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5 Best Small Load Moving Companies [2021]

Not every cross-country move requires a semi-trailer and a large moving team to make the trip. Small-load moves—usually for homes with two bedrooms or less—can be easy and affordable when you find the right company. We’ve rounded up the best small load moving companies in the industry. Each mover listed here is federally certified, licensed and insured, and offers special plans for small moves.

Best for Storage Services

SpareFoot

4.6
  • Provides self-storage services
  • Compare prices with other storage services by amenities, discounts, and more
  • Reserve storage space online

Best Full-Service Mover

International Van Lines

4.8
  • Provides Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
  • IVL is a Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker
  • Live Chat Option & A 24/7 Telephone Assistance Line

Best Moving Add-ons

American Van Lines

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving
  • Storage Options Available
  • Specializes In Fine Art, Antique, & Piano Moving

The Best Small Load Movers

  1. Best Full-Service Movers: International Van Lines
  2. Best Moving Add-Ons: American Van Lines
  3. Best for Military Moves: Safeway Moving System
  4. Best for Protection Insurance: JK Moving Services
  5. Most Competitive Pricing: U-Pack

Best for Storage Services

4.6
  • Provides self-storage services
  • Compare prices with other storage services by amenities, discounts, and more
  • Reserve storage space online

Best Full-Service Mover

4.8
  • Provides Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
  • IVL is a Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker
  • Live Chat Option & A 24/7 Telephone Assistance Line

Best Moving Add-ons

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving
  • Storage Options Available
  • Specializes In Fine Art, Antique, & Piano Moving

Best for Military Moves

4.6
  • Safeway Moving is an FMCSA-Licensed Broker
  • Brokers Connect Clients With Local Moving Options at Advantageous Pricing
  • Select Locations Provide 1 Month of Free Storage Services

Best for Protection Insurance

4.5
  • Long-Distance, Interstate, Local & Int'l Moves
  • 24/7 Customer Support & Great Mobile App for Customers
  • Low-Interest Financing Available with JK Moving partner

Quick Overview

When planning any move, be sure to shop around with multiple providers in your area. Different moving companies offer different ranges of services, which means that certain operators will be a better fit for you than others. Scheduling multiple virtual or in-person estimates with different providers is also the best way ensure you get the most affordable rate for your needs.

Here’s a quick overview of the best small load moving companies operating today:

Provider

Quote Superlative Average Cost* Service Model
International Van Lines Free Quote Best Full-Service Mover $2,015 – $3,445

Full-service moving carrier and broker

American Van Lines

Free Quote Best Moving Add-Ons $3,900 Full-service carrier
Safeway Moving System Free Quote Best for Military Moves Call for pricing

Moving broker

JK Moving Services

Free Quote Best for Protection Insurance Call for pricing Primarily a broker; operates as a carrier in the greater Washington DC area
U-Pack Free Quote Most Competitive Pricing $2,600 – $3,300

Moving container provider

*These average costs are based on quotes for long-distance moves of around 1,100 miles (from New York City to Des Moines, Iowa). These hypothetical moves are for two-bedroom homes, with some light packing included. As long-distance moves are primarily billed by shipment weight and move distance, you can expect to pay a little less for a smaller move. Be sure to request a quote to find out exactly what your move will cost.

1. International Van Lines

International Van Lines is a leader in the moving industry, throughout North America and the world. With consistently high marks for customer service and a wide range of services offered, they are more than able to carry out any moving-related task you could require.

Best Full-Service Mover

4.8
  • Provides Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
  • IVL is a Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker
  • Live Chat Option & A 24/7 Telephone Assistance Line

Their Services

IVL maintains licenses as a carrier and a broker. Being a broker means that a company can contract out work to other carriers when they can’t complete it themselves. This means that IVL is ready to handle everything from small loads to large full-service moves. Their service range includes:

  • Local moving
  • Long-distance moving
  • International moving
  • Dedicated small move packages
  • Full-service packing
  • Packing materials supplier
  • Debris removal
  • Storage
  • Auto shipping

International Van Lines Cost

We were able to get a preliminary estimate from International’s website for a two-bedroom home. The cost window given ($2,015 – $3,445) accounts for the possibility of adding services like packing, crating, or other specialties onto the bill.

