Free Online Moving Quotes: Compare & Save with Instant Online Estimates

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.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand different types of moving estimates and how they’re calculated, as well as how to use our moving cost calculator so you can find the right movers for your needs and budget.

Types of moving quotes and estimates

A moving quote is an estimate the moving company provides to give you an idea of how much your move should cost. However, estimates aren’t necessarily a guarantee of the final cost of your move, especially when you get an online moving quote.

Many moving companies provide an instant ballpark quote through their website or over the phone. Simply by providing the size of your home, your expected moving date, and starting and ending locations, you’ll get a rough estimate. These online quotes are based on average costs and are meant as a starting point for your estimate — they will vary from your final total.

For a more accurate quote, the best moving companies will perform either an in-person or virtual estimate. During these estimates, a moving company representative will perform a walk-through of your home to take a complete inventory of your items. When they can actually see your items and the size and layout of your home, they can make a more accurate assessment.

It’s important to understand the different types of estimates a moving company may provide, as this can directly impact the amount you pay at the end of your move.

Different types of estimates:

  • Binding estimates: With a binding moving 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 — unless you fail to include all your property that needs to be moved when getting an estimate. A virtual or in-home estimate is usually required to get a binding 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 moving 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.

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.

How to use the moveBuddha moving cost calculator:

  • Enter your move information: The moving cost calculator will ask a few simple questions. Where you are moving from, where you are moving to, what are you moving, and when you are moving? Select the info for your move, then click “Calculate.”
  • Look at price ranges. At the top of the results page, you’ll see estimated price ranges for your move for professional movers, moving container companies, freight trailers, or rental moving trucks. Use this to determine which type of move best fits your budget.
  • Check prices. Beneath your price range results, you’ll find links to different our top moving companies for each category. Get a quote from at least three of these companies so you can compare their pricing and availability, as costs can vary significantly between providers.

How Much do Movers Cost?

Get instant ballpark pricing. No email or phone required. It's fast, free, and easy.

Get instant ballpark pricing It's fast, easy, and free

Get instant ballpark pricing.
It's fast, easy, and free.

How moving quotes are calculated

All moving company quotes will consider factors like home size, moving date, and location. However, some of the methods used for estimating local and long-distance moving costs can vary.

Local moves are typically 100 miles or less, as defined within the moving industry. While some local movers will charge a flat rate, most charge an hourly rate based on how long they estimate it will take 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.

On the other hand, quotes from a long-distance moving company are based on the total weight of your belongings. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) actually requires professional movers to calculate estimates this way, per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. Moving companies set per-pound and per-mile rates to come up with your total quote.

For these quotes, the initial moving estimate is more of a rough estimate based on how much moving experts think your home’s contents will weigh. To get the exact amount, the moving truck is weighed before and after it is loaded. The difference is your total weight, which will directly affect your costs if you received a non-binding estimate.

What a moving estimate includes

It’s always best to double-check which services are (or aren’t) included in the initial quote you receive from a moving company.

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 transporting specialty items that require extra handling
  • Any additional services you request
  • The type of insurance (basic or full-valuation) you select

Additional moving cost factors

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. Moving companies tend to experience higher demand on weekends, so prices will be lower if you schedule your move for the middle of the week.
  • The distance of your move: The further the distance, the more expensive your move will be. This accounts for factors like fuel and tolls that the mover will experience, particularly during long-distance moves.
  • The size of your home: The bigger your home, the more stuff there is to move — and the more labor costs you’ll incur. The amount of items you have will determine moving truck size, as well as how much labor is required to load/unload everything.
  • Time of year: Summer and early fall (basically, between Memorial Day and Labor Day) has much higher demand for movers, so moving costs tend to be higher than the off-season (fall and winter).
  • Insurance: Many moving companies offer multiple insurance options (including full-valuation) to cover 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 — particularly full-service interstate movers — provide additional services beyond loading. Common add-on services include unpacking and packing services and temporary storage, though some companies even offer services like debris cleanup and furniture reassembly.

