Best Moving Companies in California (2023)

By Sean Donnelly

Nov 03, 2023
Furniture, belongings and moving boxes in a bright window lighted room

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The moving experience is stressful enough. Add in traffic around Los Angeles or San Francisco, and it just might drive you mad. Why not let a professional mover handle the strain? Whether your California move is cross-town or cross-country, a professional moving service can make the process simpler and stress-free.

We have researched and ranked the best moving companies by simulating quote processes, speaking to company representatives, and conducting analysis of hundreds of customer reviews.

The 10 Best Movers in California

Through rigorous research, we have identified the following seven companies as the top moving companies in California and created this guide to help you select the best provider based on service options and reputation.

International Van Lines: Best Overall Mover

Fast Facts: 

What We Like: International Van Lines (IVL) was founded as an international logistics company in 2000 and continues to specialize in global relocation services. It helps with moves in 180 countries, which is more than any other provider on this list. 

While many moving companies outsource international moves, IVL acts as the single point of contact and direct carrier. It provides in-house assistance with full-service options like packing and loading, as well as ocean or air freight transportation. Though International Van Lines specializes in international moves, it also provides domestic moving services for both local and interstate moves.

Cost: IVL’s moving calculator tool provided us with a ballpark quote of $4,200 to $6,150 to move a three-bedroom home from Los Angeles to San Diego. That same move would cost between $6,000 and $8,700 for a four-bedroom home, and it would cost $7,200 to $11,250 for a five-bedroom home.

Since the contents of homes can vary widely, so do these ballpark prices. IVL can provide a more precise binding estimate once you complete an online quote form and in-home or virtual survey with a customer service representative.

IVL accepts payment in the form of credit card, cash, check, or money order and requires a 25% deposit to lock in your moving date.

Services: IVL offers a complete list of standard moving services, as well as a variety of add-on services, such as vehicle transportation, custom crating, junk removal, and short-term and long-term storage options. IVL is also a great option if your move requires ocean or air freight transportation.

Read More: International Van Lines Review

American Van Lines

Fast Facts: 

What We Like: American Van Lines (AVL) is a great option if you are looking to transport difficult items like musical instruments, recreational equipment, and valuable artwork. AVL focuses on hiring and retaining full-time, experienced moving crews that can expertly pack, load, and transport items that require special handling. 

The company claims its movers have an average of 10 years of experience, which it enhances through ongoing training at company-owned facilities. This training includes instruction on safely moving fine art, priceless antiques, or other high-value items.

Cost: American Van Lines works only with binding estimates for flat-rate, accurate pricing. In order to provide this pricing, AVL requires you to conduct either an in-person or virtual survey of your home and inventory. However, the company’s online moving cost page estimates that moving a four-bedroom home (about 14,000 pounds) from Los Angeles to Austin would cost around $10,321.

AVL accepts cash, credit cards, and checks. It also offers price-matching. Required deposits vary and may be as much as 50% of your total moving cost.

Services: In addition to standard partial-service and full-service moving packages, American Van Lines also offers a wide selection of add-on services, including long-term and short-term storage, custom crating, and vehicle shipping.

Read More: American Van Lines Review

Interstate Moving & Relocation Group

Fast Facts: 

What We Like: Interstate Moving & Relocation Group (IMRG) partners with self- and full-service moving companies, operating its business with broker authority. This means that IMRG cannot legally conduct moving services, but it will negotiate among professional movers in your area to find the right fit for planning your move.

This has some natural drawbacks due to varying levels of reliability  and customer service among different moving companies. However, booking through a broker can yield a wider selection of specialty services. IMRG also takes steps to educate its customers on its website, providing guides for moving to several cities that will make your move planning easier.

Cost: When you request a quote from IMRG, the company will provide a binding estimate based on details about your inventory and the distance of your move. You will need to specify whether you need boxes for self-packing or if you intend to schedule a full-service move. Using IMRG’s online moving calculator, we generated a quote of $3,900 to $7,000 for moving the contents a three-bedroom home from Los Angeles to Seattle. 

IMRG accepts credit card, money order, check, and cash for payment. You will have to pay an up-front deposit when signing the contract to schedule your move. 