However, IVL also offers dedicated small move services. For these, they consolidate many shipments onto the same moving van to cut costs. Studios and one-bedroom apartments in this move category cost around $1,200 to $2,000.

Their Availability

International Van Lines works primarily along the East Coast and Midwest. However, their extensive fleet and ability to serve as a moving broker gives them a national reach. They serve all 50 US states and 130 countries worldwide.

Why We Like IVL

Their commitment to providing the best possible moving experience to their clients really sets IVL apart. IVL’s status as a top mover is well-earned, and the versatility and range of their service offerings make them a smart choice for anyone.

2. American Van Lines

American Van Lines is a trusted local and long-distance move carrier. Along with residential moving, this provider also handles commercial and military moves of all sizes. They are also one of the best small load movers available today.

Best Moving Add-ons

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving
  • Storage Options Available
  • Specializes In Fine Art, Antique, & Piano Moving

Their Services

American Van Lines workers are perhaps its best asset. Each worker is fully background checked and trained in-house to meet company standards, unlike some of their competitors. Services offered include:

  • Local and long-distance moving
  • International moving
  • Storage
  • Packing
  • Antique moving
  • Piano moving
  • Crating for artwork or fragile items

American Van Lines Cost

AVL supplies several sample quotes on their site. A two bedroom move of around 1,100 miles will cost you about $3,900. This assumes a shipment weight of between 5,000 and 6,000 lbs, which is at the heavier end for a move of this size.

Small moves of a studio or one-bedroom apartment cost substantially less. For local moves, you can expect an hourly rate of around $60-$100 per mover, with likely two movers required. For long-distance moves, we requested a few sample quotes:

Moving To/From

Distance Home Size

Cost

Miami to Atlanta

664 mi 1 BR $2,880
Miami to Dallas 1,310 mi 1 BR

$3,643

Their Availability

Although their brick-and-mortar hubs are in Pompano Beach, FL, Dallas, TX, and Greensboro, NC, AVL is licensed to operate as a carrier anywhere throughout the United States.

Why We Like AVL

American Van Lines prominently advertises and takes pride in their experienced and vetted moving crews. This alone makes them stand out and is a rarity in the moving industry. Expertly trained employees with a high retention rate speaks showcases the level of care AVL has as a company. This translates to their quality of service, no matter the size or scope of the move.

3. Safeway Moving Systems

Safeway Moving Systems is a veteran-owned company that specializes in military relocations. That said, their expertise in the residential and commercial field comes highly recommended as well. Their commitment to transparency and honesty means that they stand firmly by their work—a reassuring trait in any service industry.

Best for Military Moves

4.6
  • Safeway Moving is an FMCSA-Licensed Broker
  • Brokers Connect Clients With Local Moving Options at Advantageous Pricing
  • Select Locations Provide 1 Month of Free Storage Services

Their Services

Safeway is exclusively a moving broker. This means that they contract their jobs out to other partner companies in different locations. They have high standards for partner companies, however, and advertise flat-rate, no-nonsense pricing. Services included in this purview include:

  • Military moving
  • Long-distance moving (residential and commercial)
  • Packing
  • Furniture assembly and disassembly
  • Piano moving
  • Crating
  • Auto shipping

Safeway Moving Systems Cost

Unfortunately, Safeway doesn’t provide much pricing information. This is mainly because they work with partner companies in a variety of different locations. Their rates are largely affected by the local market. To find out what your move with Safeway will cost, simply request a free quote.

Their Availability

Safeway is based in Chicago but operates throughout the entire country through their partner providers. They do all that they can to ensure the quality of its partner. To provide reassurance to customers, Safeway offers a 100% guarantee on all moves. High standards are maintained on all fronts.

