The 5 Best Moving Companies in Chicago of 2024

Making a move to the Windy City can be less stressful with the right movers. The best moving companies in Chicago offer plenty of benefits for customers to consider.

By Tony Carrick | Published Jan 23, 2024 2:45 PM

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The inside of a moving truck is full of cardboard boxes.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Any move is a complicated process, but a move to a major metropolitan area such as Chicago can be overwhelming for anyone who doesn’t know the ins and outs of a big-city move. The process of procuring parking permits for a moving truck or container, getting stuff up and down multiple flights of stairs, and navigating other challenges is a job better suited for a moving company that’s familiar with the intricacies of navigating a major metropolitan area. Fortunately, there are moving companies that can handle these kinds of complexities. The best moving companies in Chicago understand the challenges of moving to and from or in and around the Windy City. Whether moving across town or from hundreds of miles away, current and future Chicagoans can use this list of the best moving companies in Chicago to find the one most suited for the job.

  1. BEST OVERALL: United Van Lines
  2. RUNNER-UP: New City Moving
  3. MOST TRANSPARENT PRICING: International Van Lines
  4. BEST MOVING CONTAINERS: PODS
  5. ALSO CONSIDER: Two Men and a Truck
The contents of a house and cardboard boxes sit at the entrance of a white moving truck.

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Moving Companies in Chicago

There’s a lot to consider when vetting Chicago movers. Prospective customers will want to find a company that’s best suited to handle the type of move they have in mind, is properly insured and licensed, and offers a clear quote process. Weighing these and other factors will help customers in their search for a Chicago moving company.

Type of Move

Moves fall into three categories: local, interstate, and international. Choosing the right moving company for the type of move is key. A local move is generally any move that falls within 50 miles of the customer’s current address and doesn’t cross state lines. Interstate covers any move that does cross state lines, while international moves involve moving to a different country.

Since the top long-distance moving companies may not be among the best local moving companies and vice versa, it’s important to keep the type of move in mind when choosing the best mover for the job. Large national moving companies with locations throughout the country often serve as the best option for interstate moves. Since a move to a major city presents unique challenges, such as finding parking for trucks, carrying boxes and furniture in or out of tall apartment buildings, and preventing theft from idle vehicles, local movers in Chicago who are familiar with the city are often the best choice for these types of moves. For international moves, it’s crucial to find a company that can help the customer handle the complicated paperwork, shipping, and customs procedures that come with this type of move.

Another consideration is whether the move involves residential or commercial properties. While the companies included here focus on residential customers, some may also offer corporate solutions such as relocation services or office moves. Those who require these kinds of services may want to narrow their search to commercial movers in Chicago.

Pricing Transparency

Cost is among the top concerns most people have when embarking on a move, which is why choosing a company that can provide a clear and transparent quote is so crucial when vetting movers. Nick Valentino, vice president of market operations at national moving company Bellhop, suggests taking a close look at moving company rates to understand the total cost of these services.

“One major issue with many moving companies is pricing transparency,” he says. “You’ll often find incredibly low up-front prices advertised, only to get hit with fees for mileage, labor, fuel, and packing materials in the fine print. Make sure you figure out the real price of a moving company before comparing.”

To ensure an accurate quote, it’s a good idea for customers to also provide a comprehensive and detailed list of all the belongings they plan to move, being sure to mention any large furniture and specialty items that can impact the cost of hiring a mover. Customers will also want to consider the expense of add-on services that can increase the total price, including the cost of junk removal, packing, and cleaning services. It’s also a good idea to ask the mover if they’re willing to provide a binding estimate, which is a quote that locks in the maximum price of the move, eliminating any chance of surprise fees on moving day.

License and Insurance

Hiring a moving company that is properly licensed and insured is a must whether one is moving to Chicago or anywhere else. Fortunately, identifying whether a moving company is properly licensed is relatively easy. All movers that conduct interstate moves will have a registration number with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Customers can look up a prospective mover and verify that it’s licensed by simply visiting the U.S. DOT website. Any moving company serving Chicago must also be licensed by the state of Illinois.

