US Housing

How Much Does It Cost to Move?

The moving process is one of the last steps in your transition to a new home. While hiring a professional moving company is much more convenient than trying to do it yourself, you don’t want to exceed your budget. Whether you decide to hire movers or do it yourself,  it’s essential to know how much it’ll cost to move. Whether you’re moving into a new apartment in San Diego or a house in Chicago, we’ll help you sort out the various moving costs so you can properly plan for your upcoming move.

Local vs. long-distance move

Moving costs can vary widely based on how far you plan on moving. For a local move, you might pay around $1,500. Some local movers charge you on a per-mile basis, so if you’re moving to a home in the same neighborhood, your moving cost will be even lower. Conversely, a cross-country move costs north of $5,000.

Melissa from Everyday Spokane talked about her long-distance move.

 “We moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Spokane, Washington – a journey of over 1,300 miles – and did all the moving (packing, loading, and driving) ourselves,” she said. “If you decide to make a long-distance move by yourself, make sure to weigh the costs of hotels, packing supplies, and moving equipment. It adds up! In addition, consider additional safety concerns. We had no problems staying at nicer hotels, but we constantly tried to get rooms with windows where we could see our UHaul because we were worried. It’s a source of additional stress and a cost many people overlook.”

movers loading a moving truck

How much does it cost to rent a moving truck?

You don’t have to spend your top dollar on professional movers. Some moving companies will allow you to transport your belongings with a rental truck. Companies charge different rates, with some billing by the day and others based on distance traveled. U-Pack, for example, usually charges between $2,600 and $3,300 to rent a moving truck. 

Local Uhaul truck rentals start at $19.95 for a pick-up truck or cargo van. Larger trucks cost $29.95 or $39.95. Mileage fees start at $0.59 per mile, and you will have to pay extra if you return the vehicle with less gas than when you collected it. If you’re moving a one-bedroom home a long distance of nearly 1,500 miles, it will cost more than $2,300 to rent a 10-foot truck. However, if you have five bedrooms to move, you’ll need the largest truck available and will have to pay a little under $4,000.

How does the type of moving vehicle affect moving costs?

The type of vehicle you need to move will depend on how much stuff you’re moving to your new house or apartment. Unsurprisingly, the bigger the house, the more items you’ll need to move and the more you’ll spend on the appropriate-size moving truck.

Cost of using moving containers

Rather than hiring a full-service moving company, you might use moving containers. These allow you to simply load your belongings into the containers, which are then shipped to your destination by the container company.  Because you’re responsible for loading and unloading each moving container, the average cost of this method is lower than the cost of hiring full-service movers. For example, the moving company U-Pack can move the belongings of a three-bedroom house in Seattle to Los Angeles for about $2,800.

mover carrying a container into a house

Cost of movers and labor

Labor costs are another variable in determining your moving expenses. Most companies charge an hourly rate per mover. The average labor cost is about $25-$50 per mover per hour. This means that moving out of a three-bedroom house (which usually requires about four movers and nine hours of labor) will cost about $1,400. Remember that you’ll be on the hook for other expenses like transportation fees, packing supplies, and gas.

Moving costs when using packing services and storage

Some may prefer to have the moving company pack up their supplies rather than doing it themselves. While this is convenient, it can cost hundreds of dollars. Moving out of a one-room apartment can cost about $600, while a three-bedroom house can cost around $1,100. You can also ask the moving company to store your belongings in the days before or after you move. Renting a storage unit is another option to keep your belongings safe during the move.

roll of tape on moving boxes

Cost of moving supplies

Most of the money you’ll spend on moving supplies will go toward buying cardboard boxes, and how much you pay will be determined by how many boxes you need to move. If you’re moving out of a 1-bedroom apartment, you’ll likely need 60-80 boxes, costing around $60-$85 total. Other supplies, such as packing paper and bubble wrap, must also be factored into the equation. Some moving companies offer moving kits with a preset number of boxes based on the size of your home. A kit for a single-bedroom apartment might cost less than $100, while a kit for a four-bedroom house can cost close to $400.

“The cost of materials needed to move can vary greatly depending on the size of the home, size of your family, and also how long you’ve been at your current residence,” says Daniel White of Bigger Better Movers. “People tend to gather more items over time the longer they’re in one spot. The average single person can expect to spend $100 – $300 on materials to move. These items include: tape, shrink wrap, boxes, mattress or couch covers, and markers to label each box.”

Liability and insurance coverage costs when moving

It is wise to purchase liability coverage from your mover in case some of your belongings sustain damage along the way. In many cases, coverage can cost between $0-$8 per $1,000 of items. This figure typically doesn’t change whether it’s a local or long-distance move.

calendar on a phone

Moving costs based on time of the year

Timing is essential when figuring out the cost to move. Moving companies can charge more or less based on the demand during a particular season.

“The moving industry does have a peak season, during which pricing is higher and available appointments are lower,” says Donavan Wass of Eco-Movers. “In Washington state, this typically begins in May and ends in September. Most movers will reduce their rates to off-season pricing from September through April to attract more jobs. If you can wait to move until sometime within this period, you will get the best possible rates.”

Additional moving costs

Large items like pianos or swingsets usually incur an additional fee, anywhere from $400 to $2,000. Additionally, the moving company will charge extra fees if they have to carry items a long distance, navigate several flights of stairs, or use an elevator to move your belongings. If you’re relocating far away and need to move your things quickly, expedited delivery services will cost you an additional fee.

How much does it cost to move with full-service movers?

Full-service movers are the way to go if you want to minimize the stress of the moving process. On average, a full-service move, which includes moving services, packing services, and insurance, costs around $9,000. This figure can vary widely based on the previously mentioned factors like distance and the number of items you’re moving.

person holding one hundred dollar bills

Money-saving tips to limit moving costs

Maximize space when packing 

“If you want to save up some money, there are few tricks,” says Perfect Moving. “The most important one is maximizing the space you use with boxes. It’s important to do it not only to save space but also for the safety of the items. Half empty boxes create a weak base for the box’s structural integrity, which may cause them to collapse or fold in while stacked.”

Plan properly 

“The cost of moving is a total of a variety of services,” says Jimmy Re of Star International Movers. “Packing makes up a large portion of the cost. Self-packing your own boxes will result in significant savings. Timing your move, packing, and delivery to avoid storage is another way to save. Avoid moving in June and July when moving companies face the greatest demand and price adjustments. Ask your move for free packing material – some will provide small quantities of new materials at no charge or quantities of used materials.”

Move during the fall or winter

The “off-season” for moving lasts from September to April, so moving expenses tend to be lower during these times as less demand forces moving companies to lower their prices. Not everyone has seasonal prices, so be sure to do your research before selecting a moving company.

Get rid of unnecessary belongings

As you now know, transporting lots of items can add to your moving costs, especially for long-distance moves. Removing belongings you’re no longer using is an easy way to lighten the burden. You can donate items that are still in decent condition and throw away everything else you don’t need. This is a great way to lower the cost of moving and prevent clutter from immediately taking over your new home.

Get help from friends and family

A DIY move doesn’t necessarily have to be a solo operation. If you have family or friends willing to assist you in your move, you can eliminate the cost of hiring movers to pack your belongings. This can be especially helpful for local moves, as friends and family might even be able to help you transport your things to your new home, eliminating another cost from your moving budget.

Get quotes from multiple movers

When preparing to make any expensive purchase, it’s always important to explore your options. Hiring a moving company is no exception. Check with at least three movers to get an idea of the cost of moving. Don’t rely on rates posted online, but have the movers come in for an inspection and let them know if you have any specialty items. This will help to determine the actual cost of moving.

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