Why We Like Safeway

The transparency of Safeway Moving Systems pricing and quote process is something that should be appreciated by any who have used movers before. While they don’t provide much pricing data online, if you give them a call, they will walk you through the entire process, and they provide binding quotes with no hidden fees. This goes a long way toward creating a positive experience for clients.

4. JK Moving Services

Over its 40-year run in the moving industry, JK Moving Services has completed more than half a million moves. It’s fully-vetted and background checked staff make them a reliable place to go to for all things moving. With their fully customizable moving options, they are easily one of the best small load moving companies around today.

Best for Protection Insurance

4.5
  • Long-Distance, Interstate, Local & Int'l Moves
  • 24/7 Customer Support & Great Mobile App for Customers
  • Low-Interest Financing Available with JK Moving partner

Their Services

With a customizable moving experience, highly trained moving crews, and several insurance options, JK is dedicated to making the move process easy and stress-free. Your personalize move package can include the following services:

  • Local moving in MD, VA, and Washington, D.C.
  • Long-distance moving
  • International moving
  • Commercial moving
  • Packing services
  • GPS tracking
  • Full valuation coverage
  • Financing for payment of moving expenses

JK Moving Services Cost

JK does not provide sample pricing, but getting a quote is easy. Simply request a free estimate on their site. Their 24/7 dedicated customer service and virtual survey apps even further expedite the quote process.

Their Availability

JK Moving acts as a carrier for all moves near Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. They work as a broker for moves in other states. Despite this, their reach extends through the entire country, and they are very well-reviewed for moves they’ve brokered elsewhere.

Why We Like JK Moving Services

JK Moving Services offers some of the most highly trained and experienced moving crews available today. Beyond its staff, the company offers a full range of options, allowing you to customize services to suit your needs. Their comprehensive valuation insurance options also help to keep your goods protected in transit.

5. U-Pack

U-Pack is one of the best moving container services in the US. Moving containers provide some flexibility and independence for those who are comfortable providing their own packing and loading labor. Their ReloCube option is the best choice for small moves, providing enough space to pack a single large room or studio apartment.

Most Competitive Pricing

4.4
  • Long-Distance Moving Container Service
  • Portable Storage Service at U-Pack Warehouse
  • Negligence & Catastrophic Liability Coverage

Their Services

U-Pack is exclusively a long-distance moving company. They are best utilized as a moving solution for small to medium-sized homes, leaving the labor totally up to the clients.

They will drop a container off at your home and give you three days to load it with your belongings. Then, they’ll pick up the container and ship it to your new destination, where you’ll unload it. If you book with U-Pack, you can choose to do the work yourself, or you can hire help.

While they offer 27’ trailers, their 8’ ReloCube container is the best option for small loads. You can get just one container or multiple containers to suit your needs. And you only pay for the space that you actually use inside of the container!

U-Pack Cost

We requested a quote from U-Pack for a two-bedroom move of 1,100 miles (NYC to Des Moines, IA) and received and estimate of $3,375. For this move, a trailer was used, rather than the smaller ReloCube. Remember that U-Pack has a pay for what you use policy, so if you use less space in the container, then you will pay less than the quoted price.

Of course, we’re looking at the best small load movers—so we need to see pricing for a smaller move. Here’s what we were quoted for moving a studio apartment with the ReloCube:

Studio Apartment Moving Cost

Home Size Distance Cost
1 BR 664 mi $950 – $1,400
1 BR 1,310 mi $1,400 – $2,500

Their Availability

U-Pack has 240 locations across the United States, from which they provide long-distance services to all 50 US states. Keep in mind that they do not provide local moving services, only long-distance. Additionally, moves must be a minimum of 150 miles and must cross state lines. This makes them on of the best interstate moving companies, but they’re not available otherwise.

Why We Like U-Pack

U-Pack has a “pay for what you use” pricing model, which can help to make your move as affordable as possible. Along with this, the autonomy provided by having extended loading and unloading windows takes some of the pressure off when moving. U-Pack is a great option for those who want more independence without the liabilities assumed when renting a truck.