Customers may also want to pay careful attention to the type of liability insurance they get with their mover. There are typically two options: full value protection and released value protection. With full value protection, the customer is reimbursed the replacement cost for items that are damaged or lost. With released value protection, lost or damaged items are only covered at a rate of up to 60 cents per pound. If the coverage the mover offers isn’t enough, customers can buy third-party insurance to fill the gap as well.

Auto Transportation

Those who own one or more cars and are planning to move across the country either to or from Chicago may need to consider the logistics of auto transportation. Finding professional movers in Chicago that offer this type of service can require a fair bit of research, as not all long-distance movers in Chicago will transport cars, motorcycles, or other vehicles as part of their services. Movers with nationwide footprints may offer auto transportation services as an add-on or through a third party, though. In some cases, customers may need to hire a separate company that specializes in auto transportation to handle that aspect of their move.

Specialty-Item Moving

Pianos, pool tables, lawn mowers, antiques, and heavy furniture are all more complicated to move than standard belongings. As such, those who need to move this type of property will likely want to look for a company that focuses on specialty items. These companies know how to pack and transport large, fragile, or extremely heavy items to minimize the chances that they’ll be damaged before they arrive at Point B. Customers should also keep in mind that specialty-item moving typically comes at an additional cost. As such, it’s a good idea for customers to list each specialty item during the quote process to ensure an accurate quote.

Cancellation Policy

Sometimes moving plans can change unexpectedly, forcing customers to reschedule or cancel their move at the last minute. In these cases, it’s important to have a moving company with flexible cancellation policies. Since these policies can vary from company to company, customers will want to pay careful attention to them when hiring a mover, especially if there is a fair chance they may need to reschedule the move. While some companies will allow their clients to cancel their move up to the point that the move actually begins, others may have much more rigid cancellation policies—for instance, requiring their customers to provide at least 48 hours’ notice or forfeit their security deposit.

Deposit

Some moving companies require their customers to pay a security deposit in order to reserve a moving truck and movers for a specific day. These security deposits can vary significantly across different moving companies, but any deposit requirement will add to the up-front cost of the move. Customers may want to avoid companies that require more than 25 percent for a deposit since excessive deposit requirements could be a sign of a scam, and it’s possible these movers may be more likely to pocket the money and fail to show up on the moving day. While security deposits can be a financial burden, customers will want to keep in mind that movers put them in place to mitigate their losses in the event a customer cancels at the last minute.

Reviews and Complaints

Talking to former customers or reading reviews can be invaluable for customers when they’re choosing a mover. Valentino notes that there are many ways for those planning a move to find this information, and that it’s well worth seeking out.

“When you can find it, there’s no substitute for first-hand knowledge,” Valentino says. “If someone you know can speak to having had a good experience with movers, that’s the gold standard. If you don’t happen to know someone who has used particular movers, checking online reviews on sites like Google and Yelp is definitely a good idea, as is checking their license.”

Through these sites, customers can read first-hand experiences from people who have used the prospective moving company and see star ratings aggregated from dozens or even hundreds of past customers. When using these sites, customers may want to keep in mind that some moving companies have dozens or even hundreds of different locations. Since the quality of service can vary from location to location, it’s a good idea to look for reviews specific to local moving crews.

Our Top Picks

The best moving companies in Chicago include national brands along with a reputable local mover and a moving-container service for those who want to save money by handling the loading and unloading on their own. When customers are choosing a moving company, their specific circumstances and priorities will play a large part in determining which company is the right fit.

Best Overall

The blue UVL wing logo appears next to the words "United Van Lines" written in blue on a white background.
Photo: unitedvanlines.com

Why It Made the Cut: Discounts for small moves, speciality packing services, and a liberal cancellation policy are just a few of the features that make United Van Lines one of the best in the business.

With the breadth of services it offers for those moving to and from a major metropolitan area, United Van Lines is a great option when it comes to Chicago moves. The company’s Snapmoves program offers reduced rates for moves from small apartments, studios, or tiny homes, making it a great budget option for those with fewer belongings to transport. As noted in our United Van Lines review, the company also offers custom crating services. Having these packing services in Chicago may be very helpful to those who have antiques, artwork, and fragile furniture that requires special packing and may need to be transported up multiple flights of stairs to a city condo or apartment.

