Unfortunately, many homeowners headed to a new property vastly underestimate the amount of money that a long-distance move can cost. The average cost of a long-distance move in the United States is more than $4,000—and if you’re moving more than 1,000 miles or you own a larger property, you can easily end up paying more.
Thankfully, with a little planning, you can find an inexpensive moving company and limit the costs that you’ll pay on your long-distance move. Read on to learn a little more about the factors that influence the costs that long-distance moving companies assign to each move, estimates on what you can expect to pay in moving costs, and a few tips that you can use to lower the cost that you’ll pay for your move. We’ll also provide you with additional advice that you can use to ensure that you’re working with a legitimate moving company.
How Much Does it Cost to Move Long-Distance
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single flat-rate price that you’ll pay for moving services, as every moving company uses its own formula to calculate what you’ll pay for your move. When you request a binding or non-binding moving estimate, a team of long-distance movers will visit your home and take a look at the total number and type of items that you’re moving before they offer you a moving quote.
One of the first things that your movers will take into consideration when they decide how much you’ll pay for your move is the distance that you’re traveling. Your moving company will ask you for a pick-up address as well as a drop-off address and calculate the total distance of your move. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how much you might expect to pay for your moving services depending on how far you’re traveling.
|City of origin||Destination||Approximate distance between 2 points||Home size||Industry estimate|
|New Haven, CT||Hartford, CT||33 miles||2-bedroom home||$1,276 – $1,602|
|New Haven, CT||New York City, NY||67 miles||2-bedroom home||$2,791 – $3,520|
|New Haven, CT||Pittsburgh, PA||368 miles||2-bedroom home||$3,305 – $4,185|
|New Haven, CT||Indianapolis, IN||587 miles||2-bedroom home||$3,745 – $4,758|
|New Haven, CT||St. Louis, MO||931 miles||2-bedroom home||$4,123 – $5,252|
|New Haven, CT||Wichita, KS||1,320 miles||2-bedroom home||$4,637 – $5,921|
|New Haven, CT||Denver, CO||1,676 miles||2-bedroom home||$5,015 – $6,415|
|New Haven, CT||Salt Lake City, UT||2,013 miles||2-bedroom home||$5,473 – $7,011|
|New Haven, CT||Las Vegas, NV||2,281 miles||2-bedroom home||$5,706 – $7,314|
|New Haven, CT||Seattle, WA||2,431 miles||2-bedroom home||$5,969 – $7,658|
The size of your home will also play a major role in the total amount of money that you spend on your moving processes. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how much you might expect to pay for a move between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and a move between New York City and Los Angeles depending on the size of your current space.
|City of origin||Destination||Approximate distance between 2 points||Home size||Industry estimate|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Philadelphia, PA||257 miles||Studio space||$706 – $1,158|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Philadelphia, PA||257 miles||1-bedroom home||$1,158 – $1,551|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Philadelphia, PA||257 miles||2-bedroom home||$1,551 – $1,960|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Philadelphia, PA||257 miles||3-bedroom home||$2,337 – $3,127|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Philadelphia, PA||257 miles||4-bedroom home||$3,127 – $4,605|
|New York City, NY||Los Angeles, CA||2,448 miles||Studio space||$2,455 – $4,337|
|New York City, NY||Los Angeles, CA||2,448 miles||1-bedroom home||$4,337 – $6,100|
|New York City, NY||Los Angeles, CA||2,448 miles||2-bedroom home||$6,100 – $7,832|
|New York City, NY||Los Angeles, CA||2,448 miles||3-bedroom home||$9,405 – $12,703|
|New York City, NY||Los Angeles, CA||2,448 miles||4-bedroom home||$12,703 – $18,879|
Ultimately, every cross-country moving service provider gets to set its own rates, and these rates can vary widely from 1 company to the next. We recommend that you get a free moving quote from at least 3 moving service providers before you decide which company you want to work with. This will help ensure that you don’t end up overpaying for your move—after all, you have no idea how much money you could be saving until you know what each full-service moving company in your area would charge for your move.
What Factors Influence the Price of Your Move?
As you can see, affordable moving companies can be difficult to find. Understanding the factors that influence the cost of your move can help ensure that your pricing for your move is on track with other companies in your area. Let’s take a look at a few of the factors that moving companies consider when they set your moving estimate and why they play into your moving costs.
The total size of your move
The most important factor that will play a role in the price that you’ll pay for your move is the total size and weight of your shipment. Legitimate moving companies understand that there are strict requirements and regulations set in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) when it comes to the weight of each moving truck that the company operates. This means that the company cannot overload any of its moving vehicles—and if your shipment is too large, you may require multiple moving vehicles to complete your move.
