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Best cheap moving companies

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    Allied Van Lines
    two cardboard boxes on hand truck beside a stack of other cardboard boxes

    The cost of hiring a moving company — like many other services lately — has been on the rise. But you don’t have to spend your life savings in order to move — you just have to find a high-value, low-cost moving company you can trust. In this guide, we’ve gathered our picks for the best cheap moving companies and tips on finding the right mover for you.

    Our top 3 picks for cheap movers

    To make our choices for the best cheap moving companies, we looked at 17 data points each for 70 companies. We used this data to compare cost and other factors, including availability and add-on services, to make our final selections.

    Our picks may be Authorized Partners who compensate us — this does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but may impact the order in which companies appear. As of publishing, each company on this list has a rating on our site of at least 3.5 stars out of 5.

    Allied Van Lines
    • Rating on CA as of publishing:3.9
    • Availability: All 50 states and Washington, D.C.
    • USDOT number: 76235

    Allied Van Lines offers local, long-distance, interstate and international moving, as well as moving container shipping, corporate relocation and military relocation services. Its add-on services include fragile item packing, furniture disassembly and reassembly, short-term and long-term storage and auto transport.

    Allied can survey your belongings virtually for an accurate moving quote. You can schedule an appointment online and do a virtual walk-through with a moving coordinator through the company’s app to get a personalized estimate.

    You can track your Allied shipments online as the carrier travels, so you never have to wonder where on the route your driver is. Also, whether you’re moving within the U.S. or internationally, Allied has focused solutions for corporate relocations — the company adheres to a 20-step system and provides specialized concierge service for workplace moves.
    Reviewers on our site mention Allied’s customer service and good prices. A reviewer from Virginia said about the company: “Good with communication and all workers are respectful and work diligently. … Priced very well and they were happy to give me the same price that it cost me to move from the previous year, where other movers were pricing gouging.”
    International Van Lines
    • Rating on CA as of publishing:3.6
    • Availability: The continental U.S.
    • USDOT number: 2293832

    International Van Lines offers local, long-distance and international moving services. Its website provides cost estimates for various relocation scenarios, taking into account total distance, home size and any additional packing services.

    As of publishing, IVL’s estimate for a short-distance move from a three-bedroom house is $200 per hour (for a total of four movers). The company also offers full-service packing, furniture assembly and disassembly, debris removal and auto transport.

    IVL is more transparent than many of its competitors regarding costs. As of publishing, its website includes current “accessorial costs for long-distance moving” (any additional fees like elevator, stair and piano handling charges). It also provides several educational resources, with general information about different types of moves and moving companies.
    Happy IVL customers on our site often mention friendly service and good value. A reviewer from California said: “Showed up on time — I've never had this happen with movers, ever. Reasonable cost — they charged by the person per hour and were quite efficient. Nice, friendly movers — nice guys that were good at their work. Integrity — I'd use them again if I move in the future. I cannot recommend them enough.”
    U-Pack
    • Rating on CA as of publishing:3.5
    • Availability: All 50 states and Puerto Rico
    • USDOT number: 2632086

    U-Pack is a moving and storage company that focuses on moves of 100 miles or more. It’s available throughout the U.S., including Puerto Rico, and Canada. It offers quotes through its website — you just need to provide your address and a list of the items you’ll be storing or moving.

    You can opt for short- or long-term storage with U-Pack, and you can choose between a trailer or typical storage container. The company gives you three business days to fill the container once it’s delivered.

    U-Pack offers the ReloCube, a weatherproof metal container that’s designed to fit in a parking spot for easy delivery and loading. One ReloCube can typically fit the contents of one large room, and you can get as many as you need. U-Pack then stores the cube until you’re ready to have it delivered to your new home. The cost includes driver and fuel charges, so you shouldn’t encounter any surprise fees if you go this route.
    U-Pack customers on our site often mention quality service, good prices and on-time deliveries. A reviewer from Tennessee said: “It was the best move ever. I paid a discount price for almost 2,700 miles across [the] country. My U-Box was not damaged and it was on time. Money was taken out in increments and on a credit card. I will do this again if I have to. I also recommend this service to anyone moving.”

    What affects moving costs?

    Moving costs vary depending on several factors, such as distance and house size, as well as the following elements:

    • Additional services: If you add on extra services, like packing and unpacking, your costs can increase pretty quickly. Some moving companies may also charge extra for certain moving scenarios — for example, in the event they have to carry your furniture up a flight of stairs.
    • Weight of items: Even if you have a one-bedroom apartment, you could pay more in moving fees if you have a significant number of belongings. Having heavy items, like a solid-wood armoire, could also add to your fees.

