How To Estimate The Cost Of A Pro Move

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Budgeting For Hired Muscle: How to estimate the cost of a pro move

Whether you’re on the fence about using your own muscle versus hired muscle for your move, it will cost you either way. It basically boils down to whether you choose to spend your time or your money.

If you’re short on time and manpower or just want to offset some of the tasks onto professional shoulders, then hiring a licensed, reputable and experienced mover sounds like your best option. Requesting free move estimates is the most reliable and accurate way to budget for your moving costs, and to shop around for the best options.

But if you want to gauge a ballpark quote before contacting movers, then it’s helpful to understand some of the basics. Most professional moving companies will estimate your moving cost on a combination of the following factors:

  • Distance

  • Weight (critical factor in a long distance move)

  • Time

  • Move size/Difficulty

  • Crew size

  • Gas

The longer your move and the heavier your shipment, the higher your move cost will be.

Let’s break down those factors into a simple formula for local (in-state moves less than 50 miles) and long distance (out of state moves).

Your Basic Local Move Formula

(Base hourly rate) X (# of movers) X (# of hours loading/unloading/transit) + (Gas/tolls) + (Packing services/materials)

Your Basic Long Distance Move Formula

(Weight) X (Rate based on shipment Weight and Distance) + (Packing services/materials) + (Shuttle Fee if your destination cannot accommodate a typical large long distance moving van) + (Optional full value protection of your shipment)

Here are a few very rough estimates to give you an idea on total costs.

Long Distance Moves

A cross-country move from Chicago to Denver (~ 1,000 miles) for a 4- bedroom house (~12,000 lbs. of stuff) could cost around $8,000.

Need a total change of scenery? Moving from Boston to Houston (~ 1,800 miles) for a 2-bedroom apartment (~ 4,000 lbs. of stuff) could cost around $5,000.

When hiring an interstate mover, be sure to request a binding estimate in writing. This will guarantee that the final price you pay when your shipment is delivered will not exceed the estimate, as long as you don’t add items not included in the original estimate.

Local Moves

Staying in the area? A local 4-bedroom size move from one Chicago neighborhood to another could cost around $2,000 (factoring average costs of $160/hour for four men and a large truck).

Hiring two men and a truck for a smaller move can range from $90 – $120 per hour depending on where you live. And if you just want labor help and don’t need a truck, you can expect to pay less than $100 per hour.

Keep in mind estimates can also be affected by your desired move date, so expect higher prices if you want to move in the summer or even on weekends, when demand can be at its peak.

And if you want your mover to pack up your belongings on top of hauling and unloading it it, this can be up to a quarter of the total cost of a full service move. According to an MSN Real Estate article on moving costs, two professional movers can pack up a two- to three-bedroom home in a day at a cost of $400 to $640 (at about $25 – $40 an hour without materials).

Remember, there’s no substitute for getting estimates from top rated movers. This will give you the most accurate quote, especially when you have an in-home assessment where the movers can go through your home and see all your belongings.

Happy moving!

Full-Service or Moving Labor: The different types of mover services

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Just like other home service companies, there are different types of movers and moving services available to tailor to your individual need and how much work you’re willing to put in! It’s easiest to start just thinking about what you actually want done for you.

STEP 1: Which of these things do you need help with?

  1. Provide a truck, load it, drive it, and unload it
  2. Load and/or unload a rented truck or portable storage container (pod)
  3. Pack stuff into boxes and crates
  4. Move items on-site (not moving to a new address)

Full Service Moving Companies:

If you answered “Yes” to #1, be confused no longer — you want a Full Service Moving Company. Depending on the move distance and the US state(s) involved in the move, there may be licensing requirements for a mover transporting household goods with their own truck (a “household goods carrier”).

  • If moving across state lines (interstate move), your full service mover must have an active USDOT license to move household goods between states. This government oversight in theory protects you, your belongings, and others on the road by making sure the mover meets minimum safety and quality standards.

  • If moving within the borders (intrastate) of any non-regulated state (Alaska, Arizona, DC, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin), your full-service moving company does not need a license.

  • If moving from, to, or within a regulated state (all other states not listed above), your moving company must be licensed to move household goods by your state’s regulatory agency.

Moving Labor:

If you answered “No” to #1, you might be able to get away with hiring simple Moving Labor. These companies can help you pack your stuff, load/unload your rented truck or storage pod, move items around your house or to the garage, and they can even drive your rented vehicle without a special household goods license. These companies run the gamut from day laborers getting most of their business off Craigslist to well-established and well-rated companies that just happen to specialize in small moves.

Warning: Be careful when hiring Moving Labor. The lack of regulations also lessens their responsibility to perform a well-executed move with minimal damage and loss. Also, since many are not established businesses, they lack robust scheduling systems and may not be reliable or even show up when you need them the most — on moving day!

Portable Storage Container Movers

These companies (like PODS, UPack, and others) deliver a portable storage unit or pod to your home or pickup location. You then can load the container yourself on your own time or hire Moving Labor to do it for you. When you are ready, the Portable Storage Container Mover will pick up your container and move it to your new location, where again, you can unload it yourself or hire Moving Labor at your destination.

Some things to keep in mind regarding Portable Storage Container Movers:

  • Estimate your belongings: Make sure you have a large enough container for your move.

  • Where will you keep it? Make sure you have a legal place to park the container at origin and destination. For example, some tight urban areas or high rise buildings will not accommodate a container for more than a few hours.

  • If you don’t want to load or unload yourself, you may have to hire additional moving services. Moving is already a stressful time — you may not want to have to deal with additional companies to handle your actual move.

Specialized Moving Companies:

There are also movers that specialize. These are piano movers, safe movers (movers who have special equipment and skill in moving safes), art and antique movers, jacuzzi movers, pool table movers, and more. If you hire a Full Service Moving Company and own any of these items that also must be moved, make sure they are capable of handling them confidently. Otherwise, you may need a Specialized Moving Company to handle your special item.

Still confused? Hit us up through chat or at support@movingcompanyreviews.com and we’ll help you out.