How to hire a local mover

In-state moves are more affordable, but do your homework

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Where are you moving to?

two men loading chest drawers onto a truck

Securing a new place can be exciting and overwhelming. The long list of to-do items will likely include packing up all of your belongings in a short time frame.

While you could move all of your items yourself, hiring a local mover will likely save you money, time, and stress. However, do your research to ensure the company you hire is reputable and reliable. Checking a company’s references and asking for proof of insurance, for example, will likely pay off in the long run to help you avoid being scammed and/or losing money.


Key insights

Moving companies consider a local move one that’s less than 50 miles away.

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A reputable mover should always provide a written quote and a moving contract detailing all the costs associated with your move.

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Costs for a local move typically range from $80 to $100 per hour with a two-person moving crew.

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Moving costs vary depending on a number of factors, like the size of the home and the moving date.

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Local moving services

Moving companies generally offer both long-distance and local moving services. A move is considered local if it’s within the same city or less than 50 miles away.

With a local move, you could choose between renting a truck and moving yourself or hiring movers. While it may seem like the cheaper option to do it yourself, it could also end up costing you more in time and resources in the long run.

If you have moved interstate before, you might be pleasantly surprised to see that you’re more likely to find affordable options for a local move than an interstate move (or one that crosses multiple states) since moving costs are based on the distance traveled.

Moving companies typically offer a wide array of services, which may include:

  • Moving: Moving services involve the manual labor of loading and unloading the moving truck. It also takes into account the truck’s use and mileage. Moving services costs can vary based on several factors, such as the size of the home (amount of belongings) and the moving distance.
  • Packing and unpacking: Experienced movers can help you prepare for your move by boxing up all or some of your items. It may be helpful to have trained professionals wrap up your more fragile items, like dishes or glassware, so they don’t break during the move. In addition, once you reach your destination, movers can help you unpack those boxes so you can get settled into your new place more quickly. (Packing services are generally provided at an extra fee.)
  • Furniture disassembly and reassembly: You’ll likely need to take apart some of your furniture to load it onto a moving truck. Movers can disassemble furniture and reassemble it after the move. Also, they can provide protective materials (like heavy-duty blankets) to cover your furniture so it doesn’t get scratched during transport.
  • Storage and/or junk removal: If you’d prefer to pack up for a local move slowly over time, you could rent a pod or other portable storage unit. Similarly, if you plan to clear out your home of unwanted clutter during this process, some movers provide a service to haul it off for you and either donate it or dispose of it. Not all moving companies offer storage or junk removal services, though, so be sure to do your research if you would like to take advantage of them on your next move.
  • Appliance disconnect and reinstallation: Often, appliances like refrigerators and stoves will not be moved and instead remain in the home for new buyers unless the sellers or buyers negotiate otherwise as part of the sale. However, if you plan to move any appliances, you’ll need to take special steps to ensure you don’t damage the item. Contact your moving company ahead of time so you’ll know the process. For example, some moving companies may not be responsible for unplugging appliances, so you may need to hire a technician to help on moving day, especially if you have a gas hookup. You may also need some help connecting those appliances in your new home.
  • Insurance coverage: With a DIY move, your personal belongings may not be covered if your items are damaged or stolen while in transit unless you purchase additional insurance coverage. On the other hand, moving companies are required by law to carry insurance that covers your belongings during the move. This added benefit may make the cost of hiring movers worth it to you.

Finding a local mover

Since the moving company is entrusted with your possessions on moving day, it’s important to do your research to find a reliable, affordable company. A great place to start is by asking friends and family members for their recommendations. Remember to ask specific questions about their moving experience so you can gather whether or not the company’s services will fit your needs.

You can also search online forums and neighborhood listservs for recommendations from the community. As you create a short list of companies to research further, consider your overall budget and the services you may want to include (like packing). Do your homework to determine if a local mover is trustworthy, component and easy to work with.

Some factors to consider:

  • Ratings and reviews: Read through both the positive and the negative company ratings and reviews. You can also check the rating on the Better Business Bureau. You can also view consumer complaints and current alerts for moving businesses in your area.
  • Length of time in business: Ask the company how long they have been in business. Don’t rule out newer companies, but companies that have been in business for over 10 years do have a reliability factor.
  • Contract: Ask if the company provides a contract. Companies that will not provide a contract are a red flag.
  • Licensed and insured: The moving company should be licensed to do business in your state. You can check your state’s government website for verification details. It should also carry insurance to protect your belongings. Elliot Helm, owner of the moving company Sterling Interstate, a moving company that serves Phoenix and the surrounding areas,  said insurance can “protect you the homeowner from being hit with a lawsuit if a [mover] is hurt on your property and ensures the company is an actual business with employees and not just day laborers.”
  • References: For any company you are considering working with, ask for at least three references and then call them.
  • Subcontractors: It’s a good idea to ask the moving company if they hire subcontractors to complete moving jobs. If so, ask for the company names so you can read their reviews.
  • Get an estimate: Once you decide on a few potential movers, request an on-site quote from each company. Pricing details should always be given in writing. Also, ask for a do-not-exceed price number, which should be provided on the quote.
  • Ask about the cancellation and/or change policy: You never know what could come up the week of your move, so be sure to know the company’s change or cancellation policy ahead of time. You may have to pay a small fee if you cancel within 48 hours of the moving date.

