Understand the Moving Company Estimates 2024

Understand the Moving Company Estimates 2024

Non-binding estimate, binding estimate, and binding not-to-exceed estimate – moving industry is full of jargons and unless you are a moving industry professional, I doubt these lingos make any sense to you. 

It is normal to face the question – what’s the type of moving company estimate you would prefer. And while in a hurry to relocate the home, learning the moving jargons is the last thing you want to do. 

Here’s the truth. The terms of moving company estimates do not matter that much.

Come again!

You heard it right buddy. It’s not the term but the content inside is what you need to bother about. You need to understand the ins and outs of your moving company estimate as it is crucial to the move.

Good moving companies never believe in surprises. They will be more accurate with their moving company estimates. 

Never sign a contract before you research the research on the type of estimate offered – including its pros and cons.

Hold on! Before we move forward, feel lucky that MoverJunction is here to guide you on the A to Z of a moving company estimate. Being veterans in the industry, we are more trustworthy than many others here.

How much does it cost to hire movers?

When you approach a moving company, the primary question that you’ve is ‘how much will it cost me’.

As every move is different, there’s no one size fit all when it comes to moving costs. Several factors decide a moving company estimate. However, two important factors that impact how much you need to shell out are the ‘Distance’ and ‘Size of the Move’.

How much is the volume of stuff you are taking along with? Relocating a one-bedroom apartment is much cheaper than a two or more-bedroom apartment. 

The more volume of household belongings you have, the longer it will take to pack and load the truck and the heavier your entire shipment will be.

The more things you’re planning on moving, the higher your moving cost is going to be.

How much do movers charge for local moving?

A local move or an intrastate move (less than 100 miles) will cost you approximately $1,250, based on a two to three-bedroom move of approximately 7,500 pounds. However, if you are moving less than two to three bedrooms, you will likely require fewer movers, which will inevitably save money in labor costs.

Here’s the general formula to give you a quick idea:

(Number of Hours) x (Number of people needed) x (Hourly Rate) + Fees & Taxes

As a thump of the rule, local movers charge on a flat dollar amount per hour and this hourly payment differs from state to state. For example, in a few states, if you are moving more than 50 miles, the moving company estimate will be based on the weight of the shipment instead of the standard hourly rate. Since the rule changes with every state, you need to look into your specific state’s moving regulations before agreeing to a moving company quote. 

A few local moving companies may also offer customers a flat rate option, which is the estimated number of moving hours multiplied by the company’s hourly rate.

How much does it cost to move out of the state? 

When you move beyond the state border or cross-country, moving companies call it long-distance or interstate moving and it may cost you an average of $4,890, based on a two to three-bedroom move of approximately 7,500 pounds with a distance of 1,000 miles.

A long-distance moving cost is calculated based on the weight of the shipment along with distance traveled, labor costs, packing services, and insurance. You receive a moving company’s estimate in writing and it ensures that you don’t need to pay anything extra once the shipment reaches the new address. 

Here’s the general formula moving companies use to estimate moving costs for a long-distance or interstate move:

(Weight of Shipment) x (Rate per Pound per Mile) x (Move Distance)

The table below will show some average long-distance moving costs.

Moving cost calculator updated pricing for 2024

Distance 1 bedroom 2-3 bedrooms 4-5 bedrooms
250 miles $802 – $2,302 $1,401 – $3,951 $2,051 – $4,701
1000 miles+ $951 – $2,901 $2,101 – $7,801 $4,900 – $8,100
2500 miles+ $1,301 – $3,801 $3,401 – $7,901 $8,401+
Moving cost estimates 2024

*Ranges shown are very rough estimates based on historical pricing info. Some pricing and availability have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The actual cost of your move will vary. The best way to get accurate pricing is to request a free quote from a professional moving company.

Let’s see a few factors that impact your long-distance moving company quote.

