Should I move myself or hire a mover?
Choosing to move yourself or hire a mover comes down to one thing: whether you value your time or your money more. If you’re up for boxing your own belongings and hauling them to your new home, a DIY move can save you some cash.
However, the time, effort, and stress of handling everything on your own can negate your savings—fast. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of fueling the moving truck, hotel stays along the way, the physical effort of packing and hauling, and the stress of driving a vehicle as large as your first apartment. If this all sounds like too much, leave it to the professionals and hire an interstate or local moving company.
Moving containers—a.k.a. pods—are a happy medium. These containers are delivered to your home. After you load them, the company picks up your pods and drives them to your destination. While you’ll have no help loading furniture or packing boxes, you will get to skip the worst part of moving: the long drive in an oversized truck. Moving containers cost a little more than the DIY route, but they save you travel time and still allow you to pack your own items to ensure it’s done right.
What should I look for in a moving company?
You don’t want to get scammed by a dishonest moving company, overpay for services you don’t need, or have your belongings broken in transit. Before you hire a mover, look for these signs that a company is reputable:
- Reliable: Does your mover have positive reviews online? Research what both customers and moving review professionals are saying. Yes, people tend to leave reviews when they have outstandingly positive or negative experiences, but these reviews provide a baseline for making your decision.
For unbiased reviews, look to a trusted moving review site (like Move.org) that filters the chatter and shows you only the local moving companies and interstate movers that rise above the competition.
- Licensed and insured: This is a biggie. No matter how good a deal it seems, never use a moving company that isn’t licensed and insured. If your mover doesn’t have a license and insurance, your items won’t be protected if they are lost or damaged during your move.
For interstate movers, be sure the company has a USDOT number from the US Department of Transportation. You can check this for free on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s searchable database. Most states have specific licensing rules as well—check these regulations before hiring a mover.
- Fairly priced: Before relocating, you’ll want an estimate of the cost to move your items. Some companies offer both in-home and over-the-phone estimates, but keep in mind that in-home quotes are far more accurate. Get three written and signed estimates to make sure the companies are held to what they’ve quoted you. And if a company requests a large cash deposit up front—run!
- Experienced: If Joe Schmo’s moving company just opened last year, it’s probably not the best choice for your move. While having years of experience doesn’t always ensure a moving company is a safe bet, it’s a good sign if they’ve been around longer than you’d keep a television. Pick a company that has a track record of good service.
How much does it cost to hire movers?
This question is tough to answer. Moving prices are variable and based on many factors specific to your situation. Are you moving across town or across the country? Do you need help moving your never-used treadmill or taxidermied moose? (Be aware: Bulky goods can cost extra.)
First, figure out if your move is a local or long-distance move:
- Local or intrastate moves: Typically defined as 100 miles or less.
- Long-distance or interstate moves: Anything further than 100 miles but within the same state is considered long-distance. Interstate moves are those that cross state lines.
Interstate and long-distance movers bill based on the actual weight of what you move (not your estimated weight), the distance you’re moving, and how close your route is to major cities and shipping corridors. Accurate estimates are hard to nail down, but you can expect to pay within this ballpark:
- Local move: $550–$2,000
- Long-distance move: $2,000–$7,500
To get an accurate estimate for your move, request in-home, written quotes from three different moving companies. Estimates are free, so there’s no harm in getting a few—especially if it saves you money in the end.
To help your over-the-phone estimate run smoothly, document your belongings thoroughly ahead of time.
Whether you’re moving locally or across the country, our Find-a-Mover tool can help you compare prices and features of moving companies before you request estimates.
If you have sticker shock at the price of full-service movers but have too much stuff (and too little time) to go DIY, consider moving containers. Moving pods generally are less expensive than full-service movers and are a budget-friendlier choice if you are up for packing everything, from your wedding china to your oversized television, in your container yourself.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for a container move:
- Local move: $70–$650
- Long-distance move: $1,500–$5,000
These wide price ranges cover everything from using a single container to move a small apartment across town to the multiple containers required to move a large home across the country. If you want coverage for your container in case your TV shatters or your antique armoire breaks in transit, expect to pay an additional $35–$475.
DIY moves are the cheapest option but require the most work on your part. Moving truck rentals cost anywhere from $35 to $2,800 depending on how far you’re traveling.
What extra fees do I have to pay?
There’s more to moving prices than the weight of your belongings and the distance you’re traveling. Extra fees can sneak up on you—not all movers apply these charges, but be sure to ask about them when you get your estimate.
- Packing, unpacking, and furniture disassembly fee: If you don’t pack your boxes yourself, your movers will do so for a significant fee.
- Bulky items fee: Need help moving awkward items, such as the old pool table in your basement? There’s a cost for that.
- Elevator fee: Live in a row house or townhome with lots of stairs? Expect this fee if there’s no elevator for movers to use.
- Extra stop fee: Packing items from two homes in your moving truck? You’ll see this charge on your bill.
- Storage fee: If your new home isn’t ready when the moving truck arrives and items need to be stored, there’s a charge for delayed delivery.
- Long carry fee: Live on a busy block? If movers have to park more than 50–75 feet from your home’s entrance, you’ll pay an extra fee for them to bring your belongings inside.
These fees are easy to miss, so be sure to get a written, binding estimate if you’d like a confirmed price before you commit to a mover.
Do I need to buy my own packing supplies?
Most moving companies will supply the boxes and packing materials you need—for a price. So while you can rent or buy boxes, tape, and other packing supplies from your mover, you’ll save if you purchase them elsewhere.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of cash, you may be able to find the supplies you need for free. U-Haul, for example, offers customers used boxes for free. Once you’ve moved into your new home, bring the empty boxes back to U-Haul so someone else can benefit—and use our guide to find other freebies.
Not sure what supplies you need beyond boxes? We’ve got you. Use our ultimate list of moving supplies to ensure you have everything you need before your truck arrives.
Do I need moving insurance?
When you hire moving help, you might assume that everything in the moving truck is completely insured against damage. But this isn’t exactly true. Most moving companies provide what’s called valuation—not insurance—to protect your belongings.
Valuation is a type of basic protection: It’s a predetermined amount the company will pay in case your items are destroyed or damaged during your move. There are two common types of valuation:
- Released value protection: This coverage is included with your intrastate or interstate moving rate, but it won’t reimburse you for the full cost of your items if something goes wrong. For intrastate moves, basic valuation covers $0.30 per pound per item; you’re covered at $0.60 per pound per item on an interstate move. That means if your eight-pound, $250 Bluetooth speaker breaks during your cross-country move, you’d be covered for just $4.80. Yikes.
- Full-value protection (FVP): Offering more protection than basic valuation—but less than insurance—FVP holds moving companies responsible for covering the market value of your belongings. This added coverage will cost you extra.
You can cross your fingers that everything goes well on the move, or you can bridge the gap with other kinds of coverage:
- Homeowners insurance: Your homeowners policy likely offers some coverage for your belongings during a move, but be aware that it typically applies only while movers pack them in your home. If your items break in transit, you’re out of luck.
- Third-party insurance: Worried about moving your vintage pinball machine or your decorative plate collection? Consider this coverage to fully protect your most valuable items. Since moving companies can’t sell insurance, you’ll need to purchase third-party coverage from a separate insurance provider.
Find your moving company
Whether you’re going with a full-service mover, packing a pod, or renting a truck and moving yourself, you’ll want to compare the companies, services, and prices in your area so you can make an informed decision.