How Do Moving Companies Charge?

The add-ons

The cost of moving will be affected by the number of movers involved, services like dissembling furniture, and packing materials, which represent labor costs. These add-ons will be added to the original quote since these represent raw materials and labor hours that you will have to foot.

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How to Reduce Moving Costs and Saving Tips 

Now that you know how moving companies charge and all the additional fees that can inflate your bill, we can go over some of the best ways to reduce that bill

Downsize and Reduce Unnecessary Items

This one’s pretty straightforward; if you don’t need it, don’t haul it. We recommend carefully taking stock of your possessions well before packing and taking the time to downsize appropriately. You can either dispose of unwanted items through a junk hauling company or donate them to local charities. 

Book Seasonally and Early

As we mentioned above, booking by season can reduce your moving cost by up to 30%. Furthermore, you can guarantee the best times and potentially get the moving company to offer special rates if you book early. 

Pack Your Own Boxes 

Packing services can be costly, vastly increasing your price tag if you’re not careful. If you pack your boxes and prep them correctly, your service fees and hourly costs will decrease. 

Shop Around, and Compare Quotes

As we mentioned above, we recommend comparing quotes when preparing for your move. Quote comparing does two things: it will give you the lowest base cost possible. And it can also give you an idea of the different fees you could be facing, as some sly moving companies may neglect to mention them during the quote process. 

Take Heavy Items With You

If you’re driving to your new home, we recommend bringing small but heavy items along for the ride. Since moving companies use weight as one of the primary factors for determining their baseline cost, you can shave off your total cost by transporting objects like hand weights, files, and dishware inside your car.

Additional Costs and Considerations

Each extra moving service comes with a cost, but it could be worth the extra cost to allow movers to handle the hassle. A full-service move could include hiring movers to handle every step of the moving process from start to finish. Additionally, you may have more delicate items (like a piano) that will require special movers. And moving a longer distance like across state lines will cost more, too. Consider the following factors that could apply to your situation when determining how much movers cost.

Packing and Unpacking Services

Many homeowners want or need the convenience of handing over the responsibility of packing and unpacking a household to the expert movers. You can opt to pack a few specific boxes of personal items and leave the rest. Movers typically charge $1,000 for packing a household. Unpacking is a separate charge that you can ask about once they’ve estimated the packing cost.

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Moving Cross-Country

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that moving across the country will cost more than moving down the street. The moving company needs to charge for time, labor, weight, mileage, fuel, and any fees to transport your items across state lines. You can expect to pay between $2,200 and $5,700 to move out of state.

Extra-Large or Delicate Items

If you have any items that are considered specialty, delicate, or extra-large, you’ll pay more to move them. This would include items like a piano, hot tub, car, pool table, or safe. Some of these may require special equipment or training to move them—or it may just take a few extra movers.

Insurance

One benefit of hiring a reputable moving company is that they automatically apply limited liability insurance to your items—usually at $0.60 per pound. This means your items are not fully covered, so consider adding extra insurance if you have many valuable things. You’ll want to ask ahead of time since it may not be available on the day of the move.

Tipping

The odds are that you hired the mover to help make your life a little easier. Part of how you can show your appreciation for a job well done is to give the movers a tip. It’s customary to provide a 10 to 20 percent tip, but if the cost of the move was less than $500, you could tip up to 20 percent. Some companies can add this with a credit card; otherwise, have some cash on hand.

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Storage

Timing doesn’t always work out perfectly. You may have to wait to move into your new house until after closing while simultaneously moving out of your current home. Most moving services have storage facilities to hold items for a short time as they plan a move’s logistics. They can also hold your items for a period if needed, but they can become more expensive than a traditional storage unit if you need long-term storage. If you need to move your items from your home into a storage unit, then from the storage unit into a new home, you’ll have to factor in the cost of the storage unit and the additional moving costs.

Extra Stops

Sometimes moving is complicated. You may have items that need to be picked up from another household or storage unit. Movers will charge extra for each additional stop beyond the original and final destinations.

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Charges and surcharges

A materials charge for packing paper, boxes, mattress bags, and tape will also be factored in, with the sales tax being included in the price. Typically you will be subjected to the sales tax of the company’s home state, regardless of the state that you’re moving to.

