Moving to a new home is always a stressful event. And, while hiring pros could make the moving experience a lot easier, it can also bring its share of concerns. The best moving companies are those that will handle your belongings with care, be on time, offer affordable rates and, ultimately, give you some peace of mind.
Anyone with a truck can help you move, but when you need professional assistance, it's best to pick trusted companies to get the job done.
Read on for our list of the 6 best moving companies of 2021, to help you choose the right mover for you.
Our Top Picks for Moving Companies
- American Van Lines - Best for Long-Distance Moves
- International Van Lines - Best for International Moves
- PODS - Best for Moving Containers
- New Leaf Moving Group - Best Broker
- U-Pack - Best Low-Cost Moving Containers
- Unpakt - Best Aggregator
Moving Companies Reviews
- Flat-rate pricing on long-distance moves
- Binding estimates
- Special offers available for predetermined routes
- Online quotes are not instant
- Weight limits may apply
American Van Lines is primarily a domestic local and long-distance mover, though international services and corporate relocations are also offered. Unlike many nationwide moving companies, American Van Lines handles all moves itself, instead of outsourcing to other companies. They also specialize in piano and antique moving, making them a great choice if you have more than a few fragile items and valuables.
American Van Lines offers customizable moving services, meaning you can choose whether to do self-service, full-service or any combination of add-on services in between. This is notable, given that many cross-country moving companies only offer full-service moving, which dramatically increases the final price tag.
In addition to offering free quotes by email or over the phone, American Van Lines also features promotional pricing on predetermined routes. For example, they advertise moves from Dallas, TX to Denver, CO at $3,022, which they further explain is for a one-bedroom home. They also provide pricing for larger homes, which helps you get a better idea of what to expect on your bill.
Special item moving services are also available for everything from pianos and pool tables to hot tubs. Terms and conditions are clearly presented on their webpage and the claims filing process is similarly simple to initiate. American Van Lines also requires an upfront deposit with your booking, though the amount varies depending on the details of the move.
- Services all 50 states and over 180 countries
- Specialized services such as house cleaning and debris removal available
- Air and sea transportation available for international moves
- Long- and short-term storage options available
- Requires a 25% deposit
- Pricier than many competitors
- Common complaints mention movers arriving late
International Van Lines is a full-service moving company that can handle both cross-country and international moves. Being both a carrier and a broker, International Van Lines can move your belongings using their own fleet if you live in their service area — Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California — or delegate the work to their partners if you don’t.
The company is also licensed as a Non-Vessel Owning Common Carrier by the Federal Maritime Commission, which allows them to ship goods overseas. IVL’s services are versatile, offering to transport everything from common household goods to cars, boats and specialty items. They even provide add-on services such as custom crating, house cleaning, and debris removal, making them truly full-service.
While IVL requests personal information before providing a quote, they are one of the most transparent companies in terms of pricing. They produce itemized quotes that break down the cost of each item and extra service required or requested, such as the cost of individual stair steps. Virtual and in-person walkthroughs are offered, though as always, the in-person option will produce the most accurate estimates possible.
Likely due to their full-service offerings, IVL’s prices are higher than their competitors’, though they have an overall positive customer satisfaction record. Another detail to keep in mind is the fact that they charge an upfront 25% deposit, which is unusual among the top moving companies. If you’re planning a long-distance or international move, IVL is worth considering.
- Affordable pricing compared to traditional movers
- Varied container sizes available
- Short- and long-term storage options
- Minimum weight limit required for large containers
- No packing services
PODS is a moving container company that operates throughout most of the continental U.S. — except for four states: Alaska, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Unlike traditional moving companies, PODS offers storage containers that are delivered to your home and transported to your new destination after you’re done loading them up (however long that might take). And, because you can keep your personal belongings in those containers, these can also serve as storage facilities.
Most moving companies require you to provide your contact information and household details before producing an estimate, but not PODS. Because you’re renting a container of a predetermined size, all PODS needs from you is your starting location, destination, move date and the size container you plan on using. Containers come in three sizes: small, medium and large, which range from 8’x7’x8’ to 16’x8’x8’. In the event that you rent more containers than you need, the company may even offer refunds for unused containers. (Note that refunds are only offered on a case-by-case basis, according to the terms of service.)
Per its own website, the average cost of a local move with PODS is $349-$549, while a long-distance move can range anywhere between $999-$2,999. It’s worth pointing out that it doesn't provide quick quotes for long-distance moves, which means that you need to either call or fill out an online form so they can contact you via email.
