Ultimate Guide to Moving Companies
Everyone wants to know, should I hire movers? While full service moving companies are the most convenient way to move, they usually come at a higher cost. Newer options like moving containers and freight trailers also offer attractive alternatives to traditional movers.
moveBuddha is all about comparison. Use our moving cost calculator and this guide to make sure you make the best choice and get the best deal for your move.
Every moving company generally offers the same set of services for a basic full service move. Keep in mind, there can be small differences between movers that add up to big costs.
When getting quotes, ask every mover the same set of questions and be sure to write down every service they intend to provide. Sometimes what seems like a cheaper quote can actually just be because the mover is offering fewer services.
You should work with your move coordinator to make sure you know exactly what you're responsible for to avoid surprises on moving day. This list should give you a head start on understanding what comes with a full service move.
- All loading and unloading
- Breakdown & reassembly of basic furniture
- Moving blankets, pads, straps
- All necessary moving equipment (dolly, rollers)
- Fuel, tolls, taxes
- Parking permits
- Very limited valuation coverage ($.60/lb)
- Packing supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap, etc.
- Packing of boxes & loose items (additional cost)
- Storage (additional cost)
- Additional insurance (available for purchase)
- Breakdown & reassembly of complicated furniture (IKEA)
- Packing of fragile items (additional cost)
|Professional Movers||Freight Trailers|
|Labor||Professional movers will load and unload the truck including basic furniture assembly.||Freight provides no labor although it's not hard to hire some help.|
|Insurance||Professional moving companies tend to have more insurance options and better overall coverage for damages.||Freight companies usually don't offer more than basic valuation coverage.|
|Materials||Professional movers will bring pads, blankets, dollies, and straps to make sure all items are properly secured.||Freight provides limited equipment.|
|Storage||Professional moving companies typically offer a month of free storage.||Freight storage is expensive.|
|Delivery||Moving companies often give wide and unreliable delivery windows, especially for smaller shipments.||Freight companies tend to have much faster and more reliable delivery windows than movers.|
|Cancellations||Professional moving companies have much smaller truck fleets and rely on labor crews to show up on moving day, increasing the chances of cancellations or delays on moving day.||Freight companies are much less likely to cancel on moving day because they aren't reliant on moving crews and have access to a much larger fleet of trucks.|
|Prep Time||With professional movers you'll need to be fully prepared before they arrive.||Freight offers 3 days to load so you have more time to pack and clear everything out.|
|Privacy||Unless your move is a full truckload, professional movers almost always pair shipments together.||Your items are the only household goods in the freight trailer, secured behind a bulkhead door.|
|Pricing||Professional moving quotes can be difficult to understand.||Freight pricing is based on a simple per foot charge.|
|Professional Movers||Moving Containers|
|Labor||Movers will load and unload the truck including basic furniture assembly.||Containers provide no labor although it's not hard to hire some help.|
|Insurance||Moving companies tend to have more insurance options and better overall coverage for damages.||Container companies usually don't offer more than basic valuation coverage.|
|Materials||Professional movers will bring pads, blankets, dollies, and straps to make sure all items are properly secured.||Containers provide limited moving equipment.|
|Storage||Moving companies only offer storage-in-transit and it can get expensive if you need storage more than a few months.||Container companies have very competitive storage rates and the container can be delivered to your residence multiple times.|
|Delivery||Professional companies tend to have less accurate delivery windows.||Container companies tend to have much faster and more accurate delivery windows than professional movers.|
|Prep Time||With movers you'll need to be fully prepared before they arrive.||Containers offer open-ended load time so you have more time to pack loose items.|
|Pricing||Moving companies usually require in-home estimates and variable costs since their service offerings are more complex.||Container companies offer flat rates based on container sizes.|
|Professional Movers||Moving Truck Rentals|
|Labor||Movers will load and unload the truck including basic furniture assembly.||Rental trucks provide no labor although it's not hard to hire some.|
|Driving||Movers will handle all the unpleasantries of driving a truck long distance for you.||Weather, traffic, flat tires, parking, etc. are all a part of driving a rental truck.|
|Insurance||Moving companies offer coverage for damage to items during the move.||Rental trucks generally don't cover damages since you're responsible for packing.|
|Cost||Because professional movers handle everything you should expect to pay a lot more.||In most cases rental trucks are going to be less expensive than movers since you're doing a lot of the work yourself. Make sure to factor in fuel, tolls, parking fees, your sanity and any other costs when comparing the two options.|
|Control||With professional movers you're entrusting everything to relative strangers.||With a rental truck you have complete control over the process from end to end.|
Using Pro Movers Efficiently
Save Money by Controlling Costs
When it comes to moving with a pro mover you need to be aware of the associated costs.
