It's a bit of an understatement to say that moving is stressful. Not only does it require a lot of organization and commitment, but it's time-consuming, complicated to manage and often involves back-breaking work.
Although you may save money by packing and moving everything yourself, hiring movers to do the heavy lifting can save you a lot of stress during the whole process, making the extra cost completely worth it.
Hiring professional movers is a good idea because you can customize the service for your specific needs. You decide whether they do it all — pack, load the truck, drive over and unload at your new place — or do just a little. Figuring out what you want is part of what makes using movers complicated. There are so many factors involved in moving, and each impacts how much hiring professional movers will cost.
To get a better handle on how much do movers cost, we've simplified and explained some of the primary considerations that can affect your moving bill.
The first thing to consider is the distance of your move. Moving across state lines is considerably more expensive than moving the next town over. Likewise, moving a studio apartment is cheaper than packing up and relocating a four-bedroom house.
This all may not feel so transparent if you're moving between large cities since the cost of hiring movers changes based on relocation trends in where you're leaving and your future hometown. Logic may dictate that moving between San Francisco and Austin, TX, should cost the same, regardless of which direction your move is going.
Things aren't that simple. It turns out a lot of people move to Austin from San Francisco, but the reverse isn't as true. This is when the theory of “supply and demand" intervenes, varying the cost of moving your possessions the 1,800 miles between cities by hundreds of dollars depending on which way you're going.
That being said, the only general rule to know when it comes to moving is you'll spend about twice as much for a long-distance move as you would for a local one. For instance, according to CORD, a moving company located in Missouri, the average cost for an in-state move is about $2,300. “This includes four movers at an hourly rate of $200, based on an average weight of 7,400 pounds." For the same move out-of-state, at a distance of 1,225 miles, the cost of the move increases to about $4,300.
An online moving calculator is a great tool to help estimate cost ranges to hire movers between popular cities.
Most moves fall into one of two categories — intrastate and interstate. There are different sets of regulations and oversight agencies governing these two types, which is important to keep in mind when considering the company you hire and the costs involved.
Regardless of distance, the expense of hiring a moving company varies based on a wide variety of factors. While it's good to know the ballpark range to move a home your size, it's also important to remember those extras that add up quickly.
If you're moving locally, Home Advisor says it can cost you:
If your move is long-distance, the cost is often calculated by the weight of what's being moved. This equates to about $0.70 per pound of goods for every 1,000 miles according to Joshua Green from My Moving Reviews. This doesn't include any additional fees, but you can calculate a general cost using an average weight in household goods within homes of varying sizes:
While factoring in your basic moving costs, it's a good idea to think about a tip. This is cash you should have on hand the day of the move, so you need to prepare in advance. Whether you're moving 10 or 1,000 miles, if all your stuff arrives safely and in a timely manner, give those movers a tip.
“As a guideline, you should tip your movers between 15–20 percent of the total cost of the move for large moves and 5–10 percent for smaller, cross-town moves," says Jonathan Trout from Consumer Affairs. “This lump sum is then split among the movers on the crew."
The next thing to consider as far as the overall cost is what type of move you need. The average costs above don't include additional services you can pay movers to do, like those associated with a full-service move.
In this instance, movers will pack up your household items safely and securely in boxes, load the boxes and your furniture onto their truck and move them into your new home. As you can imagine, packing everything up takes some time, so you should expect the move to take longer and cost more.
You can also pay your movers to unpack in your new home and put everything away. The unpacking service is typically charged by the hour. “At $25-$50 an hour per mover, you can expect to pay at least $400 additional in hourly costs to pack and unpack your home," according to Home Advisor, but this rate varies greatly based on the amount of stuff you have.
The above numbers give you your base, taking into account what type of move you want and how far away your move will take you, but there's so much more to potentially bump up costs. The real question of how much do movers cost can only accurately be estimated when you factor in the additional fees your move requires.
This occurs mainly during local moves when the moving company decides you need more than two men to complete your move. It's around $25-$50 per person for an extra mover.
For long-distance moves, it's always helpful to know for certain when your stuff will arrive. This typically comes with an extra cost, especially if you've requested a rush delivery.
When movers carry items up or down a flight of stairs, there's usually an extra charge per flight.
Even with an in-house elevator, you can still pay an extra fee for movers to take stuff up and down in it.
Moving large appliances like washers and dryers, refrigerators or dishwashers can come with a fee. The good part is that may also include installation at your new home.
When the distance from your front door to the moving truck is longer than normal, expect to pay extra. Ask your movers what their max distance is before they begin charging, and then measure for yourself so you know in advance what to expect.
If your stuff arrives before your new house is ready, you'll most likely have to pay a storage in transit (SIT) fee to cover the time the movers store your items before they can go into your home.
While these are the most commonly encountered extras for a move, they're by no means the only ones you can get asked to pay. When evaluating quotes from movers, don't forget to ask about additional fees. You may end up lowering your moving costs by making slight adjustments to your plans to dodge some of these extras.
The timing of your move can also make a big difference in how much you'll pay. There are more expensive times of the year, parts of each month and even days of the week you can try to avoid to save a little cash.
For the cheapest move, consider moving in the middle of the week, mid-month, during the winter. If you can't pull this off, prepare to spend a little more.
Don't get too comfortable once you've secured movers and finalized costs for your actual move. There are still more things to factor in to get a complete picture of what this move is going to cost you.
It's not a surprise that the cost of packing supplies adds up fast. You'll need moving boxes, paper/bubble wrap, packing tape and markers for labeling. Some moving companies sell these supplies, but you can usually find them for less on your own.
A full-service moving company provides these materials, but otherwise, you're on your own. Whether you score used boxes or find a deal on packing tape (don't buy the super cheap stuff), this packing calculator can help give you an idea of this particular cost.
The good news is that interstate moving companies must provide basic liability insurance for every out-of-state move. The bad news is that federal law only requires moving companies to pay you about $0.60 per pound of the stuff they damage during a move.
For context, if a mover spilled water on your 13-inch MacBook Pro, they'd owe you $1.80, per insurance. In short, basic liability doesn't cover the cost of replacing pretty much anything if damaged.
Adding supplemental moving insurance can fill in the gap. Make sure you do your research and really think about your needs. You can work with your existing renters insurance agent or your moving company may recommend an affiliate company.
If you're moving any extra-large or extremely fragile items, you may need to hire an additional, specialty moving company. Items like pianos, swing sets, cars, motorcycles and more all require movers with a special experience.
Some moving companies can provide specialty moving services, but others may not be able to accommodate you. In those cases, you'll need to hire someone special to care for your items.
The very last few costs are all the ones that seem to show up as a surprise. They may seem small at first glance, but often add up fast. These expenses include:
Tabulating cost is a major component for ensuring you can afford your move, but there are a few remaining tips to help guarantee you're getting the best deal:
Knowing what to look for and what to plan for when working on moving will help you keep track of costs and adhere to a budget as best as possible. While moving costs are hard to completely estimate, since they differ from person to person, if you're careful in your choices, you'll reduce the risk of surprises.