The company also offers insurance options for both your containers and belongings up to a value of $300,000. Packing supplies are also available, though packing and loading assistance is subcontracted to local companies that are unaffiliated with PODS.
If you find yourself in a location that PODS cannot service, the website will redirect you to U-Pack, a competing moving containers company with slightly broader coverage (but with some distance limitations). Should you need to cancel for any reason, the company offers free cancellations up to one day prior to delivery.
- Useful and informative online resources
- Vetted moving partners
- Local and long-distance moving services are outsourced (except in Florida)
New Leaf Moving Group is a broker specializing in interstate moves, and that also offers local and long-distance moving services within the state of Florida. It offers free quotes either online or over the phone.
Though there are many moving service brokers in the market, New Leaf Moving Group stands out for its transparency. Most brokers will offer vague information on their services, but New Leaf's website offers fairly detailed information.
For example, New Leaf includes a digital copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s “Rights and Responsibilities” document — something that is required by Federal Law, but seldom offered up front. It also clearly outlines its refunds and cancellation policies, which allow you to cancel services penalty-free up to 5 days before the moving date. A 5% fee is always deducted from your refund, regardless of the cancellation date.
Its due diligence also extends to its partner companies. New Leaf says it works only with interstate movers with good customer service and few complaints, using the Better Business Bureau and Department of Transportation websites to check their records. This strategy is fairly effective, given New Leaf’s own relatively low number of complaints and relatively small amount of negative reviews.
Despite their overall positive reviews, New Leaf does have a C+ rating from the BBB, which is less than ideal. However, the BBB’s given reasoning for this rating is their short time in business (1 year) and the number of complaints (29) they’ve received in that time. (All complaints seem to have been resolved.)
- Online quotes available instantly
- You only pay for the space you use on moving trailers
- Flexible container size options
- No local moving services
- No car moving services
- No full-service options
Moving containers are a popular and relatively low-cost alternative to traditional moving services. U-Pack is one of the better-known companies in the business and one of the few moving container companies to service all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The company also offers some of the lowest prices for moving container services, though they only handle long-distance moves — over 100 miles, in most cases.
What makes U-Pack able to keep costs low is that it only charges you for what you use. If you order three containers, but only use two, you don’t get charged for the third, even if it was already delivered. If you choose to use a commercial trailer, but don’t fill it up, you only get charged for the space you used. U-Pack uses the leftover space to service commercial deliveries on the way to your destination.
Except in cases where the moving distances are too short, U-Pack offers instant online quotes. As an example, we requested two quotes for a two-bedroom home: one from Hackensack, NJ to San Diego, CA and one from Hackensack to Chicago, IL. Their respective prices amounted to $7,105 and $2,409. These prices only reflected the cost of two ReloCubes (what they call their moving containers) and didn't include loading/unloading services or the cost of packing supplies, which U-Pack does not provide.
Cancellations are free up to 7 days before delivery and you don’t get charged until the container or trailer arrives at your home. U-Pack does not offer car transportation services.
- Over 600 partners nationwide
- Instant online quotes
- Comprehensive inventory system makes the quote process quick and simple
- Limited customer service hours
- Many users have reported poor customer service overall
Unpakt is an aggregator page that focuses on comparing moving rates across different carriers and brokers. Unlike pages that ask for your personal information before providing a free quote, Unpakt gives you free quotes with minimal personal information. Its inventory system lets you specify which items you’ll be moving so they can obtain realistic quotes from their partners.
Unpakt also has a large network of partners. These 600 affiliated companies allow them to cover 95% of the country. Payments are handled upfront, meaning that you pay Unpakt in advance and they pay the moving company once services have been rendered.
Despite the overall convenience and efficiency of the website, Unpakt’s customer service record is less than stellar. The most common complaints mention generally unhelpful representatives and the occasional pricing dispute. Their operating schedule is fairly limited as well, as it's only open from 9am - 6pm EST on weekdays and 9am - 3pm EST on weekends. Considering that weekends are popular moving days, this leaves little room to report any issues that may come up during the move.
Other Companies We Considered
- Works with carriers that provide binding estimates, avoiding last-minute price changes
- Fully licensed, insured and bonded
- Free 30-day storage after delivery
- No instant online quotes
- Local moving services not offered
- Order moving supplies and virtual walkthroughs for an instant quote through mobile app
- Comprehensive informational resources and calculators
- Last-minute moves can be accommodated
- Long service record with over 12,000 moves a year
- Friendly and knowledgeable customer service
- Long-distance and corporate moves only
- Full value insurance pricing included with quotes
- Debris removal services offered
- Moving strategy sessions offered to streamline the moving process
- No online quotes offered
- Customer experience varies greatly depending on your state
- Customizable service options
- Quotes available in minutes
- Shipment tracking services offered
- Considerably pricier than competitors
Moving Companies Guide
As with many big life decisions, picking a moving company requires careful consideration of several factors. The type of moving services you need, your available budget, and any special items you may have, just to name a few.
