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.

What is included with a full service mover?

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 their answers on the estimate paperwork.

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 individual boxes & loose items
  • Additional insurance (available for purchase)
  • Breakdown & reassembly of complicated furniture (IKEA)
  • Packing of fragile items (Glass tops, TVs)

Compare to the competition

Compare professional movers to freight trailers, moving containers, and moving truck rentals.

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.
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 calling and in-home estimates 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.

Book early

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.

Move mid-month

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.

Move mid-week

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.

Long carry

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.

Stair carry

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.

Elevator

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.

Extra stops

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.

Handling fees

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.

Connecting appliances

Some companies may charge an additional fee to disconnect and reconnect appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers.

Storage-in-Transit (SIT)

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.

Expedited delivery

For an additional cost, movers agree to expedite your delivery and have your items delivered on or before a specific date.

Shuttle service

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.

Guaranteed delivery

The movers will guarantee a specific date when your items are delivered. Depending on the distance and locations guaranteed delivery can be very expensive.

Full-packing

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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