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Published: Feb 14, 2023 15 min read
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Moving can be expensive, especially when you hire professionals to help you manage the process. Factors like how far you’re going and whether you choose full-service or labor-only movers affect how much you pay. If you’re trying to estimate your expenses, use this guide to determine how much hiring movers will cost.

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What are full-service movers?

Full-service movers are professional movers who take care of every step of the process — from packing and loading your items onto the truck to dropping them off at your final destination.

Full-service movers generally offer the following services:

  • Providing boxes, tape and packing paper
  • Packing up your items for transport
  • Disassembling large furniture items for transport
  • Loading your packaged belongings into the moving truck
  • Driving the moving truck to your new home
  • Unloading your belongings at your destination
  • Reassembling furniture items at your destination
  • Disposing of used packing supplies

When you work with full-service movers, you can leave most of the stress and physical effort of moving to the professionals while you focus on other things. The right full-service movers will make your move much faster and smoother than doing it yourself. You just have to pick a moving date, provide specific instructions and they’ll take care of everything else.

What are labor-only movers?

Labor-only movers handle loading and unloading your boxes and furniture from the transport vehicle but don’t provide a moving truck or packing services. Labor-only movers also won’t transport your items for you. You can think of labor-only movers as a professional substitute for friends or family members helping you move boxes out of your old home and into your new one.

Working with labor-only movers is more affordable than opting for full-service movers, giving you more control over the moving process. However, you will need to commit more time and effort to the move if you choose to use labor-only movers. You’ll have to package your belongings, arrange for transport such as a rental truck or moving container and ensure your items arrive at your destination.

Many of the best moving companies offer both labor-only and full-service moving services. Choose the service level that best suits your situation and needs.

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The average cost of movers

Two key factors that determine how much you’ll have to spend on movers are the distance of your move and whether you choose labor-only movers or full-service movers.

Loading and unloading only

Loading and unloading services have more straightforward pricing because you don't need to include costs for transportation and packing. The hourly rate for loading and unloading will vary by location.

According to Uhaul, the average price of movers by state ranges from $51 an hour in Florida to $87 an hour in North Dakota. Other moving companies report hourly rates closer to $25 to $50 per hour.

The larger your house and the more items you have to move, the longer it will take the movers to load and unload the vehicle. Moving when you have a larger home is more expensive for this reason. If the movers have to go up several flights of stairs or use an elevator to load or unload your items, you may incur additional charges.

Short-distance moves

In general, short-distance or local moves are less expensive than long-distance ones. In this context, short distance means a move less than 100 miles, whether that’s in-state or to a neighboring state.

According to Moving.com — a site that offers moving resources and connects visitors with a network of moving service providers — the average cost of short-distance moves is roughly $1,250 for a two- to a three-bedroom dwelling. When you hire local movers, you will likely pay the movers per hour rather than paying a flat fee.

To get an idea of what your short-distance move will cost, reach out to a few local moving companies for price estimates and compare them. Each company uses slightly different methods to determine its prices, so you will probably receive a range of price estimates. Some charge a flat rate while others charge per hour for each of the movers needed for the job, for example.

Long-distance moves

You will generally have to pay more for long-distance movers or cross-country movers. Costs will vary depending on the weight and volume of your items. According to Moving.com, the average cost of a long-distance move is nearly $5,000 for a two- to three-bedroom home with about 7,500 pounds worth of items.

The farther you’re moving and the more stuff you’re transporting, the more you should expect to pay. If you have a lot of heavy furniture, your moving costs will likely be higher than these estimates — up to $10,000 or more.

The pricing breakdown for moving services

The final price you pay for moving services will include several more specific costs, including:

Labor/hourly rate

The cost per hour per mover is critical to how much you’ll pay for moving services, whether you’re working with movers and packers or full-service movers. This is the price you pay for each of the movers’ labor by the hour. As mentioned previously, this rate can vary widely by state, ranging between $25 and $90 per hour per mover.

Each additional person you hire to complete the move will increase your labor costs. That said, more movers can get the same job done faster, so working with a larger team of movers may even out in terms of price.

Ask any moving company you’re considering for an estimate. This will help you compare prices and choose the best option. For the most accurate estimate, the movers will need to see your belongings in person. Estimates made over the phone can be misleading. You could end up paying more than the estimated figure if you didn’t properly weigh and disclose all your belongings.

Truck rental fee

Full-service moving companies provide the truck and transport your belongings to your new home. You may see a truck rental fee on your bill to account for the costs associated with using the truck in your move. Other companies might simply incorporate these fees into their prices.