The more moving trucks and moving professionals that your moving company needs to devote to your move, the more money that the company will need to spend getting your shipment to your new home. The larger your home, the more that you can expect your move to cost.
The distance that you’re moving
The other most important factor that plays a major role in the rates that long-distance moving companies will charge you for your move is the distance that you’re moving. Companies that provide interstate moving services may need special federal and state licensure that isn’t required for companies operating on a local basis. Additionally, a cross-country move will also cost your moving company more money in terms of fuel charges, tolls, and accommodations for your moving team. The further away from your current location that you’re moving, the more money you’ll need to save up before the moving date arrives.
The type of items that you’re moving
The total weight of your cross-country shipment isn’t the only factor that will play into the total cost of your move—your movers may also charge you a premium if you’re moving a large number of large or awkward items. For example, if you’re bringing a piano along with your move, you’ll pay significantly more for moving services because your movers will need to put special crating and packaging services into place to ensure that the instrument doesn’t arrive damaged. This is part of the reason why most people who move choose to donate their piano instead of taking it with them to their new home.
Pianos aren’t the only items that are likely to increase the total price of your move. Large and heavy items of furniture (for example, a kitchen table or desk) or a large amount of glassware can also increase the price of your move. Specialized items that require a careful moving process (like a car) will also cause you to incur additional charges on your move.
Any additional services that you add to your move
Interstate moves can be a long and stressful process. What many movers don’t know is that they can make their moving experience significantly less stressful by asking their moving company to complete processes on their behalf. Some excess services that you can include on your moving process to make things easier on you include the following.
- Packing and unpacking services: If you don’t have time to tackle your own packing services, a full-service moving company can pack up your home on the day of your move. Some moving companies even offer unpacking services, which you can use to settle into your home faster after your shipment arrives.
- Storage services: If your move-out date and your move-in date don’t exactly line up, you might need to rent a storage unit. Your moving company may be able to arrange a storage unit for your things. Some moving companies even operate their own storage facilities, which allows them to provide you with discounted rates when compared to other storage companies operating in the area.
- Furniture assembly and disassembly: An easy way to lower the cost of your move and limit the possibility of breakage is to disassemble your furniture before loading. Taking your furniture apart allows your movers to store it in a more compact way, which saves room in your moving truck. If you aren’t sure how to take your furniture apart or put it back together, your moving company may be able to provide you with these services.
- Packing supplies: Many teams of full-service movers sell packing supplies in addition to moving services. In many cases, you can often find a discount on these packing supplies when compared to your local office or home goods store.
Though these add-on services will make moving day less stressful and time-consuming, they will increase the total price that you’ll pay for your services. This makes it incredibly important to receive accurate estimated information before you agree to pay these charges.
Your move date
Like most other types of industries, moving companies have both busy and slow seasons. If you’re moving during the “busy” season (which usually lasts from April through September), there is more competition for each moving company’s services, which increases the price that you’ll pay for your move. You’ll also have fewer choices when it comes to which company you want to work with, which can leave you paying a premium for services if you don’t book your move far enough in advance. You’re also likely to pay more for your move if you must move on the weekend.
Insurance and valuation coverage
Depending on the distance that you’re moving, your moving company may require you to invest in some form of liability coverage to protect the contents of your move. Most moving companies also offer multiple levels of insurance and valuation coverage that you may want or need to purchase if you’re moving a large number of valuable or fragile items.
Affordable Methods for Long-Distance Moving
While moving can be expensive, there are affordable ways to move to a new home in a new state. Let’s take a look at a few of the most affordable methods that you can use to move.
Moving with a DIY moving company
The cheapest way to move long-distance is to utilize the services of a DIY moving company. DIY moving companies provide you with the fewest services, and most DIY moving companies do not employ professional movers who will assist you in packing or transporting your things. Instead, your moving company will provide you with a truck rental that you’ll use to take your things to your new home. After the move is complete, you’ll usually return your truck rental to the moving company’s local branch where you relocate. U-Haul is an example of a DIY moving company.
Though renting a moving truck is the most affordable way to complete a move, it does come with a number of drawbacks and is not the best choice for everyone. For example, if you’re moving with children or pets, renting a truck may create a safety hazard that prevents you from getting to your new home on schedule. If you or a loved one who you’re moving with is older, loading and unloading your moving truck can put you at risk of some of the most common moving injuries (including muscle strains and hernias). Of course, renting a moving truck also means that you’ll need to already have a valid driver’s license on the date of your move, which isn’t a possibility for everyone.