How to save money on your moving quote

Moving is expensive — for example, the average moving cost for a four-bedroom cross-country is about $7,735 but can be as high as $13,000 or more.

While using moving container companies or rental moving trucks will pretty much always be cheaper than using full-service movers, there are still several ways to cut moving costs:

  • Declutter. Decluttering for a move is one of the best ways to lower your moving costs. You can sell or donate 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.
  • Buy your own packing materials. Many full-service movers also offer packing materials, but they tend to be much more expensive than if you bought your supplies from Walmart or Home Depot. Quite often, you can get free moving boxes from neighbors or local businesses.
  • Move on a non-peak day during the offseason. 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 middle of 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 moving discounts are available to see if there are any you can qualify for.


Why should I trust moveBuddha’s moving cost calculator?

You should trust moveBuddha’s moving cost calculator because it is the product of our years of experience in — and extensive knowledge of — the moving industry. We have helped people move since 2015, serving more than 400,000 people per year. Our cost calculator combines our tech focus with deep-dive analysis of hundreds of companies using our own unique methodology.

We rely on quotes obtained during our own research, as well as the real-life, honest experiences of Better Moves Project participants to help provide a range of what you should expect to pay based on the details of your own move.

Are moving quotes negotiable?

Moving quotes may be negotiable — although often this means sacrificing services to get a lower price. However, obtaining multiple moving quotes 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.

It’s also a good idea to ask about moving discounts, since many companies have ongoing special offers for people in the military and seniors, among others. Some companies will even give you a discount for booking early.

How can I avoid moving company scams?

You can avoid moving company scams by doing your research. Check out their reviews online and confirm that their contact information is accurate. For interstate movers, make sure they are properly registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and have USDOT licensure. Make sure local movers are licensed and registered with appropriate state agencies.

Be wary of moving companies that try to pressure you during the quoting process and force you into making a decision quickly. Legitimate moving companies will give you time to evaluate your options.

How do I get the best moving quote?

To get the best moving quote, schedule an in-home estimate. This allows the moving company to conduct an accurate inventory of your items to create their estimate. Get a quote from at least three reputable moving companies so you can compare your options and find the best pricing. You can get started with our moving cost calculator.

How far in advance should I get moving quotes?

People get moving quotes an average of seven weeks and three days in advance, based on our data. We recommend starting the process of getting moving quotes at least two months in advance to give yourself time to schedule in-home estimates and compare pricing.

Why do moving quotes vary between companies?

Moving quotes can vary due to differences in each company’s assessments of the weight of your items and the amount of labor needed to complete the move. In addition, some companies charge more or less depending on the scope of the services they provide, or whether they market themselves as offering “premium” or “discount” services.

Are online moving quotes as accurate as in-person estimates?

An in-person estimate will always be more accurate than an online moving quote because it allows the representative to create a full inventory for the items you plan to move. Online quotes are usually rough estimates based on the size of your home.

Are there any hidden fees I should be aware of in a moving quote?

Some companies charge an upfront flat rate, while others charge additional fees beyond the initial quoted amount. Always check the fine print. Common examples of hidden fees include fuel charges or environmental charges.

In addition, certain circumstances specific to your move may also require an extra fee, such as surcharges for a difficult to access location, elevator fees, or fees for moving bulky furniture. Getting an in-person estimate will allow a moving company representative to inform you if any of these surcharges apply to your move.

Can the final moving cost be different from the quoted price?

If you get a non-binding estimate, your final moving cost could be different from your quoted price. This is because non-binding estimates are directly linked to the total weight of the items you are moving. After the moving truck is filled and weighed, your costs could go up or down if the weight is more or less than originally estimated.

Should I expect to pay a deposit when I accept a moving quote?

While this varies from company to company, it is a common practice to pay a deposit when you accept a moving quote. Deposit amounts and payment options can also vary, so be sure to ask about these requirements before agreeing to a quote.

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