Request a Quote

When choosing a provider for your next move, you will have to evaluate your needs as a client first. All the moving companies listed above are excellent options for small moves. But they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to shop around and request multiple quotes before booking:

Best for Storage Services

4.6
  • Provides self-storage services
  • Compare prices with other storage services by amenities, discounts, and more
  • Reserve storage space online

Best Full-Service Mover

4.8
  • Provides Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
  • IVL is a Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker
  • Live Chat Option & A 24/7 Telephone Assistance Line

Best Moving Add-ons

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving
  • Storage Options Available
  • Specializes In Fine Art, Antique, & Piano Moving

Best for Military Moves

4.6
  • Safeway Moving is an FMCSA-Licensed Broker
  • Brokers Connect Clients With Local Moving Options at Advantageous Pricing
  • Select Locations Provide 1 Month of Free Storage Services

Best for Protection Insurance

4.5
  • Long-Distance, Interstate, Local & Int'l Moves
  • 24/7 Customer Support & Great Mobile App for Customers
  • Low-Interest Financing Available with JK Moving partner

How to Choose the Best Small Load Moving Company

You’ll come across a vast range of moving services in your search, whether you’re headed across town or to a new state. When you’re only moving a small load, you may not need the same moving services as relocating a three-bedroom home. Here are some quick tips to help you with your search for the best movers who move small loads.

What is a Small Move?

Since long-distance movers often determine their costs based on size and weight, the size of your move is often the largest factor in determining your quote. But what exactly is considered a small load when moving across the country?

Most companies consider anything under 3,500 pounds a smaller move. This falls somewhere between the amount you can fit in your car and the furniture and boxes of a two-bedroom apartment.

Types of Movers

When you have a smaller amount to move, expect to find three main types of companies:

  • Full-Service Companies. Full-service companies take care of the move for you. At the very least, the team arrives on moving day, loads the truck, drives it to your new home, and unloads it upon arrival. You can also add on services like packing, crating, and more to make your move as easy as possible. You can sit back and watch the whole move happen without even having to tape up a box yourself.
  • Moving Container Companies. Moving containers are a great option for small moves. Instead of a traditional moving truck, these businesses drop off a small pod or trailer for you to load on your own. You will typically have 3-7 days to load your items. Next, the driver comes to move the storage unit to your new town with a truck. There are typically multiple container sizes available, from small to large, to accommodate a full range of needs.
  • Truck Rental Companies. Those comfortable with driving a van or small truck longer distances can save money by renting a moving truck. This option reduces moving costs significantly, especially if you have fewer household goods to pack.

It’s important to balance pricing options with the type of moving process you’re looking for. Even small loads often include large pieces of furniture—so a full-service mover might still be your safest bet.

Whichever option you choose, we recommend narrowing your list down to between four and five quotes from companies that meet your standards. Each company should provide a free quote and a detailed rundown of what is included in your contract.

Small Load Doesn’t Always Mean a Small Move

Just because you have fewer items doesn’t mean that it’s always safe to carry them all on your own. Professionals will know how to properly package and carry large items into your truck. They can also remove the burden of driving a large, unfamiliar vehicle several hundred miles.

As you estimate the cost of your move, consider your unique home and household items before choosing the right type of company for you. Remember, you can typically select from full-service, storage container, and truck rental companies.

What to Look for in Small Load Movers

With less to move, your quote process should be much simpler compared to larger moves. Even full-service moving companies determine costs by weight when heading long distances. So, you shouldn’t need much more than a detailed inventory of your boxes and furniture to receive a reliable estimate.

