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How Much Does it Cost to Move? Here’s How Much You Can Expect to Spend

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Moving. It just might be a universal word that can almost invoke a headache when it’s spoken. 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 your 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. Utilizing the resources of a reputable moving company is one of the best ways to take the stress out of moving. You might be wondering, “How much does it cost to move?” The average moving cost is $1,250 for a local move. A long-distance move could cost an average of $4,890. These costs are determined by the amount of belongings being moved (generally based on the number or type of rooms in your house), the distance of the move, the number of movers required, and how many supplies or extra services are needed. Keep reading to learn more about how much it costs to move.

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Factors in Calculating How Much Does It 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 you move yourself or use the help of local moving companies, moving 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 it costs to move. You’ll also need to factor in the size of the moving vehicles, the amount of time and labor required, plus any supplies or additional services. The time of year and your location could influence your total price as well.

Local vs. Long Distance 

It’s easy to guess that moving around the block is the cheapest move you might ever make. There’s little distance to travel, and you might not need much assistance or careful packing. However, even moving across a city can make a move more expensive. Residential movers can ensure your possessions are packed securely for the trip across bumpy roads. Moving within a 100-mile radius usually costs an average of $1,250.

A long-distance moving company is the best option for moving your belongings farther than 100 miles or across state lines. These companies have the right equipment and know-how to make sure your goods are transported securely for the duration of the trip. The average cost of a long-distance move is $4,890.

Size of the Move

The volume of belongings in a studio apartment is naturally less than what’s in a 4-bedroom house. In your search 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 moving company will then try to determine the types of rooms that will be moved. Family rooms tend to have large, bulky furniture and delicate TVs. Garages and attics can be filled with numerous boxes. Bedrooms have heavy furniture. All of these factors are assessed to help determine a custom quote for your move.

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Size and Type of Moving Vehicle

Whether you hire a helper or a moving company to move your house or attempt the journey on your own, you’ll need a moving vehicle to haul all your goods. Moving trucks come in several sizes that are estimated for the number of bedrooms being moved. For example, a 26-foot truck can typically hold around four bedrooms’ worth of items. Small apartments with a few pieces of furniture might only need a small moving trailer. Still, larger moves might need the assistance of a full 52-foot semitruck through a licensed moving company.

Moving Time

For local moves, you’ll likely be charged $25 to $50 per hour for each mover. Since the distance within a city or two isn’t far, it won’t take long to do the actual moving as long as you have all your belongings packed up and ready to go. Long-distance moves require much more time, which means you’ll pay more for the driver’s time and effort. You can estimate the time and distance using an online map to get an idea of how long it will take to travel from point A to point B. Keep in mind that if you move during rush hour, the time could increase dramatically.

Movers and Labor 

Local movers often have a flat-rate fee for a move with a certain number of rooms. However, that fee can quickly change based on a few factors. If you have more heavy items than average, they’ll likely need to bring in extra movers. A high number of fragile items will require more packing supplies and potentially cost more for handling. Moving items up or down numerous stairs can increase the cost, especially if you’re in an apartment building without an elevator.

Moving Supplies

One of the not-so-hidden costs of moving that quickly adds up is the amount of moving supplies you need to pack and transport your possessions safely. You’ll need to purchase boxes, lots of tape, bubble wrap or packing paper, and possibly moving blankets or specialty boxes for china and glassware. While it’s common to toss everything in the back of your car when moving between apartments at college, that’s not as feasible for moving a long distance with furniture.

Packing Services, Storage, and Other Add-Ons

Consider adding packing services to your moving contract if you’ve surveyed your mountain of belongings and wondered where to start. Many homeowners appreciate—and look forward to—handing over the headache of packing the multitude of items they’ve acquired over the years. Movers can quickly pack up your goods without any sentimental attachments, which makes them much more efficient. Packing services often average $1,000 for a home.

Depending on your situation, you might not be able to move into your new house right away. Most local and long-distance movers have access to storage facilities to store your goods while you wait. The cost depends on how long you need them 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).

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Day of the Month and Time of Year

Most people move in the spring or summer, which means that’s the most expensive time to move since demand is higher. Additionally, weekends tend to have the highest moving rates, as most people try not to take extra time off work to move. If you can schedule a midweek move, you can likely find lower rates and more availability in most areas. Most of all, avoid moving on or near holidays, as these dates typically cost extra.

Liability and Insurance Coverage

When you entrust valuables to any company, you should—and in most cases must—purchase liability insurance coverage. Moving companies usually offer one or more insurance packages to meet your needs, whether it’s basic or full coverage. Basic insurance doesn’t usually cover the entire cost of your goods, so consider what’s best for your situation if you have a high quantity of expensive items.

