Instead of recruiting your family and friends to help haul your stuff, you can hire a service to handle all the logistics of moving house. But be sure to compare prices and watch out for moving company scams.
Compare moving companies and services
What services do moving companies offer?
Moving companies can offer anything from bare-bones services to comprehensive white-glove moving solutions. Here are a few services moving companies may offer:
Packing and labeling. Moving companies will strategically pack and label your belongings into boxes for safe transporting.
Disassembling and reassembling furniture. Let the moving service break down and rebuild your large furniture pieces.
Loading and transporting. Leave the heavy lifting and delivery to the moving company.
Storage. If your new home isn’t quite ready yet, some moving companies offer short- and long-term storage solutions.
Unpacking and cleanup. They’ll help you unload your boxes and even remove and empty cartons and packing debris.
Do I need to buy my own packing supplies?
Most packing services include the supplies you’ll need to box everything up in your quote. Moving companies generally offer a full packing service, which includes boxing up every room in your home and the necessary equipment.
You can also opt for partial packing services, such as a room add-on. For example, you can request the movers to pack up only the kitchen, and the company should bring all the specialized supplies needed for packing fragile items.
Always confirm what’s included when you get your quote.
How much does hiring movers cost?
Movers can charge anywhere from $55 to $320 per hour. For local moves, you’ll probably see an average of $70 to $135 per hour. And long-distance moves that are usually over 100 miles are closer to $75 to $150 per hour.
Here’s an idea of what you might pay for a local move and how long it’ll take, which ultimately determines the final moving cost.
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7 ways to estimate moving costs
Moving companies generally give you a quote based on your needs. A few factors that run up the total cost include:
Move size. While a moving company may give you an initial estimate based on the number of bedrooms in your home, the amount of stuff you have is a better estimate of how much you’ll end up paying. For example, a couple may have more items in a one-bedroom apartment than a single person has in a two-bedroom apartment.
Distance. The further you travel, the more it costs.
Packing services. Packing things up yourself reduces costs.
Unpacking services. Unpacking will be an extra charge.
Seasonal pricing. Moving costs surge during the summer because it’s peak moving season.
Specialty items. Some things are particularly expensive to transport or require disassembling, including pianos, hot tubs, grandfather clocks and cars.
Additional fees. Movers may charge extra fees, such as a fee for each flight of stairs they have to travel or if there’s a lot of traffic between your old and new home.
How much should I tip movers?
A good rule of thumb is to tip your movers between 15% and 20% of the total bill for large or complicated moves and 5% to 10% for smaller, local moves, according to Consumer Affairs.
You can split that lump sum among the movers of the crew. It’s generally recommended to tip each mover directly to make sure each person gets their share.
What types of quotes do moving companies offer?
Pricing methods vary between companies, and generally fall into one of the following categories:
Hourly. You generally see an hourly charge for local moves. And depending on how big your move is, the hourly rate goes up based on how many movers you’ll need to complete the job.
Weight and distance. For long-distance moves, companies typically charge a rate per pound and then per mile.
Volume. After the moving crew loads your items inside the truck, it’ll calculate the volume of your shipment and charge per cubic foot. Since the volume depends on how the movers load your items, your final bill may not be accurate and end up costing you more than it should.
How to finance your move
Don’t have the cash to pay for your move up front? Here are two ways to finance it — both in the short and long term.
Credit card with a 0% APR intro offer
If you think you’ll be able to pay off the cost of your move in six to 12 months, you might want to look into applying for a credit card that has a 0% APR intro offer. This lets you spread out the cost of the moving service over several months without paying any interest.
But make sure you’re able to pay off the balance before your intro offer is up. If not, you’ll be on the hook for a relatively high APR of anywhere from 14% to 30% depending on the card and your credit profile.
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Relocation personal loan
If your move is on the expensive side and you think you’ll need more than a year to pay it off, it’s likely cheaper to take out a personal loan. These typically come with lower APRs than credit cards if you have good or even fair credit. You’ll typically pay back the loan in monthly payments over a span of three to seven years, depending on the lender you go with.
According to federal law, moving companies must give you two options for moving insurance: released value protection and full value protection. But you also have the option of adding additional coverage through your homeowners insurance or a third-party insurer. Here’s how your different insurance methods break down:
Released value protection
Released value protection is basic insurance offered at no additional cost. It covers $0.60 per pound, regardless of how much you paid for the item.
For example, if the movers break your 130-pound washing machine worth $700, it’ll only reimburse you $78 (130 pounds x $0.60 per pound).
Full value protection
Full value protection offers a bit more coverage if your items are broken or lost. The moving company will either repair the item, replace it with something similar or reimburse you for the item’s current market value.
But you’ll need to list out specific items valued at more than $100 per pound, such as fine jewelry or antiques, if you want them covered. Ask your moving company for details on its full value protection option and how much it costs.
Your homeowners or renters insurance policy may help if something happens during the move. These types of policies generally cover specific perils, like fire and theft. So if someone steals something off the moving truck, your homeowners policy may cover the loss.
Unfortunately, your policy likely doesn’t cover damage if something breaks during the move, however.
