The 7 Best Moving Companies for Small Moves of 2023

Find out about the special pricing and services these small-load moving companies offer for those with fewer belongings to move.

Best Overall

The Best Moving Companies for Small Moves Option United Van Lines

United Van Lines

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Runner-Up

The Best Moving Companies for Small Moves Option International Van Lines

International Van Lines

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Best Add-on Options

The Best Moving Companies for Small Moves Option Allied Van Lines

Allied Van Lines

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Many people moving from smaller homes or downsizing opt to DIY their move by renting a truck and moving their belongings on their own. The truth, though, is that professional moving companies aren’t just for large 4-bedroom homes. Many of the same moving companies that handle larger relocations are also adept at handling small moves from studio apartments and smaller houses.

In fact, many national companies offer special discounted pricing for smaller moves, making them an attractive option for those moving from apartments and smaller houses. In addition to offering special pricing for small moves, small-load moving companies can also offer a wide range of services to suit moves of all sizes, including specialty-item moving, pre-move junk removal, and post-move cleaning. With so many options to consider, customers may feel a bit overwhelmed, but by reviewing some of the best moving companies for small moves, anyone can find the best fit for them.

  1. BEST OVERALL: United Van Lines
  2. RUNNER-UP: International Van Lines
  3. BEST ADD-ON OPTIONS: Allied Van Lines
  4. BEST MOVING CONTAINERS: PODS
  5. BEST DELIVERY GUARANTEE: North American Van Lines
  6. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: American Van Lines
  7. ALSO CONSIDER: Two Men and a Truck
The Best Moving Companies for Small Moves Options
Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Moving Companies for Small Moves

Customers may want to keep several factors in mind when reviewing the best small-load moving companies, including pricing, licensing and insurance, and type of move. By assessing the various characteristics of moving companies, customers can better determine which ones are a good fit for their needs.

Service Area

Since moving companies can vary in terms of what parts of the country they serve, customers will likely want to pay careful attention to the service area when considering a mover. While large national moving companies can handle a move to and from most anywhere in the country, smaller moving companies usually have a limited area that they serve. At the same time, local movers for small jobs may have perks and benefits worth considering that may offset their more limited service area. In addition, only certain companies offer international moves, and those that do may only offer moving services to select countries. With this in mind, it’s important that customers first check to make sure the moving company they’re considering provides service to their area.

Local, Interstate, or International Moves

Finding a moving company that handles the service area for both the current and future home is an important step for a customer to consider early in the selection process. Equally important, though, is finding a company that can handle the type of move it is, be it local, interstate, or international. Local moves are generally within a 50-mile radius and stay within a state. Interstate moves include small moves out of state, while international moves involve a relocation to another country.

As moving companies often specialize in different types of moves, customers will want to look for one that’s best equipped to handle their specific type of move. Whereas a national company may be ideal for a small move across the country, a locally owned small moving service that’s familiar with the area may be better suited for a local move.

Pricing Transparency

Moving is already stressful enough without having to worry about surprise additional fees at the end of the move. The best moving companies remove this added stress by providing transparent pricing up front that closely matches what the final total is when the move is complete. A good company will often provide a clear breakdown of how much the move is going to cost and how that cost is calculated.

A customer can help ensure a more accurate quote by providing a clear and detailed list of their belongings, noting any specialty items included in the move. Having surprise items that the moving company doesn’t know about beforehand or failing to report the number of stairs the movers will need to climb until moving day is a sure way to add additional fees to the move. Customers will also want to make sure they are including any additional services they need in the cost of the move, such as junk removal and packing.

License and Insurance

Making sure moving companies have the proper licensing and insurance to operate as a mover can help customers avoid potential scams or unscrupulous business practices. Fortunately, this is easy for customers to check. All licensed moving companies will have a registration number filed with the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Customers can search for their moving company on the U.S. DOT website. Many states also require companies to be licensed, making that information available for consumers on a government website.

Customers will want to be wary of unlicensed moving companies that offer cut-rate moving services, as these companies do not have a legal obligation to protect their customers’ belongings from loss or damage. An unlicensed company is also much more likely to take a customer’s deposit then fail to show up on moving day.