If you hire labor-only movers, you’ll have to rent a moving truck or find another way to get your items to your destination. Truck rental fees from moving truck rental companies vary depending on the company you choose, how far you’re moving and how large a truck you need. Expect to pay an average of $155 in truck rental fees for a local move and about $1,000 for long-distance moves.

Base fee

The base fee is the minimum price you pay to hire movers from a professional moving company. It varies from company to company and is structured as a flat fee. For instance, a long-distance move will come with a base fee of around $1,000 or more. Even if you don’t need the movers to transport your belongings or complete any additional services, you will still incur the base fee charge.

Pay attention to the way a moving company charges customers. If you contact a moving company and they demand full payment or a significant sum up front, that’s a sign of a scam. Generally, you pay movers upon delivery instead. Also, look out for movers that mention many excess fees since they may be trying to hit you with inflated charges later.

Mileage

Full-service movers may include the cost of mileage in their flat fee price, but charging by the mile is also common for long-distance moves. A typical mileage fee for long-distance moves using full-service movers is around 75 cents per mile, according to Movers.com. If the distance of your move is under 50 miles, your mover probably won’t charge you mileage. They’ll generally charge by the hour instead.

When you work with labor-only movers and rent a truck to transport your belongings, the truck rental company will usually charge you mileage fees for each mile you travel. These mileage fees can range from 40 cents to $2 per mile. You may be able to find truck rental companies that offer unlimited mileage on their rentals, but that’s much less common.

Additional services you request

The fees listed above are all associated with standard moving services, but you can request additional services at an extra cost. Examples of these supplemental services include:

  • Unpacking your belongings in your new home
  • Handling unusual bulky items like safes, hot tubs and pianos
  • Hoisting large items out of a window if they don’t fit through your doors or hallways
  • Shuttling your items if the moving truck can’t park close to your home
  • Transporting items up and down multiple flights of stairs
  • Providing additional insurance for valuable items
  • Temporary storage if you don't want your belongings to arrive at your new home immediately

If you have a specialty item that requires extra care during packing and transport, that may also increase the cost of moving. For instance, keeping your plants safe during a move can be tricky, so you may have to pay movers extra to handle them.

If you’re moving overseas and want to bring your vehicle, you may need to look into car shipping companies since most traditional movers don’t offer this service. Expect to pay around $1,100 on average to ship your vehicle.

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How to make your next move more affordable

Choosing affordable movers is the first step to make your move less expensive, but you can also try the following tips to reduce moving costs even further.

Have everything packed and ready to go

Since the cost of hiring full-service movers is typically higher than hiring labor-only box and furniture movers, you can save money by getting everything packed and ready to go yourself. If your movers don’t have to provide packing materials or package your belongings for you, your moving services will be less expensive.

Get creative and find items that can double as packing materials. You can repurpose blankets and pillows as cushioning materials in boxes with breakable items, for example. Another free substitute is using old newspapers instead of packing paper. Make sure to label all your packed containers so you know where to unload them in your new home.

Once packed, set aside your items where it’s easy for the movers to grab them and load them onto the vehicle. If you’re paying movers by the hour, this will help get the job done faster and reduce the amount you have to pay.

Get rid of unwanted items so there's less to move

Doing some decluttering before you move can help you cut down on the volume of items you’re transporting, saving you money on labor costs and packing supplies. Decluttering will also make the unpacking process less stressful since there will be less stuff to organize.

Start the process of decluttering as soon as possible so it isn’t overwhelming. Go room by room, sorting things into piles — keep, donate and trash are useful categories to use — depending on what you want to do with them. Only keep the items you need and will use in your new home. And if you don’t need these items before the move, you can pack them as you declutter, taking care of two tasks at once.

Move during the weekdays

People generally prefer to move on the weekends, so movers will offer lower quotes for weekday moves. If you can afford to miss a day or two of work to manage your move, this may be your most cost-effective option. Compare estimates for the cost of your move on the weekend versus the weekday to determine whether the savings outweigh missing a day’s salary.

Call on friends and family for help

The most affordable movers are friends and family members who volunteer their time to help you move. Swapping a half day of work by two professional movers at $50 per hour for help from friends or family would save you $400, for example.

If you ask friends and family for help, make sure to give them plenty of advance notice so they can make room in their schedules. Let them know you appreciate their help and don’t pressure anyone to say yes. When they arrive, have refreshments and packing supplies ready so everyone’s all set for the day ahead. They’ll appreciate it.

Find professional movers near you

If you’re planning to move soon, start searching for professional movers near you now. You don’t want to scramble to find an available moving company at the last minute — it’s better to book your movers in advance. Consider whether you need full-service movers or just labor-only movers and reach out to some top local companies for estimates.