with an estimate. For a smaller, local move, you can usually get a quote online or over the phone. Long-distance moves (more than 100 miles) will often require an in-person meeting to get the most accurate estimate.
Most long-distance movers use one of three types of estimates, and it's essential to know the difference:
- Binding Estimate: Requires you to pay only the stated price.
- Non-Binding Estimate: The final cost can change.
- Not To Exceed Estimate: You pay the estimate or the final cost.
Moving Company Estimates
Looking to go with a national moving company? Often, national moving companies are good for long-distance moves. Here are some options:
National Moving Companies:
Pro: Easier DIY loading
Con: Doesn’t include unloading
Pro: Full service
Con: No online estimates
Pro: Full service
United Van Lines
Pro: Known for fast quotes
Con: Somewhat vague pricing
Two Men and a Truck
Pro:Local and long-distance
Buyer beware: if you go with a national chain, they might subcontract out to local companies. Be sure you read reviews of the company they are subcontracting.
How is moving calculated?
Ease of Access
If you've got a loft in a five-story building with no elevator, you're going to be paying more than if you were in a one-level home. A home that is hard to access can add on upwards of $500. Make sure that you are upfront with the moving company, and let them know any access issues. If you are unsure, ask for an in-person estimate. The last thing you want to do is leave the mover in a situation like the one from Friends:
If you move in the fall or winter, you'll pay less for your move. Likewise, if you move on a weekday or a day in the middle of the month, you might pay less. Moving companies are swamped in the summer and weekends, so if you have to move on a weekend day or in the summer, be sure to schedule as far out as you can.
Most moving companies provide insurance. Basic liability for moving insurance is around sixty cents per pound. If you want full coverage that would reimburse you for everything, you would need to pay more or get your own insurance. It's also worth asking your mover if they can add more liability insurance.
Do you need to tip movers?
Tipping is not required, but many people tip between 15-20%, if you go with a local small business. We've had homeowners provide cold water bottles and easy-to-eat snacks for their movers. And you can never go wrong with ordering a few pizzas.
The costs of boxes, tape, packing, and moving blankets add up. Most moving companies will provide these at additional cost. But before you decide to save money and pack everything yourself, remember that if you do, the moving company won’t insure your items. If you are insuring your move on your own, this might also be an issue. The moving company can refuse liability coverage.
Get our complete guide to moving!
Save a little money!
If you want to save money, you can:
- Disassemble any furniture that you can, like tables, desks, and beds.
- Disconnect electronics and appliances. (And take photos to make reconnection easier)
- Shop and find/purchase your own boxes/tape.
- For items you are okay not insuring, pack as much as possible yourself. Anything that fits in a box, pack in a box.
- Move boxes into an accessible area, like a garage.
- Label all boxes with the destination room to speed up unloading
- Load or move smaller things yourself. (Moving your boxes, for example)
- Only hire movers to move items you can't move. (couches, tables, etc.)
Getting an Estimate
It is very rare for movers to charge for an estimate or estimate appointment. You shouldn't expect to pay anything until you've chosen your movers, committed to a date, and made a deposit.
Getting estimates for moving involves some effort. Moving companies will want an inventory of items to be moved. This means either sending someone to your home, or having you complete a checklist. They might just have you inventory your house over the phone.
This process might seem difficult, but it is crucial to get a quality estimate that you can trust, and your movers can deliver on. (See “Misquoting” in “Possible Problems” for why this is so important.)
Are you moving during the COVID-19 pandemic? We have some tips to help you through it!
Moving costs can vary based on:
- Amount of possessions
- Types of possessions (fragile, expensive, etc.)
- Unique items (Pianos, Looms, Sculptures, etc.)
- Access to the home (stairs, elevators, Distance from truck-to-door, etc.)
- Distance of move
- Travel time to/from the homes
- Move Date
Charging by the hour or quoting a flat price are both standard methods of billing for moving.
Movers are busiest during the early and late summer (around schools getting out and re-starting.) If you are scheduling a move for these times of the year, plan at least 60 days before your move date.
Other popular times for moves are weekends, and around the beginning and end of months, when leases begin and end.
The sooner you book your movers and put a deposit down to confirm your dates, the better your move date will be. The later you wait, the fewer times will be available.
The most important thing to remember is that every move and every house is different. Though there are national averages for moving costs, each specific move needs evaluation. If you have a midsize home and the national average is $1000, but you have a beautiful sculpture garden, the cost of your move will be much higher than that average. On the other hand if you’re a minimalist, you might pay a bit lower. Don’t budget your move based on averages! Get a professional quote–or two–first. At Zaarly, you can get a moving quote from a vetted service provider.