How Much Does It Cost to Move?
Moving can be exciting or intimidating, but the expenses are unavoidable. How much does it cost to move? Customers will pay around $1,710 for a local move or $4,823 for a long-distance move with a reputable company.
- The national average cost of a local move is $1,710, though customers could pay anywhere from $911 to $2,514 to move 100 miles or less.
- The three main factors that affect moving costs are the move distance, the size of the home, and the cost of labor when hiring professional movers.
- Hiring movers can help take the stress out of moving and can prevent injury.
- Homeowners and renters may be able to move a short distance on their own, but movers are a better option for longer moves.
As thrilling and adventurous as it might be to relocate to a new house or new city, the hassle of packing up, transporting, and unpacking a household full of belongings can make almost anyone dread the overall process. But once begun, it must be done, and there are plenty of ways to make the move easier.
Using one of the best moving companies is a great way for homeowners or renters to take the stress out of moving. Naturally, the next question is “How much does it cost to move?” According to HomeAdvisor, the average moving cost is $1,710 for a local move handled by a moving company. HomeAdvisor also reports that a long-distance move with a moving company could cost an average of $4,797. These costs are determined by the number of belongings being moved (generally based on the number or type of rooms in the house), the distance of the move, the number of movers required, and the number of supplies or extra services needed. This guide covers everything a homeowner or renter needs to know about how much it costs to move.
Factors in Calculating the Cost to Move
Since every house and its belongings are different, it’s challenging to use a one-size-fits-all approach for determining the cost of moving. Whether someone is moving with one of the best interstate moving companies, a local service, or with no movers at all, expenses can add up quickly. The distance and quantity of the goods being moved are two of the most significant factors in determining how much a move will cost. It’s also important for customers to factor in the size of the moving vehicle or vehicles, the amount of time and labor required, plus any supplies or additional services. The time of year and location could influence the total price as well.
Unsurprisingly, moving around the block is the cheapest possible move to make. There’s little distance to travel, and it probably won’t require much assistance or careful packing. However, even moving from one side of a large city to another can make a move more expensive. Residential movers can ensure that everything is packed securely for the trip across bumpy roads. Enlisting a moving company for a move within a 100-mile radius usually costs an average of $1,710.
A long-distance moving company is the best option for moving belongings farther than 100 miles or across state lines. These companies know how to move across the country better than anyone and have the right equipment and know-how to make sure the goods are transported securely. The average cost of a long-distance move is $4,823. But how much does it cost to move cross-country? Coast-to-coast moves can cost as much as $10,000.
Since the distance within a city or two isn’t typically far, it won’t take long to do the actual moving as long as the belongings are already packed up and ready to go. Long-distance moves require much more time, which means paying more for the driver’s time and effort. One way to estimate the time and distance is by using an online map to get an idea of how long it will take to travel from point A to point B. Customers will want to keep in mind that moving during rush hour could increase the time dramatically.
The volume of belongings in a studio apartment is naturally less than what’s in a 4-bedroom house. When customers are searching for a “moving company near me,” the first or second question moving companies will ask when quoting a price will be something like “How many rooms are being moved?” The company will then try to determine the types of rooms that will be moved. Family rooms tend to have large, bulky furniture and fragile TVs. Garages and attics can be filled with numerous boxes, while bedrooms typically have heavy furniture. All of these factors are assessed to help determine a custom quote for the move. For example, the cost to move the contents of a 1-bedroom house 250 miles typically costs between $750 and $1,500, and moving a 4-bedroom home the same distance can cost up to $2,500.
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Moving Vehicle Size and Type
Whether a customer is hiring a helper or a moving company to relocate or attempting the journey solo, a moving vehicle will be essential to haul everything. Moving trucks come in several sizes that are estimated for the number of bedrooms being moved. For example, small apartments with a few pieces of furniture might need only a small moving trailer. A 26-foot truck can typically hold around 4 bedrooms’ worth of items, while still larger homes might require the assistance of a full 52-foot semitruck through a licensed moving company.
Another option that can double as a moving and storage solution is a moving pod rented through one of the best moving container companies like PODS. The container is dropped off on the property to be packed up at the homeowner’s or renter’s convenience, optionally with the help of professional movers. Once the container is packed, a driver will pick up the moving pod and take it to the new home or to a storage facility until the new residence is ready. This can be an appealing option because it allows for extra flexibility. Pods moving costs about $3,000 on average.
How much does it cost to hire a mover? Local movers often have a flat-rate fee for a move with a certain number of rooms—an average of $25 to $50 per hour for each mover. However, that fee can quickly change based on a few factors. If there are more heavy items than average, extra movers will likely be needed. A high number of fragile items will require more packing supplies and will potentially cost more for handling. Moving items up or down numerous stairs also can increase the cost, especially in an apartment building without an elevator.