Additional Fees

When you search for “moving companies near me,” you’ll find that local movers tend to have similar rates and fees, but it’s always best to ask for a breakdown of their estimate. That way, you can identify the costs of additional fees and whether you actually need them. For instance, you may not need an automatically applied storage fee if you move houses on the same day.

Consider tipping your movers if the company allows tips. It’s a customary practice to thank them for doing the literal heavy lifting. You could pay $10 per mover for a half-day move.

Special Considerations: Pets, Cars, and More

A moving cost calculator won’t usually estimate any special considerations you might have. If you have pets other than dogs and cats, it might cost extra to move them. Handling cages, aquariums, or other items takes extra care and packing, and the pets themselves need ventilation. If you have more cars than available drivers, you’ll also need to pay to have the vehicles transported. Classic or exotic vehicles will be better protected in enclosed transport, but it does cost extra. Finally, specialty items like pianos, antique furniture, or safes may require a specialty mover or extra movers to handle them.

How Much Does It Cost to Move? DIY vs. Hiring a Professional to Help You Move

Moving houses is not an inexpensive venture, especially if you add closing costs on top of everything else. Choosing to move yourself is usually driven by the desire to save money. But it’s easy to underestimate the amount of packing supplies you need, and potentially, even the size of truck you need. Most importantly, there are time and safety considerations to make. Do you have the hours necessary to pack and move? Do you have the physical capacity to move your belongings? For smaller moves like apartments without many furnishings, you might be able to safely move with the help of a few friends, but a larger house may prove difficult.

Without a doubt, hiring a local moving company is your best bet when it comes to moving an entire household of goods and furniture. Paying for movers is one cost that has immediate benefits. You’ll save yourself time and effort, prevent potential injury, reduce stress, and possibly protect your belongings better than if you haphazardly packed them yourself.

The great thing about movers is that they won’t dread or struggle to move your biggest pieces of furniture, unlike you and your friends or family. It’s what they’re paid to do, and they do it efficiently. If you hire them to do a full-service move that includes packing and unpacking, you might think moving is 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 safely move heavy items to avoid injury. Most importantly, if an accident does happen, a licensed and insured moving company is prepared to compensate you.

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How to Save Money When Moving

Reducing moving costs is one of the top ways people look for ways to save money. Keeping to a budget is essential during a move since costs can add up quickly. Fortunately, there are several ways to save money when moving.

  • 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, it’s also a great way to knock off several hundred dollars or more by doing it yourself. 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 doing one soon, see if they’ll sell your items for a flat fee or commission.
  • Collect free 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. It’s one cost that’s always worth it.
  • Look online for discount moving supplies. Wrapping dishes in towels only works 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 move that’s just beyond the boundaries of a local move. Be sure to choose the right size of truck for your belongings to avoid overpaying.
  • Obtain multiple quotes. Your best bet is to ask for multiple quotes from multiple local moving companies. This lets you compare any variable fees you may need like storage, navigating stairs, 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.
  • Resist eating out the entire week you’re packing up. This tip is beneficial to prevent an unexpected cost of moving. It’s easy to order pizza and take-out to avoid spending time in the kitchen, but it’s a fast way to spend extra money. Consider doing some meal prepping 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 you.
  • 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 every single receipt related to the move, as you’ll need those 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. If your new furniture doesn’t fit in the space of your new house or apartment, don’t bother bringing it with you. Save the cost of moving a heavy item by selling it and purchasing a new one that fits.

How Much Does It Cost to Move?

Photo: depositphotos.com

Questions to Ask About the Cost of Moving

Entrusting your personal belongings to a moving company can feel unnerving. The most important steps you can take are to make sure the company is licensed and insured and that they have a good reputation online with customer reviews and the Better Business Bureau. Doing your homework ahead of time can save the frustration of booking with the wrong company. As you begin your search, consider these questions to help you understand the costs of moving and selecting a moving company.

Ask 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?

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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?

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?
  • 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.)

FAQs

Moving can be a complex process when you have 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. Consider the answers to these frequently asked questions as you make your decisions.

Q. How much does it cost to move?

Several critical factors like distance, house size, and exceptional circumstances affect the actual cost of moving. An average cost to move locally is $1,250.

Q. Can moving costs be deducted from taxes?

In some cases, yes. If you are moving specifically for a job, it’s possible that you can deduct your moving expenses. It’s best to consult with an accountant to make sure you qualify and to properly account for the costs. You’ll need to save all associated receipts.

Q. What’s the average cost to move a 3-bedroom house?

While costs vary from city to city, an average 3-bedroom house could cost between $480 and $800.

Q. Can I hire movers to move a single item?

Yes. If you cannot get assistance moving a large item or have no way to transport it, you 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: Moving.com, HomeAdvisor, Zillow

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