  • Size of the move: The volume of the stuff you move directly impacts the moving cost. The heavier you stuff, the higher the moving cost will be. 
  • Distance you need to cover: The mileage between destination A and destination B is crucial while we calculate the moving cost. A mover considers fuel costs as well as labor costs for the time it will take to reach from house A to house B.
  • Packing services: The moving company quote includes packing service and the cost for packing materials and packing services are added to the moving cost.
  • Specialty items: When you have a piano or an aquarium, or a valuable painting at home to move, you need laborers specially trained to handle them. And this means special costs will be added to the total moving cost. 
  • Moving add-ons: During the move, you might require a specific add-on service that impacts the moving budget. This can be disassembling and reassembling furniture, moving specialty items, and moving supplies provided by movers such as a stretch wrap, felt pads, and mattress bags.
  • Storage: When you relocate to a new destination, maybe the home lacks enough space to hold your belongings and you may require hiring a storage unit. The moving company might rent a storage unit on an additional charge added to the moving cost. Storage rates vary from moving company to moving company, so be sure to ask for specifics.
  • Moving date: The ‘date you move’ is highly crucial in calculating the total relocation cost. You need to know that moving company estimates are greatly influenced by seasons. For example, a weekend moving or a holiday moving is more expensive than a weekday. Similarly, summers are costlier as most people prefer moving on a sunny day.  
  • Insurance: When you ask for additional insurance against the household items that are moved, it will add up to the moving cost.

How much do moving services cost?

Do not forget that you need to consider moving services while calculating the moving cost estimate. This includes packing, storage, and insurance. Let us see how much each cost to analyze the impact it makes on the total moving cost. 

Packing services

You won’t be surprised to know that packing is the most laborious task in the whole moving process. To pack the household items is not just an uphill task but it is also risky. And to make things more complicated, it is also the costliest job in the moving process. 

The national average cost to hire packers for local moves is about $60 per hour per packer. And based on your skills to negotiate and implement cost-cutting techniques, it can be brought down to $35-$40 per hour per packer.

When a professional company takes the charge of packing your items at home, it will take care of:

  • Disassembling furniture
  • Wrapping it properly
  • Securing using padding and protective packing
  • Taking picture frames and art off the walls
  • Rolling carpets for transport
  • Labeling and sorting boxes according to room and placement

Packing the belongings yourself could save you a lot of money in the long run but it can be disastrous. A skilled professional can work quickly and efficiently to save you time. What could otherwise have taken you days or weeks will be done in a few hours to a day, depending on the size of your home and the volume of your belongings.

So how much does packing cost? You might require coughing up approximately $270 to $2,200, with an average of $1,000. This total includes materials and labor to packing boxes and furniture. Hiring a pro to pack and unpack runs $370 to $3,600.

Below are some rough estimates for packing services from several different-sized residences:

Size of Residence Packing Labor Packing Materials
One bedroom apartment $450 $150
Two bedroom apartment $525 $150
Three bedroom apartment $468 $225
Three bedroom house $725 $350
Four bedroom house $1,175 $450
Five bedroom house $1,700 $575
Estimated Packing services charges

You need to remember that this is an approximate cost whereas the actual cost will be based on volume of household items, packing time, and packing supplies required.

  • Volume of household items: There’ll be a huge difference in the packing cost while you are moving a one-bedroom apartment against a four-bedroom home as the volume of your belongings will be almost double or more in the second case. 
  • To give the exact moving cost estimates, a company rep needs to visit the home and a stock of the entire stuff that needs to be moved. An experienced moving professional can guess the approximate amount of items only by knowing the size of your home, but such average values can only serve for rough price estimates. Never should you accept a moving company quote over the phone as it can be disastrous while you receive the bill. Avoid unpleasant surprises on the moving bill. 
  • Packing time: As it is extremely difficult to anticipate the time that movers will take to pack the entire household belongings, most short distance movers calculate the packing cost on an hourly basis. This means, the more stuff you have, the more expensive it will be.
  • Packing supplies: When you don’t have enough packing materials at home, a moving company will provide them against a cost included in the moving company estimates. Packing boxes, ropes, and other required materials will cost a few hundred dollars and you can save that money by buying them from the market. 

Storage facility

When you move to a new home which is smaller in size, the shortage of space is going to be a major concern. Moving companies offer storage units as a bonus so that you don’t require hunting for one in the new place. So how much more will you require coughing up to hire one?

There’s no fixed storage unit price but it varies even within the same market. The location, convenience, facilities, all determine the price. However, according to SpareFoot, the online storage marketplace, the national average monthly price for all unit sizes is $89.12 a month, and the average price per square foot is $0.97 per square foot.