Here are a few important things to look for when researching the best small load mover for your needs:

  • Small-Load Experience. Companies that advertise handling small moves are less likely to group your move in with larger-scale trips. Its team should also understand that your smaller move takes just as much precedent as a larger, more expensive one. Some small-load movers specifically advertise last-minute and same-day moves—a feature made easier by your smaller move size.
  • Check Credentials. Every moving company for trips large and small should provide US DOT license numbers, proof of certifications, customer testimonials, and a moving contract (sometimes known as a bill of lading). Start your search on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. Here you can find all licensing and certification info, as well as the company’s address and phone number.
  • Inventories & Walkthroughs. Online estimates may be convenient, but full-service companies often require a home walkthrough—for good reason. The best way to determine your move cost is for a professional to see your items and the structure of your home before moving day. In addition to the weight of your items, moving companies charge for things like staircases, long walks from the truck to your door, high-season moving dates, and the distance from your origin to your destination.
  • Binding Estimates. A walkthrough is also the best way to obtain what is known as a binding estimate. Compared to a non-binding estimate, these quotes are more likely to stay the same—or very close—to the amount you’ll be charged on moving day. It’s important to note that container and truck rental companies may be able to offer binding quotes online since you manage your own loading and packing.
  • Moving Time. Long-distance moving companies, in general, take anywhere between two days and three weeks to deliver your goods. However, some companies—especially when picking up small loads—may add stops to their tip along the way to save money. While this is a common practice, it’s important to note in case you’re in a hurry to receive your shipment.
  • Compare Prices. Line up your four or five quotes and compare which option is most cost-efficient for your move. While local move costs are frequently based on hourly rates, the cost for a long-distance move may be a flat fee or may be calculated based on your weight and distance.
  • Read Reviews. Read moving company reviews and customer reviews. Organizations like the Better Business Bureau provide both accreditation and ongoing ratings of moving companies. When it comes to customer reviews, keep in mind that every company will have its fair share of positive and negative testimonials from location to location. You should, however, spot trends that appear among the larger comments.
  • Insurance. While most companies offer basic liability insurance, these plans rarely cover the cost of carrier negligence. Upgrade to a more comprehensive insurance plan if you own any heirloom or high-value items.

Average Cost of Small Load Moves

If you’re hoping for an affordable move, you’re in luck. Cutting down the size of your household items is the easiest way to lower moving costs. While the mileage between your old and new home isn’t flexible, what goes in the moving truck is. Downsizing is an excellent way to fit an otherwise costly long-distance move into your budget.

  • Local Moves: Local moves are typically performed at an hourly rate, with a national average of $90-$150 per hour (for two movers and a truck). Most movers have hourly minimums as well. Even if your small load move takes less than two hours to complete, if the company has a two hour minimum, that is the rate you will pay.
  • Long-Distance Moves: You can expect to pay between $500 and $4,000 to move a one-bedroom home across the country. Understandably, there are many factors that determine the final price tag, but this range is a great place to start.

Moving containers and truck rentals can be much cheaper, but you will be required to do the loading and unloading yourself.

Moving Cost Factors

For long-distance moves, the following factors can impact your final cost:

  • The type of moving company
  • Mileage
  • Extra services
  • Your moving date
  • Insurance
  • How far in advance you book
  • Stairs and other obstacles in your home
  • Specialty items like pianos and antiques

Popular Services for Small Load Moves

Moving fewer items may provide more flexibility in your budget for extra services that can make your move more convenient. Here are some of the most common moving services that are typically available for an extra fee:

  • Packing and unpacking
  • Antique and heirloom packaging
  • Crating for large or fragile items
  • Piano moving
  • Auto and motorcycle shipping
  • Long and short-term storage
  • Furniture placement
  • Moving supplies

If you’re renting a truck or going with a moving container option, consider hiring a few movers by the hour to lift heavy furniture.

Shop Around for the Best Prices

Comparing contracts and free quotes is the best way to find the right company for you. Start your search by comparing quotes from the best small load movers on our list:

Best for Storage Services

SpareFoot

4.6
  • Provides self-storage services
  • Compare prices with other storage services by amenities, discounts, and more
  • Reserve storage space online

Best Full-Service Mover

International Van Lines

4.8
  • Provides Local, Long-Distance, & Int'l Moving Services
  • IVL is a Licensed Moving Carrier & Broker
  • Live Chat Option & A 24/7 Telephone Assistance Line

Best Moving Add-ons

American Van Lines

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving
  • Storage Options Available
  • Specializes In Fine Art, Antique, & Piano Moving