Customers will want to be aware that United Van Lines’ customer service isn’t always as streamlined as it could be and representatives could be difficult to reach at times. For instance, the quote process involves multiple steps and requires the customer to submit an estimate request then schedule a home visit from a sales representative.

That said, United Van Lines does offer some nice moving-day features. Customers can access moving checklists, pull up contact lists that include real estate agents and an assigned United Van Line move coordinator, and check the status of the move via the company’s MyUnited Move online portal. United Van Lines also boasts a very liberal cancellation policy. It requires no deposit and allows customers to cancel right up to the point that the move begins.

 

Specs

  • Type of move: Local, long-distance, international
  • Customer support: Phone, email, live chat
  • Auto transport: Yes
  • Free cancellation: Yes
  • Deposit required: No

Pros

  • Free cancellation as long as no services have been provided
  • Custom crating for specialty and fragile items
  • Discounts for small long-distance moving jobs for studio apartments
  • Checklists, mover contacts, and tracking conveniently located in MyUnited Move online portal

Cons

  • Somewhat challenging customer service experience

Runner-Up

The Chicago skyline appears in a blue drawing with a banner reading "New City Moving" on a white background.
Photo: newcitymovers.com

Why It Made the Cut: Local expertise, flexible scheduling options, and additional document storage services make this Chicago-based moving company a top option for local moves.

Those looking for a moving company with local expertise and the ability to handle a move on a moment’s notice may want to consider New City Moving. This local moving company has a service area that stretches across the greater Chicago area, so customers can rest assured that these movers know the ropes when it comes to moving from one part of Chicagoland to another.

While New City Moving does not offer auto transportation services, it can provide other services that are not always available with moving companies. For instance, customers can add document storage services to their agreement, making New City Moving an ideal choice for those with small businesses or who have important documents they may not feel comfortable storing at home before, during, or after a move.

Customers may also like New City Moving’s flexible scheduling options. Unlike other moving companies that require their clients to reserve a moving date weeks or even months in advance, New City Moving is capable of handling last-minute moves. The company also has a very flexible cancellation policy, allowing its clients to cancel without penalty as long as no services have been rendered. And since New City Moving doesn’t require a deposit, it’s a great option for those who may find themselves a little cash strapped by all the expenses that go into moving.

 

Specs

  • Type of move: Local, long-distance
  • Customer support: Phone, email
  • Auto transport: No
  • Free cancellation: Yes
  • Deposit required: No

Pros

  • Free cancellation as long as no services have been provided
  • Last-minute moving services available
  • Document storage services available

Cons

  • No auto transport services

Most Transparent Pricing

'IVL' and 'International Van Lines' appear in shades of grey and green on a white background.
Photo: internationalvanlines.com

Why It Made the Cut: International Van Lines offers detailed breakdowns of its pricing, provides a calculator to help with budgeting for moves, and gives its customers discounts for moving on off-peak days.

International Van Lines’ transparent pricing and clear quote process could make it a good option for those looking for affordable movers in Chicago. The company offers a very detailed breakdown of its pricing during the quote process. Customers can see fees pertaining to everything from the number of flights of stairs to the distance of the truck from the building, helping them to better understand what goes into the price of the move.

International Van LInes also offers a comprehensive moving cost calculator on its site. This helps customers determine a fair price for their move, which is useful when comparing moving quotes in Chicago. In addition, this calculator can help customers better anticipate how much moving will cost once all factors have been accounted for so they can budget accordingly or even decide if hiring a moving company is financially feasible.

While these attributes make International Van LInes a great option for budget-minded movers, customers will want to be aware that the company does require a 25 percent deposit, which is high for a national moving company. Customers must also notify the company at least 48 hours in advance to avoid losing that deposit should they need to reschedule or cancel their move. Even so, International Van Lines could be the perfect fit for those willing to be flexible with their moving dates. After receiving a request for a quote, the company routinely offers customers the opportunity to take advantage of a 10 to 15 percent discount if they are willing to go with an off-peak date.

 

Specs

  • Type of move: Local, long-distance, international
  • Customer support: Phone, email, live chat
  • Auto transport: Yes
  • Free cancellation: Up to 48 hours before the move
  • Deposit required: 25 percent of quoted price

Pros

  • Free estimate breakdown readily available
  • Helpful moving cost and budgeting calculator
  • Discounts available for customers with flexible moving dates

Cons

  • 25 percent deposit required at booking

Best Moving Containers

The word 'PODS' is written in white block letters in a red rectangle set against a white background.
Photo: pods.com

Why It Made the Cut: With services tailored to big-city moves, multiple container sizes, and generous protection plans, PODS is a terrific option for the Windy City.

