If you're facing a local move and don't know how you're going to get all your household goods from one place to another, a professional moving company can make your worries disappear. Any move of 50 or fewer miles is categorized as "local moving"; longer moves are handled by long-distance movers, or considered an interstate move when crossing state lines. Local moving companies provide a range of services to make your life much easier during what is a notoriously stressful time.
Professional movers can pack, they can carry and they can transport. The only work you really have to do is hiring a moving company. Everything should be insured and safely handled, making your ceramics collection far more likely to survive than in your hatchback or in the hands of your friends. Here are some of the services moving companies can provide you:
- Packing: Pro movers can supply all your moving boxes and the labor to pack them. Different box sizes have different retail rates and packing rates. Box contents will affect packing rates. For example, china or glassware could be an average of $18 per box, linens $10 per box, and books $5 per box.
- Standard move: You pack your own boxes before the movers arrive. The movers load the moving truck with your belongings and unload the boxes for you in your new location.
- Full-service move: The moving company handles all aspects of your move: packing your belongings, loading them into their truck, transporting your items to your new location, unloading, and then even unpacking the boxes if you're willing to pay extra.
- Specialty moving: Delicate and oversize items, like your pool table or baby grand piano, require special handling. There may be an additional charge for moving these items, as technical expertise is important for safely transporting them without damage.
- Storage: Your moving company may offer storage at reduced rates if you bundle their storage services and moving services at the same time.
- Long-distance moving: Pro movers can drive your belongings across the country for you. Long-distance moves are often priced per cubic foot, with total mileage affecting the cost.
If you are moving anywhere within the same city — or to one nearby — you likely will work with a local moving company. For your local move you can choose from a range of service levels. Which service level you choose will depend on your budget and how much assistance you need. Simple moving services might just include helping someone unload a truckful of items into a storage unit. A full-service move can include boxing or packing up a home, loading, moving, unloading and unpacking. Or you can hire a company to pack boxes for you if you need a few extra sets of hands. Full-service moving does cost more, but it saves you time — which for many people equals money. Spending more on a full-service move might actually save you money by freeing up precious spare time for work, family or much-needed rest.
If you're ready to get help with your next move, here are the things that affect the average cost for full-service movers.
Moving is hard work. If you're doing it yourself, it's long, sweaty hours of packing boxes and wrestling with your king-size mattress. Hiring professional movers to do the heavy lifting can save your relationships and your back. The cost to hire pro local movers is often calculated on an hourly rate, which can increase as more movers or moving trucks are needed. Your geographic location will also affect your hourly rate. Often cities with a higher cost of living have higher local moving rates than smaller cities with a lower cost of living, which accounts for higher costs of doing business, such as workers' comp, insurance and labor. For example, Elite Moving San Diego, Inc. charges an hourly rate that increases with each additional mover you require. Two movers are $95 per hour, three movers are $115 per hour, and four movers are $140 per hour.
Other factors that may affect your hourly rate are logistical challenges such as stairs or steep driveways, or having many fragile items that require extremely delicate handling. During your initial call with the movers, it's important to let them know about fragile items you want moved so they can have the appropriate moving and packing equipment on hand the day of the move.
Texas Elite Moving, based in Dripping Springs, Texas, has estimated hourly rates that vary based on number of movers and trucks. Texas Elite Moving's hourly rates also account for furniture assembly and disassembly as needed. Texas Elite Moving trucks arrive with premium quilted moving pads and shrink-wrap to protect items, and the movers use equipment and dollies to maximize efficiency. Individual job prices will always depend on your circumstances, so for exact quotes it's important to communicate directly with the moving company you plan to hire. Here are average estimated base hourly moving rates for Texas Elite Moving: \
- Two movers and one truck: $100 per hour
- Three movers and one truck: $145 per hour
- Four movers and one truck: $190 per hour
- Four movers and two trucks: $200 per hour
- Service fees may apply when booking a company's moving services
Rooms in house
In general, the larger the house, the higher the moving cost. Seasoned movers often can provide a ballpark number for moving costs based on the number and type of rooms in a house. However, your individual home might be different, and that's why most moving companies will need to do a site visit to provide you with a true estimate for services. Home size is not always an indicator of how many belongings a person has; you and your partner may have more in your two-bedroom apartment than a single person has in a three-bedroom home.
If you're too busy or need some extra help, full-service moving is your best option. Full-service moving includes a moving truck and moving boxes, labor for packing household items into boxes, loading boxes into the moving truck, driving boxes and furniture to the new location, and unloading boxes into the new home. Unpacking items from boxes in the new home is generally not included, but may be available for an additional cost. Moving companies typically request that you be present the day of the packing and moving, although other arrangements can sometimes be made for people who are traveling. The cost of local full-service moving is greater than for standard moving services, but the payoff comes in the free time you have not spent packing up all your possessions.