This brief guide will go over some of the more common and important things to keep in mind when looking for a moving company.
Types of Moving Company Services
There are many reasons and circumstances under which people decide to move, so it makes sense that there are just as many types of moving services. A moving company may offer one or more of the following:
Unlike full-service movers, self-service movers provide the bare minimum of moving assistance, typically limited to a truck driver to carry your belongings from one home to the next. Everything else — including packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, etc. — is left up to the customer.
Some self-service movers will also offer moving container services as part of the self-service option.
Full-service movers handle every part of your move on your behalf. This includes providing storage supplies, packing, furniture disassembly/reassembly, and everything else up until the move is completed.
Because of the number of factors involved in moving (home size, move distance, whether there are stairs involved, etc.), prices can vary wildly. For a full-service move, you can generally expect to pay no less than $1000 for a local move — usually under 100 miles — and upwards of $7000 for international moves.
Local movers help you with moves of up to 100 miles from your old home. Because these are relatively short distances that don’t cross state lines often, these companies are unregulated in some states, which can raise concerns about their service quality.
If you live in one of these states, look for companies that voluntarily undergo a licensing process to ensure the quality of their work.
Long-distance moving companies will handle moves of distances greater than 100 miles. This covers moves within the same state and between different states.
Note, however, that this doesn’t necessarily mean that long-distance movers are the same as interstate movers, which require registration with the Department of Transportation to operate their business.
Interstate movers specialize in moves across state lines. Because each state has different regulations for moving services (or sometimes none at all), companies specializing in interstate moves are required to register with the Department of Transportation in order to comply with Federal guidelines.
Registering with the DoT benefits the customer, since it requires the company to have a DoT and Motor Carrier number, which can be used to look up the company’s service record on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association’s website. This adds a layer of quality control that you don’t usually get with unlicensed, unregulated local moving services.
Simply put, these are moving services that take your belongings from one country to another. Whether you’re moving south (or north) of the border, or overseas, an international mover will make sure the goods get there in one piece, and will often hold them in storage while you finish the process of moving into the new country (paperwork, house hunting, etc.)
These services are commonly included as part of broader relocation services, which can help you with additional processes like obtaining a new driver’s license or even reaching out to real estate brokers on your behalf.
Special item movers
Uncommon items such as pianos, pool tables, and even playground sets fall under the “special items” description. Due to the extra care required when moving these kinds of items, moving companies will charge extra for them.
Special item moves typically involve recruiting experts to make sure your items are handled with the utmost care possible. An example of this is dismantling a pool table for transportation, followed by reassembly at the new home.
If you can’t (or don’t want to) drive your car to your new location, you can have a moving company transport it for you. The cost will largely depend on the type of transportation involved, that is, whether it’s by land or overseas). Take note that if you’re moving to another country or even a U.S. territory, you might have to pay local customs, which are typically calculated based on the car’s value.
Moving Container Services
Unlike regular self-service moving services, moving containers are a slightly more flexible option. The moving company will provide you with a container that will remain in front of your home while you fill it up over the course of a few days.
On moving day, a professional driver will pick up the container and transport it to your new home, where the container will stay until you’ve emptied it out.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire Professional Movers?
While there are many factors that go into calculating the cost of a move, there is a ballpark range you can rely on to estimate the final price tag of your move. Local movers are the easiest to estimate, with costs ranging from $25 to $50 per mover, per hour.
If you live in a 2-bedroom home without stairs, the process could take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and require at least two movers. This means that you could reasonably expect to pay around $600 (accounting for both movers and associated service charges). If you choose a full-service moving option, that price tag can easily go over $1,000.
Long-distance moves are a little trickier, since it varies depending on the total weight of items moved and the distance to be traveled. On average, a long-distance move (over 100 miles) can cost as low as $2,500 or as high as $6,500 for a two-bedroom home. A full-service option could easily push the price tag over $10,000, depending on the distance traveled.
Self-service options are much more affordable, with a truck rental for a local move costing anywhere from $28 to $80, depending on the size of your home. Storage containers will generally cost around $130 and can fit the contents of homes up to three bedrooms in size. The flip side is that you’ll still need to rent a truck or hire a professional driver to transport the container to your new home.