What to watch for

Moving fraud continues to be an issue for consumers looking to hire a company for their next move. As you research companies, watch out for red flags that could signal you aren’t working with a reputable mover:

  • No online presence: Companies should have a website that lists the services they provide. You should also be able to read at least a few company reviews online or through the company’s social media pages. A lack of online presence may indicate a new company or, worse, a moving scam.
  • Lower-than-average estimate: Extraordinarily low quotes may be a red flag that you aren’t dealing with a reputable company. Helm said, “You're generally going to get what you pay for and a small investment in professional movers makes for an easy move, protected furniture, and good experience.” In addition, Helm added that those cheap quotes could result in “an upcharge to get your items back after they're loaded on the truck with added hidden or additional fees that they can tack on.”
  • Significant deposit: Some scammers take the money upfront and run. If a company asks you to put more than 50% down, it’s a good sign to look elsewhere — 20% to 50% is typical.

Costs of a local move

The average cost of a local move typically ranges from $950 to $2,000, according to Helm. He added that you could pay as low as $465 to move from a one-bedroom apartment to up to $5,000 for larger homes that require more moving crew members.

Costs are based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Size of your home: Moving companies can estimate the number of items you have by the size of your current home. If you request a quote, the company may ask for the number of bedrooms and the square footage to help determine the cost. Moving from a one-bedroom apartment will typically cost less than from a three-bedroom home, for example.
  • Location: Depending on your state or city, you may pay more for a local move. Generally speaking, locations with a higher cost of living may also have higher moving costs.
  • Hours: For local moves of less than 50 miles, the moving company may charge an hourly rate, which ranges from $80 to $100 per hour. The company can estimate how much time it will take to move your stuff based on the miles between destinations and the amount of belongings.
  • Moving date: If you plan to move during the peak season, which is between May and September, you could pay more for moving costs. Moving services are in demand during that time, so companies are less likely to offer lower rates or discounts. In addition, the day of the week can play a role in costs. Weekend rates tend to be higher than weekdays, according to data gathered from several moving companies.
  • Accessibility: Moving companies may charge more if the movers have to go up more than one flight of stairs. Be sure to let your movers know if they won’t have access to an elevator so they can include these costs in your initial quote.
  • Number of stops: Added stops, like detours to your storage unit, are also a factor in moving costs. If you’re able to move those items yourself before moving day, it could help cut costs.
  • Additional services: Packing, unpacking, storage and other service add-ons may be convenient, but they will increase your moving bill too.

How to save

If you’re looking for ways to cut costs, here are some tips to consider:

  • Pack items yourself.
  • Disassemble furniture before moving day.
  • Consider moving in the off-season or on a weekday as opposed to a weekend.
  • Ask if the company offers discounts.

Where are you moving to?

FAQ

What are the best ways to prepare for a local mover?

Since movers are typically paid by the hour, you’ll want to have as many boxes packed and ready to go on moving day as possible to save time and money, according to Ron Holt, founder of Pink Zebra Moving in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition, make sure you label your boxes with the room the items belong in. That way, movers can easily see where to place boxes when you arrive at your new place.

What day is the least expensive to hire movers?

Consider moving on a Tuesday or Wednesday to save some money, which can be the least busiest moving days, according to Holt. “While not ideal for a consumer, you may be able to receive a discount if you choose one of those two days of the week,” he said.

How far in advance should you schedule local movers?

You’ll want to schedule a local move at least four weeks in advance, but preferably two months ahead of time. Keep in mind that the sooner you book, the more time slots the company may have available to choose from.

Are there any circumstances under which your local move would be considered long-distance?

A local move may be considered long-distance if it crosses state lines. Interstate move costs may be calculated differently than local moves, which can end up costing you more. You may incur additional fees from the moving company with an interstate move.

Bottom line

Hiring a local moving company to do the heavy lifting can make the moving process easier. As moving scams are increasing, be sure to thoroughly research any mover you are considering working with. Don’t be shy about asking for detailed information to vet potential companies because doing so could protect both your belongings and your liability with your next move.


Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Liability & Protection.” Accessed April 15, 2024.
  2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” Accessed April 15, 2024.
  3. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “What is an interstate move?” Accessed April 15, 2024.
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