Hiring movers and using a moving company to help with your move has all sorts of benefits, like saving time and logistics coordination. Using these types of services is as basic as just having someone help carry boxes or entrusting the entire moving process to your movers. But how much do movers cost? How much will you need to pay for specific types of services and what’s included?
This guide on how much movers cost and the overall cost of moving will help you know what to expect so you can budget and prepare accordingly and not be caught off-guard.
How much does it cost to hire a moving company?
How much do movers cost? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this key question. The cost of hiring movers and getting a company to help with your move depends on a variety of factors, from how far you’re moving to how much stuff you’re transporting.
To give you a ballpark figure, hiring a moving company ranges in price from $800 to $2,500. The national average cost of using movers is $1,400. But, moving company costs go up significantly if you’re moving cross country, ranging between $2,200 and $5,700.
Different companies, from local operators to major outfitters like United Van Lines, will also have different pricing structures and rates.
What does the cost of hiring movers include?
At its most basic, the cost covers labor (the movers) and the means of transport (the truck). You don’t need to go to an outside truck rental company, and you have at least one mover helping out. But, hiring movers can have all sorts of add-ons like packing materials.
What impacts the cost of hiring movers?
There are several factors that impact the cost of hiring a moving company and movers.
Time of year
The season and time of year that you move have a definite effect on how expensive your move will be. Peak moving season generally extends from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, meaning that the majority of people move during the summer months. In fact, roughly 70 percent of all local or long-distance moves happen during this timeframe. There are several reasons for this. For one, school is out and it’s easier to coordinate a move, especially long-distance moves when the kids aren’t in school. For another, the weather is nicer and the days are longer.
This also means that summer is a busy season for movers and costs are higher. If you plan your move in the off-seasons of fall, winter or spring, moving company prices are lower and you’ll save money.
The price to hire movers and use moving services also depends on distance and how far the movers have to travel, like moving to a different state. For a local move that’s within 100 miles of the original apartment, costs are generally lower. This is because there are fewer logistics and travel costs involved. A moving company can typically give you a quote over the phone instead of an in-person visit, and a short-distance move uses less gas and takes less time.
But, you can expect to pay much more for a long-distance move. Long-distance moving companies naturally charge more and have higher rates than local moving companies because of the travel fees associated with a long-distance move versus local moves.
For one thing, longer moves require more planning and are more complicated. The movers will typically have to come to your home and give you an in-person estimate. The more belongings you have, the bigger the truck required for the move. On a long-distance move, costs need to cover more necessities like gas, mileage, tolls and potential lodgings or essentials for the drivers and movers. You’re also paying for time. If the company charges an hourly rate, you’ll pay for all the hours the movers spend getting to the destination. For flat rates, they’ll be higher, as well, to account for the hours, miles and time invested.
Amount of goods
If you’re packing up a studio apartment and are mainly moving personal belongings, moving services cost less because they’re transporting fewer goods. But, if you’re packing up an entire three-bedroom apartment with furniture, appliances and more, it’ll take much more manpower and therefore cost more.
Number of movers
On top of paying by the hour, you’ll also pay per mover. For easy, local moves where you only need one or two movers, you’ll pay less. But, if you’re moving cross country with a three-bedroom apartment’s worth of stuff, it’ll likely require a bigger team and more experienced movers. In that case, you’re paying for the extra movers and their advanced expertise.
Size of truck
The larger the truck, the higher the cost. The size of the truck needed for your move also impacts the average cost. Smaller vehicles have better fuel efficiency and cost less due to their reduced capacity. But, bigger moves typically require larger box trucks or even semis to fit everything. Carrying bigger, heavier loads and being larger reduces the trucks’ fuel efficiency, requiring more frequent fill-ups at the gas station.
Specialty services and items
Moving fragile, unique items like grand pianos, extra vehicles or antique furniture drives the cost more since these objects require special care and attention.
Full-service movers take care of pretty much everything for you during your move, from packing up your apartment to assembling furniture at your new place. But, that kind of personalized service comes at a much higher cost because it requires more hours, skills and personnel.
If you pay for labor-only movers and no additional services, you’ll keep costs down.
Moving services that take care of everything for you also typically provide packing materials, but you rarely have control of the price. You can avoid these costs altogether by buying or using your own packing materials.
Accessibility or difficult locations
Movers charge a premium for more complicated moves. For example, if your new apartment is on the top floor of an older apartment building with no elevator, the movers will have to carry all the boxes and furniture up multiple flights or stairs. Typically, that can add a couple of hundred dollars to your bill.
Additional moving costs
On top of all these, you may have to pay for additional services like closing costs, using a storage unit or having the movers assemble furniture or unpack things for you.
How can I save money and reduce costs when hiring moving companies?
If you have a tight budget and need to keep costs down during the moving process, there are plenty of ways you can reduce your moving expenses.
Move on a weekday
Because of work, the majority of people plan their moves to happen on the weekend. Not only does this mean that movers have less availability, but also movers cost more on the weekends due to the increased demand.
You can usually find a better deal and more availability by moving during the week between Mondays and Thursdays.
Pack everything yourself
For an extra cost, a full-service moving company will pack all your belongings for you. But, the cost of having movers pack up your household for you can cost up to $1,000.
Avoid this charge by packing up your personal belongings ahead of the move. That way, you’re only paying for the labor of having movers load and unload boxes.
Find free packing supplies
Unless you have a ton of moving boxes and bubble wrap lying around, you’ll have to buy packing materials. Depending on how much stuff you need to pack, you may have to spend a decent amount of money on all the supplies you need.