With its broad range of container sizes and various insurance plans, PODS could be very appealing to those who want to opt for a moving-container service over a pricier full-service move. PODS container sizes include 8-, 12-, and 16-foot options, so customers can get the container that best suits their move, whether that be to a college dorm room, a 1-bedroom apartment, or a 3-bedroom duplex.

While the company offers some of the best container services for big-city moves, customers will want to be aware that PODS moving costs can be high, depending on the container size, moving distance, and other factors. On the other hand, PODS is capable of covering all types of moves, including local and long-distance.

The PODS City Service is also available in Chicago. With this service, the company will help customers secure all the necessary parking permits needed for the city, and the driver will also keep an eye on the container and its contents as customers load and unload. Using a container in an urban area may present a greater risk for theft, which is why the flexible content protection plans make PODS such an attractive container company for those moving to or from Chicago. Protection plans provide coverage at levels from as little as $5,000 up to $300,000, allowing customers to select the right amount of coverage for their belongings.

 

Specs

  • Type of move: Local, long-distance, international to United Kingdom and Australia
  • Customer support: Phone
  • Auto transport: Through third party
  • Free cancellation: Until 4 p.m. on the day before the move
  • Deposit required: Varies by service

Pros

  • Wide container size range with options of 8, 12, and 16 feet
  • Flexible content protection plans ranging from $5,000 to $300,000 in value
  • Specialized services for city dwellers

Cons

  • Storage container placement may be limited by local regulations
  • Prices may be relatively high

Also Consider

A drawing of two men in a truck appears next to the words 'Two men and a truck movers who care' against a white background.
Photo: twomenandatruck.com

Why It Made the Cut: Many customers love Two Men and a Truck, which boasts one of the highest referral ratings in the business and also offers junk removal services and multiple quote options.

When it comes to customer satisfaction, few moving companies can top Two Men and a Truck. The company boasts a sky-high 96 percent customer referral rate, giving new customers peace of mind that Two Men and a Truck will handle their move the right way. Since the company has many locations throughout the country, customers will want to be sure they’re vetting their local Two Men and a Truck service by checking online reviews.

Part of its high referral rates is due to the company’s easy quote process. The company offers transparent and accurate quotes, and customers can get quotes through a variety of means, including online, via phone, or through text message. Two Men and a Truck doesn’t list its deposit requirements, so customers will want to inquire about them during the quote process.

Customers will want to be aware that Two Men and a Truck does not offer auto transport services. However, the company does provide other services that may be of interest to prospective customers. For instance, it can help with getting rid of any junk that the customer no longer wants, which is something that can be a challenge when moving out of an apartment or condo in a big city.

 

Specs

  • Type of move: Local, long-distance
  • Customer support: Phone, email, live chat
  • Auto transport: No
  • Free cancellation: Up to 36 hours before the move
  • Deposit required: Not specified

Pros

  • High 96 percent customer referral rate
  • 3 convenient ways to get a quote, including a comprehensive online process
  • Junk removal services available

Cons

  • Deposit requirements not specified
  • No auto transport services

Our Verdict

By offering services tailored to meet the needs of those moving to and from a big city like Chicago—as well as free cancellation, custom crating services, and discounts on certain long-distance moves—United Van Lines is our pick for Best Overall. Those looking for a company to handle a local or intrastate move to the Windy City may also want to consider New City Moving, which is our Runner-Up due to its flexible scheduling and intimate knowledge of the Chicago metropolitan area.

How We Chose the Best Moving Companies in Chicago

We used several criteria to determine the top moving companies in Chicago. First, all of the companies selected have the correct licensing to offer moving services in Chicago, the surrounding suburbs, and the entire state of Illinois. Since moving to a major metropolitan area comes with its own challenges, we chose companies that have extensive experience assisting customers moving to a big city. With this in mind, our selections include moving companies that help their clients obtain necessary parking, offer special rates for small-home moves, and have expertise moving specialty items. Since the cost of a move is always paramount in customers’ minds, we closely reviewed each company’s quote processes and assessed their accuracy and transparency. Cancellation policies and security deposit requirements were important factors to weigh as well, since they can significantly affect the financial impact of hiring a moving company.