One of the not-so-hidden costs of moving is the number of moving supplies that are needed to pack and transport possessions safely, and this expense can quickly add up. At a minimum, most moves require boxes, lots of tape, bubble wrap or packing paper, and possibly moving blankets or specialty boxes for china and glassware. While it’s common for a college student to toss everything in the back of the car when moving into a dorm or apartment, that’s not as feasible for someone moving a long distance with a household’s worth of furniture. Some moving companies sell moving supplies and will include these in the total cost of the move.
Day of Month and Time of Year
Most people move in the spring or summer, and with increased demand come higher prices. Additionally, weekends tend to have the highest moving rates, as many people try to fit their move into the weekend to avoid taking time off work. If it’s possible for a customer to schedule a midweek move, rates will likely be lower and there will be more availability in most areas. Most of all, it’s advised to avoid moving on or near holidays, as these dates typically cost extra.
Additional Costs and Considerations
While the most significant costs to consider are the price of hiring movers or renting from one of the best moving truck rental companies, other costs can add up. What follows are some additional costs that may not show up in a moving cost estimator and that may need to be considered while customers are planning and budgeting.
Liability Insurance Coverage
When a customer is entrusting valuables to any company, it is wise—and in most cases required—to purchase liability insurance coverage. Moving companies usually offer one or more insurance package options to choose from, whether it’s basic or full coverage. Basic insurance doesn’t usually cover the entire cost of the belongings, so customers will want to consider what coverage will be best if a high number of expensive items are being moved. In some cases customers may prefer to opt for insurance through their current home or renter’s insurance provider.
After surveying mountains of belongings and feeling unsure about where to start, customers may decide to add packing services to the moving contract. While many homeowners and renters likely believe that they already know how to pack for a move, handing over this job to the pros is the best way to ensure that nothing breaks on the journey to the new home. Movers can also quickly pack up the goods without lingering over any sentimental objects, which makes their time much more efficient. Packing services often average $1,000 for a home.
Depending on the situation, it isn’t always possible for the customer to move into the new home right away. Most local and long-distance movers have access to storage facilities to store goods in the interim. The cost depends on how long the items need to be stored and can vary between companies. Other add-on services include having the movers disassemble or reassemble items, provide wooden crating, or move specialty items like pianos (which requires a special mover).
During the search for “moving companies near me,” it becomes clear that local movers tend to have similar rates and fees, but it’s always best to ask for a breakdown of each company’s estimate. This makes it easier for the customer to identify the costs of additional fees and decide whether the services are actually needed. For instance, an automatically applied storage fee won’t be necessary for someone who will move houses on the same day.
Customers may also consider tipping the movers if the company allows tips. It’s a customary practice to thank them for doing the literal heavy lifting. Many customers are unsure how much to tip movers; it is standard to give a 10 percent to 20 percent tip split between each mover. Most people tend to tip closer to 20 percent for movers who have gone above and beyond or for moves that cost less than $500 in total.
A moving cost calculator won’t always account for every special consideration. For instance, it may cost anywhere from $50 to $1,500 to move pets. Handling cages, aquariums, or other items takes extra care and packing, and the pets themselves need ventilation. If there are more cars than available drivers, the average cost to have them transported is $1,000 and $3,000 per vehicle. Classic or exotic vehicles will be better protected in enclosed transport, but such services do cost extra. Finally, specialty items like pianos, antique furniture, and safes may require a specialty mover or extra movers to handle them. Pianos cost around $400 on average to ship due to their size and fragility. Customers are encouraged to get in touch with the moving service ahead of time to ensure that the movers are prepared to transport any of these specialty items.
Types of Moves
Not all moving companies provide the same services, so it’s important for customers to be sure that a company can meet their needs for a specific move before choosing one. The following are the most common types of moves.
Local moving companies are a common choice for moving within a city or state, as their services are typically limited to distances of about 100 miles. Hiring a local moving company costs between $911 and $2,514, usually charged by the hour and number of movers. This may also include packing, unpacking, and other additional services.
How much does it cost to move out of state? Interstate moves are usually considered long-distance moves and will typically fall between $700 and $5,000, but the cost to move across the country could run as high as $10,000. Instead of charging by the hour, the best long-distance moving companies charge by factors like the weight of the items and gas prices. Those who do not know how to move to another state will want to keep in mind that it is essential to schedule the moving service at least a couple of months ahead of time. Customers can also expect to pay extra for full-service moving (which includes additional services such as packing and unpacking).
International or overseas moves will require transferring belongings by freight via air or sea rather than simply loading up a truck. These moves are also complicated by factors like customs and taxes. International moving services will handle these details, but customers can expect to pay between $6,000 and $20,000 to move internationally.