A standard move means having your boxes packed and ready to go the day the movers come, then stepping back and letting them do the heavy lifting. They drive your belongings across town, then unload them for you in your new place. Standard local moves are attractive for the price savings they offer, as well as providing more control for people who want their items packed in a specific way. Here are examples of average costs for a standard move and a full-service move from Texas Elite Moving:
- Full-service on a three-bedroom house: Three people packing for approximately four hours and five or six hours of loading, moving and unloading time = $1,000-$1,500
- Standard moving service on a three-bedroom house:_ _Three people and five or six hours of loading, moving and unloading time = $500-$1,000
Stairs and obstacles
Anything that makes the move take longer or that demands more physical exertion on the part of the movers can increase the cost. Stairs at the initial move site or the new destination can increase moving costs because they require more work for movers and present more risk of injury or damage. Narrow passageways, steep driveways, lack of parking out front, and the presence or absence of elevators are other factors that can influence your local moving costs. It's important to tell the moving company about these obstacles when you are first booking their services. This allows them to bring any special equipment that will be necessary to navigate the obstacles or maneuver furniture in tight places, as well as prepare their moving staff.
How they charge for obstacles may depend on the company. Some moving companies have set rates for stairs, such as $50-$70 per flight of stairs. If you live on a top floor and the moving company has to transport all your belongings down in the elevator, they may have a one-time fee, such as $75-$100. Be sure to provide as many details as possible to your local moving company upfront. This allows them to provide you the most accurate estimate and to ensure the safest and most efficient move for your belongings.
It's easy to forget just how time-consuming packing is until you are faced with another move. Fortunately, local moving companies can help you pack all your belongings, saving you hours of frustration and lungfuls of dust. If you have already arranged for a truck, you can hire movers just to help with the packing and heavy lifting. When movers are hired for only packing, loading and unpacking, the costs will be less than if a moving truck is also requested. Different companies may charge for packing by the hour or by the box. The cost for packing can vary by geographic region, and by what type of moving boxes you need. Moving companies often have different prices for different size boxes. Specialty moving boxes, such as "wardrobe" boxes with a hanging rod inside, will also cost more. For example, Elite Moving San Diego Inc. charges $3 for a small moving box, $4 for a medium-sized moving box, $5 for a large moving box, and $8 for a dish-pack moving box. Packing labor costs are not included in any of those box prices. Simply Moving & Storage in Brooklyn, New York, charges $5 per book box, $10 per linen box and $18 per glassware box, including the cost of labor for packing the box.
Local moving companies may be able to provide ballpark estimates of how much it will cost to pack your home. Elite Moving San Diego Inc. provides rough estimates for packing charges based on their experience with previous customers:
- One-bedroom apartment: $305-$465, including three or four hours of packing by two workers and $50-$125 for packing materials
- Two-bedroom home: $440-$625, including three to five hours of packing by two workers and $100-$200 for packing materials
- Four-bedroom home: $770-$1,180, including four to six hours of packing by four workers and $250-$400 for packing materials
If you have lots of unusual items, you may require special assistance in moving them to ensure their safety and want a moving quote that covers those items. Specifically if you have a pool table or baby grand piano, improper moving can do real damage to their delicate components. Unless your local moving company is specially trained to move pool tables or baby grand pianos, it may be wise to hire a specialist. National pool table moving costs can range between $300 and $450, but you're more likely to end up with a perfectly reassembled table that's completely level. For example, Beck's Billiards of Glendale, Arizona, charges $239 to move a 7-foot table, $249 for an 8-foot table and $299 for a 9-foot table. Mileage and stairs may incur extra fees.
The cost of moving a piano will vary depending on your location and any obstacles such as stairs. The pro piano movers should set it back up and tune it to your liking in your new location.
In addition to specialty items, some companies may have additional charges (beyond their hourly rate) for disassembling and reassembling furniture or moving extremely heavy items. Communicate clearly with your movers beforehand about what you need moved to prevent any confusion on move day. Keep in mind that auxiliary tasks that require extra work may increase costs and ask for these to be itemized in your moving estimate.
Travel may affect the price for local moving costs. Some companies don't charge mileage unless the distance is over 50 miles, while others do. Confirm how distance is handled in the contract before signing. Companies have to take distance into account to ensure they're meeting their costs for the time that driving can require, the cost of fuel for large moving trucks, and the cost of upkeep on their moving trucks. For example, Texas Elite Moving's base local moving fee is $100 per hour, and the company does not charge for mileage if the distance covered is under 50 miles. Beyond 50 miles, however, a mileage fee applies. Moving date could also affect travel costs with moves over the holidays or during peak season (typically summer in most areas) costing more.
Your movers have hustled all day, loading and unloading boxes, and your furniture arrived in terrific condition. An easy rule of thumb for local moves is to tip your movers 5 to 10 percent of the total bill. Tipping 5 percent is reasonable for standard local moves where the pros are in and out in a half day. Tipping 10 percent can be appropriate when the movers were also packing your boxes and had a longer workday. Tips can be split up among all the movers. Many companies recommend you give the tip directly to each worker, not only to recognize their effort but also to ensure that each one receives their share. You are not required to provide a tip, but it is a much-appreciated gesture for a job well done.