Auto Transportation

Even with small moves, long-distance moving jobs can be complicated, especially if they involve the transportation of one or more vehicles. Customers who are moving across the country may want to consider hiring an auto transportation service, especially if they own multiple vehicles. While few local companies offer this type of service, many of the best long-distance moving companies offer it as part of their suite of services. Customers may want to keep in mind that most moving companies that offer this service do so through a third-party company specializing in vehicle-moving services. As such, customers can usually save money by cutting out the middleman and hiring a vehicle-moving company directly as opposed to packaging it with their other moving services.

Specialty-Item Moving

Antique furniture, pianos, grandfather clocks, and works of art are all items that need special packing and care during a move. Customers who own such belongings may want to prioritize moving companies that offer specialty-item moving services when weighing their options. These companies will know how to pack fragile and irreplaceable items to minimize damage and loss during a move. It’s a good idea for customers to make moving companies aware of these belongings during the quote process to ensure they bring the right supplies to pack them and include specialty-packing services in the quote.

Cancellation Policy

Sometimes moving plans can change at the last minute, so customers will want to make sure they know what a moving company’s cancellation policy is before putting down a deposit for the service. While some companies allow their clients to cancel their moving reservation right up to the point where the movers walk in the door, others require a minimum of a week’s notice. If a customer cancels after the grace period, they will forfeit their deposit. With that in mind, checking a company’s cancellation policy can be an important step in the vetting process for customers who require more flexibility in their moving services.

Deposit

Many moving companies require their customers to put down a deposit to reserve a moving truck on a specific date. Moving companies use security deposits to help limit their losses in the event a customer cancels their reservation at the last minute. These deposits can vary from as little as none at all up to 25 percent or more of the quoted price. Customers may prefer a lower deposit if they need more time to budget for moving expenses and want to minimize their up-front expenses. Deposits are not fees, though, so it’s a good idea to make sure that the total amount of the deposit is applied to the total cost of the move.

Reviews and Complaints

One of the best ways for a customer to vet a prospective moving company is to read reviews from its former customers. Sites such as Google and Move.org have customer reviews for many moving companies, including movers for short distances. Prospective customers can read individual reviews of past customers’ experiences with the company and look at an aggregated star rating to get an overall feel for customer satisfaction. Since many moving companies have locations throughout the country, customers will want to make sure they look for reviews for the specific location they are considering hiring, as the customer experience can vary from one metropolitan area to another even with the same moving company.

Our Top Picks

The best movers for small jobs have services and rates that suit those with fewer belongings to move. While each company offers its own combination of perks and benefits, finding the right fit comes down to the customer’s specific needs and preferences.

Best Overall

United Van Lines

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Why It Made the Cut:

United Van Lines offers free cancellations, custom-crating services, and discounts to those moving from apartments and small houses.

Moving from a studio apartment or tiny house can still be an expensive prospect, especially if one is moving across the country. United Van Lines makes small moves across the country more affordable through its Snapmoves program. With Snapmoves, United Van Lines offers simplified pricing and discounts to those moving to and from small houses and apartments with property that has a total weight of less than 5,000 pounds.

Although getting a quote may be time-consuming due to the company’s sometimes challenging customer service processes, United Van Lines provides many resources that can help customers on—and leading up to—moving day. Customers can enjoy greater peace of mind thanks to the MyUnited online portal, which allows them to reference their own moving checklist, access a list of moving contacts, and track their moving truck.

United Van Lines also offers services that anyone planning a move will appreciate. Its add-on services include custom crating for specialty items, full-service packing, and storage services for those who may need to store their belongings during the moving process. United Van Lines also happens to have one of the most flexible cancellation policies in the business. Customers can cancel their moving reservation right up to the point before the move begins, and the company doesn’t require its customers to put down a deposit to reserve a truck.

 

Specs

  • Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C., international
  • Type of move: Local, long-distance, international
  • Customer support: Phone, email, live chat
  • Auto transport: Yes
  • Free cancellation: Yes
  • Deposit required: No

Pros

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

Cons

  • Somewhat challenging customer service experience

Runner-Up

International Van Lines

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Why It Made the Cut:

A transparent quote process and discounted pricing make International Van Lines an attractive choice for customers planning for a small move.

Just because a small move may cost less than moving out of a 4-bedroom home doesn’t mean customers can afford to pay unexpected fees or additional expenses at the end of a move. They won’t with International Van Lines. The company offers some of the most transparent pricing in the business with a quote process that clearly breaks down the cost of a move, helping customers feel confident that they’ll end up paying the price they’re quoted.

