Over 30 million people move from one home to another in the United States each year, and ten percent of those make a big move from one state to another. That’s a lot of people packing up, loading up, and settling into a new home. Some people seem to do it with ease, while it’s more like slow torture for others. Which kind of person you are probably influences how frequently you do it, and also whether you are more likely to pack and go on your own or decide to hire full-service help. If you are fortunate enough to have a corporate or other sponsor to supply the support, a full-service move can be much simpler than one in which you are doing the work, although no one would say it’s easy.
Most moving companies offer full-service options in their menu of solutions. Movers have a tariff, a document that lists all the rates and services it provides. The tariff will list various optional services you can add to your contract with a moving company and what the mover will charge you for those options. The tariff also lists fees for services that you can’t control but have to pay anyway.
Movers’ services are generally priced according to weight for long-distance jobs and time for local moves. The moving company will come to your residence and complete a comprehensive visual inspection of everything you want to move. The company representative will poke in your closets, attic, garage, and cupboards, asking questions about whether you are taking everything with you and whether you have more stuff stored anywhere else. This process is how they determine how much your household goods weigh, which is the basis for the essential cost of transporting the shipment. If the move is under 100 miles, the mover will deliver the quote expressed in the time it will take to load it, drive it, and unload it. Here are two examples:
Interstate move of your three-bedroom house: 7,000 pounds of goods/ distance of 1,250 miles/$4,000
Local move of your 3-bedroom house: three men and a truck/20 miles/7 hours at $200 per hour/$1,400
Those are very general examples, and every move is different. Here are some things that can change the cost of an individual relocation substantially:
How much stuff do you have? While movers can use averages, people are individuals and collect various amounts of stuff. Furniture weights and sizes are different. Antiques weigh a lot more than modern items. These kinds of differences are why the in-person survey is crucial to the accurate development of an estimate. Also, some people save everything, and some don’t. If you have a vast library of books, it weighs far more than the same books on an electric reading device.
What is the configuration of your home? If you live in a one-story house with easy driveway access, it is easier for the moving truck. If you live in an apartment on a busy street, things may be more complicated if the driver can’t park in front for an extended period. Perhaps the elevator can’t be reserved, in which case the mover may charge for elevator time. Or if you have several sets of stairs, there may be a charge for that. Even if your home is built so that the movers must carry items a long distance from the door to the truck, they can charge you for the excessive walk. Narrow stairs, winding driveways, and other anomalies may result in fees at both the original and destination residences.
Do you have heavy items or things that need special attention? Movers will charge for big articles like pianos, pool tables, hot tubs, and exercise equipment. They will add a fee for delicate items like artwork and furniture that must be disassembled and reassembled. If they are willing to disconnect your appliances, they will charge for that service.
Do you want the movers to pack and unpack? Often, the definition of full-service means you don’t have to do the tedious work of packing. Putting everything into boxes can take a tremendous amount of time and effort. There are some good reasons to do at least part of this job yourself, but some excellent reasons to pay the movers to do it instead.
When you get the moving company estimates (experts recommend that you get at least three written quotes based on in-person surveys from moving companies), talk with each company about the differences between basic service and full-service. The estimate should have line-item charges for each service, so you can pick and choose what you want, and you can easily compare the services each company is offering. One company may have an excellent bid for the transportation part of the move, but it isn’t as good a deal overall if it is overcharging you on the packing service. Be thoughtful in evaluating the quotes, and don’t forget to check their references before making a final selection.