Our top pick: Allstate home insurance
Protect your home and belongings and save even more by bundling insurance with Allstate.
If you pay for additional insurance, the moving company is still responsible for up to $0.60 per pound under the released value protection. And your third-party insurance company should cover the rest of the loss.
How to compare moving companies
When deciding which moving company is best for you, see how they stack up against each other in each of the following criteria:
Proper licenses and insurance. While local moving companies only need a business license to legally operate a business, interstate moving companies must have a federal motor carrier number and a US Department of Transportation number. You’ll also want to ask about its insurance policies, which are required by federal law.
Cost and fees. Compare quotes and sneaky fees like appliance service fees (if the movers need to disconnect an appliance) and long carry fees (if you have an extra-long driveway that they need to carry your items to and from).
Services offered. Find a moving company that offers the services you need, especially if you don’t have the time or ability to pack or disassemble items before moving.
Reliability and customer reviews. You’ll want a service with a proven track record of professionalism and honesty since it’ll be in charge of taking care of your most-prized possessions. Read customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot and Yelp to get clued in on how other people felt when they used that company.
Friends and family recommendations. People you trust can sometimes offer better insight into a moving company than online reviews. It can also provide a balanced view of an already high-rated company or a service with a weak Internet presence.
How to avoid getting scammed by a fake moving company
Here are a few red flags to help protect you from unsavory characters out to scam you:
Only does phone estimates. A legitimate moving company will want to come to your home to give you an accurate estimate. If it doesn’t, it may disappear with your deposit or stick you with an enormous bill at the end.
Large down payment required. While a small deposit is normal, companies asking for a significant down payment may pocket the money and vanish.
Suspiciously low quote. Always get an estimate in writing and be wary of quotes that are shockingly lower than others.
Doesn’t tell you your rights and responsibilities. Licensed movers must provide you with the Department of Transportation’s booklet that lays out your rights and responsibilities before any interstate move. If they don’t, you’ll want to find another moving company to use.
Doesn’t have their own trucks. A legitimate moving company will have a fleet of trucks that are clearly marked. If it shows up with an unmarked vehicle or a U-Haul truck, you might have a difficult time tracking your belongings.
Ready to hire movers? 5 steps to take
When moving day is just around the corner and you’re ready to hire movers, here’s how to sift through the competition to find the best movers for your needs.
Compare moving companies. Narrow down a list of providers that fulfill your needs, including packing and disassembly of furniture. Read up on customer reviews and ask people you trust for recommendations.
Get pricing from different movers. Contact a few frontrunners to see how they charge for services, including hourly or by weight.
Ask questions. Talk to your moving company about its fees, insurance policies, track record and how well-trained its movers are.
Get in-person estimates. Zero in on your movers by making appointments to get accurate bids in person.
Book your move. Once you’ve gotten your estimates, it’s time to make a decision and book your move. Keep in mind many companies don’t have hard-and-fast reservations. This means you might need to be flexible when it comes to the exact date of your move.
Moving can be an expensive undertaking. Here are some ways you can lower the bill:
Time your move. Try to avoid moving during the summer as much as possible. Moving companies are in high demand in the summer and charge more during this time.
Ask about discounts. Always ask about moving deals, such as discounts for flexible move dates or bundling extra add-ons.
Find out about membership benefits. AAA and military personnel may receive additional discounts from specific companies.
Bring a competitor’s quote. It doesn’t hurt to see if a moving company will match or even outbid a competitor’s quote for your move.
5 mistakes to avoid when moving
Avoid these moving mistakes that can end up costing you money and wasting your time.
Not downsizing before the move. Go through your home to clear out things that you don’t want or no longer use. The less stuff you move, the more you’ll save.
Not packing boxes properly. Don’t overfill boxes with heavy items because they’re more challenging to move, and the items are more likely to get damaged. You also shouldn’t under-fill your boxes because it wastes moving space, and the extra space can cause your items to bounce around.
Not labeling your boxes. Label the room the box belongs to and its contents. It’ll help the movers know where to put the boxes when they unload, and it’ll help you find things faster when you unpack.
Running late. The movers will likely start the clock at the time when you agreed for them to come, whether or not you’re ready for them. And since you’re probably paying by the hour, packing while the movers are there will be on your dime.
Bring your own packing materials. If your moving company doesn’t include packing materials, such as blankets and rags, use your own instead of renting from your moving company.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can always try to get a better deal. Ask about discounts to lower your quote, show the sales rep a competitor’s quote or ask customer service how to reduce your moving costs.
A local moving truck rental can range from $30 to $500, depending on the truck’s size, the distance you drive, how long you rent it for and where you borrow and return the vehicle.
Since moving companies typically require a lot of coordination and a team, they generally have a weight minimum for moves that they’ll take on. For single items, you might consider a shipping service instead.
Kimberly Ellis is a writer at Finder. She hails from New York City with a BA from Queens College and a New York State teaching certificate. After teaching in both public and private schools, Kimberly decided to take the world by storm and dive into the media industry — where she covers everything from home loans and investing to K–12 education and shopping. She’s also an aspiring polyglot, always in a book and forever on the hunt for the perfect classic red lipstick.
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