How Much Does It Actually Cost To Hire Movers?

Though price depends on multiple factors, the cost to move the contents of a one-bedroom apartment (already packed) across town can be as little as $370. 

On the other hand, with appliance and packing services and automobile transport, moving a 3 or 4-bedroom home from Boston to Los Angeles during the summer could easily set you back $25,000. 

Thankfully, most moves fall somewhere in the middle.

Let’s take a closer look.

If you’ve ever forked over thousands of dollars, you already know the moving process isn’t cheap, but when it comes to safety, convenience, and peace of mind, professional movers are usually worth the price.Whether moving to an apartment around the corner or a new home across the country, relocating household goods, family members, pets, and vehicles can be stressful, time-consuming, and labor-intensive, which is why we suggest hiring a professional moving company with verified customer reviews.

Quick Links

  • Moving Cost Calculator: See how much your long-distance move will cost with our moving cost calculator. Just enter the date of your move, how many rooms you’re moving to, and where you’re moving, and get a fast, free estimate.
  • Find The Right Moving Company: Moving is stressful, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. We suggest hiring a professional moving company from our list of top long-distance movers. 
  • Moving only a few items? Sometimes it’s not worth hiring full-service movers for just one room or a few items. Check out some options for smaller moves. 

Factors that Affect Move Cost

1. How Much ‘Stuff’ You Have

Since movers charge based on the time spent for local moves and weight and mileage on interstate moves, getting rid of old or little-used items beforehand will reduce overall move cost.

After all, smaller shipments weigh less and take less time to load and unload.

2. Where You’re Moving From and To

Though it’s not always the case, shorter moves are generally less expensive than longer ones.

In addition, local movers in rural Nebraska are usually cheaper than they are in big cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

3. When You’re Moving

In the moving industry, the 4-month stretch between mid-May and mid-September is referred to as the ‘peak season,’ and it’s when more than half of all yearly relocations take place.

Because most movers have more business than they can handle during the summer, it often means higher prices, spotty service, and capacity issues.

4. Additional Services Needed

Professional movers offer a wide range of services that can significantly increase move costs.

Here we’re talking about –

  • Storage
  • Packing and unpacking
  • Crating and uncrating
  • Appliance disconnects and reconnects
  • Additional labor for disassembling and reassembling playground equipment, home gyms, and large entertainment centers
  • Moving bulky items like hot tubs, pianos, and riding lawn mowers
  • Specialty items like antiques require extra care
  • Moving vehicles either inside the moving truck or with a dedicated auto transport company

5. Valuation (Insurance)

When moving locally, you’ll generally get free valuation (released value coverage) of .30 cents per pound per item.

This means that if your 100-pound ($1,200) flatscreen television gets destroyed, you’d be reimbursed just $30.

On interstate moves, the released value coverage is .60 cents per pound per item, which is still woefully inadequate.

In both cases, you may purchase full-value replacement coverage with various deductible options ($0, $250, and $500), which can set you back hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in addition to the cost of your move.

How Much Do Local Movers Cost?

Local moves are those where your old and new residences are in the same state, and the distance between them is less than 50 or 100 miles.

If you’ve already packed the contents of your one-bedroom or studio apartment and just need movers to lug your furniture and boxes across town, your cost could be as low as $370.

However, for most families with 2 or 3-bedroom homes who need help with some of the packing, the average cost is about $2,400, though in some cases, it’s much more.

Remember, local moving companies will usually charge an hourly rate that will depend on crew size.

Here’s an example –

In sunny Phoenix, Arizona, the cost per mover is typically around $40 per hour, so a three-person crew would cost $120 per hour, in addition to travel time, fuel surcharge, packing, valuation, and other additional services.

In most instances, final charges will be based on the actual time it takes the crew to complete your move, regardless of whether the sales representative estimated higher or lower.  Especially in unregulated states, moving companies may offer local customers flat-rate bids, which means costs are fixed.

Did You Know? 

Even fixed price bids and binding estimates are subject to change if the mover can prove that you added items or required additional moving services.

How Much do Intrastate Moves Cost?

If you’re moving within the same state and the distance between your old and new homes is greater than 50 or 100 miles, your mover may choose to (or be required to) calculate your move based on weight and mileage.