Services: IMRG’s partners offer comprehensive packing and loading services in addition to transporting your household goods. You can also request a number of different specialty services, including long-and short-term storage options, vehicle shipping, and piano moving.

Read More: Interstate Moving & Relocation Group Review

Moving APT

Fast Facts: 

What We Like: Moving APT is another authorized moving broker on our list, outsourcing services to a partner network of more than 2,000 agents. This is great for scheduling last-minute moves, providing you with alternative options when an individual moving carrier is unavailable in your area of the country. 

Moving brokers do not perform moving services in-house and may work with partners with varying degrees of reputability. However, one quality of Moving APT that we find notable is that the company connects its clients to its partners directly. This means that you will know exactly which company will handle your services, giving you an opportunity to research, plan, and ask questions as necessary before booking.

Cost: Using Moving APT’s online calculator, we received a rough estimate of $3,750 to $8,250 for moving from Los Angeles to Phoenix. This estimate was for a three-bedroom home. Your actual binding estimate through Moving APT will factor in the services you request and other key details of your move, such as the mileage.

Moving APT requires a deposit and a booking fee when you confirm your moving services. Accepted payment options will vary among its partners. 

Services: Full-service and self-service options are available when booking through Moving APT, with its full-service partners offering comprehensive packing assistance. Moving APT can coordinate numerous specialty services, and it can set you up with local, long-distance, and international movers.

Read More: Moving APT Review

Safeway Moving Inc.

Fast Facts: 

What We Like: Safeway Moving Inc. conducts a majority of services with its own trucks and crews, with regional offices strategically located in Florida, New Jersey, and Indiana. It does outsource to vetted partners when necessary during busier times of the year and for some locations. 

Moving to a neighborhood under the authority of a condo or homeowners association requires adherence to specific rules, and it’s important to choose a mover that will comply. Safeway has substantial experience with these types of moves to help ensure your peace of mind when booking moving services. The company also has experience moving senior citizens and claims to provide extra support for seniors seeking relocation services.

Cost: You can fill out an inventory sheet, request a video survey, or an in-home consultation to receive your binding estimate through Safeway. We received a quote of $9,586 for a move of approximately 800 miles, which is nearly the distance between Los Angeles and Boise, Idaho. This quote was for a three-bedroom home.   

Safeway requires a 40% deposit to schedule your move after you receive your quote. You can pay your moving cost with cash, certified check, money order, or credit card.  

Services: Safeway is a full-service moving company that includes packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking assistance in its standard service package. Storage solutions are available for an additional fee, with one free month included for temporary storage. The company offers long-distance and international moving services.

Read More: Safeway Moving Inc. Review


JK Moving Services

Fast Facts: 

What We Like: JK Moving Services assigns each of its full-service moving customers a personal moving coordinator, who provides a direct line of communication with the company. 

In addition to this personalized attention, JK Moving’s full-replacement coverage option offers financial peace of mind if you have high-value—but potentially lightweight—items. As part of every full-service move, a moving coordinator will work with you to determine the approximate value of your belongings, regardless of their weight. This is the amount JK Moving will reimburse you if items are broken, damaged, lost, or stolen during transport; it’s not a flat rate based on weight. 

Cost: Working with a JK Moving representative, we were able to get a ballpark moving quote of $7,500 to move the contents of a two-bedroom home 750 miles in mid-April. This is approximately the distance from Phoenix to Sacramento. This quote includes packing, furniture disassembly, wrapping and padding, loading, and unloading for all household items, as well as full-replacement coverage.

However, JK Moving requires an in-person or virtual walk-through to provide you with a binding estimate of moving costs for larger homes. During the walk-through process, a JK Moving representative will assess your home and household items to identify difficult access points and any potentially hard-to-move pieces, such as a Peloton, pool table, or bulky furniture. Your binding estimate is the actual amount you can expect to pay come moving day with no surprise or hidden fees.

JK Moving accepts credit cards, cash, and checks. It requires a $250 deposit to lock in a moving date.

Services: Standard full-service offerings include packing, furniture disassembly, wrapping and padding, loading, transportation, unloading, and unpacking of all household items. Add-on services include vehicle relocation, custom crating of precious artwork and specialty electronics, and the handling of difficult items like pianos, grandfather clocks, and one-of-a-kind antiques.