Before You Hire One of the Best Moving Companies in Chicago

There are many considerations that prospective customers may want to take into account before hiring a moving company—for instance, finding out how long the move will take. While local moves may be completed on the same day, some long-distance moves can take as long as a week from start to finish. Also, it may be a good idea to check if the mover is a broker or carrier. A carrier provides its own movers and trucks, while a broker hires out the carrier and movers for the customer. The latter can make it more difficult to get a customer service representative on the phone should problems arise during the move. With customer service in mind, it can be good to know exactly how to contact the company on moving day in case of an emergency or unexpected issue.

Those who need specialty services or have specific items to move may want to focus on companies that can meet these requirements. For instance, homeowners with antique furniture may want to seek out furniture movers in Chicago that offer custom crating for fragile and irreplaceable items. Finally, customers may want to review the company’s policies regarding how to file claims in the event items arrive damaged or fail to arrive at all at their destination.

Cost of Hiring One of the Best Moving Companies in Chicago

The cost of moving and hiring a moving company is dependent on three major factors: distance, size, and market. The longer the distance of the move and the larger the home, the more one will pay for the move. Customers can expect to pay an average of between $900 and $2,500 for a move that spans less than 100 miles, including moves that are within the city of Chicago. Long-distance and interstate moves can cost significantly more, starting at around $2,700 and running up to $10,000. Along with distance and size, there are other factors that can contribute to the final price. Specialty items will add to the cost of the move as will any additional services, such as packing, cleaning, and junk removal.

Valentino suggests that prospective customers gather multiple quotes to get a fair deal. “Pricing for moves is often highly localized, and a good deal in one city may be shockingly expensive in another,” he says. “Get a few different quotes to ensure you’re getting a fair price for the area, and make sure you get the lay of the land.”

If need be, Chicagoans can cut moving expenses by handling the loading themselves and going with a container service or save even more by DIY-ing the move with a truck rental.

The Advantages of Using One of the Best Moving Companies in Chicago

While one’s first instinct might be to go with the cheapest quote they can find, it’s worthwhile to vet all options and consider the full quality of service provided by a moving company. The best moving companies in Chicago can offer peace of mind that they’ll show up on time and pack and move customers’ belongings with care. And should damage occur, customers will have a much better chance of recouping their losses with a reputable company than they will with a cut-rate one. These companies also offer their customers services tailored for big-city moves, such as specialty-item moving and cheaper rates for small-home moves. The best moving companies will also be familiar with the complexities of handling a move in a large city, and can offer many other benefits, such as:

  • Custom crating, junk removal, and document storage services, among other specialty services, to meet customer needs;
  • Flexible cancellation policies and security deposit requirements to reduce the financial strain of hiring movers; and
  • Helpful online tools such as quote platforms and moving-cost calculators that allow customers to better price out moving services.

FAQs

Moving can be stressful even with the help of a top-notch moving company, especially for those who have never hired movers before. Addressing some of the most common questions customers have about moving companies—such as how much to tip movers and what days of the week and year are the time to obtain some of the best and cheapest moving services—can help them prepare for their move with more confidence.

Q. Do you tip movers in Chicago?

It’s standard practice to tip residential movers in Chicago. Typically, customers are expected to tip between $5 and $10 per mover per hour depending on how satisfied they are with the service.

Q. What are the cheapest days to hire movers in Chicago?

The most affordable days to move are during off-peak days of the week, which are Monday through Thursday. Many cheap movers in Chicago will offer discounted rates for moves that take place on these days. Seasonally, the cheapest days to move are during the winter when prices are lower. Customers may want to keep in mind that during the winter they’ll have to deal with the risk of snow and cold weather.

Q. Can you negotiate moving prices in Chicago?

Customers can typically negotiate moving prices in Chicago or anywhere else they’re planning to move. The best way to do this is to collect quotes from multiple movers. It’s a good idea to use the same packing list and other factors that contribute to the cost of the move when getting quotes to accurately compare moving options.