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How Do Moving Companies Charge and Calculate Costs?

When you're moving, one of the top questions on your mind is probably about the moving cost. And many factors impact the cost of your move. The weight of the shipment, the distance of the move, the type of service required, and more all play a role in determining the cost.

Although these basic principles remain the same, there are some slight differences between local and long-distance moves.

This article will walk you through what typically goes into a moving quote so that you can make sure you are getting an accurate estimate for your upcoming move.

Factors That Impact Your Moving Costs

When you request a quote from a moving company, they'll ask you questions about any extra services you might need, how many rooms in your house will be packed up, and whether you need storage. This information helps them craft an accurate quote based on what they know about your move.

To determine moving costs, professional movers will consider several factors.


The weight of your household goods is likely the single largest factor that will impact your moving costs — both locally and long-distance. Movers base the cost of your move on the total weight of your shipment along with the distance of your move. The heavier your shipment, the more it will cost to transport it to your new home.


The distance of your move is another factor that will impact the price of your relocation. This will depend on whether you're moving locally or intrastate vs. long distance/interstate, as well as how far you're moving relative to other locations that movers regularly service from their branch locations. These factors will determine whether you receive a flat rate or an hourly rate for labor and transportation services.

Moving Time

It's always important to keep in mind that movers are compensated by the hour so any delay on your end will result in additional charges.

If you're concerned with how much you'll be paying at the end of your move, contact a few reputable movers for an estimate and make sure you fully understand which services will be included in your final bill.

Packing Services and Supplies

Do you want to pack yourself or have your mover do it for you?

Do you need boxes? If so, how many? Where can you get them? And how much will it cost? These are all questions to keep in mind because moving companies usually charge separately for packing services.

If you are planning a do-it-yourself move, keep in mind that you'll need packing supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap, and tape to protect your belongings during transit. You may choose to purchase these items or rent them from a moving company.

Number of Movers

The number of movers required to complete your move will also impact the cost.

Most moving companies will send two movers to help you with a local move, but if you have a larger home, you may need more than two movers or may need to consider hiring additional labor.

Time of Year (Seasonal Peak vs Non-Peak Times)

If you’re moving in the peak season, which is typically between May and September, you may find that prices are higher due to demand.

If possible, try scheduling your move outside of peak season to save money on moving costs. Not only will this ensure that you’re able to schedule with the mover you want, but it’s also likely that you can save money by booking during a less busy time.


Are your items covered by the basic insurance offered by your mover or another insurance company? And will you need additional insurance coverage for high-value items like jewelry, antiques, or artwork?

Your mover may offer liability coverage, but it's important to understand exactly what it covers. If you have particularly high-value items, such as fine art or antiques, you'll want to purchase additional coverage for them.

Local vs Long Distance Moves

When it comes to moving, there are two types of moves: local and long-distance. Most moving companies charge differently for each type of move, so it's important to know what you're getting into before you plan your move.

Local Moves

Local moves are typically considered anything within a 100-mile radius of your current location.

Most movers charge an hourly rate for local moves, with an additional travel fee if applicable. The longer your move takes, the more you will pay in labor costs.

Typically, a local move will cost you less than a long-distance move because the movers don't have to spend as much time driving from one location to another.

Long Distance Moves

A long-distance move is any move over 100 miles within the same state or across state lines.

Most long-distance movers charge by weight and mileage, so the cost of your move will depend on how large and heavy your shipment is, as well as the distance between pickup and delivery locations.

Moving Services: Full, Partial, Self-service

The movers will also ask about the type of service you need.

For long-distance moves, most companies offer three options: full service, partial service, or self-service.

Full Service

Full service is the most expensive option, but it's also the most convenient. All your belongings are packed up on moving day, loaded into their truck, and unloaded at their destination with little effort from you. The only thing you'll have to worry about is getting yourself and your family to your new home.

Full-service movers typically charge by the pound or by the mile, so the farther you are going, the more expensive your move will be.

