Hiring professional moving services can go a long way in helping you enjoy a stress-free transition to your new home. But there are a lot of moving companies out there. Even if you’ve come across a few companies you like, the last thing you want is to overpay for your move.
Like it or not, moving quotes can vary significantly from company to company. Getting multiple quotes is essential for finding the best deal but, at the same time, you need to be on the lookout for scammers.
In this guide, we’ll cover what you need to know about comparing local and long-distance moving quotes so you can have peace of mind as you try to find the right movers for your unique needs and budget.
Comparing moving quotes
First, let’s start with an essential moving industry practice — always get quotes from at least three different movers. You’d be surprised at how much moving costs can vary from company to company. Getting multiple quotes will help you avoid overpaying, which can easily happen if you only get one quote from a pricier company.
In addition, understanding how your moving quotes compare to the average expected cost for your move can help you spot potential scammers offering too-good-to-be-true prices.
Use our moving cost calculator
The moveBuddha moving cost calculator is a great tool to reference before you start getting quotes from moving companies. Our calculator gives you an average expected cost based on factors like the date, size, and distance of your move.
After you enter this information in the moving calculator, you’ll get instant price ranges for professional movers, containers, freight, and rental trucks. We also provide recommendations for our picks for some of the best interstate moving companies to consider for these moves.
With this information, you can start budgeting for your move and have a good frame of reference for when you compare quotes from different companies.
Factors affecting moving costs
Regardless of the specifics, there are a few factors that will always influence the total cost of your move:
- Your move date: The day of the week you choose to move can actually affect your moving costs. Movers tend to experience higher demand on weekends, so prices will be higher than if you schedule your move date for the middle of the week.
- The distance of your move: The farther you’re moving, the more expensive your move will be. This accounts for factors like fuel and tolls that the mover might experience, particularly for long-distance moves.
- The size of your home: The bigger your home, the more stuff there is to move. The amount of items that you need to move will affect the size of the moving truck you need, as well as how much labor is required to load/unload everything. The more items you have, the higher your moving costs.
- Time of year: Summer has much higher demand for movers, so moving costs tend to be higher than the off-season of fall and winter.
- Insurance: Many moving companies offer multiple insurance options to cover any damages that might occur while your possessions are in-transit. The type of coverage you select will directly impact your total quote.
- Additional services: Many movers provide additional services beyond loading. The particular add-on services you do or don’t select will affect your total moving quote.;
How moving quotes are calculated
All moving company quotes will consider the factors mentioned in the previous section, such as home size, moving date, and moving location. However, some of the methods used for estimating local and long-distance moving costs can vary.;
Here’s what you need to know.
The moving industry generally defines local moves as moves of 100 miles or less. While some local movers will charge a flat rate for a move, this isn’t the norm. Instead, local movers typically charge an hourly rate based on how many hours of labor they expect will be needed to complete the move.
While this can be a little nerve-wracking, the good news is that professional movers are usually good at estimating how many hours it will take their team based on the size of your home and type of items that need to be moved. Just remember, there may be extra fees for speciality items like fine art, fitness equipment and pianos.
Long distance moving companies (including interstate moving companies) don’t charge hourly rates. Instead, their quotes are calculated based on the total weight of your belongings. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) actually requires professional movers to calculate estimates in this way. Companies set per pound and per mile rates to come up with your total quote.
For these quotes, the initial estimate is more of a rough estimate based on how much moving experts think your home’s contents will weigh. To get your final cost, the moving truck is weighed before and after it is loaded. The difference is your total weight.
|State||Local Move~50 miles||Interstate move~500 miles|
*Local moves are calculated from about 50 miles from the capital of each state
When working with full-service movers, your moving experience can be even more streamlined with a variety of additional services. These services are optional and come at an additional cost.
Common add-on options include:
- Packing materials: Some moving companies can provide packing supplies such as cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and blankets to wrap furniture or provide extra padding.
- Unpacking and packing services: You can opt for movers to pack and unpack your items so you don’t have to deal with the stress of fitting all your items into boxes ahead of moving day.;
- Full-value protection: Moving companies are required by federal law to offer basic contents coverage in case of damages or an accident, but that protection only offers a reimbursement rate of $0.60 per pound per item. For example, you would only get $18 for a 30-pound TV worth $800 ($0.60 x 30). You’ll have to pay extra for full valuation of your items. However, with this coverage, you’ll get a much higher reimbursement for any lost or damaged goods.;
- Storage: Many movers offer temporary storage if you aren’t going to be taking your belongings directly to your new home.
What a moving quote includes
When working with full-service movers, you can expect the following to be included in your moving quote:
- A scheduled time and date for your moving day;
- An inventory list of all the items to be moved, including an estimated weight for long-distance moves and estimated number of hours needed for local moves
- The number of movers the moving company will provide on moving day
- Additional fees for trickier moves that involve going up or down flights of stairs or specialty items that require extra handling
- Any additional services you request;
- The type of insurance (basic or full-value) you select
Types of moving estimates
When you get an online moving quote, how can you be sure that you can trust the estimate? Estimates aren’t necessarily a guarantee of the final cost of your move.;
Understanding the different types of moving estimates is essential for planning your moving budget:
- Binding estimates: With a binding estimate, movers provide a quote based on the estimated weight of your items. What you are quoted is what you will pay, even if the total weight of your items is more or less than originally estimated. However, movers have a right to refuse clause if you fail to include all your property that needs to be moved when getting an estimate.
