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How much does it cost to move?

Is hiring moving help worth it?

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Written by Taylor Sansano
Edited by Cassidy McCants

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    When it comes to moving, there are lots of costs to consider. Realistically, though, you can pay a little or a lot for moving, depending on your situation and how you go about the process. Even with a DIY move, you might have to fork over some money for items like boxes or packing tape. But if you want a full-service experience that takes all the heavy lifting off your hands, especially if you're moving a long distance, your costs can get pretty high.


    Key insights

    • Professional moving costs between $600 and $5,000, on average.
    • Renting a moving truck for a local move usually costs about $100.
    • Top cost factors include location, home size and packing any specialty items.
    • When reviewing a quote, look out for hidden fees.

    How much do movers cost?

    On average, it costs between $80 to $100 per hour to move locally with a team of two movers. For a three-bedroom house, that would likely put you between $600 and $1,000. For a long-distance move (more than 1,000 miles), the cost is typically around $5,000, although it could reach up to $10,000 depending on the distance and how much is being moved.

    These costs are estimates. If you want to add other services, like packing and unpacking, packing materials or moving insurance, you’ll pay more.

    Packing usually costs between $300 and $500. These fees are charged per hour and may include an additional charge for supplies.
    Movers are legally required to include what’s called released value protection, which covers up to $0.60 per pound per article (usually — for example, if they break a $300 flat-screen TV that weighs 25 pounds, you’ll receive $15.

    You can also choose to buy full-value protection, which would pay out the entire value of the damaged items. This usually costs between 1% and 5% of the value of the insured goods. If your belongings are worth $10,000, your insurance would cost from $100 to $500.

    You can rent or buy packing materials directly from your moving company. These can cost upwards of $500.

    Some companies offer online tools to help you estimate your costs. For Dharylle of California, that’s what sold him on Interstate Moving & Relocation Group: “One thing that I really like in their website is the Moving Cost Calculator. Knowing an estimate of how much the move will cost and confirming how the fees were calculated from an agent made the experience reassuring.”

    How much does a DIY move cost?

    How much your move costs really depends on your situation and what type of materials or vehicles you need to pay for. You’ll likely pay somewhere between $100 and $2,500 for a DIY move, although costs can reach upwards of $6,000 in some cases.

    Where you fall in that range depends on how far you’re moving, if you need a moving truck or pod and what extra costs you may face.

    Moving truck: $100 to $1,500

    For most individuals, a moving truck will be the biggest cost associated with a DIY move. On average, it costs between $100 and $1,500 to rent a moving truck, although this can depend greatly on your location, home size and how long you need to rent it for.

    If you’re moving locally, you can rent a pickup truck, cargo van or 10-inch moving truck from a rental company for as little as $19.95 for four hours. These are good for small apartments or if you’re willing to make extra trips, but just beware that these companies charge per mile (between $0.50 and $1, on average). For a 26-inch moving truck, which is ideal for the average three-bedroom home, the price is closer to $100 for an entire day, plus mileage.

    If you’re moving over a long distance, the rental could be significantly more expensive. For example, moving from Kansas City to Chicago with a 26-inch moving truck may cost between $755 and $1,500.

    Storage pod: $70 to $5,000

    You may also consider a moving pod, where they deliver your belongings to you or a storage location for added convenience. These cost anywhere from $70 to $5,000, depending on your location (how far they need to deliver it) and how long you need it for.

    These are especially helpful if you have a few weeks in between move-out and move-in and need a convenient solution for storage that doesn’t involve moving items in and out of a storage unit and paying for multiple moving trucks on different days.

    Additional costs: $0 to $750

    On top of the vehicle and storage, you’ll likely be faced with a few additional costs during your move. Here are some to consider:

    • Gas: $20 to $150 (could be in the thousands for longer cross-country moves)
    • Moving equipment: $0 to $100 (for example, $15 to rent a furniture dolly)
    • Moving boxes: $0 to $200 (between $2 and $5 per box)
    • Extra packing supplies: $0 to $100
    • Hotel room: $125 per night
    • Petsitters or babysitters: $17 or so per hour

    You may have to pay for some, all or none of these. Each person’s total costs can vary greatly depending on a wide range of factors (for instance, some spring for specialty moving items, like wardrobe boxes, stretch wrap or “fragile” stickers).