Partial Service

Partial-service moves are cheaper than full-service because you’re doing part of the work yourself. You can opt for packing services or loading or unloading services or for both.

The movers will pack your belongings with care so that they arrive safely at their destination, but you’ll be in charge of preparing all of your things beforehand by purging clutter and sorting what you want to keep.

Alternatively, you can have the movers load your belongings onto their truck but drive it yourself.

Whatever the case may be, partial service is a good compromise.


This is the most affordable of the three services.

With self-service moving companies, you'll be responsible for handling every aspect of your move yourself.

Self-service moving companies will provide a truck and driver but won't pack or unload your items as full-service movers do. You'll have to prepare your belongings for transport (wrapping them in padding and securing them in place) and then unpack once they reach their destination.

How To Get an Accurate Quote

When you're planning a move, one of the first things you'll do is request an estimate from a moving company. While some companies offer online quotes, it's usually best to schedule an in-home meeting with a professional estimator.

An estimator will visit your home to evaluate the amount of work involved in your move and provide an accurate price quote. This is also a good opportunity for you to ask questions about the moving process and get recommendations from your mover.

If you don't have time for an in-home estimate (or if you're making plans for a long-distance move), try these tips instead:

  • Be specific about what you need.
  • Do you expect them to pack boxes? Do you want them to dismantle and reassemble your bed? Be detailed in what services you need when calling for a quote — that way, both parties will know exactly what's expected.
  • Ask about any extra charges.
  • Some moving companies charge extra fees for stairs or elevators, long carries, or packing supplies. Make sure that these charges are included in the quote or ask whether they can be waived.
  • Inventory your items.
  • If you're moving long-distance or have a particularly bulky item (like a piano), it may not be feasible for the movers to make an in-person assessment of your belongings before giving a quote. In this case, you'll need to inventory everything yourself and provide a copy of the inventory list.
  • Provide as full details as possible when requesting your quote.
  • Knowing how much furniture and belongings you have will help the moving company determine how many movers and what size trucks will be needed.
  • Mention any special services that might be required.
  • These may include packing assistance or moving heavy items, such as pianos or hot tubs.
  • Provide your preferred moving dates.
  • The price may vary depending on whether you need service during the week or on weekends, during peak season or not.
  • Don't hesitate to call the moving company if you have additional questions about its services or their costs.

What To Know About Minimums

The majority of moving companies charge customers based on how many hours they worked on a particular project. Local moves are charged by the hour, while cross-country moves are charged per mile.

A minimum number of hours is typically charged for both types of moves to cover company expenses, such as moving vehicles and equipment.

For example, if you need to move just a few pieces of furniture around your house, you may be charged for the minimum number of hours even if it only takes an hour to complete the job.

Moving Made Simple

Moving is a stressful process, so it isn’t surprising that the costs of hiring a moving company are one of the first things potential customers look into. When you’re shelling out money for movers to handle your belongings, you want to make sure you get the best price possible.

Allied Van Lines can help you get the most accurate cost for your move. To see what Allied has to offer or find out more about our moving and storage services, visit our website.


How Much Does Moving Cost?

The final cost depends on the distance and volume you're moving and whether you're going local or long distance (across state lines).

The best way to learn about how moving companies charge for their services is to ask them for a quote. Most moving companies will provide you with a free, no-obligation estimate of the costs associated with your move.

Do All Moving Companies Use the Same Calculation Method?

No, each company has its way of calculating the costs. Some will charge on an hourly basis, while others use cubic feet, weight, or fixed rate to determine the final price.

For example, if you are relocating long-distance, most movers will charge by weight. However, when it comes to local moves, they’ll often base their prices on the time spent on the job and the number of movers required.

When comparing quotes, make sure you know how each moving company calculates its rates so you can better compare them.

How To Determine the Weight of Your Household Belongings?

It's difficult to figure out how much your belongings weigh without a licensed professional mover's help. The only way to know for sure is by scheduling an in-home estimate with a reputable moving company.