When planning any relocation, an important initial step in the moving process will be to set a budget. Average costs will vary based on home size, time of year, your moving company of choice, how many add-on services you need, and more. Here, we’ve outlined all the relevant factors you should look out for, along with the cost of hiring full-service movers versus doing the job yourself. If you’re looking to hire one of the best moving companies available, you’re sure to pay a premium price, but you’ll be afforded more stability throughout the process but bear in mind there are also affordable moving companies that are reliable enough to get you through your move.
Average Moving Costs
The average costs we’ve outlined here are for full-service moving companies, rendering varied additional services, including:
- Lifting of heavy items
- Crating for specialty items or antiques
- Packing services
- And more
|1 BR||2 BR||3 BR||4 BR|
Your total cost will depend on your home size, the number of add-ons you require, and which professional moving company you ultimately hire. Be sure to get free quotes before booking with any mover. Bear in mind that no estimate is valid without a visual component. This could mean an in-person consultation or a virtual quote via video call.
Factors and Moving Costs to Consider
When setting a moving budget, you’ll have to take a range of influencing factors into account. Being fully aware of all of these will greatly help to reduce your hassle and stress on moving day.
Local vs. Long-Distance
- Local Moving: Local moving costs are typically calculated using hourly rates. Minimum charges could play a factor for smaller cross-town moves. For both labor and local service, many movers will charge a two to a four-hour minimum fee for service. This means that, no matter how little work your movers do, you’ll be on the hook for the minimum fee once they’ve moved anything.
- Long-Distance Moving: Long-distance moving costs are calculated using move distance and shipment weight. Line-haul fees like this are fairly set in stone, with moving companies often having set processes for weighing trucks in after loading. For such long moves, your added services will often come with added flat fees. For instance, a long-distance move from New York to San Francisco will come at a high cost, which could exceed $10,000 in some cases.
The size of your home and the ease of access provided to your front door will influence your costs. For one, the size of your home will directly influence the amount of labor that will go into your move. If yours is a long-distance move, you’ll also see increased costs for the higher total weight of your shipment.
Ease of Access
Movers tend to charge flat fees for long carries to a residence. If your old or new homes require a walk of more than 75 feet (the cutoff for most movers), you’ll likely be billed a flat long-carry fee for convenience.
Moving Truck Rental vs. Full-Service
A DIY move will cost far less than a full-service relocation from a professional mover. Rental truck rates vary depending on the vendor you use and your rental period. The most commonly referenced and used truck rental firm, U-Haul, charges per mile, daily rental, insurance, and one-way move fees for longer moves.
Beginning at around $150 for a smaller local move, here are some of the average associated costs of DIY moving, from local to cross-country moves.
Moving Pod Rental Costs
Renting a mobile storage unit or moving container is a solid intermediate option between a DIY move and full-service relocation. The price range for such relocations most commonly falls between $600 and $1,600 for one to two-bedroom homes moving locally. Larger homes traveling a greater distance will typically cost between $2,000 and $5,000.
Regardless of your move’s distance, you’ll have to provide for your own labor. Most storage container companies or storage facilities will have some helpful resources for hiring labor from a third-party operator in your area if you require this kind of help.
The following figures are average costs from U-Pack:
|<250 mi||500 mi||1,000 mi||2,000 mi|
|2 BR||$600 – $1,600||$1,200 – $2,200||$1,600 – $2,600||$2,100 – $3,100|
|4 BR||$800 – $1,800||$1,800 – $2,800||$2,800 – $3,800||$4,100 – $5,100|
Professional Mover and Labor Costs
Moving labor comes with its own associated costs. You’ll have to be aware of this if you’re hiring labor to handle the physical side of a moving container relocation or if you need help packing or moving items within your home.
Moving labor companies will often have similar minimum charges to those discussed above. However, moving labor costs will be far lower than hourly fees for full-service movers. Your labor assistance from a local mover will likely cost between $35 and $50 per mover per hour. Labor costs and demand in certain areas can lead to increases beyond this range, but you should feel comfortable using this as a guidepost.
Want to avoid the cost of labor? Read our guide to cheapest moving truck rental and do the move yourself.
Packing / Unpacking Costs
Packing costs will have an average range between $300 and $2,000. The lower end of this range accounts for two movers working for a three-hour minimum timeframe at a rate of $50 per hour per worker.
Your costs will fluctuate depending on how much you need packed. Packing a four-bedroom house will greatly differ in cost from packing a home office.
How Much to Tip a Mover?
Tipping is never required, and your movers will not ask about one during a move or during the final billing process. However, it can be a great way to show appreciation for a job well done. Especially if your movers have to carry out a number of special requests, you may want to budget for this along with the basic cost of your move.
