How much do professional movers cost?

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You just bought a new home and are counting down the days until you leave your current place. You’re excited to move, but not so much about the move itself. If the thought of packing up and hauling all of your stuff on your own fills you with dread, you may want to hire a moving company.

The cost to move varies and can easily reach into the thousands of dollars, but depending on how far you’re going, how much you have and how well you handle stress, working with professional movers might be worth the expense.

How much do movers cost?

A full-service move can cost as little as $550 if you’re moving locally with just a few items to $12,000 or more if you’re moving across the country, according to Move.org. Self-pack storage containers or renting your own moving van is usually cheaper: as little as $35 for a small moving van, or $500 for a pod.

Local move costs (generally less than 100 miles) can be estimated based on the size of the home you’re leaving. According to HomeAdvisor, a one-bedroom apartment will cost an average of $240-$500 to move without packing service; a three-bedroom house averages $480-$800 without packing service; and a five-bedroom house averages $800-$1,500 or more without packing service.

What affects the cost of a move?

The cost of moving has a lot of variables, including distance, size of your home and the cost of living in the places you’re moving to and from. Here are a few of the major factors that can affect the cost of your move.

Size of your home or how much stuff you have

By far the biggest factor is the size of your home (or, how much stuff you have). If you’re relocating from one 300-square-foot studio to another, you’ll pay a lot less than a family moving the contents of a 2,500-square-foot home, for instance.

Then again, if you’re a hoarder in a studio, you could pay more to move all your trinkets and files than someone who lives in a mansion but only owns one sofa and two T-shirts, for some reason.

You’ll also need to account for whether the movers will pack up your belongings, or whether you’ll do it yourself.

Distance

How far you’re going is probably the next-biggest factor in determining the cost of your move. It’s much cheaper to move around the corner than to haul all your stuff to another coast. In general, the farther you’re going, the higher the cost will be.

Time of year

Everything has its season and time, including moving. The time of year and even the day of the week could affect what a moving company charges. Spring and summer tend to be the busy seasons for moving. Often, moves between April and October cost 25 percent more than other times of the year. Moving on weekends is also pricier, as is moving at the end or beginning of the month, since those are all more popular days and times to change residences.

Insurance

Insuring your items for a move through your moving company will usually raise the price. Keep in mind that your current home insurance policy might offer coverage for your move. It’s worth double-checking so that you don’t pay for additional coverage you don’t need.

Extra costs

Sometimes, getting your stuff from point A to point B isn’t straightforward. One unexpected cost you might face — especially if you’re moving to a city with tiny, narrow streets — is transferring your belongings from a big moving truck to a smaller shuttle. These costs, too, will vary by how much you’re moving and how far the shuttle has to go, but it can be anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand dollars extra for most movers.

If you have to leave your current home but are still shopping for your next house, or have a time gap before you can officially move in, you might also have to pay the moving company to store your belongings. Costs vary based on how much stuff you need to store and for how long, but generally range from less than $100 for a few items over a short time to more than $1,000 for storing a house worth’s of stuff for an extended period.

How to save on moving costs

It’s definitely possible to lower the cost of your move if you’re willing to put in a little effort or do some consolidation. Here are a few things to think about to make your move cheaper:

  • Do some of the work yourself. By packing your own boxes or renting your own moving truck, rather than hiring movers for a full-service move, you can save significant cash. You’ll pay for it in your own sweat equity, though.
  • Donate, sell or discard items you don’t think you’ll need in the new home. There’s no point in paying movers to bring items to your new place if you’re never going to use them once you get there.
  • Try to eat through your pantry and use up any perishable items. You probably don’t want to bring old food with you, anyway. Start with an all-new shopping list when you settle into your new home.
  • Plan to purchase new basics when you get there. Things like paper towels, garbage bags and soap you can always buy once you get to your new place, so it’s usually not cost-effective to pack them in your boxes. Do remember to bring at least one roll of toilet paper with you for day one in your new place, however.

Bottom line

Hiring professional movers isn’t your only option. If you don’t mind packing your belongings and lifting heavy furniture yourself, you can move for the cost of renting a van and paying for gasoline. For many people, though, the cost of hiring professional movers is worth it to reduce hassle and the risk of injury, and take away that source of stress.

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Written by
Zach Wichter
Mortgage reporter
Zach Wichter is a mortgage reporter at Bankrate. He previously worked on the Business desk at The New York Times where he won a Loeb Award for breaking news, and covered aviation for The Points Guy.
Edited by
Mortgage editor
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