In the two local move examples above, the cost for identical intrastate moves would be approximately $1,100 and $3,800, respectively.

In unregulated states, movers can choose how they prefer to charge, but they may be required to abide by other regulations and publish a tariff.

However, in states in which movers are regulated (like California), moving companies are subject to stricter rules and are often required to charge identical rates.

When in doubt, ask prospective movers about regulation, how they charge, and if they’ll provide you with a copy of their tariff.

How Much Do Interstate Movers Cost?

Interstate or state-to-state moves may be relatively short, like between Baltimore, Maryland, and York, Pennsylvania, 52 miles to the north, or longer if you’re moving from Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington 3,300 to the northwest.

Needless to say, the cost can vary substantially, but for a typical 3-bedroom home move (10,000 pounds) with partial packing going 1,000 miles, the average cost is about $6,400.

Insider’s Tip

Always get written cost estimates from prospective moving companies and make sure each charge is itemized clearly.

International Moves

Moving household goods and cars to a foreign country can be prohibitively expensive, but when relocating abroad, most families –

  • Downsize, discard, sell, and donating unused items
  • Put some of their items in storage in their home country

If you’re moving approximately ⅓ of the contents of your 3-bedroom home abroad, for example, the cost will generally be between $5,000 and $10,000, though, for single folks who travel lightly, the cost can be much less.

Ways to Save Money on a Move

Especially now, when nearly everyone is struggling due to the Coronavirus pandemic, pinching pennies is important.

Thankfully, considering the following tips will help you keep more greenbacks in your pocket.

1. Discard, Donate and Downsize

Since costs are based on either weight and mileage or time, decluttering/downsizing before a move is a great way to save money.

2. Buy Discount Packing Supplies

Free moving boxes are great if you can find them, but chances are you’ll have to buy some or all of your packing materials if you’re going the DIY route.

It may be tempting to buy the cheapest cardboard boxes, packing paper, tape, newsprint, and bubble wrap you can find, but high-quality material will give your items better protection, and it’s not that much more expensive than the cheap stuff.

3. Do the Packing and Unpacking Yourself

Paying for full packing and unpacking is convenient for busy families, but it’s not cheap.

Remember, packing and unpacking aren’t all-or-nothing propositions.

In other words, you can have the movers pack and unpack breakables like glassware, electronics, pictures, and mirrors and handle everything yourself.

You’ll save a bundle. Just make sure to leave yourself plenty of time (2 or 3 weeks) to get everything done.

4. Disconnect Your Own Appliances

Movers won’t disconnect or reconnect appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators, but they will move them and put them where you want them in your new home.

You could hire a third-party company to service your appliances before and after your move, but for those with tools and a little mechanical aptitude doing it yourself is a great way to save a few hundred bucks.

5. Move When it’s Cheapest

If your schedule is flexible, moving during the fall and winter can save you 10 or 20% off-peak season rates.

In addition, moving during the beginning or middle of the week and avoiding the last few days of each month may mean lower prices, having a more experienced crew, and in some cases, quicker delivery times.

6. Vet Movers Carefully

It takes a little more time on the front end, but carefully vetting movers is imperative before signing a contract.

Ask friends, family members, and coworkers for referrals, and check prospective movers out with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA).

When going with a reputable, experienced mover, you’ll almost always get better service, and at the end of the day, the cost difference will be negligible or even cheaper.

7. Get Multiple Quotes

Getting multiple quotes is one of the best ways to keep movers honest.

Once you’ve done a walkthrough with each rep and have their estimates, take an hour or two to compare them.

Make sure their weights, packing charges, valuation, and estimated man-hours are similar, then make a list of questions about items you don’t understand.

8. Don’t Just Go With the Lowest Bid

Though it may be tempting to go with an insanely low internet quote, you’re much better off using reputable local movers with verified customer reviews.

In short, the  ‘cheapest moving companies’ are more trouble than they’re worth, and many are scammers.

Additional Services and Factors that Affect Move Cost

Travel Time and Fuel Surcharges

There should never be a travel time charge on intrastate and interstate moves, but there may be on local moves.

In addition, many companies will charge a fuel surcharge whether your move is local or long-distance.

