How Much Does It Cost to Move?

Little car with all house possessions on the roof

When it comes to determining moving costs, there are many factors to take into consideration. In addition to distance and just how much “stuff” you have to move, there is the cost of labor, packing, packing materials, and insurance — not to mention the time and effort required.

Who you hire for your move is one way to save. If you’re moving across town from an apartment to your first home, you might rent a truck, order some pizzas, and ask friends to help you load and unload. If you’re moving from one house on the east coast to another in Southern California, you’ll want a national mover with interstate experience for the job. Here’s a list of moving costs to consider as you plan your move.

Moving Costs to Consider

  • When you move. One way to save is by avoiding beginning or end-of-month moves. You also want to avoid moves in May and December when students across the country are moving in or out of dorms.
  • Truck rental. If you’re moving in town you’ll need a truck that can accommodate the number of rooms you’re moving. Make sure it’s a vehicle you’re comfortable maneuvering and will be able park easily to load and unload.
  • Distance, weight, and labor. When it comes to interstate moves these are the three most important factors in determining the total cost of your move. Local and even some regional movers may use the number of rooms as opposed to weight, but distance and labor costs are standard.
  • Packing and packing materials. If you’ve got the money to spend, moving companies will wrap, pack, and load your entire house. If not you’ll want to factor in the cost of boxes, bubble wrap, tape, etc. Some movers will wrap large or fragile items for a separate fee.
  • Number of rooms. As mentioned above, local movers charge by the number of rooms they’ll be moving instead of weight. Because this rough estimate is used to determine the size of the truck, be sure to let the mover know if those rooms contain large items like a piano or a whole library full of books. You’ll pay an extra charge if the mover needs to get a larger truck (if one is available) on the day of the move.
  • Number of movers. The number of movers needed is determined based on either the number of rooms or the weight.
  • Temporary storage. Some movers will charge an overnight storage fee. If you’re unable to move into your new home immediately, you might incur the cost of a self-storage unit. Depending on the size of the load, you may want to consider renting a moveable storage pod instead. The pod can be placed on the property, making it easier to unpack.
  • Moving and liability insurance. Before you buy additional insurance, check your home insurance policy first to see if moving is covered. If not, most movers offer insurance.
  • Tips. It’s customary to tip each mover 5 to 10 percent of the total cost of the move depending on how pleased you are with their work.
  • Additional fees:
    • The added cost of moving a vehicle
    • Extra charges for large and/or fragile items
    • Transportation surcharges including tolls and any other city or state fees
    • Additional charges for movers carrying items a long distance from truck to house or up flights of stairs, etc.

As with any large purchase, you’ll want to get multiple quotes and check references. Be sure to get a written estimate detailing all moving costs once you’ve chosen a mover. The goal is to balance saving money with transporting your belongings safely. Of course, local moves with friends will undoubtedly cost you less, but the last thing you want is someone dropping that 65-inch TV.

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