    Where can I find cheap movers?

    To find the best price for moving services, start by searching reputable review sites for low-cost movers. On each moving company’s profile page, you should be able to read the pros, cons and customer reviews. Make sure to check out not only the positive reviews but also the negative ones — bad reviews can shed some light on any issues you're likely to encounter.

    You can also contact a moving broker, a third party that sets you up with a moving company based on your needs and your budget. A broker can help take the burden of researching companies off your shoulders, which could be worth the cost if it’s in your budget.

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      How to choose a cheap moving company

      One of the best ways to find a moving company is to ask family and friends for their recommendations. Real estate agents and apartment leasing managers may also be able to offer companies their clients have worked with.

      Whether you decide to work with a broker or a moving company directly, make sure the company is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A broker must have an MC Docket number, and any carrier operating across state lines must have a USDOT number.

      Avoid moving scams by thoroughly vetting each company you’re considering. If a company asks for a significant deposit, look elsewhere.

      Once you’ve narrowed down a list of at least three reputable companies, ask for a quote from each one. Be sure a company representative completes an in-house assessment before putting together your quote — this ensures a more accurate estimate. The company should also provide a moving contract.

      With the number of moving scams on the rise, here are a few red flags to watch out for to protect yourself:

      • The company does not complete an assessment of your belongings.
      • The company does not provide a written quote or a moving contract.
      • The company requires a significant cash deposit in order to secure its services. Legitimate moving companies may still require a small deposit of $100 or so for a local move.

      Above all, never feel pressured to sign a contract immediately upon receiving it — it’s best to give yourself time and space to read over the details on your own.

      Tips for keeping moving costs low

      While moving can be expensive, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some ways to reduce your overall moving costs:

      1. Declutter your home and get rid of items you no longer need. Movers assess fees based on the estimated weight or volume of your items. Selling or donating unneeded items can not only save you money, but it also frees up space in your new home. This is especially true if you donate larger items, like a piano (the fee to move a piano could be $200 or more).
      2. Complete packing and moving yourself. One of the cheaper ways to move is to rent a truck and load the items yourself. Keep in mind that you’ll probably need at least one extra set of hands on moving day, so be prepared to ask a friend or family member for help. You may also consider renting or borrowing moving equipment to make the job a little easier.
      3. Consider moving in off-peak season or on a weekday. Summer is the busiest time for moving companies, so prices are often the highest then. If your moving day is flexible and you can wait to move until the fall or winter, you may find significant cost savings by delaying the move. Weekday rates are also typically lower.

      FAQ

      Can you negotiate with movers?

      You can negotiate with movers, but you’ll need quotes from other companies as a bargaining tool. Be sure to mention ahead of time that you’re gathering multiple quotes and that you’re looking for the best value. If asked about your moving budget, try to mention the services you want rather than a dollar figure. Compare each company’s quote by line item, and use those figures to negotiate service prices. You can also ask about any discounts the company offers, like for teachers or law enforcement.

      How much should you tip movers?

      Rather than thinking of the tip as a percentage of the total bill, you can calculate it based on the number of hours worked per mover. For a move that’s four hours or less, $20 to $40 a person is a good guideline. For a full-day move (about eight hours), the tip might be $40 to $80 a person, though you can add more if you’d like to show your appreciation for movers who exceed your expectations.

      What’s the cheapest way to move long-distance?

      One of the cheapest ways to move long-distance is to pack and move the belongings yourself. You’ll still need to consider the costs of packing materials (boxes, packing paper, cushioning material, etc.), which can cost $100 or more. You can always ask for free boxes from retail or grocery stores to save money. Renting a moving truck costs from $100 (local move with few belongings) to $4,000 or more for a cross-country move.

      When should you hire movers?

      Hiring movers is a big financial decision, so you’ll want to make sure you can comfortably afford the cost. It may be worth it to take much of the headache of moving off your plate — movers are efficient and can often get you into your new place more quickly than if you do the heavy lifting yourself.

      Bottom line

      Don’t stress if you need to find a cheap mover — there are options out there to fit most price ranges. Check out review sites and conduct further research on the companies that offer the services you need. Bear in mind that you may need to be flexible with moving dates to save money.

      Even if money is tight, you might still consider hiring professional movers if you need to relocate quickly for a new job or another obligation, especially if it’s an interstate or cross-country move. No matter which route you take, make sure to thoroughly research any moving company or broker before you sign a contract.

      ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. To learn more about the content on our site, visit our FAQ page. Specific sources for this article include:
      1. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, “Spot the Red Flags.” Accessed Dec. 15, 2022.
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