Fuel surcharges may be flat rates or interstate moves based on the national average price of diesel fuel and are calculated based on the weight of your shipment.

Tips

Tips should never be a significant cost when moving, and despite what you might read elsewhere, there are no formulas or hard-and-fast rules governing gratuities.

If you’re intent on rewarding your crew for their hard work, consider buying pizza, water, and Gatorade for lunch and giving them each $10 or $20.

These days most customers don’t tip even when they get great service, so a little appreciation goes a long way.

Insider’s Tip

Get cash the day before so you won’t have to leave during the move, and avoid giving the tip to the crew leader and asking him or her to divvy it up. It’s rare, but in some cases, they’ll keep it for themselves instead of sharing it with their coworkers.

Access to and From Your Old and New Homes

If you’re moving from and to single-family homes in residential neighborhoods, truck access shouldn’t be an issue.

Just keep in mind that especially on interstate moves, your truck may be –

  • 70+ feet long
  • 13 feet 6 inches high
  • Weigh nearly 80,000 pounds

If the driver can’t get the truck close to your homes due to low underpasses or weight-restricted bridges, the movers may need to shuttle your items on a small truck to the big one parked a few miles away, which means lots of extra costs.

Likewise, in apartment buildings and condo complexes, your movers may need to use loading docks and elevators and carry your items a long way to the truck, all of which equates to more money out of your pocket.

How to Avoid Moving Company Fraud

If you know where to look like we do, moving business scams are easy to spot.

But sadly, each year, rogue movers dupe thousands of unwary consumers, and the consequences can be catastrophic.

To avoid common moving scams, make sure prospective movers –

  • Are licensed and insured
  • Are professional and don’t shy away from answering important questions
  • Don’t fool you with a lowball estimate
  • Don’t require deposits or upfront payment
  • Can provide references
  • Have a physical business address
  • Have verified online reviews
  • Haven’t changed their name recently
  • Have acceptable ratings with the BBB and AMSA

Did You Know?

One of the most effective ways of determining if a mover is legit is to check to see if their US Department of Transportation (USDOT) number is valid and up to date.

It’s free, fast, and easy.

Click here to see how.

Should I Rent a Moving Container?

If you’re up for heavy lifting, renting and driving a clunky moving truck, missing work, and enlisting help from less than enthusiastic friends and family, a do-it-yourself move may be the way to go.

However, if the cost of hiring movers exceeds your relocation budget, renting a moving container is worth considering as well.

Just be sure to go with one of the Best Moving Container Companies 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What additional costs and extra fees should I look out for?

Before signing a contract, keep an eye out for fees associated with valuation, travel time, fuel, shuttles, and long carries.

Is it cheaper to rent a U-Haul or hire movers?

When estimating the total cost of moving truck rental, be sure to factor in additional insurance, gas, tolls, and expenses for food and lodging while on the road.

How much do movers cost for a local move?

Excluding packing and other services, most families moving the contents of a moderately furnished 2 or 3-bedroom home will pay between $1,300 and $3,100 for a local move.

How much should I pay a mover per hour?

The cost for each mover on a local move is generally between $25 and $55 per hour, depending on where you live and what time of the year you’re moving.

Is it worth it to hire movers?

Not everyone wants or can afford to hire movers. However, for those who’d rather leave the packing, driving, and heavy lifting to professionals, they’re worth their weight in gold.

How should I pack fragile items?

With the right materials and a little professional know-how, packing delicate items isn’t particularly difficult. Learn how here.

Can local moving companies do cross-country moves?

Yes, many local moving companies not affiliated with national van lines do cross-country moves.

How can I get a free moving quote?

Moving prices can be all over the place, and though online quotes are handy budgeting tools, you’re always better off picking up the phone and scheduling in-home estimates and walkthroughs with reputable local movers and van line agents.

Get an estimated cost for your move and get an idea of all of your options using our moving cost calculator. 

Other Considerations

When considering whether to hire movers, rent a moving container or do your move yourself, think about –

  • Do you want to pack and move your household goods on your own schedule or the moving companies?
  • Do you want strangers in your home and handling your belongings?
  • Are you concerned about potentially exposing your family to Covid-19?
  • Is a full-service moving company within your moving budget?
  • Are movers already booked to capacity on your move date?

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