The storage unit prices are falling in the US, mainly because there has been a surge of new storage construction across the country. This has also tightened the completion, making each company offer a unit at lower prices. 

The factors that impact the storage unit cost are:

  • Location: A unit in an urban area will be costlier than one in the rural part or country side for its high demand. If the location is not a concern and you don’t need regular access to the unit, consider renting a storage unit in a nearby suburb as it will be cheaper.
  • Time: Storage units are offered mostly on a monthly basis and some companies even offer the first month for free. The flexible fee structure allows you to store your belongings without making a long term commitment. The storage unit contracts vary with companies and when you hire a unit along with the moving service, expect a better discount and flexible contract. You can even ask for better deals.
  • Size: The storage unit size is a major factor and when you rent one, you need to ensure it is big enough to stock your entire belongings. But the size should be too large as well because you may require paying more without a reason. 
  • Level of service: Based on your budget, you can decide whether a self-storage or a full-storage unit is your buy. Generally, self-storage units are cheaper but you won’t get facilities like pick-up and delivery.
  • Add-ons: Storage units with features such as 24×7 remote access, climate control, and drive-in facility are costlier. Some storage units even offer labor assistance and packing supplies. It is for you to decide whether you need these services. If budget is a concern, discuss with the moving company how it will reflect in the moving company estimates. 
  • Items stored: Storing a boat, car, motorcycle, RV, or other unusually large items, you may need to pay extra for additional room in the facility. 

Here’s a table showing the average storage unit cost per month

Unit size Avg. Self-Storage Prices Per Month
5×5 $44.23
10×10 $94.28
5×10 $61.92
10×20 $137.14
10×15 $124.24
10×30 $183.73
Average Storage Unit Cost

Moving insurance

While moving, the security of your household belongings is crucial and how hard a moving company claims to be secured, it is always safe to have coverage. Accidents can happen even to the most reliable movers and every company requires you to ensure the items it moves. 

All moving companies, as required by the federal regulations offer two types of coverage to consumers on out-of-state moves. 

The first – ‘released value protection’ is set at 60 cents per pound. This means you’ll be reimbursed for everything from your coffee mug to wall painting at 60 cents per pound. This coverage is included in the moving company quote. 

The second one – ‘full value protection’ is based on the value of contents being moved. It is based on 1% of the valuation and if you’re shipping belongings worth $50,000. You need to pay $500 for full-value protection.

Full-value protection is a shield against goods destroyed, damaged, and lost. It is also called ‘Full-replacement value’

When you feel the need for extra coverage, you can ask the moving company to upgrade it. As moving companies do not have the right to sell insurance, what they offer is a stated liability, which in other words is setting the limits for your moving company’s liability if your belongings are damaged, lost, or destroyed.        

There are moving companies offering expanded evaluations. Declared value allows you to set a per-pound amount for your belongings. For example, when the shipment weighs 10,000 pounds and you decide that the belongings are worth $6 per pound, you are placing a valuation of $60,000 on the total shipment which you’ll receive if the shipment is lost or destroyed. 

How much does a moving truck cost to rent?

When you believe that the moving company quote is extremely expensive, the easiest way to relocate is to hire a moving truck, load your personal belongings and drive away. Moving trucks ranging from 9-foot cargo vans to 26-foot trucks are available on rent. While a 9-foot cargo van can fit the content of a studio apartment, a 26-foot truck is perfect enough to carry a whole more than 4-bedroom household stuff. 

A 16-foot moving truck that can take in the stuff of about 2 bedroom apartment will cost around $30 per day plus $0.72 per mile while moving locally. It can go up based on the size of the house. A 26-foot truck can cost you $47 per day plus $0.77 per mile. 

When you hire a truck, you need to consider the duration you would require it and the miles you would need it to cover as well as any other surcharges. 

If you want collision coverage and/or liability insurance for your truck rental, it will cost you extra, which may range from less than $100 to almost $200.

 How much do moving boxes cost?

While preparing a moving company estimate, you need to consider the moving boxes which are the main part of moving supplies. If you don’t have a cache of boxes ready at home, you need to buy new boxes either online or from different shops. Head to a local storage facility or approach a truck company or your moving company to get the required moving boxes.