You’ll also have access to a user-friendly mobile app to add or change services, make payments, and check on the status of their items while they’re in transit.

Read More: JK Moving Services Review

Fast Facts: 

What We Like: North American Van Lines (NAVL) holds more than 85 years of moving experience and has an extensive network of more than 500 local movers. Though NAVL holds the proper licenses to handle your California move using its own moving trucks and labor, logistics may cause the company to outsource your move to one of its partners.

In this case, NAVL will arrange for a local moving company to provide the services you need. Partner moves are coordinated and backed by NAVL, which means you’ll still have access to all of the company’s full-service offerings, add-ons, and online moving resources. 

Cost: We used NAVL’s online tool to generate a free quote to move a three-bedroom home from Seattle to San Francisco in late March for $7,197 to $7,950. This ballpark (not binding) quote includes packing, loading, transportation, unloading, and unpacking, as well as GPS tracking and basic carrier liability coverage at 60 cents per pound per item.

If your home has four or more bedrooms, NAVL will provide a binding estimate once you complete an in-person or virtual assessment of your home. During this process, you will need to itemize your inventory and identify any current household items you aren’t planning to take with you. This allows the company to send the right number of movers for your big job and prepare them in advance with any necessary tools and equipment.

North American Van Lines accepts cash, credit cards, and certified checks. The company does not require up-front deposits.

Services: In addition to standard full-service options, NAVL offers the unique option to disconnect, transport, and reconnect your major appliances. Additional services include vehicle shipping for your car, truck, SUV, van, or boat, as well as short- and long-term storage and crating fragile, rare, expensive, and extremely large pieces for extra protection during transit.

One noteworthy resource is the company’s user-friendly smartphone app that allows you to create a digital inventory of your items, store important moving documents, and conduct a virtual home survey.

Read More: North American Van Lines Review

Allied Van Lines

Fast Facts: 

What We Like: Founded in 1928, Allied Van Lines is the most experienced provider on our list. The company focuses on customer experience and provides a personal moving agent to facilitate a white-glove California move. Allied’s moving app helps you conduct virtual surveys, make a digital inventory, and store your documents.

Cost: Using Allied Van Lines’ online moving calculator, we received a ballpark moving quote for a three-bedroom home moving from San Francisco to Seattle in early July for $8,215 to $9,078. This quote includes packing and unpacking services, as well as loading, transportation, unloading, GPS tracking, basic carrier liability coverage, and associated fuel and toll costs.

Allied Van Lines does not offer an online or phone estimate for homes larger than three bedrooms, but will provide a binding estimate after an in-person or virtual home survey. A moving quote specialist will review the layout of your house and your inventory. They’ll also consider factors such as the overall distance, size/weight of your shipment, and date of your move to determine your total cost.

Allied accepts cash, credit cards, and certified checks. The company doesn’t require an up-front deposit.

Services: In addition to its standard full-service offerings, the company provides specialty services and crating for difficult items like pianos, recreational equipment, and artwork. Allied also has partial-service options, such as fragile-only packing services. Fragile-only packing may be helpful for those who prefer to handle the bulk of their own packing but want some assistance with breakable or valuable items like antiques and heirlooms.

If you’re moving your student to college and don’t need a large moving truck, Allied Van Lines has its own moving-and-storage container service called Allied Express, which comes with a two-to-four-member moving crew to help you load and unload your items.

Read More: Allied Van Lines Review


Fast Facts:

What We Like: Best Overall Mover for a self-service California mover, 1-800-PACK-RAT is a great option for anyone with a smaller number of items to move. The company provides a selection of waterproof steel portable storage containers that it delivers directly to your origin point. You load your items at your own pace within a 30-day rental period, and once you are ready, PACK-RAT picks up the containers and delivers them to your new home.  

Providing plenty of support on its website for its DIY customers.1-800-PACK-RAT offers online tools and resources including how-to videos, a space calculator, checklists, location guides, and a weight calculator. Though it primarily focuses on helping you do the work yourself, 1-800-PACK-RAT offers third-party assistance with loading and unloading through HireAHelper. 