Additional fees and expenses
Besides the standard costs associated with moving, there are a number of additional fees that may apply during your move and that you should be aware of:
Large items such as pianos and pool tables are considered add-on services due to the special care they require during transportation. Depending on whether the move is local or long-distance, you can expect an additional fee of $150 for an upright piano (local move) to upwards of $3,000 for a pool table (long-distance).
If your home has one or more staircases, you can expect to pay an additional fee for moving services. Because of the risks associated with moving heavy items up and down stairs, moving companies will charge you extra if their employees have to navigate them — sometimes on a per-step basis.
Even if you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, it might not cover your belongings during a move. Federal law requires interstate movers to offer two different types of insurance: released value protection and full value protection.
Released value protection is the most basic of the two and makes the moving company liable for only 60 cents per pound per item. This means that an expensive, but lightweight item like an iPad will only be reimbursed for less than $3 if it is broken.
Full value protection carries an additional cost, but requires the mover to either repair, replace, or reimburse you for the current market value of the damaged item. Moving companies are allowed to set their own limitations on coverage, so make sure to thoroughly read through their policies before making a decision.
Local movers have no clearly defined insurance requirements, which makes it important to ask them if they offer any insurance options. You can also purchase moving insurance directly from an insurance company, if you prefer.
Depending on the details of your move, you may need additional services from your moving company. For example, if the movers have to haul furniture across an especially long driveway, you may be charged extra for long haul services.
If the moving truck is too large to get close enough to your home’s entrance, the moving company may need to use smaller trucks which are charged as “shuttle services.” Other services that are normally covered by full-service movers can also be charged separately, such as packing supplies, furniture assembly and disassembly, among others.
Always make sure to fully disclose the details of your move to the moving company so you can receive the most accurate estimate possible.
Factors that affect pricing
Without taking into account any add-on services you may require — such as specialty item moving or additional insurance — the base cost of your move will depend on a handful of factors:
Long-distance moves (over 50 miles, typically) will take into account the distance from your old home to your new one, as well as any associated costs such as food and gas costs.
In the case of local moves (usually under 50 miles), the total amount of furniture and belongings in your home will be used to determine how many hours the move will take. Larger homes will usually require more personnel, which can significantly increase the overall cost, since it’s paid per hour, per mover.
Another main factor that will determine the cost of your long-distance move is the total weight of your belongings. This is comparable to the overall size of your home for local moves. Note that, as we said above, items such as pianos or pool tables are considered specialty items and carry their own separate rate.
The time of year you choose for your move can greatly impact the final price tag of the service. The spring months (March, April, May) are generally the best time to move, if you want to keep costs low. On the other hand, moving during winter — especially if you’re moving somewhere with heavy snowfall — can greatly increase your costs due to the associated risks.
How to find the best moving companies
Once you have a rough idea of what your moving budget is and what type of service you need, it’s time to start looking for a moving company. Here are a few tips to make sure you pick the best fit for you.
Research credentials and reputation
The first step to finding the right movers for you is making sure they have all their paperwork in order. Moving companies — especially interstate movers — are subject to a number of licensing requirements. Any moving company that doesn’t have its licenses up to date should not be on your list.
Licensing and accreditation requirements vary from state to state, which can make looking for local movers tricky. Some states have movers’ associations that keep databases of member companies, but most states rely on their Department of Transportation or Public Service Commission to track license numbers and complaint information.
Beyond local licenses, the American Moving and Storage Association offered a ProMover certification which requires moving companies to comply with rigorous safety and service standards. Though the AMSA dissolved in 2020, many former members have joined the American Trucking Association’s Moving and Storage Conference, which is in the process of developing its own ProMover certification. Bearing the ProMover seal of approval is a good sign of a reputable company.
Lastly, consider whether the moving company has any notable awards, letters of recommendation, or even great word of mouth. The best way to tell whether a company is up to the task of transporting your belongings is by looking at their track record. If you have their registry information, look into any complaints they may have on record. Consider also asking realtors and other professionals who may have worked with them before.
For long-distance moves, the above advice still applies if you’re only relocating within your state. If you plan to cross state lines, make sure that the moving company you’re looking into has both a Motor Carrier (MC) and Department of Transportation (DOT) license number. To check whether these are current, you can use the FMCSA’s website to look them up. The same page can be used to check if there are any complaints on file or whether the company is properly insured.
Get multiple estimates
Once you’re satisfied with your research and have a solid list of companies to contact, start asking for estimates. Comparison shopping is important for a number of reasons. The first is that estimates can vary widely between companies and, of course, you want to make sure that you’re being charged a reasonable rate.
