Very few things in life cause more stress and anxiety than uprooting your family and moving to a new city or neighborhood. Murphy’s Law, which states “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong,” had to be created by a moving company. From losing a cherished family photograph to finding an antique clock smashed into pieces, moving sucks the joy of life out of the heartiest souls.
The worst part is you have to pay for enduring the misery of moving.
Moving costs very depending on the length of a move. For example, moving across town costs much less than relocating cross country. What other factors influence the cost of relocation?
Let’s find out.
Factors that Influence Moving Costs
Moving distance plays a significant role in determining how much you can expect to pay for relocation. However, several other factors come into play to help you create a moving budget.
Moving Company vs. Moving Yourself
Hiring a moving company, whether it is for a move to the next neighborhood or for relocating from New York to San Diego, takes a huge bite out of a moving budget. You pay for expensive labor and the use of logistically advanced moving vehicles. Although you save money by handling an entire move, you have to deal with additional stress. You have to decide if the extra stress is worth moving yourself. In most cases, it is a good idea to hire a professional moving company.
When a moving company representative visits your home to present a moving cost estimate, the company bases its estimate on the combined weight of every box, crate and piece of furniture you plan to pack inside a truck. You can reduce cargo weight by holding a garage sale or donating some of your stuff to charity. Why haul an old microwave or a sofa that does not match the living room decor of your new home. Streamline your moving list to save money on a move of any distance.
Time of Year
Most moves of any distance occur during the busy season, which runs from Memorial Day until Labor Day. School is out for the summer and parents have more time to spend outside of work. The increase in demand for moving services in summer creates a pricing model that is highly favorable to moving companies. If you decide to move between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you can expect to pay more money to relocate. You also pay more to move on holidays, as well as the first and last weeks of every month.
Renting a Van or Truck
If you plan to move on a tight budget, then renting a van and/or a truck can save you money. Factors that influence what you pay for renting a van or truck include the price of fuel and the size of a vehicle. Average vehicle rental costs for relocation range between $50 and $2,000, depending on the two primary vehicle rental cost factors.
Most moving companies offer packing supplies for sale. For large scale moves that involve entire households, paying for packing supplies can substantially increase the cost of relocation. We recommend searching for free packing supplies, such as the empty boxes discarded by businesses. Moreover, some moving companies bundle the cost of packing supplies into comprehensive moving packages.
Packing and Unpacking
If you want to reduce the cost of a move, pack and unpack your possessions. Moving companies love to make additional money by charging for services you can perform yourself. In addition to saving money, packing and unpacking your most valuable items ensure your possessions arrive at the new home in one piece.
Moving Large Items
Moving large, heavy items requires extra space in a moving vehicle, as well as the labor expended by moving company employees. Movers also have to consider the physical dangers of moving heavy objects.
You can expect to pay more to move the following objects:
- Washing Machine
- Pool Table
- Swing Set
- Driving Lawn Mower
Moving a piano can set you back between $150 and $800, although the cost can soar if the movers require a crane to lift a piano. For a vehicle, you might have to hire a car transport service for up to $2,000 that specializes in moving vehicles long distances. A car transport trailer hitched to the back of one of your vehicle typically costs several hundred dollars.
Basic liability coverage for the items you move typically costs 60 cents per pound for each item covered under a policy. However, we suggest going with full protection insurance coverage. Although full protection insurance costs more than basic insurance coverage, the extra money spent is well worth the cost.
Finally, you have to account for various minor expenses that when added up, can take a large chunk out of your moving budget. For long-distance moves, you have to consider for food and lodging. Most movers also expect to receive tips for completing moves on time. Local move tips range from $10 to $40, with long distance move tips running between 10% and 20% of the total bill.
The Dollars and Cents of a Move
Hiring a moving company can cost from $25 to $50 per hour for each mover. The average cost of moving a short distance, such as across town, is between $800 and $2,000 for a four-bedroom home. If you move out of state for a distance that exceeds 1,000 miles, expect to pay about $1,000 per room or 50 cents a pound. Some moving companies calculate moving costs by charging by square feet, which averages from $12 to $16 per square foot. Remember that most movers add surcharges for performing long distance moves exceeding 100 miles.
Here’s a breakdown of the estimated costs to move under different moving scenarios:
One Bedroom Apartment : 3-5 Hours and $200-$500
Two Bedroom Apartment : 5-7 Hours and $400-$700
Three Bedroom Home : 7-10 Hours and $560-$1,000
Four Bedroom Home : More than 10 Hours and $800 to More than $2,000
Three Types of Moving Estimates
Highly rated moving companies offer in-home estimates to help customers put together a reasonable relocation budget. Although you can receive a moving cost estimate online, you risk underestimating how much you will have to pay, especially for a long distance move. You must request an in-home estimate for the moving company representative to see what you plan to move, as well as the layout of your home. Movers offer three primary types of moving estimates: Binding, non-binding, and non-binding to exceed.
A binding estimate requires you to pay the estimate made by the moving company. You pay whatever is listed on the moving contract, regardless if the cargo weight runs higher or lower than the original moving cost estimate. A binding estimate not only locks you into a price, but it also does not cover extra expenses such as a last minute decision to buy packing supplies.
You do not receive a guaranteed fixed price for a non-binding estimate, but the moving company can charge you only an extra 10% for additional products and services. Most moving contracts require customers to pay for additional expenses within 30 days of completing a move.
Not to Exceed Estimate
As the preferred method for receiving a moving cost estimate, a not to exceed estimate is based on the binding estimate or the final cost of a move. Also called a non-binding to exceed the estimate, you benefit because the amount owed is the lower price between the estimate and actual moving cost.
A Few Tips for Hiring a Mover
Start planning your move by performing extensive research into different moving companies. You want to read customer reviews, with particular attention paid to the timeliness and quality of customer service provided. Sites such as Yelp and Google present detailed customer reviews that should help you create a short list of moving company prospects. We encourage you to visit the Better Business Bureau (BBB) web page dedicated to each of the moving companies on your short list. The BBB gives ratings, as well as displays reviews provided by customers the BBB has vetted for authenticity.
You should confirm the professional credentials of any moving company under consideration. Request license numbers and verify the number of years each mover has been in business. Visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website to confirm moving company credentials. We recommend comparing at least ten moving companies that specialize in the distance you expect to move. Make sure to read the entire moving contract to avoid paying hidden fees, such as charges for moving your possessions up and down stairs. Other hidden costs to watch for include a penalty for a move taking longer than anticipated.
Finally, ask for moving company referrals from friends and family members. Word of mouth advertising still rules the marketing world in the moving industry. Besides, ask every moving company under consideration to provide at least three professional references.