How to Hire a Mover

At a glance

Hiring a mover isn’t simple, and moving can be expensive if you aren’t careful. Also, some moving companies are just better than others, and a few are nothing more than scams. That’s why it’s important to plan and gather more information before you actually hire your mover.

We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of each step below, but here’s a quick rundown of how to hire moving help:

  1. Choose your move type
  2. Set a budget
  3. Shop around

Keep reading to get a comprehensive walk-through for hiring your mover.

The whole picture

Choose your move type

Before you hire a mover, you need to decide what kind of move you’re going to do. Depending on how much stuff you’re moving, the distance you’re traveling, and your budget, certain move types make more sense than others.

We break down different moves in our DIY vs. professional moving article, but here’s what you can expect with each type of move:

Full-service, hybrid, and DIY moves compared

Type of moveFull-serviceMoving containerDIY
You load
You drive
Best forLarge or heavy loads
Long-distance moves
Mid-sized loads
Budget-conscious movers
Small loads
Thrifty movers
Average price range$550–$12,000$741–$7,558$120–$4,142
Type of move
You load
You drive
Best for
Average price range
Full-service Moving container DIY
Large or heavy loads
Long-distance moves
Mid-sized loads
Budget-conscious movers
Small loads
Thrifty movers
$550–$12,000 $741–$7,558 $120–$4,142

Full-service moves

Pros

  • Most convenient option
  • Pro-level service at every step
  • Customizable add-on services

Cons

  • Most expensive option

With a full-service move, you hire professional movers to load and unload your belongings and drive them to your new home. If you’re willing to pay extra, many full-service moving companies can also help you pack, disassemble, and reassemble your furniture—and set up your multimedia and electronics, too. Some can even ship your car for you.

Full-service moves are the most expensive option, but they’ll serve you best if you fall into any of these categories:

  • You’re on a time crunch.
  • You have a large load.
  • You’re moving long-distance.
  • You have valuable belongings you want professional help with.

The best full-service moving companies

Company nameInternational Van LinesAmerican Van LinesAllied Van LinesNorth American Van Lines
Company logoAmerican Van Lines
HighlightsBest overallBest for up-front pricingBest customer experienceBest for customizing your move
WebsiteGet a QuoteGet a QuoteGet a QuoteGet a Quote
Company name
Company logo
Highlights
Website
International Van Lines American Van Lines Allied Van Lines North American Van Lines
American Van Lines
Best overall Best for up-front pricing Best customer experience Best for customizing your move
Get a Quote Get a Quote Get a Quote Get a Quote

Our Best Interstate Movers list outlines which companies are some of the best in the game for full-service moves—and which we recommend.

Moving container moves

Pros

  • No driving required
  • Mid-range prices
  • Easy to transition to storage

Cons

  • You have to load and unload yourself

A moving container company transports your belongings from your old home to your new home—you just have to do all the loading and unloading yourself. While this might be better for customers who only trust themselves to lovingly handle their record collections, personal libraries, and valuable antiques, it’s certainly less convenient than a full-service move.

That being said, it’s also quite a bit cheaper, and if you’re looking for something more affordable than hiring a full-service moving company and more convenient than doing all the work yourself, then moving with a container company might be perfect for you.

If you need to store your belongings after the moving container company picks them up, you can also work with the company and pay them to hold onto your container until your new home is ready.

Here’s when a container move is ideal:

  • You don’t want to drive a moving truck long-distance.
  • You’re on a budget and can load your container yourself.
  • Your timing is flexible—you can load up over the course of several days.

To learn which container companies we deem top-notch, check out our list of the Best Moving Container Companies.

Truck rental moves

Pros

  • Most budget-friendly

Cons

  • Least convenient
  • Most liability if something goes wrong

If you’re down to take the reins on packing, hauling, loading, and driving a moving van to your next locale, renting a moving truck for your move is the cheapest option. The only way to pay less would be to make multiple trips in your car (which we don’t recommend).

While this is the most affordable option, it’s also the one that puts the most responsibility on your shoulders. For the other two move types, if the moving crew accidentally damaged any of your belongings, the company might cover the cost of repair or replacement. If you’re in control every step of the way, you’re on your own if something breaks.

And, as confident as you may be in your packing and driving abilities, you probably aren’t a professionally trained mover. Things are at least a little more likely to go wrong than they would in the hands of the pros.

