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How much it costs to move: Everything you need to consider

A woman hangs a picture in her new home
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Moving is always stressful, but you can minimize how much you’ll worry about paying for it if you plan ahead.

How much does it cost to move?

Moving comes with a price tag somewhere between roughly $850 and $2,290, based on data from more than 19,000 HomeAdvisor members.

However, those figures only apply to moves within 100 miles of your current home. If you’re relocating to a new destination that requires a lengthy trek across the country, you’ll need to budget more. The average for out-of-state moves is about $2,200 to $5,700, according to HomeAdvisor. If you’re making a super long haul — Boston to Los Angeles, for example — be prepared to pay $10,000 or even more.

What makes moving cost so much? Consider some of the key factors that will influence how much it will cost to move your stuff from here to there:

  • The size of your existing home – If you’re moving from a tiny studio apartment, you can be grateful for one fact from that cramped living space: You couldn’t accumulate enough to make moving really expensive. The smaller your home, the cheaper the move. On the other hand, a five-bedroom home will carry a steeper price tag since it will take longer for a moving crew to load everything onto a truck.
  • The size of the crew you’ll need – For local moves, each individual will likely be between $25 and $50 per hour. So, if your home requires a four-person crew, your hourly rate will increase.
  • The space between your old home and your new one – Every mile counts. The farther a moving company has to drive, the higher your final bill.
  • Oversized items – While couches, beds, and dressers are standard items for moving, uncommonly large pieces such as a grand piano will make your move more costly.
  • Oversized trucks – Depending on the company you hire to move your belongings, you might need to pay extra if you require something larger than a standard truck.
  • The route in and out of each home – If you have a freight elevator that makes your movers’ lives easier, you’ll save time, which also saves money. If you have four flights of stairs with twists and turns, though, be prepared for more hours and more cash.
  • Supplies – You’ll need boxes, tape, padding, and more. Home Depot’s moving calculator can help you get an estimate of the cost of those supplies based on the rooms you need to pack.
  • Insurance protection – If you’re packing up everything you own and putting it on a truck, you run the risk of it being damaged along the way. Any reputable moving company will offer basic coverage that pays 60 cents per pound for an item. Still, you might want to purchase additional protection, particularly if that truck will be speeding over bumps on the highway at 65 miles per hour. These extra policies add more to your moving bill, but they also provide peace of mind.
  • The time of the year – It’s better to move when other people are staying put. That means it’s best to avoid the spring and summer when more people buy homes or relocate before the school year starts. With lower demand for moving companies in the fall and winter, you might be able to lock in a better rate.
  • The time of the month – Rather than trying to move at the very end of the month, the middle of the month can be a more affordable option since you’ll avoid everyone trying to time a move with the first day of a rental term.
  • Additional travel expenses – If you’re moving across the country, account for your own time in transit, too. Whether you’re driving with a few nights in hotels or booking flights for a quick trip, be sure to include estimates for your travel costs in your budget.
  • The tip – Moving is like dining out: You should tip for great service. Plan for a 10 percent to 20 percent tip to thank movers for their hard work.

A look at a sample move

Every move is different. To illustrate a potential budget for a move, consider someone moving from a three-bedroom house in Kansas City, Kansas, to a new home in nearby Lawrence, Kansas. Since Lawrence is only about 40 miles away, this is considered a local move, meaning the homeowner will be able to skip the hefty costs of a long-haul move. Moving a three-bedroom house should take between six and eight hours, based on HomeAdvisor’s estimates. Based on this timeframe, this move will likely fall between $2,880 and $6,400, including supplies, movers, and tips.

How to save money on moving

To avoid breaking the bank when you’re moving, consider some of these options for shrinking the costs:

1. Do it yourself

Depending on how strong you are (and how strong your friendships are, as you’ll need some help), you could consider taking care of the job on your own. While you’ll save the money you would pay movers for their time, you’ll still need to shell out a decent sum of money to rent a truck. For example, renting a truck from U-Haul designed to fit the belongings from a two- to three-bedroom home for a one-way trip from Chicago to Dallas in September might cost more than $3,200. If you exceed the mileage allotment, you can expect to pay an additional $0.40 per mile.

2. Take care of the packing

If doing the moving yourself sounds overwhelming, consider doing part of the work instead. You can save some money if you handle the organizing and packing duties for all your items. HomeAdvisor’s data shows that the average cost of packing and unpacking a home is around $1,000. If you feel confident you can securely pack all your breakables, you can cut the extra expense and leave the heavy lifting (literally) to the professionals.

3. Start a purging pile

Since you’re moving into a new place, it’s a perfect time to think about a fresh start. Rather than finding boxes for all your possessions, consider donating or tossing any items that you no longer use. Which clothes in your closet haven’t been worn in over a year? Do you really plan on using all those kitchen mugs you’ve collected at your new home? Whatever you can do to reduce the weight and number of trips between the truck and your home for your movers, the better off you’ll be.

4. Be willing to wait

If you can afford to be without your stuff for a bit longer, you might make your move more affordable. Some moving companies offer lower prices for customers who are willing to wait instead of asking for a guaranteed arrival timeline. Be sure to ask about potential savings for shifting the date of your move, too.

5. Get multiple quotes

You probably didn’t settle on the first home you found, and you shouldn’t settle on the first moving company you find online, either. Instead, reach out to multiple companies for price estimates to make sure you’re getting a good deal. Moving isn’t necessarily about finding the cheapest option, though — it’s about finding a company you can trust.

Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Mortgage editor