    Factors that affect moving costs

    The biggest factors that affect your moving costs are the distance traveled and the size of your home. Whether you’re moving yourself or hiring movers, it’ll be more expensive the bigger your home is and the farther you have to drive. You’ll need more boxes, more movers and more time — as well as more gas and physical effort. All of these factor into your total cost.

    Location

    Some companies charge extra if you live inside the city or in an apartment building, because these locations are more difficult to access. And, in some cases, a moving truck may not even be able to access your home (e.g., if the city streets are too narrow). In those cases, you may face a surcharge.

    Season

    Most Americans move between May and September, so choosing to move in the winter may be more cost effective. Many companies offer discounts to incentivize people during the slower months of the year.

    Bulky items

    While movers can move your grand piano, it will come at an additional cost. Anything that’s more difficult to move, either because it’s heavy or valuable and delicate, will likely incur an added cost.

    Added services

    Companies offer services like white-glove delivery, packing, unpacking, reassembly and more. If you want a more hands-off approach to moving, there are plenty of services out there — but be ready to pay for it.

    Additional costs and fees

    While it’s safe to assume you’ll be charged more for longer distances, heavy items and added services, there are a few hidden fees to look out for when reviewing quotes, according to Nick Valentino, vice president of market operations at Bellhop Las Vegas Movers: “Your movers [may] hit you with hidden fees, charges, and price hikes based on ill-defined fine print. Make sure you go over a mover's rates and ask about any other fees or charges when evaluating.”

    Here are a few to watch out for:

    • Stair fees: Many companies charge per flight of stairs beyond the first flight, usually around $50.
    • Elevator fees: Think having an elevator is better than stairs? Maybe not. Some companies charge extra for having to use an elevator during the move.
    • Long carry fees: If movers have to carry boxes or furniture farther than 75 feet (if they can’t find parking on the city street, for instance), you may incur a long carry fee. You may consider getting a moving permit from your city in order to reserve a spot to avoid this, although you may have to pay for this as well.
    • Moving deposit: Most companies require some sort of deposit to hold your date and time. Usually, this cost is between $100 and $500, or no more than 25% of your total cost. Be aware though — a high deposit may be a sign of a scam.
    • Cancellation fees: If you cancel your move, even with a week’s notice, you could lose your entire deposit. You may be able to reschedule without incurring a fee.
    • Extra stops: If you have to visit multiple locations (like a home and a storage unit) you’ll have to pay extra.
    • Travel fee: It’s not uncommon for a company to charge what’s called a travel fee, usually about one hour’s worth of labor. This fee covers the company’s travel time to and from your location.
    • Environmental fee: Some companies may charge this fee to cover the disposal of materials and goods after the move.
    • Fuel charge: This fee usually isn’t included in the quote because it depends on the price of gas and the distance actually traveled. And in some cases, companies may make extra trips (like if they don’t stock the truck efficiently enough) to inflate this cost. You can ask for an estimate of this fee, but know it will likely be added at the end for an undisclosed amount.
    • Tip: While not added by the company itself, it’s something you should consider when deciding if you can afford a move. If you do decide to tip, $5 to $10 per laborer per hour is typical.

    How to save on moving costs

    From getting creative with the way you package services to planning the perfect time to schedule your move, there are dozens of ways you can save money on a move. Here are some of the most effective and accessible ways we’ve found:

    1. Plan as far ahead as possible.

    Many companies offer discounts if you book ahead — and charge extra for last-minute moves. The further ahead you can plan, the more you may save.

    2. Move during the off-season.

    According to Moving.com, nearly 70% of all moves take place between Memorial Day to Labor Day in the United States. To save money, try to plan your move for sometime between October and April so the market isn’t as competitive.