Long-distance moving costs

Long-distance moves are charged bymileage and weight.

When you’re budgeting for a long-distance move, you won’t pay by the hour with most moving companies. Instead, you’ll pay a flat fee based on your starting point, your ending point and the total weight or volume of furniture and other goods that you’re moving. Depending on the size of your load, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $8,000 for professional movers to take you more than 100 miles from your current home.

The table below lays out a few long-distance move examples, factoring in an average three-bedroom home.

FromToMilesAverage cost
Los AngelesPhoenix365$3,753
Springfield, ILDenver811$4,760
Trenton, NJHouston1,367$5,930
Sacramento, CARaleigh, NC2,343$7,713

Questions to Ask About Moving Costs

If you’ve never hired a moving company before, you could be nervous about allowing strangers to handle your valuables. It’s a valid concern, and sadly, there are illegitimate moving companies out there. Fortunately, there are plenty of reputable and experienced companies you can use. Before you book, check the BBB ratings to see other customer reviews. You can make an informed decision about who you hire by knowing the best questions to ask to avoid moving scams. We also recommend keeping track of all the information you collect about moving costs to help make your decision easier.

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  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Are you certified with the American Moving & Storage Association?
  • Do you have the legal certifications to move belongings across state lines?
  • Do you have references I can contact?
  • Will you provide me with the federally required paperwork called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”?
  • Do you provide a final contract after inspecting my location and belongings but before taking possession?
  • Can I sign a binding contract before you begin moving my items?
  • Do you require a deposit to hold the moving date? (Requesting a deposit is considered a bad practice, and this is often done by disreputable companies.)
  • Why is your bid so much lower than other companies?
  • How will you calculate my total price? (In-and-out and volume-based bids should be avoided.)
  • What does your insurance cover?
  • How much would additional insurance cost?
  • How long will it take to pack and move my items?

Moving Opportunity Cost Calculator

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How Is Moving Company Storage Charged?

If you are moving into storage, moving companies will charge based on the weight of the goods and how long those items will be in storage.

If you are moving locally, you will be charged hourly for the moving in and out of storage as well as the amount of time your items are in storage.

Sometimes, if you’re moving long-distance and your home isn’t ready, the moving company will offer short-term storage at a nearby facility until your home is ready. This is called storage-in-transit.

If this is the case, the moving company will charge for the movers to unload at the storage place, you’ll be charged for the warehouse labor for the workers to inventory your items and put them into storage vaults, you’ll also be charged the storage time, and then the move again to the home.

How to calculate moving costs

To calculate moving costs, you’ll need to factor in the weight of your belongings, the distance of the move and labor costs. For a local move, you’ll be charged for labor by the hour, so the biggest factor will be how much stuff you have and how long it takes the movers to load and unload your boxes.

$40 per hour x 2 movers = $80 per hour x 8 hours = $640

Add in any extras, like charges for specialty items, stair fees or packing materials you’ll be buying, to get your total estimated moving cost.

Long-distance moves aren’t as easy to estimate through simple formulas, though you can expect to pay more the farther you travel. Your best bet is to get a quote from a few different companies during the planning phase of your move.

Understanding Moving Costs and Storage Fees

Always begin by asking if you actually need to pay for storage. This may sound odd, but there are two scenarios when you can save money on the extra fees. Here are two examples.

Long Transit Time

Unlike local moves, long-distance moving companies take between seven and 21 business days to drive to your location. If you only need to store your items for 10 days, for example, you may already have this leeway built into your moving transition. Just be sure to alert your team before your upcoming move of your plans.

Included Storage

If you’re prepping for a long-distance move, many companies include 30 days of free storage in their moving estimate. This may not always be the case, so be sure to speak with your sales rep before assuming it’s true. However, if you need to store your items longer than 30 days, you should receive the per-additional-month amount in your moving quote.

Storage-in-Transit

Full-service moving companies typically offer what is known as storage-in-transit. In other words, the movers charge to pick up your items, drop them off at their own warehouse, and then bring them to your new home when you’re ready. 