Comparison shopping is also useful when looking at additional services that companies provide. Your top picks could offer similar pricing for a self-service move, but have wildly different prices when it comes to special item handling, for example. It also helps to compare insurance policies between companies, especially if you’re looking into the more expensive full value protection policy.
Do bear in mind that traditionally, most moving companies prefer to do a home walkthrough so they can provide the most accurate estimate possible. Due to ongoing Covid-19 concerns, however, many companies have begun offering virtual walkthroughs as an alternative. Whenever possible, an in-person walkthrough is preferable for accurate pricing.
While it is important to do as much independent research as possible, directly asking the moving company for information is always preferable. A reputable moving company should readily disclose any relevant license numbers, accreditations and other information that you might request from them.
Each year, the Better Business Bureau receives an estimated 13,000 complaints related to moving companies. Some of these involve unresolved issues such as damaged or missing items, but others are far more concerning, including price gouging and holding property for ransom.
Because moving requires you to trust someone else to transport valuable home belongings, moving services can be fertile ground for scams. While the BBB has released its own 2020 report on the matter, the basic details are simple: shady individuals are creating fake company pages online — sometimes with seemingly legitimate credentials — to cheat people out of their money and/or belongings during a move.
How to protect yourself from moving scams
These scams have many variations, but there are precautions you can take to protect yourself from them. As mentioned above, the first and best line of defense against fraudulent movers is checking their credentials and reputation. An unlicensed company is less likely to be legitimate or trustworthy.
In the case of local movers in states that don’t regulate moving companies, such as Alaska or South Dakota, word of mouth is a good alternative. Ask people you trust and local professionals if they’ve ever used the company’s services or heard good things about them to get a better idea of the company’s practices.
If you think you’ve found a company with seemingly real credentials, but want to make absolutely sure, there are a few tools that can help you do just that. Moving companies with DOT and MC numbers can be looked up on the FMCSA’s website to make sure their licenses are up to date. The same page will also list any complaints the company may have on file.
You can also check the BBB’s registry of companies, where you can read customer reviews and complaints and check out the company’s BBB rating, which can range from A+ to F.
Another often-cited scam involving moving companies is hostage loads, that is, when the moving company refuses to unload your items unless you pay them a much higher amount than what was on the estimate. While it’s not uncommon for the final price of a move to be somewhat higher than estimated, hostage load scenarios involve several thousand dollars over the asking price.
A good tactic to avoid falling prey to these types of scams is to ask for a binding estimate from the moving company. A binding estimate can be slightly more expensive than normal, but it guarantees that you won’t pay more than the agreed-upon amount (except in extraordinary circumstances).
What to do if you’ve been the victim of a scam
Should you fall victim to one of these scams, there are some actions you can take to resolve the issue, though they will take some time. The first step should always be to notify law enforcement of the situation. Hostage load scenarios are in breach of federal law and can carry fines of $10,000 per day, as well as license suspensions for the offender.
It’s also important to file complaints with the FMCSA and BBB. Though neither entity has enforcement powers, FMCSA complaints can trigger federal investigations into the company. Lastly, try reaching out to your state’s consumer protection agency for additional assistance.
Moving During Covid
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way many companies do business. Here are a few tips to make your move as seamless as possible during Covid:
Ask the moving company about their protocols
It may seem like common sense, but it’s an often overlooked step. When contracting the moving company for their services, make sure to ask if they have any sanitation protocols in place that you should be aware of. This helps you determine what, if any, precautions the company is taking. It also helps to have everything ready for the movers on moving day.
Ask for virtual home walkthroughs
If you don’t yet feel comfortable having strangers in your home, you can ask the company whether it offers virtual home walkthroughs for their estimates. Keep in mind that these are slightly less accurate than an in-person walkthrough, and can end up making the final price much different than the original estimate.
Disinfect while packing
While cleaning is a normal part of packing for a move, you should probably go the extra mile during pandemic times. Try wiping down items with disinfectant as you pack them, and make sure boxes are properly sealed. It’s also a good idea to do another round of disinfecting 24 hours before the movers arrive, since that’s how long the virus can last on cardboard surfaces.
How We Chose the Best Moving Companies
Our top priority when choosing the best movers was nationwide availability, when possible. After all, it makes little sense to recommend an outstanding company that’s only available in one specific part of the country.
We also favored moving companies that offered transparent pricing upfront. Given the large number of factors involved in pricing a move, having a good idea of what to expect before committing is always appreciated.
Lastly, we chose companies with overall positive reviews and a low number of complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the FMCSA. Considering how common moving company scams are at the local level, we favored companies with a broader service area and an established track record with years of experience.