Here’s when it would make the most sense to go the DIY route:

  • You want to save money.
  • You’re comfortable packing and driving your own truck.
  • You have a smaller load.

Check out our Best Moving Truck Rental Companies to see which companies are best for DIY moves.

Light Bulb icon

Want to lighten the load?

Want to lighten the load?

If you want to save as much money as possible, but you also need some help packing and loading, we recommend renting a moving truck and hiring some moving labor. This will obviously cut a little extra out of your budget, but it’s still cheaper than getting a full-service move. And professional help will ensure your move goes quickly and smoothly.

Set a budget

Moving costs by move type

Type of movePrice range
Full service$550–$12,000
Moving and storage containers$741–$7,558
Moving truck rentals$120–$4,000
Type of move
Full service
Moving and storage containers
Moving truck rentals
Price range
$550–$12,000
$741–$7,558
$120–$4,000

Full-service moves are the most expensive option, but their convenience can certainly outweigh their higher cost. Container moves will save you some cash, but you’ll get your workout in for the day when you load your container.

Truck rental moves, of course, are the cheapest option. But depending on how far you’re moving, how much stuff you have, and the value of the items you’re moving, they aren’t always the smartest financial option.

For instance, if your dining room table breaks during your move, you’d be at least partially covered if you went with a full-service move since every full-service moving company is required to cover up to $0.60 per pound of your shipment (basic valuation coverage). You can also pay extra for more comprehensive coverage.

With moving truck rentals, your items aren’t guaranteed protection. So even though you’d be paying more for a full-service move it might beat paying for a brand new table if yours broke during a DIY move.

It’s easy to want to pick a move type based solely on budget, but keep in mind that sometimes truck rental moves can be more expensive than you think, and in some instances container moves might be cheaper. Check out our moving costs breakdown to learn more about common—and unexpected—costs.

Bullhorn

CONSIDER THIS

CONSIDER THIS

Full-service moves don’t have to cost a fortune. As you shop around, look for companies that offer middle-of-the-road prices. You can also cut some costs by skipping add-on services like professional packing.

Decide which add-on services you need

Additional moving services are available à la carte. They’re less common in DIY moves, but some moving truck rental companies still offer these options.

  • Packing: For partial, full, or even special-item packing (if you have a valuable family heirloom that needs extra protection, for example).
  • Custom crating: For antiques or valuable pieces of furniture, like mirrors or art that won’t fit into a regular moving box.
  • Loading: For hauling that six-person sectional or a heavy armoire, especially if you can’t incentivize your friends with pizza and beer.
  • Electronics installation: For your built-in sound system or pricey TV.
  • Furniture assembly and disassembly: For oddly-shaped items like pool tables or exercise equipment that need to be broken down in order to fit through door frames or up stairwells.
Little pin

GIVE ‘EM A RING

GIVE ‘EM A RING

If you’re interested in a moving company, always call and speak with a representative. In our experience, representatives provide more detailed answers to questions over the phone than a website will.

Research and shop around

Now that you’re up to speed, it’s time to research and pick your moving company. We’ve broken down the process of selecting your moving company in three steps:

  1. Research moving companies
  2. Get multiple quotes
  3. Book your move

Research moving companies

Once you know what kind of move you want, look for companies that have good customer reviews, offer the services you need, are in line with your budget, and work in your area—some moving companies might not have a service footprint where you live.

Use our Find-a-Mover tool to see who’s in your area and our Best Interstate Moving Companies list to compare their availability and service offerings. We also review dozens of companies that aren’t mentioned in that list, so be sure to look for our review of any company you might hire.

Lastly, find customer reviews on third-party sites like Yelp and Google Reviews instead of just reading the customer reviews that companies share on their websites; those are always cherry-picked and don’t fully reflect actual customer experiences. Look for a healthy mix of positive and negative reviews to get the most accurate picture.

Here are a few red flags to watch out for when you’re reading customer reviews:

  • Customers reporting lots of damage
  • Customers reporting last-minute charges
  • Customers reporting unexpected delays
  • Customers reporting a company holding their belongings hostage for more money

While every moving company will have at least one or two scathing customer reviews, it’s important to take these with a grain of salt. If most of a company’s reviews are positive, that’s a good sign, even if one or two disgruntled customers say the company is terrible.