Prospective customers will want to be aware that International Van Lines requires a large up-front deposit—25 percent of the quoted price of the move—to reserve a truck. Customers can anticipate their moving expenses through the company’s helpful moving calculator. This tool can help them better understand what factors go into calculating the cost of the move and estimate how much their move should cost, which is very helpful when shopping around for a mover. International Van Lines also offers discounts to customers who are willing to move on off-peak moving days, leading to lower moving costs for those with flexible moving dates.

 

Specs

  • Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C., international
  • 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 Add-on Options

Allied Van Lines

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Why It Made the Cut

: Allied Van Lines offers a wide range of services in addition to moving, including post-move cleanup, Wi-Fi takedown and setup, and furniture disassembly services.

Allied Van Lines offers its customers a full complement of add-on services, making it a great choice for those who need a mover that will do much more than loading, driving, and unloading. For an additional fee, Allied Van Lines will help its customers disassemble and reassemble furniture, take down and set up their Wi-Fi network, and even provide post-move cleaning services. Allied Van Lines also offers storage services, though customers will want to be aware that the company charges for a minimum of 1,000 pounds of items even if they aren’t storing that much.

Other add-on options include a service through which the company will shuttle belongings to homes not accessible by a moving truck. Allied Van Lines will even donate any food left behind by customers before their move through its partnership with nonprofit organization Move for Hunger. Allied Van Lines also has one of the more flexible cancellation policies. Customers can cancel their move without incurring a fee right up to the moment it begins, and the company doesn’t require a deposit to reserve a moving date.

 

Specs

  • Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C., international
  • Type of move: Local, long-distance, international
  • Customer support: Phone, email
  • Auto transport: Yes
  • Free cancellation: Yes
  • Deposit required: No

Pros

  • Add-on options such as cleaning services and Wi-Fi network disassembly available
  • Free cancellation as long as no services have been provided
  • Move for Hunger partnership lets customers donate food before a move

Cons

  • Customers are charged for 1,000 pounds of storage, even if they have less

Best Moving Containers

PODS

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Specs

  • Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C., international
  • 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

  • Flexible contents 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

Why It Made the Cut: PODS offers a broad range of container sizes to meet varying needs and has services designed to meet the logistics of small moves. For those who don’t mind taking on the unloading and loading themselves, PODS offers a more affordable option to a full-service moving company with its rentable containers. PODS is one of the best moving container companies available, setting itself apart by offering multiple length options to suit different needs. With its 8-, 12-, and 16-foot size options, customers don’t need to pay for additional space they aren’t going to use. Although rates may be high at times, this won’t always be the case depending on the distance between moving locations and other factors. Customers will want to note that local regulations can limit the placement of containers. Even so, PODS also offers attractive services for the small moves that take place in apartments and condos in big cities. Through its City Service, the company’s driver will stay with the container during the loading and unloading process to prevent theft, giving customers peace of mind that their property is secure. PODS also offers protection plans for customers’ belongings that range from $5,000 to $300,000 in value in the event their items are lost, stolen, or damaged. The company will also help its customers navigate the complicated process of obtaining permits for parking, which can be helpful for those moving to or from densely populated cities.  

Best Delivery Guarantee

North American Van Lines

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Why It Made the Cut:

In addition to offering specialized services on long-distance small moves, North American Van Lines will pay customers a rebate if it fails to meet the delivery deadline.

One of the most stressful parts of a long-distance move is waiting for the moving truck to arrive at Point B. North American Van Lines takes much of that stress away with its delivery guarantee. The company will pay its customers $75 a day for every day the delivery of their belongings is delayed.

Prospective customers will want to inquire about the moving company’s deposit requirements and cancellation policy, as these are not listed on its website. Even so, the North American Van Lines website can still be a great resource for customers with its packing calculators, packing tips, and checklists, helping them plan and budget their move.

North American Van Lines also offers services that are aimed toward small moves with its Blue Express service. Blue Express is a container-based moving option designed for homes with four or fewer rooms. The company loads the container for the customer, delivers it, then unloads it after it arrives at the customer’s new home. The container comes with a binding quote, meaning customers only pay what the company quotes up front. Plus, it includes the North American Van Lines delivery guarantee, giving the customer peace of mind that the container will arrive at Point B on time.

