Moving costs can throw a wrench in your budget if you don’t know what to expect. Luckily, there are straightforward ways to estimate how much it’s going to cost you to pack up and move out.
Learn how to consider moving costs in a few different ways with these tips.
Estimate moving costs like the pros do
You may have noticed that professional movers and rental truck companies typically give out moving estimates based on two factors: time and weight.
Local and residential movers typically charge by the hour, so time is the most important factor when they estimate moving costs. For a local move, companies tally up the distance they’ll drive between your old apartment and the new one. They’ll factor in that travel time along with the number of work hours it will take for their staff to load and unload your stuff, based on the number of rooms you report you’ll need to be moved.
These movers usually have a minimum, often an amount equal to two hours’ charges. Even if your move doesn’t take that long, you’re usually on the hook for at least that much money. Hourly rates may be as little as $80 an hour and go up depending on the size of the metro area where you live and the number of workers needed for the job.
When it comes to a longer move – say, across the country — it would be unrealistic for moving companies to charge by the hour. So for long distance moves, the professionals usually estimate moving costs by weight. For these types of moves, a representative from a moving company visits your apartment and walks through your place, providing you with a written estimate of approximately how heavy he thinks all of your furniture and boxes will be. Once your truck is packed on moving day, the entire truck gets weighed on a certified scale. The true weight of your truck determines the final amount you’ll owe movers.
Estimating costs by weight may sound like an inexact art, but there’s actually a pretty easy formula pro movers use to determine how heavy your stuff will be. You can use a moving calculator to see how it works.
If you go this route, be sure to get more than one estimate to compare how competing companies calculate the weight of your items. Inquire whether the truck load will be weighed at the beginning of the trip (origin weighing) or at the end (destination weighing). Take some time to research any moving company you consider, and keep in mind that you shouldn’t necessarily go with the company that offers the lowest estimate.
You might consult the U.S. DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website for detailed information about moving regulations. The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) also offers great advice on understanding the professional moving process.
Also, don’t forget that the cost of a professional mover goes up if you hire the company to pack and unpack your belongings, or if you purchase packing supplies directly from them. To help you make up your mind, companies should provide you with a charge schedule for these services in advance, as well.
Estimating DIY moving costs
What if you’re not using a professional mover? No problem. You can still plan for your moving costs by thinking about the following:
• Transportation costs: If you’re moving yourself, you may opt to rent a truck. Besides the truck rental fee, don’t forget you will also have to pay for gas, plus additional insurance if your auto policy doesn’t provide coverage. Your rental truck company can likely provide you with an estimate of fuel costs, or charge a fuel fee to return the truck without filling it up. Consider that, for a longer trip, you will be paying for food and lodging, as well.
• Packing supplies: Boxes, bubble wrap, tape, and movers’ plastic can all get pricey, depending on where you purchase them and how much you need. But these important tools are necessary for safeguarding your stuff. Go through your apartment and think about how many boxes you’ll need and which supplies are necessary, such as special boxes for electronics or fragile items, for instance. Consider buying convenient box kits from U-Haul or home improvement stores to save some time and money.
In general, whether you hire pros or do it all yourself, the more stuff you have and the longer the distance you’re moving, the more you’re going to spend on a move. Being realistic and planning ahead for the costs of a move, however, can help you maintain a budget.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Lisa S.