Luckily, there are ways to find free packing materials. If you know you have a move coming up, you can start saving boxes you get in the mail in advance. People frequently get rid of unwanted packing materials on online marketplaces like Craigslist and Freecycle. Check with friends, family and acquaintances to see if they have boxes and other materials to spare. You can even request free boxes from USPS.
Don’t move at the beginning or end of the month
Since most apartment leases start or end at the beginning or end of the month, those are the busiest times for movers. By planning your move for the middle of the month, movers cost less and have more availability.
Is it cheaper to move by myself and not hire movers?
Generally speaking, yes, it’s cheaper to do a DIY move and not hire professional movers. For one thing, you don’t have to pay an entire crew of people to help you with the move. You’ll still need to pay for a moving truck, gas money, packing supplies and maybe some pizza and beer as a thank you to any friends or family members who helped out.
In some cases, you may not even need to rent a moving truck. If you don’t have a ton of stuff to move, you can usually make do with your own car and borrow a friend’s truck. But,as you get older and accumulate more belongings, you’ll likely need to get a bigger truck rental.
However, since you don’t have someone helping you with the planning and logistics of a move, you may encounter unexpected costs or expenses that you didn’t plan for or anticipate. You’ll also have the entire burden and stress of moving solely on you.
How much should I tip?
On top of the overall moving costs, it’s customary to tip the movers assigned to your move. It’s not required, but it’s good practice and generally expected as a final thank you for a job well done. It’s especially recommended to tip your movers more if the job was especially big or they had to handle fragile items. Fast, efficient service and your movers going above and beyond are also reasons to tip more. Cash is also best.
There’s no set amount since moving costs are different for each person and company. In general, you should tip between 5 and 10 percent of the total cost of the move. Another option is to tip by the hour. Anywhere from $6 to $12 per hour and per mover is a good current rate. The more movers you have and the more hours they work, the higher the tips are.
Your tip should also be big enough so all the movers, including the driver, are equally compensated. To make sure that everyone gets their share, you can pass out the tips to everyone while thanking them. Another way to thank your movers is by providing easy food like pizza and sandwiches and drinks.
The tip should also reflect the quality of the service. If lots of boxes arrived damaged, the movers got the moving date wrong or the moving truck arrived late, those are all causes for a reduced tip.
What are the benefits of hiring a moving company?
Even though using a moving company is expensive, there are many benefits to hiring movers to assist you with a big move.
From heavy boxes to giant pieces of furniture, the process of moving apartments is rife with opportunities to accidentally injure yourself or others. You could pick up a heavy box of books and hurt your back. Maneuvering heavy furniture opens the door to everything from accidentally dropping it on someone’s foot to hurting yourself rather than risking damaging the furniture. While there are certainly some items you can easily move by yourself, others it’s best to leave the pros.
Since movers do this for a living, they have more than enough experience handling heavy boxes or unwieldy furniture. Not only do they have the strength and dexterity, but they also operate as a team, working together as a well-coordinated, experienced unit to safely move items without injury or damage to themselves or the objects.
Finally, they also have the proper tools for the job. From moving dollies to hand trucks, having the right equipment reduces the risk of injury. So, why put yourself at risk of lifting that too-heavy box of books when you can call in the pros?
Saving time is one of the biggest advantages of hiring a moving company.
Maybe you’re starting a new job on the other side of the country and need to get settled in by a certain date. Or, you’re trying to juggle a job, family and other responsibilities while planning a move at the same time. Whatever the reason, most of us already have significant other demands on our time aside from moving. Most people don’t have the benefit of hitting pause on all their other responsibilities while moving house. Moving takes a lot of time and can take anywhere from a few days to several months from start to finish. That’s where movers come in.
If you don’t have the time of day to plan and coordinate everything yourself, a moving company takes the stress of planning off your plate. Even if you do have the time, it’s nice to leave the process in the hands of professionals. By shifting the logistics of moving to your movers, you can focus on other things and not get overwhelmed.
Professional service and expertise
When your car breaks down, you take it to the mechanic. If your sink gets clogged, you call a plumber. We turn to professionals to solve all kinds of problems, so why wouldn’t you do the same for moving?
Professional moving companies are here to make the process of moving easy for you. They take care of all the heavy lifting (literally), offer quality customer service and take the burden off your shoulders. If something goes wrong or there’s an issue, they problem-solve and offer solutions. As moving experts, they know exactly how to get your belongings from Point A to Point B safely and efficiently. Everything from loading and unloading to planning out the logistics of the move, they can do for you, and you know you can trust them because they do this every day. You also know that your personal belongings are safe and are in good hands.
Hiring a moving company ensures you have an expert beside you to hold your hand, answer your questions and take care of everything for you during the move.
No matter which way you slice it, moving is a stressful process. Maybe you have a short timeline and don’t have a ton of time to pack and plan. Even if you have months to plan a move, unexpected problems like delays can come up. When you hire movers, you don’t have to face and solve these problems alone, which cuts down on stress.
How much will my move cost?
Now that you know what factors impact the cost of hiring professional movers, you may wonder how much your move will cost you.
To calculate the cost of your move, you can use our moving cost calculator to get a free estimate and start creating your moving budget. As you’ve seen above, there are plenty of ways you can keep moving costs down, from packing your belongings yourself to being flexible with the season or time of the month that you move.
How much movers cost depends on the needs of your move
While some moving costs are in stone, you can take steps to reduce costs or find a moving operator that fits your budget.