Of course, if an overwhelming majority of customers speak badly about a company, it’s probably best to steer clear.

Get multiple quotes

Before you make any decisions, go online or call around to get quotes from several moving companies—whether you’re going with a full-service, container, or truck rental company—so you can compare prices.

Some full-service companies even offer over-the-phone estimates so you can avoid an in-home visit and still get a ballpark estimate. Keep in mind that you won’t know exactly what your move will cost until you submit an inventory or do an in-home inspection of your belongings, but a ballpark estimate can still give you a rough idea of your final price.

You can learn more about getting estimates and quotes in our guide to moving estimates.

Get money

How many estimates should you get?

How many estimates should you get?

A good rule of thumb is to get at least three estimates from three different moving companies so you can compare prices. This will help you to find the best possible price, and it will also help you lower your price if your preferred company offers price-matching.

Book your move

After you’ve done your research and chosen your preferred company, you can book your move. Most companies allow you to schedule estimates online, but you’ll almost always have to call to book.

Keep in mind that even if you book your move for a specific date, not all companies have hard-and-fast reservations. Some offer expedited shipping or guaranteed pickup, but remember that unpredictability is the name of the game in the moving industry.

For example, most companies—especially moving truck rental companies—are limited by the customers they’re currently helping. If another customer’s move takes longer than expected, the equipment and staff you reserved might be delayed.

Questions to ask

Hidden fees and vague timelines are common pitfalls in moving, but asking the right questions up front can help you know what to expect and prevent unexpected hiccups.

Use these questions to guide your research:

  • Do I want an over-the-phone ballpark estimate?
  • Do I need insurance?
  • Do I want to pack myself or pay someone else to do it?
  • Do I have fragile items that need to be specially packed?
  • Do I need custom crating?
  • Do I need moving supplies?
  • Do I want to track my shipment?
  • Do I need help disconnecting and reconnecting my appliances?
  • Do I have specialty items like a piano or trampoline?
  • Do I need furniture disassembled and reassembled?
  • Do I need to move something heavy or bulky like a washer/dryer?

Once you know what kind of help you need, we recommend you choose a moving company based on how its services align with your needs and your budget. Get a feel for your options by getting several estimates and then use those to decide who to book with.

Have more questions? Ask away in the comments section below!

Have more questions? Ask away in the comments section below!

Recommended resources

Ready to get the ball rolling? Here are our picks for the best full-service moving, moving container, and moving truck rental companies:

People also asked

If you’re still stumped, here are some related FAQs to help you in your research.

Joe Roberts also contributed to this article.

About Julia Campbell

Julia Campbell
Julia Campbell is a full-time writer who knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to planning a hassle-free move. Having moved seven times in the past five years, she draws from her own experience and industry expertise to help you avoid her biggest mistakes (like that time she thought she could get away with packing her dishes without wrapping them first).
  • Mindy Jollie

    It’s good to know that when it comes down to scheduling, you’ll probably have to call a moving company. I would imagine that services that do offer online scheduling are pretty appealing, but perhaps don’t have the best pricing or options. If I were to schedule a long distance move, I’d definitely take the time to hire movers and make sure everything was in place before I left. https://www.taurusmoving.com/residential-moving

  • http://www.augustamovers.ca/ Robert Laurent

    You need to know or recognize what type of movers that you actually need. Is it office or residential moving? After knowing, you can contact any local movers nearby your area or you can find them online. Hire the mover the which suits affordability factor and provide you the services you want.

  • Sophia Slate

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  • Albert

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  • Ellie Davis

    I liked that you mentioned hiring a full service moving company will help you in case of a long-distance move. My husband and I are thinking about moving to another city, and we are looking for advice to choose the right company. I will let him know about the benefits of hiring a full service moving company to help us. https://www.mountain-movers.com/services

  • Rita Sanders

    I like how you mentioned that if you’re moving long-distance a full-service mover is probably for you. We’re moving out of state and it has to be soon because my husband got a new job there. We’d like to be settled in before he has to start working. https://tlcmovingwichita.com/

  • Taylor Anderson

    I’ll probably be moving in 3-6 months, and I could really use so help. I like how you mentioned asking several moving companies for quotes, as it will help me find the best price. These tips could help me find a great moving service in my area, so thanks for sharing them.
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