Best for Military Moves

Safeway Moving System

4.6
  • Safeway Moving is an FMCSA-Licensed Broker
  • Brokers Connect Clients With Local Moving Options at Advantageous Pricing
  • Select Locations Provide 1 Month of Free Storage Services

Best for Protection Insurance

JK Moving Services

4.5
  • Long-Distance, Interstate, Local & Int'l Moves
  • 24/7 Customer Support & Great Mobile App for Customers
  • Low-Interest Financing Available with JK Moving partner

Our Methodology

At Pro Mover Reviews, we are committed to providing our readers with comprehensive and unbiased information on each provider that we review. Our methodology is a step-by-step process that ensures we maintain your trust through transparency and data that is backed up through routine check-ins. Our staff has spent hundreds of hours reviewing dozens of local, long-distance, and international moving companies to bring you our recommendation for the best moving companies in the US. We then narrowed down our findings based on criteria that we find to be the most helpful for you to choose the best moving company for your needs.

Our Rating Categories:

  • Company Transparency
  • Pricing + Cost
  • Services Offered
  • Overall Reputation

While there are many sites out there that compare movers, we believe our rigorous standards give us more insights into company performance and better data to share with our community.  For each moving company we check for:

  • Confirmed Licensing with the DOT
  • Updated & Verified Business Registration
  • Real & Recent Consumer Reviews
  • Industry Ratings and BBB Complaints
  • Accuracy of Online Quotes
  • Services Provided & Total Service Area
  • Pricing & Services vs. Competitors

From here we created a comprehensive, 100 point, rating scale based on the following factors:

  • Moving services (25): Companies that offer more flexibility in their services are rated higher.
  • Coverage of services (5): The more items a moving company can handle, the higher the score.
  • Pricing (25): We compare this to the industry average when rating pricing.
  • Trustworthiness (25): We comb through hundreds of reviews and check on BBB ratings to determine the trustworthiness of a company.
  • State availability (5): Finding a moving company in your state can be a challenge depending on where you are located. The more states covered, the higher the score.
  • Customer service (10): Is this moving company responsive? Do they respond quickly to issues that are brought to their attention? Are they helpful in answering questions? All of these factors are considered when rating customer service.
  • Additional benefits (5): Moving companies can sometimes offer special promotions or deals when contracting them for a move. The companies with the most benefit scored higher.

Of the dozens of different moving companies that we’ve reviewed, we’ve broken down the best small load moving companies in your area. To keep our ratings and data current, we have a full-time researcher who collects (and regularly updates) more than 100 specific data points from each company to help us compare them on key factors such as coverage, cost, service, and dependability. This list is ever-changing, as companies will update policies and procedures, and we will change our information accordingly.

Small Load Moving FAQs

What is considered a small move?

Most moving companies will consider anything below a two-bedroom home a smaller move. However, since prices for long-distance moves are based on weight and mileage—and prices vary widely.

For example, two studio apartments can include significantly lighter or heavier items than one another. Your moving company can help you determine the size of your move during your in-person or virtual estimate process.

Are there options when moving a small load?

You don’t have to hire a full-service moving company for a small load if you’re looking to save money. For example:

  • Moving container companies offer small pods and containers for customers to load on their own.
  • Truck rental companies let you handle the entire more yourself from driving to packing.
  • Some full-service companies offer a la carte moving services so you can save money on things like packing, moving supplies, and storage for smaller moves.

How far is a long-distance move?

Moving companies typically offer different price structures for local and long-distance moves. Local moves are typically priced based on weight and hourly costs, whereas long hauls come down to distance and weight.

Depending on the business, long-distance prices kick in anywhere between 100-400+ miles. Other companies consider anything past state lines a long-distance move.

Do all companies handle small moves?

For the most part, yes. All major companies manage small moves, but not all take on long-distance relocations for smaller loads. For example, some major brands require a minimum weight to take on the job, especially if you’re headed over a certain distance.

On the other hand, moving container and truck rental companies are designed specifically for small loads heading cross country. If you’re comfortable handling the driving or loading on your own, these are typically cost-friendly solutions.