 

Specs

  • Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C., international
  • Type of move: Local, long-distance, international
  • Customer support: Phone, email
  • Auto transport: Yes
  • Free cancellation: Not specified
  • Deposit required: Not specified

Pros

  • Specialized services for long-distance small moves
  • $75 per-day payment to customers for late deliveries
  • Many free online moving and packing resources

Cons

  • Cancellation policy not specified
  • Deposit requirements not specified

Best Bang for the Buck

American Van Lines

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Specs

  • Service area: 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Type of move: Local, long-distance
  • Customer support: Phone, email
  • Auto transport: Yes
  • Free cancellation: Up to 7 days before the move
  • Deposit required: 10 to 50 percent of quoted price

Pros

  • Discounted prices for long-distance moving between major cities
  • Fixed-rate services, even for moving specialty items
  • Sustainability initiatives aim to reduce the environmental impact of moving

Cons

  • 10 to 50 percent deposit required
  • Cancellation limited to 7 days before the move

Why It Made the Cut: Flat fixed-rate pricing and discounted prices on long-distance moves make American Van Lines one of the most economical options for small moves. With its fixed-rate pricing and discounts for small moves between major cities, American Van Lines is a great option for those looking for one of the best cheap moving services. Customers who use American Van Lines won’t have to worry about surprise fees at the end of the move. That’s because this moving company uses a fixed-rate pricing schedule, making it easy for customers to figure out how much they’ll pay for their move. The company’s flat-rate fees even include specialty items such as grandfather clocks, pianos, and antique furniture. While American Van Lines offers one of the most budget-friendly moving services available, its cancellation policy can be a bit rigid. Customers must give notice at least a week in advance or lose their deposit, which can be as much as 50 percent of the quoted price. Even so, the budget options for small moves may be enough to entice potential customers. Since the company has weekly shuttles that run to and from most major U.S. cities, customers can schedule long-distance moves at a discounted rate, helping to save money. American Van Lines also follows sustainability initiatives with its services—including optimizing routes for fuel efficiency, providing training for employees regarding environmental sustainability, and implementing fuel reduction plans—so customers can feel good about hiring the company.  

Also Consider

Two Men and a Truck

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Why It Made the Cut:

Two Men and a Truck gives customers peace of mind with its 96 percent customer referral rate, as well as junk removal services and a convenient quote process.

Customers who are looking for a stress-free moving experience may want to consider Two Men and a Truck. The company boasts one of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the business with a sky-high 96 percent referral rate, giving prospective customers peace of mind that their move will go off without a hitch.

Two Men and a Truck does not post deposit requirements on its site, so prospective customers will want to inquire about how much they’ll need to pay up front to reserve a moving date. And while Two Men and a Truck is a national moving company, it does not offer services in Alaska, Hawaii, or West Virginia.

While Two Men and a Truck doesn’t provide auto transport services, it does offer other useful add-on services, including junk removal prior to moving and post-move cleaning services. Two Men and a Truck also has a reputation for giving clear and accurate price quotes. Plus, customers can get a quote through one of three methods, including online, by phone, or via text message, making the company an ideal choice for those who like to do business via text.

 

Specs

  • Service area: 47 states and Washington, D.C. (not available in Alaska, Hawaii, or West Virginia)
  • 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

  • Unavailable in Alaska, Hawaii, and West Virginia
  • Deposit requirements not specified
  • No auto transport services

Our Verdict

United Van Lines is our pick for Best Overall because the company offers discount pricing for moves from apartments and small houses, requires no deposit, and allows its customers to cancel on the day of the move. The Runner-Up award goes to International Van Lines thanks to its discount pricing and a quote process that’s easy to understand.

How We Chose the Best Moving Companies for Small Moves

We considered a variety of factors when ranking the top moving companies for small moves. This list only includes companies that are licensed and insured to handle moves in the U.S. We also looked at companies that cater to customers moving to or from apartments and small houses with discounted pricing, flat-rate quotes, and add-on services that suit the needs of those with fewer things to move. We also weighed each company’s cancellation policy, security deposit requirement, and service area. In addition to these factors, we also considered customer reviews, customer service, and availability when selecting the best moving companies for small moves.

Before You Hire One of the Best Moving Companies for Small Moves

There are a few important questions customers may want to ask a prospective moving company before signing an agreement. Additionally, customers who want to make sure the company is licensed can do so by searching for it on the U.S. DOT website.

It’s also a good idea to find out how the company protects property from damage or loss. While some movers offer full-value protection, which makes the mover liable for replacing lost or damaged items, others offer release-value protection through which the company will only pay 60 cents per pound for each damaged or lost item.