Cost: The company offers flat-rate pricing based on the number of containers and time you require. One of its 16-foot containers holds up to 6,000 pounds, which is about two or three rooms of inventory. A single container going from Los Angeles to San Francisco costs $3,025 for drop-off and pick-up of the container at your current address, transportation to your new home, a security lock, and contents protection coverage of up to $10,000 on your items.

You can add more containers to your order for a similar price per container, and you may also extend the rental period for a flat-rate fee, which this quote has at $​​298 per container. The 1-800-PACK-RAT representative we spoke to during our quote process also mentioned that the company is willing to price-match with competitors offering a similar service. You pay for services via credit card on its online portal, My PackRat.

Services: PACK-RAT offers 8-foot and 16-foot containers for long-distance moves and an additional option of a 12-foot container for local moves. The company also provides vehicle relocation services via third-party partners Mr. Car Shipper and Reindeer Auto. You may also receive packing and loading assistance through the company’s partnership with HireAHelper depending on your location.

Read More: 1-800-PACK-RAT Review


Fast Facts:

What We Like: Unlike a traditional moving company, uShip is an online platform where customers connect directly to more than 800,000 shippers to get help transporting vehicles, appliances, or other large, one-off items. You create a profile on the uShip platform and post shipping job requests online. After uShip recommends shippers with positive customer reviews that can complete the job, you can accept the bid from the shipper that best fits your needs.

A user-friendly uShip mobile app lets you track your shipment via GPS, post and accept jobs, and contact your shipper. During our analysis of 100 recent customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), we noted that many customers appreciated how quick and easy it was to list and book a shipment through uShip. Customers also appreciated that uShip provides step-by-step instructions for all its processes. 

Cost: The bid that you accept acts as a binding estimate. Because uShip coordinates the process of working with third-party providers, your total price will include both your accepted bid amount and the company’s service fee. All major credit cards are accepted for payment.

Through uShip’s website, we calculated moving a 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport from Los Angeles to San Francisco would cost a ballpark price of $422. This is for enclosed transport in mid-June.

Services: The company’s flagship service is its vehicle relocation option, which uses both open and enclosed carriers. Enclosed carriers provide protection from the elements and are an excellent option if you need to move a rare, classic, or high-value vehicle.

Read More: uShip Review

Our Recommendation

Our top recommended California mover is International Van Lines, which has extensive experience with air and ocean freight shipments. American Van Lines is also great for long-distance moves and relocating your most high-end items. Another strong choice is Interstate Moving & Relocation Group for tracking down specialty services in any United States city.

However, we suggest that you request quotes from at least three top moving companies to get a more accurate understanding of the services they provide and whether they will meet your needs.


FAQ about California Moving Companies

How are moving companies regulated in California?

Moving companies in California are licensed and regulated by the Bureau of Household Goods and Services. Reputable, authorized movers will have a licensing number that is easily searchable on that government website.

What factors affect the cost of a California move?

If you have an interstate move into or out of California, the bulk of your cost will be based on the size, distance, and weight of your move. Other factors include, size of your moving crew, hours worked by the moving crew, time of year you are moving, special handling of large and/or fragile items, your home’s layout and any difficult access points (narrow hallways, steep staircases, etc.), any applicable toll and fuel charges.If you’re moving within the state, the bulk of your cost will be based on the number of movers required and hours worked.

How should I prepare for my California move?

There are multiple steps to take to prepare for your California move:
– Prepare your inventory list, making note of fragile and high-value items that will need extra care.
– Research moving companies and obtain multiple estimates in writing to compare costs.
– Determine if you will also need storage solutions.
– If you are moving cross-country and planning to drive, have your vehicle serviced to prevent a breakdown along the way.
– Declutter your home.
– Donate items you can’t pack or sell.
– Arrange for junk hauling if necessary.
– Gather all important documents—such as birth certificates, passports, financial, legal, and medical records—and pack them in a safe place to carry on your person during your move.
– Update your voter registration, vehicle registration and insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, and pet registration.
– Notify important organizations (including the U.S. Postal Service), friends, and family about your relocation.

How We Chose the Top Moving Companies in California

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.