Moving Services

After you determine your type of mover, the number of rooms, labor hours, and baseline cost, the next major factor to consider is the additional services offered by the moving company. Most moving companies have a host of services to choose from, allowing you to tailor your experiences to suit your needs. These services can be as simple as temporary storage, if you have a wait time before your new home is ready, to full-service moving, including packing, unpacking, and shuttling. Most of these services are à la carte and offered at the beginning of the appraisal process and applied during your quote’s creation. 

Storage

Storage is one of the most commonly purchased additional services from moving companies. Movers frequently offer free 30-day storage in their service packages or will offer free storage as an incentive to close a deal. However, long-term storage through a moving company can get expensive, charging around 30-50 cents per cubic foot. These prices aren’t terrible in the short term, but if you need storage for more than a month, you’re usually better off going with a personal storage unit or a moving container. 

Full-Service Moving 

A full-service moving package might be the best option if you’re low on time or are too busy to handle the heavy lifting, packing, and other strenuous elements of moving. For standard moving services, a truck with a few professional movers will show up at the arrival time, and you will have all your boxes, furniture, and assorted cargo ready to move. Depending on the other services you choose, these movers may or may not help you load your items. But full-service movers take care of everything for you. Typically, the movers will arrive as a small team, with a truck, boxes, and packing materials. They will sort, pack, and load all your cargo and furniture. Furthermore, depending on the extent of your service package, the movers will even handle large, specialty items like pianos or hot tubs. 

As you can imagine, full services moves are significantly more expensive than standard moving services. You can expect to pay 50%-150% more for a full-service package on average. 

Packing Services

Most moving companies offer packing services for those homeowners who still need help packing their belongings but have their own trucks or transportation. In these situations, going with a packing service can save you time and will cost significantly less than a full-service move. When signing up for a packing service, you will receive an estimation of the overall cost and a rough quote. Moving companies will charge by the box or per hour alongside packing material costs. Packing service boxes are designed for specific types of cargo. They have different corresponding costs, with simple, smaller boxes costing less compared to large or complex containers, like those for linen or glassware. Generally, larger, more fragile, and more difficult cargo will result in more expensive boxes and a higher price tag. The national average for packing services ranges from $350-$1,500, with smaller studio apartments sitting on the lower end and larger multiple-bedroom homes at the higher end.

Furniture Disassembly

In the case of large, intricate pieces of furniture, such as glass cabinets or shelving, it can be easier and safer to have moving companies handle them for you. Moving companies offer special furniture assembly and disassembly services for these cases. Furniture disassembly is available as a part of moving packages or sold independently, similar to packing services. When included in a moving package, furniture disassembly is usually requested as a part of the quote process or during the move. Full-service moving packages typically include furniture disassembly, or companies will offer it for free to help close deals. When included alongside standard moving services, the movers will disassemble all requested furniture before loading it into the truck and then assemble it at the arrival destination. When purchased as a separate service, the movers will come to the property, disassemble the furniture, and potentially load it, depending on their level of service. 

The national average cost of furniture disassembly as a separate service is between $30-$50 per mover per hour. Like other moving services, this cost factor can vary depending on location and season. The price for furniture disassembly as an additional service to an existing package varies greatly, depending on the size of the home, the amount of furniture, and the nature of the offered package. 

Specialty Item Handling

This service is necessary if you possess large, delicate, or bulky items that require special handling, packing, or additional space in the truck. Movers will have to be more careful when handling these objects and take special precautions and arrangements to accommodate them when loading. Because of these factors, professional moving companies will require an additional charge to carry, load, and transport specialty items. 

Here is a list of the most common specialty items you will get charged extra for in a move:

  • Grandfather clocks 
  • Pianos, or other large musical instruments
  • Large mirrors
  • Pool tables
  • Large safes
  • Oversized furniture 
  • Hot tub or jacuzzi
  • Motorcycles 
  • Large paintings or fine art
  • Riding lawn mowers
  • Large pieces of exercise equipment such as treadmills, benches, or workout bikes 
  • Kitchen equipment like fridges or stoves
  • Large general appliances such as washers and dryers

Additional Packing Supplies 

Occasionally the movers will have to utilize additional supplies like bubble wrap, packing paper, straps, ties, mattress covers, or TV covers to pack your cargo correctly. For full-service moves and packing services, the cost of these materials is taken into consideration and included in the invoice. However, for standard service moves, they will charge you for these supplies. While convenient, the cost of these materials is much higher than purchasing them from a retailer. Because of this upcharge, if you’re not using a packing service or full-service move, it’s always best to have your cargo fully packed and prepared beforehand. 