The cost for moving boxes would be based on the size of the house or the volume of the belongings you need to take along with. While moving to a studio apartment, expect to spend between $50 and $100 on moving boxes. Whether you own a one-bedroom home or a two-bedroom apartment, buying moving boxes will cost about $120 to $180.

According to the most recent data from CostHelper, here’s what you can expect to spend per cardboard moving box:

  • Small boxes: $1 to $1.70 each
  • Medium boxes: $2.35 to $2.79 each
  • Large boxes: $3 each
  • Extra-large boxes: $3.75 each
  • Wardrobe boxes: $8 each to $12 each
  • Picture boxes: $10 each

The cost of moving boxes is based on where you buy them. However, if cutting down the moving cost is your goal, a good option is to get the boxes free. Why not check with your recently moved neighbor or a friend who recently relocated his home? Another option is to collect packaging boxes from a local retailer.

Remember that the boxes you get for free might not be what you’re looking forward to and you’re getting them just because they are available. 

Here are some recommended places to source free cardboard boxes:

  • Craigslist
  • Freecycle
  • Liquor stores
  • Bookstores
  • Grocery stores
  • Starbucks
  • U-Haul Box Exchange
  • Facebook Community Groups

While moving boxes would cost more the more you purchase, it doesn’t mean that you need to buy a few large boxes and fill them with the maximum possible stuff. If you overstuff them, the boxes may get damaged, making the entire process appear a fiasco.

How much does it cost to move a car?

On average, it would cost around $710, with transport costs ranging from $280 (a short trip on an open carrier) to $2,060 (a cross-country shipment on enclosed transport). 

Moving a four-door sedan would cost about $600-$1,000 while a small van, pickup, or SUV could cost $800-$1,500. However, these prices are just an estimate. The final moving company quote for a car is determined by several factors, such as:

  • The size and weight of your car
  • The time of the year you prefer to move
  • The distance you need to travel the car
  • Route the car takes to reach the new home
  • The make and model of the car
  • Insurance needs
  • The type of transport you choose

Average car shipping price by transport type

Transport Mode Average cost
Open transport $610
Enclosed transport $1,120
Price difference $510

Remember that the bigger your car is, the shipping cost would be higher. This is because larger vehicles take up more space on the transport truck and heavier vehicles are harder on the carrier’s gas mileage.

Here’s a table on average cost to ship a vehicle on open transport

Distance Car SUV Truck
150 miles $330 $360 $390
550 miles $510 $560 $620
1,000 miles $820 $890 $1,020
1,050 miles $650 $720 $800
2,750 miles $910 $1,010 $1,120

Data as of 5/13/2020. Average cost calculated by comparing costs for three car sizes across five distances. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.


What happens if a moving company does not pick-up or deliver my goods according to the spread dates provided?

When you agree to a moving company quote and signs a contract, the mover is required to dispatch the household belongings on the dates or during the period agreed upon by the mover and the shipper and shown on the order for service/bill of lading. 

If the company fails to meet the date, you may file an inconvenience or delay claim with the mover along with receipts, listing lodging and food expenses for all the days past the last day of the pick-up and/or delivery spread dates. 

However, the claim must be filed within nine months of the date of delivery. 

How much should I tip for moving services?

You would hear different pieces of advice about tipping movers. But remember that unlike in different sectors, tips based on percentages won’t work well in the moving industry. While you’re moving locally or long distance and you are satisfied with the moving services, you can consider tipping $4-$5/hour per mover or maybe $40/per day each mover (if the entire process lasted up to 8 hours) which is a decent, appropriate, and pretty standard tip for movers.

Of course, you can add a little more to the cash if it is affordable as there’s no law related to tipping.  

How do I know if the moving company is licensed or insured?

The moving company’s website will have information related to its license and insurance. You can directly ask the mover for their DOT and MC license numbers and then verify them with the Department of Transportation and the local authority.


Raj Kalra

A moving industry expert and an internet marketing enthusiast, I have been involved in the moving industry since 2004. Combining my passion towards technology and online marketing with my expertise in the moving industry, I've been focusing on building solutions to make your move easier. From planning to successfully executing your move, my tips and tricks will guide you all along the way. Have any questions for me? Send them to [email protected]