For items like antiques, artwork, musical instruments, or other objects that must be moved with special care, it may be necessary for a customer to hire a specialty moving service. They are trained and experienced with moving items that are either heavy, valuable, or fragile so that they reach their destination undamaged. Depending on what is being moved, specialty movers may charge $100 to $2,000.
Moving House: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Moving houses is not an inexpensive venture, especially when taking into account closing costs on top of everything else. A homeowner or renter choosing not to hire a helper is usually driven by the desire to save money. But it’s easy to underestimate the number of packing supplies needed and, potentially, even the size of the truck needed for the move. Most importantly, there are time and safety considerations to make. Will there be enough time to pack and move? Does the homeowner or renter have the physical capacity to move the belongings? For smaller moves like apartments without many furnishings, it may be possible for someone to move safely and quickly with the help of a few friends, but a larger house may prove more difficult and time-consuming.
Without a doubt, hiring a local moving company is the best bet when it comes to moving an entire household of goods and furniture. Paying for movers is one cost that has immediate benefits. It will save time and effort, prevent potential injury, reduce stress, and possibly protect the belongings better than if they were haphazardly packed in a rush.
The great thing about movers is that they won’t dread or struggle to move the biggest pieces of furniture, unlike friends and family. It’s what they’re paid to do, and they do it efficiently. Hiring movers to do a full-service move that includes packing and unpacking might just make moving seem like the greatest thing ever. Movers are experts at properly packing items to prevent shifting or breaking during transport, and they’re familiar with methods to move heavy items safely and without incurring injury. Most importantly, if an accident does happen, a licensed and insured moving company is responsible for compensation rather than the homeowner or renter.
How to Save Money When Moving
Reducing moving costs is one of the top ways people look for ways to save money when relocating. Keeping to a budget is essential during a move, since costs can add up quickly. One option is to hire one of the best cheap moving services, but there are several other ways to save money as well.
- Pack your belongings yourself. This is the most apparent method of saving money up front. As helpful as it is to allow a moving company to take on the hours of packing, doing it yourself is a great way to knock off several hundred dollars or more. If you have a few extra-delicate items, consider leaving those for the movers to pack if you’re unsure about packing them carefully enough.
- Donate, recycle, dispose—three magic words when it comes to moving. The less you have to move, the less it will cost overall. Do a thorough review of the items in your house and garage to decide what really needs to be taken to a donation center, recycled, or entirely disposed of. Old or broken items that haven’t been used in years don’t really deserve the precious cargo space of a moving truck.
- Set up a garage sale. If you’d like to make a little money on the items you want to get rid of, consider setting up a garage sale a week or two before moving. Or, if you know of a neighbor who is having one soon, see if they’ll sell your items for a flat fee or commission.
- Collect free boxes. One of the hidden costs of moving is the price of moving boxes. An easy way to save money is to collect as many free boxes as you can. Ask for boxes from your place of work or local stores. However, if you have fine china or stemware, be sure to purchase the boxes specifically designed to protect them during transport. That’s one cost that’s always worth it.
- Look online for discount moving supplies. Wrapping dishes in towels works only as long as you have an endless supply of towels. When it’s time to purchase tape, bubble wrap, or packing paper, look for cheaper sources online and compare them to local prices.
- Move in the middle of the week. Weekends tend to have the highest moving rates, since almost everyone prefers to move on a Saturday or Sunday. If you can, opt to move in the middle of the week when the moving company has more movers available and the rates are lower.
- Avoid moving on holidays. As with most services, you’ll pay a premium for moving over a holiday. Keep your costs lower by avoiding moving on a holiday.
- Consider renting a moving truck. In some cases, it may be cheaper to rent a moving truck for a relocation that’s just beyond the boundaries of a local move. Be sure to choose a truck that’s the right size for your belongings to avoid overpaying for unnecessary space.
- Obtain multiple quotes. Your best bet is to call multiple local moving companies and to ask for a moving cost estimate. This lets you compare any variable costs you may incur, such as for storage, accessibility (for stairs, for instance), or distance.
- Review the contract carefully. Always ask for a line-item quote to make sure no hidden fees are added to the contract. You shouldn’t be charged for excessive stairs when there is a working elevator available.
- Consider whether you want a fixed-rate or hourly contract. If you can easily estimate the time it would take to move your belongings across the city, you might benefit from a fixed-rate contract. Just make sure it’s a reasonable price. If the job takes much less time than anticipated, you’ll already be locked into a higher rate. On the other hand, you could save money if the job ends up taking longer.
