Moving Cost Calculator

This Page Was Last Updated: August 29, 2022
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Moving large amounts of belongings gathered over the years requires a lot of planning and considerable cost. Furthermore, the great variety in people's belongings, the home they are leaving, and the homes they are entering make it quite challenging to determine the time and cost required to complete the move. The cost and difficulty of your move depend on two main factors. One is how much stuff you are moving, and the other is how far you are moving.

Why do People Move?

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Before the pandemic, around 13% of Americans moved each year. According to current population survey data, 65% of movers stayed within their county while 14% of movers crossed state lines and 4% of movers traveled internationally. Around 48% of the people who moved inside the US are moving because of housing-related reasons. This may be to live in a better neighborhood, to move close to a better school, to live in a larger or newer house, to live in one's own home, or to economize on housing costs. Since housing is the single largest cost of living for most people, we can reduce our cost of living by moving to a place with cheaper houses.

Around 30% of people moved for family reasons. Roughly 19% of Americans moved for jobs, including 9% who moved because they got a new job or had a job transfer. Generally, people moving within the same county do so for housing-related reasons.

What are the Options for Moving?

There are various options for moving. Let us consider them from cheapest to most expensive.

Do It Yourself (DIY)

DIY is the cheapest and, at the same time, the most challenging option. You start by shopping for packing supplies, including boxes, tape, and bubble wrap. Pack your belongings and then rent a moving truck. Load the truck and drive to your new home. Naturally, you would unload or start unpacking. DIY is a good option if you have little stuff to move or have family and friends willing to help in doing the heavy lifting. If you are not used to driving a large truck, try to compensate by being extra careful.

Move by Container

This option is more expensive than DIY and almost has as much heavy lifting as the DIY option. It is well suited for conditions when there is a mismatch between the date you have to hand over the keys to your present home and the date you can move into your new home.

A few companies offer container move services, with PODS being the most famous among them. PODS stands for portable on-demand storage; this company belongs to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

It works by packing your stuff and ordering a PODS container of your desired size. The company delivers the container to your address, and you load the container as fast or slow as you wish. PODS can deliver the container to your new address, or it can store the container until you are ready to receive it. The main components of the price you pay are 1) a fee for the company to deliver the container to your place (delivery fee), 2) a fee for the container to be moved to the destination (moving fee), 3) a fee for having the container at your service (container storage), and finally 4) a fee for the empty container to be taken from your new home (pickup fee). PODS charges you one month of container storage as a minimum. There are minor charges like insurance and optional charges like lock (if you do not lock your container, PODS won’t move it) and moving supplies. It's easier to get moving supplies from PODS, but it is cheaper to order them from an online marketplace like Amazon or eBay.

Naturally, if you cannot or are not willing to do the heavy lifting, you can hire help for loading and unloading your container and maybe even for your packing. There are websites and applications that act as a marketplace, helping you find and hire some extra muscle; typically, you should expect around $50/hour per mover. If you plan your move and your long vacation simultaneously, you can save your rent while on vacation. Depending on the length of your vacation and the distance of your move, you might be able to pay for the move out of saved rent and have some money left over!

Hire Professional Movers

This method is the most expensive yet easiest way to manage your move. At the same time, it has the most complicated cost structure of all moving methods. If the distance between your old home and your new home is shorter than a threshold, your move is considered local. This threshold might range between 50 and 100 miles depending on the moving company. Your bill for a local move would be based on the number of movers engaged multiplied by the number of hours it takes you to move multiplied by an hourly rate.

Moving companies generally bill long-distance moves either based on the weight of your belongings or based on their volume and the distance between origin and destination of the move.

As mentioned above, when hiring professional movers, many items would affect your bill. Your bill would start on a base value depending on the number of movers and hours for short-distance moves and the volume/weight and distance for long-distance moves.

Additional Items

The base value for your bill is for the movers to load your belongings at the origin, drive them to the destination, and unload them. If you want your movers to pack as well, it will increase the number of hours when you are charged hourly. When you are charged based on weight/volume and distance, then packing would become an independent item on your bill.

If the moving truck cannot be parked in front of your door and your belongings need to be carried longer than a (mover dependent) threshold distance before being loaded on the truck, you would have a line for Long Carry Fee. The same goes for stairs. If you have more stairs than a threshold in the origin or destination, you will be charged a Stair Carry Fee. If you are moving to or from an apartment, you might be charged an Elevator Fee by your building manager to use the elevator during your move.

There are cases where your moving truck cannot maneuver into your street and park in front of your house. In such cases, the movers might have to shuttle your belongings either from your old home to the main moving truck or from the main moving truck to your home. This means that your stuff needs to be loaded into a small truck for a short-distance move and then transferred to the main moving truck for the long-distance move. Such a scenario would increase your moving cost by a considerable amount.

Accessorial charges: Most people prefer to unpack themselves so that they would have plenty of time to decide where each item should be placed. Yet if you choose to ask your movers for this extra service, you would be charged for it. Other accessorial fees are the disassembly of furniture and additional stops.

Appliance service charge: This one is charged if your movers need to disconnect major appliances and prepare them for the move at the origin or if you want them to connect these appliances at the destination. Major appliances include dishwasher, washer, and dryer.

How to Reduce Your Moving Cost

When moving to a new home, you would incur many costs; for example, you might need to paint your new home. Also just after moving to your new home your costs would be higher as you are not yet familiar with the surrounding shopping opportunities. As a result, this is a time when economizing is especially important.

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Sell, donate, or trash: Downsizing is one of the most effective ways to reduce your moving cost. If you have any item that you have not used for a long time, consider how likely you will be using it in the future. Most of us have some stuff that we bought for a specific project and rarely (or never) used after that particular project. Also, we likely have some property that we are tired of and are pretty unlikely to use in the future. Not to mention that old appliance or machinery that we have wanted to fix for a long time but never get the time to do so. All these items should be either sold, donated or trashed.

Adjust your move date: As you expect, more people move over the summer than winter, and more people move over holidays (including the weekends) compared with business days. Moving companies quote higher prices during these high demand times since they are confident that they will be moving somebody else's if they do not transfer your stuff. During less busy times, you can get lower prices, since in those times, if the moving company does not get your business, it might be facing idle trucks and idle mowers.

Flexible pickup & delivery: If a moving company is working based on its customers' schedule, they will have many time periods in between different moving jobs where their truck and crew are idle, or they might need to have lengthy commutes between one moving destination and the origin of the next move. On the other hand, if you are flexible regarding the timing of your pickup and delivery, the moving company is likely able to increase the productivity of its resources and pass on a portion of the benefit from this increased productivity to you in the form of a lower fee.

Book early: If more people want to hire the moving company's services than expected, you would be better off the earlier you book. If fewer people want to hire the moving company's services than expected, you would be better off the later you book. We recommend booking as early as your plans are finalized. It is preferable to risk losing a discount than being unable to complete your move.

Origin of Moving

As a species, moving has been part and parcel of human life, as we humans were hunters and gatherers. Hunter-gatherers would move to a place where food can be found either in the form of game to hunt or seed and fruit to gather. Set up their shelter for a few months or even a few weeks. They had learned to build anything they needed from what could be found in their environment. Thus they had easy moving without having to carry much stuff with them. After humans learned to plant crops around 10,000 years ago, they started to settle down. Permanent settlements were established, and for the first time, people could keep all the tools they had made; since the devices could be kept and reused many times, people spent more time making each tool. By spending more time, humans made better tools that increased human life quality. Thus people start to gather belongings. Since people began living in permanent settlements, moving has been a headache.

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