Packing all boxes ahead of time is a big cost saver. Having all your boxes well organized and labeled (on all sides of the box) also make packing and unpacking easier. If you're paying by the hour, this saves you cash. When gathering boxes to pack for your move, be sure to find ones strong enough for the task. Moving boxes provided by moving companies have double walls that can support the weight of other boxes and furniture stacked on top of them. If you use single-wall boxes, the sides could crumple, damaging your goods inside.
Clearly labeling each box also saves you time, because the movers can put the boxes in the appropriate rooms as they are unloading them. Disassembling furniture is another way to save money. Pro movers will usually disassemble furniture for you, but if you're able to take things apart yourself, it can cut back on the number of labor hours you pay for.
Moving mistakes to avoid
Moving can be really stressful, and it's easy to make mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes can end up costing you money or wasting your precious time. The experts at Texas Elite Moving have tips for you to have the most successful move possible. They've moved thousands of families, and these are the most common mistakes they encounter:
- Not downsizing before the move. Going through your belongings before you pack them allows you to donate or sell items you don't really want. Otherwise you are paying someone to pack and move unwanted stuff for you.
- Only partially packing boxes. If your moving boxes aren't filled to the top, you lose out on moving space, and you risk damaging items inside when they get bounced around.
- Using the wrong sized boxes. Don't fill large boxes with books or other heavy items. Keep your brick collection to small boxes. The movers, and your belongings, are more likely to get hurt when improper packing occurs.
- Not being ready when the movers arrive. If you are paying for standard moving services, you are paying by the hour. Having your things spread all over means more work for the movers and more money for you to pay. Be ready to go on moving day.
- Unlabeled boxes. Label each side of each box with a description of the box's contents. At a minimum, label one end and one side of each box. This protects your more delicate belongings during the move and it helps you find things when you unpack.
- No room labels on the boxes. Clearly mark on each side of each box which room you want that box to go to in the new home. This helps the movers help you by unloading the boxes into the right rooms, and makes your life far easier when you are unpacking.
- Mixing up boxes. If you are putting some items in storage and some items in your new apartment, label each box very clearly. Use flag tape (from any big-box store) in two separate colors to indicate which furniture and which boxes go to which destination.
How to hire a local moving company
Look for a trustworthy team who will get the job done safely and efficiently. Start by reading customer reviews. Look for clues as to the company's punctuality, safety and successful completion of jobs. Ask for quotes from a few local movers to find a reliable company with a price you can afford. Be wary of any company that offers you a price that seems too good to be true. To avoid financial loss in the long run, verify that the mover or moving company is licensed and insured in the state where you hire them. You can verify their license number with your state's regulating body. Shane Harris of Texas Elite Moving explains that licensing and insurance hold the company accountable for damages or losses. He also recommends that you be clear on the damage policy before signing a contract. Homeowners and renters insurance usually does not cover your belongings while they are in transit for a move. This is why it's critical to hire a local moving company that has an insurance and liability policy that will cover you in case of any accidents.
Ask about the hiring process of the moving company, including whether they perform background checks on their employees and whether they hire day laborers or have full-time, trained moving staff. When you go to hire, you may pay a deposit to secure a date and time, but don't pay a full fee upfront. It's a red flag if a company requests payment in full before they've rendered services. Be sure you have a clearly written contract and non-binding estimate before hiring movers. Joy Hall of Joyful Movers in Cary, North Carolina explains that you'll fill out a bill of lading (BOL) before the move takes place, which will outline all the charges and fees associated with your move and the valuation of your belongings on the BOL. If there is any uncertainty about pricing, clarify before singing the BOL.
Interstate movers and long-distance movers
If you need to move farther than across town, long-distance moving companies are able to help. Many moving companies provide both local and cross-country moving services. More variables are at stake to affect your moving costs when you are trekking from coast to coast instead of from town to town. Distance plays a major role in long-distance moving costs, as companies must account for fuel costs and driving time of their workers.
How you want your belongings moved will also affect your long-distance moving costs. The two main types of long-distance moves are are consolidated moves and exclusive direct transport moves. Consolidated moves are more affordable; exclusive moves, as their name implies, are more expensive. In a consolidated move, your belongings will be picked up and transported with the goods of other clients of that moving company. Typically, consolidated moving costs are calculated per cubic foot. Using cubic feet allows the moving companies to determine the amount of room your belongings take up in their moving trucks and charge you accordingly. When you opt for a consolidated move, your belongings will be scheduled to arrive within a date frame of anywhere from a few days to two weeks. In one example of consolidated long-distance moving costs, Brooklyn-based Simply Moving & Storage estimates a fee of approximately $2,000 for a consolidated move of a standard one- or two-bedroom house on the East Coast.
If you choose an exclusive direct transport move, the total cost will be higher but you'll have control over the arrival date, and yours will be the only belongings in the moving truck. Exclusive moves cost more because you're paying the entirety of the fuel and labor costs, instead of those costs being divided among the other clients whose belongings are on the same truck. Choosing an exclusive move can be a good idea if you have high-value items that need special attention, or if you just need to have your items by a specific date. Simply Moving & Storage, which is based on the East Coast, says that a recent exclusive move they did from New York to Florida cost $5,500, while another exclusive move they did from New York to California cost $16,000.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right mover for you. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.