It’s a relative term, but you probably have a small move if –
- You’re shipping a single item
- You live in a studio or moderately furnished 1-bedroom apartment
- Your new home will be a college dorm room
- You’re moving a few specialty items
- You’re temporarily moving a few items during a home renovation
- You’re shipping an item or two from an estate sale
Though it varies by company, full-service moving companies generally consider shipments under 3,000 pounds to be small moves.
For our purposes, however, we’ll say that small moves weigh 1,500 pounds or less.
Most movers will gladly move small shipments locally and across state lines.
For peace of mind and overall value, they’re hard to beat.
That said, using a specialized company with tons of moving experience like MiniMoves may mean better service, lower prices, and less hassle.
Got your attention?
Great, let’s take a look at the best options for small moves.
Jump to the Section Most Suited to Your Small Move:
- Interstate (long-distance) moves
- Local moves
Options for Small Long Distance Moves
MiniMoves – The best option for long-distance moves
MiniMoves specializes in moving small shipments (or just one item) from one state to another.
Their services are perfect for sending a recent high school graduate off to college or shipping an antique armoire to a relative in another state.
With MiniMoves, you’ll get a free quote, and an experienced customer service representative will help determine which move options will work best for you.
The benefits of using MiniMoves –
- Reasonable prices and a large service area
- They pick up, transport, and deliver your items door-to-door
- They provide loading and unloading labor
- Professional packing services (and unpacking) are available
- There’s no minimum shipment size – you only pay for what you move
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ShipSmart – Another great long-distance shipping option
ShipSmart is another leader in the cross-country small move sector.
Unlike some competitors, they’re equal parts delivery service and traditional moving company.
ShipSmart is particularly good at moving small shipments that may be too large for parcel companies like FedEx and UPS.
So, if you’re shipping an antique curio cabinet and a marble statue from Wisconsin to Arizona, they’ve got you covered.
Why use ShipSmart?
- They’re affordable, flexible, and convenient
- They offer seamless door-to-door service.
- Customers can choose an in-home or curbside drop off
- Professional packing and unpacking services are available
- They specialize in shipments under 2,000 pounds
- Multiple insurance options
Call ShipSmart at (866) 333-8018 for a free moving quote. Mention moveBuddha and get 10% off your move.
U-Ship – An online shipping marketplace
Small shipments make up a huge chunk of the overall moving business.
And not surprisingly, online marketplaces that connect customers and service providers are all the rage.
They can be great resources, but there’s one big catch.
They’re essentially intermediaries or, dare we say it…brokers.
In other words, they don’t have their own trucks and moving crews.
Instead, they provide a platform on which companies and contractors with equipment and workers can bid on moving and transportation jobs.
This competition keeps prices low, but it can open the door to poor service and big headaches down the road.
Many customers have great experiences with companies like U-Ship.
However, it’s important to vet the service providers you’re considering.
Thankfully, uShip makes it easy by providing real customer reviews through its verified vendor system.
U-Pack – Rent a shipping container
U-Pack is one of the largest container moving companies in the country. They offer multiple-size containers and have an easy pay-as-you-go policy for larger moving trailers.
Customers get fast delivery times and can track their shipments with an online tracker.
You can add on extra U-Pack services when you book your move and customize your experience based on what you need. U-Pack will move and store your belongings for you if you need them to. Choose from different container sizes, and only pay for the space that you use.
Zippy Shell– Rent a shipping container
Zippy Shell makes it easy to book moving labor services and buy additional insurance options on your container. It’s a great option for young professionals changing cities or relocating for work
Other shipping container companies, usually ask you to do all of the packing and loading yourself. Zippy Shell makes it easy to add that service to your order depending on what you want.
If you decide to add loading or unloading services, Zippy Shell will coordinate with a third-party service that does the hard part, so prices vary depending on your location.
Options for Small Local Moves
Rent a moving truck
With adequate time and help, small local moves can be inexpensive and relatively painless.
However, for the elderly, the handicapped, and busy families with tight schedules, DIY moves just aren’t feasible.
This is especially true for long-distance moving.
When weighing the pros and cons of renting a truck versus doing your move yourself, be sure to factor in fuel, insurance, tolls, and additional fees for returning the truck late.
Also, think about the items you’re moving.
If your shipment consists of a riding mower and a motorcycle, you might be better off with a flatbed trailer.