    3. Get rid of what you don’t need.

    The less you have to move, the cheaper your move will be. Toss, donate or sell any belongings that aren’t worth the literal cost of professional support. You can host a garage sale, post on an online swap page or simply give away what you don’t need.

    4. Score your own packing supplies.

    Packing supplies can add up if you have to buy them all. Ask around on social media to see if anyone in your neighborhood is selling moving boxes or ask your local grocery store if they have any they’re looking to offload.

    5. Use belongings as packing material.

    Socks, towels, old clothes and even junk mail can be used to protect your belongings during a move. For example, slide glassware in long socks or fill sandwich bags with air as a bit of extra cushioning.

    6. Compare quotes from multiple movers.

    Ask for written quotes from at least three moving companies and compare. In addition to cost, compare things like the time it’ll take, if packing supplies are included, what type of protection is included and any additional benefits. Also, look carefully at customer reviews.

    7. Consider a hybrid move.

    You have a bit of flexibility when it comes to planning a professional move. If you only have a few big items you need help moving, hire a company just for that. You can take care of the pots and pans and clothes on your own time (and money).

    8. Buy moving insurance.

    It sounds weird to pay extra in order to save, but moving is a somewhat risky process, even if you’re working with licensed professionals — and things are bound to break on occasion. In most cases, paying a little more for coverage is usually worth it.

    Another factor: the legitimacy of the company. Not doing your due diligence can cost you a lot more than your deposit. According to Valentino, there are “people who will show up to move your stuff, load it on a truck and disappear. To avoid this happening to you, look for licensed movers and take the time to actually look up their license number with the issuing authority. Another common giveaway of a rogue mover is having a P.O. box instead of a physical address.”

    Is hiring movers worth it?

    It depends. If you’re short on time, like if you have a quick closing date or are extra busy at work, paying for help can be worth it. Hiring a team of professional movers can help ensure that you hit your closing dates without having to worry too much about doing the work yourself.

    For smaller homes or apartments, or if you have more than 30 days to plan your move, doing it yourself may be a better option financially. This is especially the case if you already have access to a truck and trailer or know someone who moved recently that can give you some materials for cheap or free.

    Remember: You can always hire movers for just a portion of your move. For example, if you have a few bulky items or a 75-inch TV and aren’t sure how to safely transport it from location to location, you can outsource just this task to a moving company.

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      FAQ

      What’s the cheapest way to move?

      The cheapest way to move is to do it yourself. If you go this route, the main thing you’ll need to pay for are supplies. If you have access to boxes (or can find some for cheap or free), you’ll only need to pay for the tape and a truck rental. And if you already have a truck, you’ll be in a pretty good place financially.

      Will my employer cover my relocation costs?

      Sometimes. You will need to ask this question during the negotiation portion of your interview. If this is important to you, ask them to add it as part of your compensation package. Once you sign your job contract, there’s a lot less room for negotiation for something like this.

      Are moving costs tax deductible?

      Not usually. Before the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers could deduct most moving expenses — today, there are pretty strict rules in place for deducting these costs. The move must be work-related and pass what’s called time and distance tests, or you must be eligible military personnel. The IRS has a tool that can help you figure out if you’re eligible.

      Bottom line

      If you’re lucky enough to have most of the materials and vehicles you need to move, it can be a pretty affordable option to move yourself. Hiring a professional moving company can make the experience a more enjoyable one, though it can get pretty pricey.

      Keep in mind that not all companies are alike, and some may charge additional hidden fees in order to make the biggest profit possible. When considering your options, it’s important to get quotes from at least three moving companies and figure out exactly what’s included in the cost of each.

      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. International Revenue Services (IRS), “Can I Deduct My Moving Expenses?” Accessed October 25, 2022.
      2. Statista, “Average daily rate of hotels in the United States from 2001 to 2021.” Accessed October 25, 2022.
      3. Intuit, “IRS Form 3903.” Accessed October 25, 2022.
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