- Be wary of excessively low quotes. As with most services, a significantly lower price can often indicate that the company is not reputable. Cheaper is not always better. Be sure to check the company’s reviews and ask for references.
- Enlist the help of friends and family. You might be able to have friends and family help you move the bulk of your belongings that you’ve packed up. If moving heavy furniture is beyond the abilities or inclination of anyone you know, then leave just those items to the movers. Perusing some moving tips from pros can help you determine what you can handle and what to leave to professional movers.
- Resist eating out the entire week you’re packing up. It’s easy to order pizza and takeout to avoid spending time in the kitchen, but it’s a fast way to spend extra money without being aware of the added expense. Consider doing some meal prep the week before your move to minimize excessive spending on food.
- Consider shipping your goods. Do you only have a bunch of boxes to move across the country? It’s possible that it’s cheaper to simply ship them. Compare quotes from moving companies and shipping companies to see which works best for your budget.
- Deduct your moving expenses. Did you know that some moves qualify for an IRS tax deduction? Talk with an accountant to see if your move qualifies. Just be sure to save all of the receipts related to the move, as you’ll need them when it’s time to file your taxes.
- Have a trusted friend or family member watch the kids. Rather than paying for a babysitter, enlist the help of a trusted person to keep an eye on the kids while you get the house ready for moving.
- Keep your TV box. Moving a TV is a tricky job. If you can, save the original box and packaging material the TV came in so you can safely move it again.
- Double-check that your furniture will fit in your new home. If your new furniture doesn’t fit in the intended space in your new house or apartment, don’t bother bringing it with you. Save the cost of moving a heavy item by selling it or donating it and purchasing a new one that fits.
Questions to Ask About the Cost of Moving
Entrusting personal belongings to a moving company can be unnerving. The most important steps for customers to take are to make sure the company is licensed and insured and that it has a good reputation online with customer reviews and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Doing the necessary homework ahead of time can save the customer the frustration of booking with the wrong company. At the very beginning of the search, customers can consider asking the following questions to gain an understanding of the cost of hiring movers and to help them decide which is the best one for their particular needs.
Questions to ask about the moving company:
- How many years have you been in business?
- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
- Do you have references I can speak with?
- Are you registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration? (This is required for interstate travel.)
- Do you outsource to other moving companies?
- Do you conduct background checks on your employees?
- Are your workers full-time, part-time, or seasonal?
- Does workers’ compensation insurance cover your workers?
- What documentation do you provide before moving day?
- Do you offer full-value insurance?
- Are you able to transport my vehicle?
Questions to ask about the cost:
- Can I review a line-item quote?
- Do you offer discounts?
- What do you charge for storage?
- Are your rates based on weight, movers, rooms, etc.?
- What will you charge me since my apartment building doesn’t have an elevator?
- Do you offer hourly or fixed-rate fees?
- What will you charge for packing my items for me?
- What unexpected fees should I be prepared for?
- Is the contract binding or non-binding?
- Can you do a free consultation to assess my belongings?
- What are my payment options? (Requesting a large deposit or full payment before the move is not a reputable practice.)
- What is your cancellation policy?
Questions to ask about the move:
- How long will it take to move?
- How far can you take my belongings?
- How many movers will you assign?
- What items are you prohibited from transporting?
- Do you have movers qualified to move specialty items?
- Do you guarantee pickup or delivery dates for long-distance moves?
- Do you provide an inventory list to review together before and after the move?
- How do you handle loss or damage claims?
- Do you offer shipment tracking? (This is not a standard feature, but some companies are now offering tracking.)
Moving can be a complex process when there is an entire household to prepare. Identifying how much it costs to move can also be tricky, but having as much information as possible can help guide the process for customers. Customers are encouraged to consider the answers to these frequently asked questions during the decision-making process.
Q. How much does it cost to move?
Several critical factors like distance, house size, and special circumstances affect the actual cost of moving. An average cost to move using professional movers locally is $1,710, or $4,823 for long-distance. Customers can try punching in a few numbers in a “cost to move calculator” or calling around for quotes for a customized estimate.
Q. Can moving costs be deducted from taxes?
In some cases, yes. If someone is moving specifically for a job, it’s possible that they can deduct their moving expenses. It’s advisable for them to consult with an accountant to make sure they qualify and to properly account for the costs by saving all associated receipts.
Q. What’s the average cost to move a 3-bedroom house?
While costs vary from city to city, the average cost to move a 3-bedroom house is between $480 and $800.
Q. Can I hire movers to move a single item?
Yes. If someone cannot get assistance moving a large item or has no way to transport it, they can hire a local mover to pick up and transport a single item. This is also the case if it’s a specialty item like a piano or a safe.
Sources: HomeAdvisor (1 and 2), Angi, Fixr