- Local moves: $5 per mover, per hour
- Long-distance moves: $40 to $45 per mover, per day on the road
Cost of Moving Supplies
Moving and packing supplies will have varied costs, depending on your exact location and the scope of supplies you’ll need. Here, we’ve listed some sample costs for some commonly-used packing supplies:
- Moving Boxes
- Small boxes: $1 to $2 each
- Medium boxes: $2 to $3 each
- Large and XL boxes: $3.50 and up
- Wardrobe boxes: $12 to $18 each
- Moving tape: $8 to $10 for a pack of 6, 60-yard rolls
- Packing paper: $10 to $20 for a pack of 200 sheets
- Mattress bags: $8 to $15 each
Time of Year
Moving season peaks between May and September. You’ll have to contend with increased demand at this time, which could lead to scarcer availability and increased rates for your preferred moving companies.
If your moving date falls around the first or last of the month or on a weekend, you may at least
experience some difficulty booking, which could further inconvenience you if you wait until the last minute to do so.
Moving Insurance Costs
All movers include released liability coverage in the base price of a move. This covers your household goods at a rate of $0.60 per pound per item in case of loss or damage.
Most movers will provide some kind of valuation coverage at an added cost. Depending on the declared value of your goods, this additional cost could be fairly noticeable on your final billing statement. Full value coverage for goods will usually cost between 1% and 2% of the goods’ total value. For example, if you declare your goods’ value to be $50,000, you’ll pay $750 extra for full coverage.
Some movers will provide specialty coverages for single fragile items, antiques, or heirlooms, which you should ask about depending on your move.
Moving Large Items, Pets, Cars, Etc
Some van lines and long-distance moving companies will offer specialty shipping services for odd items, like cars, jacuzzis, pool tables, and even pets. Depending on your mover of choice, this could be listed as part of your moving cost or as a separate line item during your moving quote. Here are some sample rates for specialty items from uShip — a broker who specializes in contracting out odd shipping tasks to local and long-distance movers.
|Less than 2,000 lbs of household goods||2,082 miles||$1,720|
|2017 Honda Accord||2,082 miles||$1,220|
|Baby grand piano (550 lbs)||1,278 miles||$1,391|
|Two-bedroom move||1,278 miles||$3,162|
Money Saving Tips for Moving
You should check out our full breakdown of money-saving tactics as well, but we’ve listed a few of the more prominent tasks you can add to your moving checklist in order to have a cheaper move here. Moving expenses will put a dent in most people’s savings, but they don’t have to totally break the bank.
Have a Yard Sale
Excess goods can accumulate fairly quickly in your home as a homeowner or even a renter. Whether you have a one-bedroom apartment or a five-bedroom house, downsizing can lower your average cost of moving and make for a much smoother process.
Once you’ve taken inventory of all the goods you plan on taking with you, you should make a list of goods you’ll get rid of. Those suitable for resale or giveaway should be dealt with through a yard sale or online marketplaces like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Beyond that, local dumps typically accept most household refuse.
Do Your Own Packing
Simply put, movers cost money; whether they’re handling all the heavy lifting or just packing a single room within a three-bedroom home, you’ll be on the hook for labor costs. Packing your own home can cut your moving costs down by more than half in some cases.
Get a Binding Estimate
Most movers will be able to give you some kind of binding, written estimate for your move. This is mostly true for long-distance movers and van lines but can be said of local moving companies as well. Getting a binding estimate will grant you some added peace of mind on moving day. Movers are not allowed to go beyond a binding estimate figure by more than 10% of your inventory, and service requirements remain unchanged between getting a quote and your move.
Try to Move During Non-Peak Months
Though moving cost calculators displayed on some movers’ websites won’t account for seasonality, planning your move for off-peak times is the way to go. If you’re lucky enough to have that much control over your move date, then an autumn or early spring move could be ideal. For the pros and cons of moving during any time of year, our guide can be of some assistance.
Be Mindful of Banned Items
Most moving companies have set lists of banned items. These will always include the following:
- Flammable chemicals
- Fuel sources (oil or gasoline)
- Toxic cleaning chemicals
- Live plants
- Compressed gas cylinders
- Live animals
Most movers will have their own unique lists but being mindful of these will save time (and money) on moving day. Being fully aware of your rights and responsibilities ahead of a move will be incredibly important to have a successful relocation.
Prove Proper Registration
Having movers who are properly registered and legal operators will save you money in the long term. Such movers will have all necessary licensing from the FMCSA (including a USDOT and MC number) and home state and will have the needed insurance to cover you in case of damage to your goods.