Customers may also want to find out if the moving company uses a binding or non-binding quote. With a binding quote, the moving company cannot charge more than the amount of the quote. With a non-binding estimate, the actual cost of the move can go above the quoted cost.

Another consideration is specialty services that customers require. For example, those with antique furniture that would be impossible to replace if damaged may want to seek out small furniture movers with custom crating services.

Customers should be diligent about vetting moving companies to ensure that they are licensed and insured, and to avoid any unpleasant surprises when the bill comes due. Nancy Zafrani, general manager at Oz Moving & Storage in New York, offers some sound advice on checking the credentials of different movers: “The company should prominently display their information, including physical address and license numbers,” she says. “You can call the state to verify a mover’s license. All the details of the quote they provide should be in writing, including any details discussed.”

Cost of Hiring One of the Best Moving Companies for Small Moves 

The cost of hiring movers varies depending on the size and distance of the move. Shorter moves of under 100 miles typically range from around $900 to $2,500, with the national average being around $1,700. Even with small moves, cross-country moving jobs can get expensive, with long-distance moves running from around $2,700 up to $10,000. Other factors that can impact the cost of a move include the inclusion of specialty items, such as antiques, pianos, and works of art, as well as the inclusion of add-on services, such as packing, junk removal, and post-move cleaning.

Budget-minded customers can cut the cost of a move by seeking out cheap moving companies for short distances or even handling some parts of the move on their own. If a professional moving service isn’t in the budget, customers may be able to save even more money on their move by renting a storage pod or DIY-ing the move by renting a truck or van.

Customers can also reduce their moving costs by taking advantage of available discounts. Companies may offer discounts for customers with flexible moving dates or those who schedule long-distance small moves, and there may be other common cost-saving opportunities. There may also be specialized discounts available to select customers. For instance, the best military moving companies typically offer discounts to active and former service members.

The Advantages of Using One of the Best Moving Companies for Small Moves

While it may seem like a large additional expense to hire a professional moving company to handle a smaller move, there are many good reasons to do so. Many moving companies offer discounted services for small moves, making them affordable for those with fewer things to move. They can also have transparent quote processes that clearly break down the cost of the moving job.

Ashley Graber, co-owner of Cool Hand Movers in New York, notes that customers moving to or from apartments in large cities may be required by their property manager or landlord to hire a licensed and insured moving company, no matter how little they have to move. “Even if your move is small, there’s a good chance that your urban apartment building requires professional movers with a certain level of insurance to perform moves of any scale,” she says. “That’s to insure that the building itself, the movers, and the property manager are protected from liability should something go wrong while movers are on site. Should someone get hurt moving even a single item into the building, they want to know there will be workers’ compensation coverage for that person.”

Since the top professional moving companies know how to pack for a move, customers can also rest easy knowing that their belongings will make it from Point A to Point B unscathed. The best moving companies are also some of the most reputable in the business, so customers can expect them to show up on moving day and deliver their property in a timely manner. The top moving companies for small moves can offer other perks and benefits too, including:

  • Additional services such as custom crating, post-move cleanup, junk removal, and furniture assembly;
  • Flexible cancellation and deposit options, including free cancellation up to the last minute and no money down at all; and
  • Helpful online resources such as moving cost and budgeting calculators, moving checklists, relocation guides, and moving milestones.

FAQs

Because many people move so infrequently, it’s likely customers have plenty of questions about the moving process. These concerns may range from finding out what days of the week and months of the year are the cheapest for hiring small-load movers to when and how much one should tip their movers. The answers to these common moving questions can help customers prepare themselves for moving day and avoid overpaying for these services.

Q. What are the cheapest days to hire movers?

Since most people plan their moves for the weekend to avoid taking time off from work, the cheapest days to hire a mover are often Monday through Thursday. Moves are also cheaper during off-peak months, which run from September through April.

Q. How far in advance should I book movers?

It’s typically a good idea for customers to book a move at least 2 months in advance to ensure they can find a mover for their preferred moving date. By booking in advance, customers will also have more movers to choose from and won’t have to settle for what’s available.

Q. Do you tip movers at the beginning or end of a move?

Customers may want to wait to tip movers until the end of the move after they receive the final bill. This way, the customer can choose a tip amount that reflects the quality of the service. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that customers plan on tipping $5 to $10 per mover per hour depending on how smoothly the move went.

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