Any move that covers a distance of 50 or fewer miles is categorized as "local moving," or an intrastate (as opposed to a cross-country or long-distance) move. A full-service move can include boxing or packing up household goods, loading, moving, unloading and unpacking. Simple moving services might just include helping people unload a moving truck or truck rental full of household items into a storage unit.
Pricing a local move into a new home or apartment is not always simple. Various additional costs and extra charges could increase the total bill if homeowners do not give clear details to the moving company when asking for a price quote. If movers have stairs to climb, extra stops to make, or specialty items and fragile things to move, costs will increase. If the moving company can’t park the truck close to the destination, prices may also go up to account for the extra distance carrying boxes and furniture.
The best way to get started—and to prevent any surprises—is to get an in-home estimate so that the moving company knows exactly what they are moving and where it’s going.
Before hiring a mover, homeowners should consider cleaning out and throwing away stuff they don’t use anymore. For example, take loads of old clothes to the thrift store, set that junk TV on the curb and cull out a few dozen old books. Decluttering in advance can save time and money on the move.
Many professional movers charge by the hour, with the hourly rate increasing as more hands or moving trucks are needed. For example, hourly rates at Texas Elite Moving range from $100 to $250, depending on what exact services are needed, how much bulky furniture there is whether there are specialty items, such as a pool table, to be moved.
Moving companies often base their hourly rate on the number of movers needed for a job. Hiring two movers might cost half the hourly rate as four movers, but it could take them more than twice as long to do the job. Hiring extra workers might cost more per hour, but it could save money in the long run by getting the job done more quickly.
Number of rooms
In general, the larger the house and the more heavy furniture to be moved, the higher the moving cost. Seasoned movers can provide an estimate for moving costs based on the number and type of rooms in a house, although estimates may increase based on the number of boxes, whether packing services are needed and other variables.
A three-bedroom house should take four professional movers about nine hours to move locally. So at a rate of $25 per hour per worker, that would be an average cost of $900 per job, before the tip. A studio apartment might only take two movers five hours to do the job, with an average cost of $250.
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 and can count as an additional cost. If customers want movers to pack up their stuff into boxes, most companies charge $25–$40 an hour, depending on the location. Packing up fragile items in the kitchen usually takes longer than boxing up stuff in the bedroom.
Here are examples of costs for a standard move and a full-service move from Texas Elite Moving:
Full-service on a three-bedroom house: $1,000–$1,500
- Three people packing for approximately four hours and five or six hours of loading, moving and unloading time
Standard moving service on a three-bedroom house: $500–$1,000
- Three people and five or six hours of loading, moving and unloading time
Stairs, elevators and long-carry fees
Stairs at the initial move site or the new destination can increase moving costs because they require more work for movers and present more possibility of injury or damage. Some moving companies only charge for stairs ascended, not for carrying stuff downstairs from the point of origin. If the move is into a fifth-floor walk-up, most companies charge $50–$75 per flight of stairs. Usually, the first flight of stairs is free, but it’s a good idea to clarify all of these details with the moving company when getting a quote to avoid surprises.
When moving into a building with an elevator, most companies charge a one-time elevator fee of about $75 to $100, depending on the city. A moving company might waive the elevator fee if the building management is willing to dedicate an elevator to the move to help speed things along.
When moving into a place where the moving company cannot park directly at the door, some companies will charge a long-carry fee, which is usually about $100 for every 75 feet from the truck to the door.
Binding versus nonbinding estimates
Many professional moving companies provide binding estimates (also called a guaranteed price) for moving costs. A binding estimate provides the exact cost for moving services—which means the final charges will not increase or decrease if the final weight of the household items being moved is more or less than estimated. A binding estimate covers only the goods and services listed on the estimate. If homeowners add items or request additional services, some movers will void the original binding price and require customers to sign an addendum to the original contract. Read what you are signing very carefully. Movers may also require full payment for any additional services at the time of delivery.
Movers can solely assist with packing, loading and unpacking. These services cost less than if a moving truck is also requested. So if homeowners have their own truck, it can save money.
Moving specialty items such as pianos, antique furniture or a pool table or disassembling and reassembling furniture all require extra work and may increase the cost of local moving.
If movers need a crane to get a piano out of an upstairs apartment, that job alone could cost $1,000–$2,500, but a more simple local move for a piano might only cost $100 to $600 extra, depending on where it’s going in the destination location.
Moving motorcycles, gym equipment and lawn mowers sometimes also come with extra charges, especially if more than one moving truck is involved.
Travel distance 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 the specifics of how distance is handled in the contract before signing. 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. Once the 50-mile mark is reached, however, a mileage fee kicks in.
Some companies charge a flat "travel fee" equal to an hour of labor for local moves, not related to mileage.
If movers need to drop items in two different locations—for example, stopping at a storage unit on the way to the new home—most companies will charge an additional cost for the extra stop.
Before you sign an agreement with a moving company, check to see if the mover is registered with the federal government. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains a database of approved movers. A U.S. Department of Transportation number is required by FMCSA for interstate moves. (For moves within a state, requirements vary. Check with your state, county or local consumer affairs agency or your state attorney general.) FMCSA's mover search tool gives you up-to-date access to registered interstate movers and their complaint history.
Professional movers often include a basic level of insurance protection in their hourly rate, but that’s usually only worth something like $0.60 per pound per article. If movers break something during the move, they will weigh that thing and pay the homeowner $0.60 per pound. So a 10-pound broken thing will net $6, which is very likely not what that thing is actually worth. This is called "released-value protection."
Therefore, it might not be a bad idea to purchase additional coverage on the move or ask for "full–value protection," which covers the full worth of any lost or damaged items. Movers are then obligated to either replace the damaged item, repair it or make a cash settlement for the item’s market value.
For full-value protection plans, it’s a good idea to include a list of any items of extraordinary value, which to a mover is anything worth more than $100 per pound. This category could include jewelry, silverware, artwork, etc.
Homeowners can also purchase optional third-party insurance for additional peace of mind.
Packing all boxes ahead of time and having everything organized, well-labeled and easily accessible for pickup will reduce overall costs if you pay by the hour. But if you want to have your valuables insured, the mover’s liability might be limited if you do all the packing yourself.
• To avoid financial loss in the long-run, verify that the mover or professional moving company is licensed and insured in the state where you hire them. Shane Harris of Texas Elite Moving says that this holds the company accountable for damages or losses. He also recommends that you be clear on the damage policy before signing a contract.
• If they do a good job, tip your moving company 15 percent or so. Have some cash handy.