Other Add-ons and Valuations

While not as commonly purchased, there are numerous other add-on services you can opt in to that moving companies offer. These add-ons are usually available upon request or might be suggested by the moving company during the evaluation and quote process.

  • Unpacking service: Occasionally, a customer might request a moving company to unpack and set up various cargo. This service is included in full-service packages but can also be purchased separately at the end of a relocation.
  • Shuttle service: On rare occasions, a moving company may have to use a smaller truck to transport cargo to a larger truck. This shuttling occurs when the customer’s home is unreachable with the primary moving truck. For example, if a home is at the end of a tight city street or down a steep hill with a narrow road. Since a shuttle service is a niche occurrence, it’s not normally included in full-service packages and can be highly expensive. The average cost for a shuttle service is anywhere from $200 to over $1,500 on top of the cost of the move. 
  • Expedited delivery: A moving company can expedite delivery for an additional charge. This service sees the most use in an emergency or last-minute move, like when the homeowner has to relocate for work. The cost of expedited delivery can vary wildly depending on the distance traveled, delivery time frame, season, and availability of the moving company. 

Major factors that affect the cost to hire a moving company

Fancy cutting down your moving costs the way you l
Fancy cutting down your moving costs the way you like it?

As you already know, the price to hire movers will depend on several major factors. The thing is that the better you understand the principal factors the influence the moving cost, the more control you will have over the price of moving.

In other words, you’ll be able to cut your moving costs and expenses.

  • Size of your move. The more things you wish to move to the new home, the more money you’ll pay for their transportation. Moving out of a studio is very different from moving out of a 3-bedroom apartment in terms of the sheer number of household items.Save money by moving only the things you really love and will need in the future.
  • Special items. Your choice to move any specialty items between will increase the moving cost, sometimes by a lot. If you wish to move a piano to the new home, you’re going to have to hire the services of experienced piano movers.Hire specialty movers when you’re also moving antique furniture, a pool table, a hot tub, a heavy safe, a grandfather clock, and so on.
  • Move distance. The greater the distance between the two locations, the costlier your move will be.
  • Extra services. Each add-on service that you request from your moving company will cost you extra money. As you can guess, packing is the most frequent additional moving service and the good news is that you can and should pack most of your things by yourself to save money when moving.
  • Packing supplies. If you choose to pack up your things by yourself, then you should know that the cost of the necessary packing materials can inflate substantially the final moving cost.Get free moving boxes to reduce the packing costs.
  • Move date. The date of your move can influence the cost to hire a moving company. How? In general, moving during the peak moving season (May – September) is more expensive than moving during the off-peak season when fewer people want to move house due to winter.
  • Insurance. When moving valuable items, do consider purchasing adequate coverage for your prized possessions. Speak with your moving company about your viable insurance options.
  • Extra fees and charges. Discuss with your movers what extra fees you’re likely to get charged when you hire their services. All of those extra charges must be included in the cost estimate you receive.

How to Cut Moving Costs and Expenses

How to Find a Moving and Storage Company

With a big move on the horizon, how do you begin your search for the right team of movers with ample storage experience and great pricing?

We always recommend choosing at least two or three companies and comparing their free quotes. The average moving costs for a long-distance relocation land around $4,300, but this amount significantly varies based on:

  • The size of your home
  • Local labor and overhead costs
  • Cost of living in your region
  • The time of year you choose to move
  • Specialty items and services

Be An Informed Consumer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration should be your first stop when considering a moving and storage company. Their Protect Your Move feature allows you to check a company’s:

  • US DOT number
  • Years of experience
  • Number of trucks in their fleet
  • Additional license and certification details

Once you’ve checked all these boxes, take a look at customer reviews to determine if past clients have had a good experience. Look for signs of:

  • Safe and climate-controlled storage containers
  • Easy transition in and out of the storage unit
  • Reliable and transparent pricing
  • Safety and care for personal items

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