Moving Costs: Knowing What to Expect and What Options are Available

Moving Costs: Knowing What to Expect and What Options are Available

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash 


Purchasing and/or selling a home is only the beginning of an unavoidable process: The. Move. And, as we mature in our lives and accumulate more things, the once fairly simple act of moving has suddenly evolved into a really big deal which requires logistical and financial planning. 

But, since you've survived the process of buying and selling a home, the moving part should be a piece of cake, right? Rest assured, it will be when you’re prepared and have considered all of your options. Just keep in mind that when you're calculating how much your move will cost, it's good to know there will be dozens of variables involved. 

Here is an idea of what to expect when it comes to moving costs and the options available:


For local moves, some of us choose to move ourselves, which is a viable alternative given that you’ve planned for the time and effort required. Truck rentals are quoted in daily fees, so you can save a lot of money on labor by moving yourself. Make sure you budget for the materials you’ll need - boxes, packing material, hand trucks, dollies, etc. It’s a good idea to prepare everything for the move prior to moving day, so all you have to do that day is load and go. 

The do-it-yourself move is, of course, the lowest cost way to go. Plan to spend between $500 and $7000 (not including pizza and beer for your friends that help out!)  Hint: Don’t give friends advance notice. You may find they suspiciously have ‘other plans.’

A Couple of Guys and a Big Truck

A very popular and cost-effective moving option is the local move which basically includes the time required to load/drive/unload. This method generally requires even more precise planning and execution, as you are paying a fixed rate for the time estimated for the move. This means all items must be packed and ready to load as efficiently as possible. The benefit of this option is you get expert movers who are motivated to get the job done. 

Cost estimates are by the relative size of the move, generally ranging from as low as $300 to $2000+ for a large (four+ bedroom) home. Here’s a hint: The movers work hard. Offering a gratuity up front for their hard work is very often a nice motivator that helps keep your time used in the estimated range. It’s usually a bit more than the aforementioned pizza surcharge, but worth it in time and labor saved.

Full-Service and Long Distance

The full-service option is an important choice when moving long distance. In this case, your belongings are professionally packed, loaded, moved/stored, and unloaded at your destination. Getting estimates for this kind of move is pretty simple, as these companies have been doing this for a long time. Their quotes involve an estimate of the weight of the load according to the size of the home and are based on weight and distance. Be sure to include all of the items that will need to be moved, including things like a boat, motorcycle(s), and other "grown-up toys" so you’re not taken by surprise by unexpected last-minute extra charges. 

Expect and plan for the total cost of a long-distance move to be in the thousands of dollars. You can budget according to the complete estimate provided by the moving company you choose.  Hint: The rates charged by moving companies are regulated, and quotes are based on estimates. To be sure, ask for a 'not-to-exceed quote.' This provides you with a maximum amount for the cost of the move.

Other things to consider

* If you pack your own items, the mover has limited liability for damage to your belongings during the move, Make sure you understand what, if any, damage coverage is included with their movers.

* Most full-service options include packing and transportation. You are generally responsible for unpacking at the destination.

* Read and understand your moving agreement. Ask questions about things like bonding and insurance, guarantees against damages, and not-to-exceed costs.

* Sometimes the logistics get complicated. Have a Plan B (and an estimate) for storage of your belongings if, unfortunately, something happens with the timing of arrival at your destination.

* Long distance moves are complicated. When traveling with your family, make sure you’ve planned ahead for everything you might need at your destination that shouldn’t be packed in the moving van.

Like everything in life, moving can either be an unmitigated hassle or an easy, stress-free process, depending on how well informed you are and how well you’ve planned. Plan ahead, be prepared, and think out all of your options to make your move go smoothly and stress-free!

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