Get multiple quotes
Long distance moving is a game of logistics. Different schedules, availability and more allow some moving companies to offer better prices than others.
Getting several quotes increases the odds you find a mover in a position to offer a discounted rate. Just make sure all of your quotes are from reputable movers.
Ideally you should book your mover 30-60 days in advance. Moving companies will increase prices for moves booked last minute or worst case they may not have any availability at all.
Rental leases typically turnover at the end of the month causing spikes in demand on those last few days. Avoiding the rush by moving in the middle of the month can often result in better pricing.
Weekends are always a more popular time to move. If you move mid-week availability and pricing will typically be better.
Flexible pickup & delivery
Moving is a tough business and movers often face unexpected delays like weather or traffic issues. Customers with flexible move dates enable moving companies to build some cushion into their schedule. Often times resulting in a better price for you.
Prep your move properly
Avoid getting charged for expensive packing materials on moving day by properly preparing your move. Mattresses should have covers, glass table tops need to be protected, all loose items need to go in boxes.
Work with your move coordinator directly to understand who is responsible for packing certain items. If you’re packing yourself, make sure you understand the mover’s packing standards or they will have to repack items at your expense.
Sell, donate, trash items
Roughly 70% of your total cost is determined by how much you’re moving. Downsizing can help you save money, but be aware most movers have minimum size requirements so don't get rid of too much.
Avoid Hidden Fees
Learn how to reduce your overall costs and avoid hidden fees.
Most movers will charge an additional fee if the distance to your front door from the truck is over 75ft. If you live in an apartment building, the distance is measured from the front door of your actual apartment, not the building.
If there are more than 1 or 2 flights of stairs leading up to your residence, movers will typically charge a fee per additional flight of stairs.
Some movers will charge an elevator fee if your residence is located on a floor that requires a lengthy elevator ride or if your building has a narrow elevator requiring a lot of trips.
Need to stop by a local storage unit or your in-laws house? Movers will typically charge a fee for additional stops beyond the primary residence.
Movers will typically charge a fee for items such as heavy safes, riding lawnmowers, pianos, hot tubs, large tool chests, etc. These items typically require additional equipment and labor to ensure safe transport.
Some companies may charge an additional fee to disconnect and reconnect appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers.
For long distance moves, most movers offer 30 days of free storage. For storage longer than 30 days, typically a monthly fee applies. If you require 6 months or more of storage you may want to consider delivery to a local storage unit or using a portable storage container for your move.
Additional valuation coverage
While every long distance moving company includes $.60 per pound of valuation coverage in their base price, it's highly recommended you consider increasing this amount.
For an additional cost, movers agree to expedite your delivery and have your items delivered on or before a specific date.
Most long distance moves will be done with a 53’ tractor-trailer (like you see on the interstate). If a full size tractor-trailer can’t get to your residence, a smaller, shuttle truck may be necessary. Shuttles are frequently required in urban areas and can increase move costs significantly.
The movers will guarantee a specific date when your items are delivered. Depending on the distance and locations guaranteed delivery can be very expensive.
Most movers will offer the option to pack all your loose items into boxes for you. Having professionals pack everything will also extend your valuation coverage to all boxed items. So if a box isn't packed properly the movers will be on the hook for it, not you.
Specialty packing & crating
Fragile items such as mirrors, glass table tops, grandfather clocks, flat screen TVs, chandeliers, etc., require specialty packing or crating to prevent damage. Work with your mover directly to understand who is responsible for packing delicate items. If you’re packing fragile items yourself, make sure you meet the movers packing standards or they will have to repack items at your expense.
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