On the contrary, when moving antiques, electronics, and artwork, you’ll need lots of moving blankets, good packing supplies, and an enclosed truck for safe transit.
Use Moving Labor Services
Even if you’re renting a moving truck, you may not have to do the heavy lifting yourself.
If you’d rather not, day-laborers are a good option
HireAHelper is a marketplace that allows you to hire movers on an hourly basis.
Apps like HireAHelper are great for moving from one home to another, but they’re also perfect for –
- In-home assembly (like after you buy furniture from IKEA)
- Rearranging furniture inside your home or apartment
- Clearing items from basements and garages before a yard sale
- Getting items into and out of mini-storage units
Labor providers are generally less expensive than professional movers, and they’re often more flexible too.
We especially recommend hiring moving labor services, like HireAHelper over traditional movers for in-home and local moves.
Did You Know?
Not all moving labor companies provide assembly and disassembly services, so be sure to ask in the initial stages of the moving process.
On-demand movers have become increasingly popular in recent years.
They’re generally smaller and have less overhead than larger competitors, so they’re often less expensive and more flexible.
They also specialize in last-minute shipments.
This is great for those who don’t have time for the drawn-out screening and planning associated with larger moves.
On-demand movers are typically better options for in-home and local moves, but some offer interstate service as well.
While they’re not specifically furniture movers only, they’re popular with customers who’ve purchased bulky items and have no way to get them home.
What are Van Line and Moving Company “Minimums”?
Local Move Minimums
Local move charges are almost always based on an hourly labor rate, plus –
- Optional valuation (insurance)
- Additional services like packing and unpacking, appliance disconnects and reconnects, and storage
Many local movers have 3 or 4-hour minimums, and some tack on travel time and fuel surcharges.
In other words, on really small moves, you may end up paying way more than you should have.
For out-of-state moves, most van lines have minimum weights between 1,000 and 2,100 pounds.
As a result, if your items weigh much less, you’d be better off hiring small shipment movers that charge based on actual weight.
We suggest having in-home estimates whenever possible.
But, if you’re only moving a dresser, loveseat, and a kitchen table and chairs, a company representative won’t need to see them in person.
Many small load movers don’t provide in-home estimates, but if you’ve vetted them carefully, it shouldn’t deter you from using their services.
Small Move Tips
- Ask friends, coworkers, and family members for referrals
- Get multiple moving quotes
- Check out companies using the American Moving & Storage (AMSA) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) websites.
- Book MiniMoves weeks before your move date, especially during the peak summer months.
- For extra savings, consider moving during the fall or winter
- If possible, combine your shipment with someone else’s for additional savings
- Don’t forget to ask about insurance options
How to Reduce Small Move Cost
Do a cost-benefit analysis
Only move items that are worth the trouble. If the things you’re considering shipping are replaceable and their cost exceeds the cost to move them, it’s just not worth it. On the other hand, this may not apply to family heirlooms and other items with sentimental value.
Do the packing yourself
DIY packing is one of the best ways to reduce move costs. Ask friends, family members, and local businesses for used boxes, and use old towels and blankets to wrap items instead of pricey newsprint and bubble wrap. However, if you’re transporting fragile and/or high-value items, it may be best to let professionals pack and insure them.
Do the assembly and disassembly yourself
If you have the tools and skills, disassembling beds and tables yourself may lower your total move cost. This is usually the case on local moves, but not necessarily on interstate moves, so make it a point to ask.
The less you ship, the less you’ll pay. Start discarding, donating, and selling little-used items weeks before your move to get the most bang for your buck.
Opt for curbside instead of in-home delivery
Some small move specialists offer convenient curbside delivery for customers looking to save money. They may offer reduced rates for curbside delivery or give you the option of picking up your items from a nearby terminal.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How are small moves priced?
With so many small move options, figuring out pricing can be tricky. Most companies charge by the hour on local moves and weight and mileage on long-distance moves. Also, ask about additional charges for packing and unpacking, long carries, elevators, and accessibility issues.
Will my moving estimate be accurate?
Estimates on small shipments are usually more accurate than they are for larger ones. Unless you ship more than originally planned, your final charges should be very close to the estimate, and you can always ask for a flat rate for a fixed price.
What are the cons of moving a small shipment?
With big van lines, small shipments usually aren’t top priorities. In addition, on small long-distance moves, you may not get your items for weeks after pick up.