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There’s nothing easy about planning an upcoming move. It can be even more frustrating when you don’t know what costs to expect. Service rates vary considerably among moving companies, and your total moving cost estimates could differ by thousands of dollars. We’ve gathered moving quotes from nine long-distance movers and have found a price range of $4,200 to $12,100.
Moving Costs for Hiring Professional Movers
Here are the costs to expect when hiring professional movers for a long-distance or local move.
The definition of a long-distance move differs among moving companies, but it’s typically a move that covers several hundred miles or more. These types of moves often require crossing state lines and entail long hours for movers.
Allied Van Lines, one of the best long-distance moving companies in our rankings, lists the average cost of an interstate move as $3,500. However, the interstate moving quotes we requested from nine of the top-ranked companies in our overall rankings averaged $7,922. Most of these quotes were for two- and three-bedroom homes.
Most moving companies consider local moves to occur within the same city or to a nearby city within the same state. These moves are typically 50 miles or less. Most local movers charge hourly rates rather than the flat fees that are common to interstate moves. Your total local moving cost will reflect the amount of time and labor needed.
International Van Lines, the top-performing moving company on our metrics, states that a local move will cost $280 per hour for a team of five movers. We used this rate to calculate a $1,400 total for a move that takes five hours from start to finish.
Moving Costs for Truck Rental
Renting a moving truck is generally cheaper than booking a moving company. This option requires you to be comfortable with a DIY move, which consists of packing, loading, and transporting your belongings on your own.
We used U-Haul’s online quote tool to get the truck rental cost for a move from Detroit to Chicago, which is about 300 miles. U-Haul quoted us $435 for a two-day rental of a 26-foot truck suitable for relocating the contents of a three-bedroom home.
This is a baseline fee that does not include gas, rental insurance, or packing supplies. To add U-Haul’s basic insurance option, which includes protection for accident damage, theft, and medical costs, there was a $48 upcharge.
Moving Cost Factors
Here are the primary cost factors that will determine the final price of your move.
A cross-country move spanning hundreds or thousands of miles requires more time and resources than a local move, which is reflected in the total cost. You should also expect to pay more for an overseas move due to the added logistical challenges, such as your mover contracting air and ocean freight for your household goods.
The size of your home and the weight of your inventory are major cost factors. Movers will charge substantially more to move a three-bedroom than a studio apartment, as more belongings results in more labor and equipment. Some companies also charge extra to move items up or down stairs.
Scheduling moving services during peak season—from April through September—will result in higher rates. Most moving companies cite summer as the busiest time of year, and you can save substantially when scheduling during the off-seasons of fall, winter, and spring. You may also pay cheaper rates when moving on a weekday as most people move on weekends.
Moving Insurance and Contents Coverage
Interstate movers provide free limited liability contents coverage and offer supplementary full-value protection for a fee. For more comprehensive coverage, you must purchase a moving insurance policy from a third-party agency.
Moving companies operate with full-service or self-service business models. Full-service movers offer professional packing services for a fee and assist with loading, transporting, and unloading your belongings. Movers also offer furniture disassembly and reassembly. Self-service movers typically cost less but require you to pack and load your belongings unassisted, often using portable shipping containers.
Many movers offer specialty services to accommodate your specific moving needs. These services incur additional costs and often involve moving large items such as pianos, pool tables, and vehicles. Other optional services include the following:
- Appliance installation
- Cleaning services
- Crating for fragile items
- Junk removal
- Specialty item relocation (such as fine artwork or antiques)
If you decline professional packing services, you will need to include packing materials in your moving budget. Some movers sell boxes, bubble wrap, tape, and other packing supplies. However, not all companies offer this service, and you may need to purchase them elsewhere.
Understanding Your Estimate
It’s important to carefully review the fine print of your moving estimate before signing the contract. This ensures you understand what additional costs are possible to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Here are a few key pieces of information to consider:
Type of move: If you requested a quote for a full-service move with professional packing assistance, your estimate will include that service in the total cost. For a self-service move that includes packing materials, many moving companies will detail the costs for crates and boxes.
Logistics: Your estimate should include potential add-on fees for shuttling boxes, climbing multiple flights of stairs, using elevators, and encountering other logistical issues that add to moving labor.
Add-on services: Some movers will include add-on fees for optional services, such as storage, expedited shipping, and vehicle shipping.
Discounts: If you schedule your move well in advance or agree to a flexible pick-up date, some movers may discount the cost of your move. The mover will typically cite these discounts near the top of your estimate.
Contents coverage: You should find information about contents coverage toward the bottom of your estimate. All interstate movers offer free basic liability coverage that provides reimbursement of 60 cents per pound per article. You will also find the total cost and details for full value protection.
We recommend requesting moving quotes from three providers. Then, compare the estimates to see how the pricing structures differ among the moving companies. Remember to read the fine print about potential add-on fees. Some movers host moving cost calculators on their websites that allow you to roughly estimate a price range based on your move details.
Average Cost of Movers FAQ
How do you find a reputable mover?
To find a reputable mover, we recommend checking the moving company’s license and insurance information on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website. Also, read through customer reviews on third-party websites, such as Google and TrustPilot, to understand the customer experience.
Can I negotiate pricing with movers?
Some movers are open to negotiation and may offer price-matching policies. We recommend requesting at least three quotes from different providers.
Is it cheaper to rent a moving truck?
It’s often cheaper to rent a moving truck than hire full-service movers, but this will substantially increase the time and effort required to plan and execute your move. You, a family member, or a friend must also be comfortable driving a large and loaded moving truck to your destination.
How We Chose the Top Moving Companies
We researched and analyzed dozens of full- and self-service moving companies and formulated a moving review methodology based on a number of factors, including package options, pricing, and reputation. We also identified customer pain points based on customer-review analysis, proprietary consumer surveys, and interviews with former and current moving professionals.
Speaking directly to a representative at each company, we determined the number of package options available, the coverage provided, the types of moves available (long-distance, local, and international), and any extra perks offered, such as mobile apps, moving checklists, and 24/7 customer service.
We also gathered pricing data from each of the companies and determined whether they provide ballpark estimates or binding quotes. To determine reputation, we evaluated companies based on their rating with the Better Business Bureau as well as their overall score on Yelp.