- Non-binding estimates: Non-binding estimates also provide a quote based on the estimated weight of your items. However, because the quote is non-binding, you could pay more or less than you were originally quoted based on the actual weight of your items. This could result in your final costs being significantly different from your original quote.
- Not-to-exceed estimates: These estimates set a maximum price for your move. Even if the total weight of your items exceeds the original estimate, you won’t pay more. However, if the total weight is less than was estimated, you’ll only have to pay the cost for the actual shipping weight. So, you could end up paying less than expected.
Regardless of the type of estimate your movers provide, getting an accurate quote usually relies on either an in-home or video call estimate. Over the phone or online, moving companies can only provide a ballpark guess based on what you tell them. When they can actually see your items and the size and layout of your home, they can make a more accurate assessment.
How to tell if a moving quote is from a reputable company
Moving is expensive — so the last thing you want is to get scammed by a disreputable company. Fortunately, there are a few things you can look for to ensure you’re getting a quote from a reputable mover:
- Proper licenses and insurance: Interstate movers must be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and have a USDOT number. Without this, they aren’t authorized to do interstate moves. You should also review a potential mover’s insurance qualifications.
- Reviews and ratings: Online reviews and ratings can give you a good sense of whether a company is legit or not. While damage complaints will pop up with just about every moving company, be on the lookout for other red flags, such as no-shows or hidden fees. Our Better Moves Project can also be a good resource for detailed individual moving experiences with specific companies.;
- Clear explanation of moving costs: A reputable company will clearly explain the moving costs listed on your estimate. They’ll also help you understand the type of estimate they provide. They’ll offer contact information in case you have questions or concerns about your estimate. They want you to understand your estimate so you can make an informed decision.
- No pressure: Disreputable companies often use high-pressure sales tactics to force you to commit to their estimate right away. While legitimate companies often have “expiration dates” on their quoted prices, they won’t try to force you into a hasty decision.
- Reasonable estimate and payment requirements: Be wary of an estimate that seems too good to be true. A major outlier from other quotes you’ve been getting could be an indicator of a scam. Similarly, while legitimate movers may require a portion of your fees as a deposit, they will never ask for full payment upfront.;
Tips for cutting mover costs
Moving is expensive — for example, the average cost to move a 4-bedroom house can be as high as $9,900 for a long-distance move.;
While using a storage container or rental truck will pretty much always be cheaper than using full-service movers, there are still several ways to cut moving costs when using a full-service provider:
- Declutter. Decluttering is one of the best ways to lower your moving costs. You can sell items you no longer want or need, and throw away items that are broken or damaged. With fewer items to move, your move will cost less. Plus, that means fewer things you need to find a place for at your new home!
- Book in advance. Many movers charge extra fees for last-minute moves. Instead, you can save money by booking movers several weeks (or even a few months) in advance. This also ensures they’ll have availability for your move.
- Do your own packing. While many full-service movers offer packing services, it’s much cheaper to do this yourself. The more of your move you can do yourself, the less it will cost.
- Move on a non-peak day during the off-season. Weekends, late spring, and summer tend to see the highest demand for movers. Because of this, you can save quite a bit by scheduling your move during the week or during the fall and winter months.
- Ask about discounts. Many movers provide discounts for veterans, seniors, students, AAA members, and other groups. It never hurts to ask which discounts are available to see if there are any you can qualify for.
FAQs about comparing moving quotes
How do you compare moving quotes?
Getting free moving quotes is great, but you need to make sure you’re doing an apples-to-apples comparison. When requesting quotes from movers, make sure the quote covers the same items and services. Be mindful of whether a mover provides a binding, non-binding, or not-to-exceed estimate, so you can have a clear idea of what you can expect to pay with each mover.
Are moving quotes negotiable?
When you get multiple moving quotes, this gives you some negotiating leverage with your preferred mover. Many moving companies are willing to price match their competitors. However, you’ll need to make sure that each quote covers the same items and services.
What are the benefits of using a moving company?
Working with full-service professional movers takes a lot of the hassle out of the moving process. Hiring professionals to load, drive, and unload the moving truck can save a lot of time, energy, and stress. Depending on your needs, you can even have your moving company help with packing and unpacking your belongings.
How can I avoid moving company scams?
To make sure a moving company is legitimate, do your research. Check out their reviews online, and make sure they are properly registered with the FMCSA and USDOT. Be wary of companies that try to pressure you during the quoting process and force you into making a decision quickly. Legitimate companies will give you time to evaluate your options.
What times of year are the most expensive to move?
Generally speaking, the summer months (June, July, and August) are the most expensive time to move. This is because families have more flexibility in their schedules due to summer break. With higher demand and reduced availability, prices naturally go up.
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