Using a moving container service
If you don’t have a driver’s license and you’re looking for an affordable way to move, you may want to consider using a moving container service. Moving container companies provide you with a unique option that offers you an easier move as well as storage options. PODS is an example of a popular moving container company.
When you schedule a move with a moving container company, your moving container service will deliver a portable storage unit to your current home. These solid and sturdy containers provide you with both a storage unit as well as a mode of transportation for your things. You’ll then load all of your things into your storage container after packing everything up. Once packing is complete, you’ll call your moving company and schedule your delivery. Your moving container company will then arrive at your home, pick up your container and transport it to your new home. From here, you’ll unpack your storage container and schedule a pick-up date with your moving container company.
Using a moving container can be an affordable alternative to renting a moving truck and handling your own move independently. In particular, moving container companies can be an exceptionally affordable option for movers who need to store their things before moving into their new home. However, these containers aren’t available in all parts of the country and may be unsuitable for certain residences. For example, if you live in a highly urban area (like New York City or Los Angeles) you may not be allowed to park your moving container on the street for a week at a time. Using a moving container service also requires that you load your own container, which may be unsafe for older men and women.
Working with a partial moving company
Full-service moving companies are the most expensive type of moving companies because they offer an enhanced range of services. However, all moving companies do not offer full-service capabilities. If you need assistance loading a moving vehicle, you may want to hire a partial moving service when relocating.
Partial moving companies provide you with a team of professional movers to assist you with some of the most basic parts of the moving process. For example, a partial moving company may assist with loading and transportation but not packing or disassembling furniture. Select partial moving companies may also be able to provide you with a limited range of packing services—like if you have a single fragile item that needs specialized loading or packing materials.
Tips to Lower the Cost of Your Upcoming Move
Finding the right professional moving company can be difficult—especially if you’re working on a very limited budget or there aren’t many options to consider in your area. Thankfully, there are a few steps that you can take to lower the price of your upcoming move. Consider using these tips to move on a budget and keep your costs under control.
Get multiple estimates
If you’re moving to a new home, you probably didn’t buy the first house that you visited. Why should you work with the first moving company that you receive an estimate from? Every moving company uses its own unique formula to determine its pricing, which means that it’s entirely possible to receive the exact same moving services from 10 different moving companies at 10 completely different prices.
We highly recommend that you take the time to get multiple moving estimates before you decide which company you want to work with. Be sure that you get each estimate in writing and ask if each estimate is binding or non-binding. This helps you avoid hidden fees and excess charges on the date of your move. As a general rule, we advise movers that they receive at least 3 moving estimates from 3 competing moving companies before your move.
Start your search early
One simple step that you can take to ensure that you don’t end up overpaying for your move is to consider your moving needs and processes early. Taking steps to start collecting estimates well ahead of the date that you need to move ensures that you have enough time to consider all of your options. The last thing you want when you’re taking on a task as difficult as moving is to be left scrambling for pricing estimates at the last minute—only to find that the only movers who can accommodate your moving date are the most expensive options in town.
Quality moving services tend to book up services months in advance. We recommend that you begin comparing your moving options at least 3 months before the date of your move and to book your team of movers at least 1 month in advance. To enjoy a truly stress-free move, you may want to start even earlier than this.
Downsize as much as possible
The total size of your move is one of the largest factors that influence the price of your move. The simplest way to decrease the price of your move is to downsize your home as much as possible before you receive your moving estimates. Use these tips to decide what to get rid of and what to bring along to your new location.
- Sort room-by-room: Though the process of downsizing your home can seem like an impossibly large task, breaking it down into smaller “chunks” of tasks can make it significantly more manageable. Walk through your home room-by-room and sort all of your things into 3 piles: keep, donate and throw away. Items that you’re attached to and that you want to bring to your new home should go into your “keep” pile. Items that you aren’t attached to, but you believe still have plenty of life in them, should go into your “donate” pile. Broken or irreparably damaged items (for example, clothing with stains on the fabric) can be thrown away.
Resist the temptation to throw away everything that you aren’t bringing to your new home. Though donating these things does require a bit more effort, you may be able to claim a tax deduction on your donations, which can help make your move even more affordable.
- Host a garage sale: You can also earn a bit of cash and save money on your move by hosting a garage sale. Hosting a garage sale is an excellent option if you have a number of items of furniture or appliances that you need to get rid of that cannot fit in your vehicle for donation. You may also want to sell a few small items on sales sites like eBay or Craigslist.
- Invite friends over to raid your home: Looking to downsize and declutter without lifting a finger? Consider inviting a few family members or friends over to go “shopping” in your home. Inviting your friends and family over to help themselves to your old things allows you to catch up with your loved ones while also repurposing things that you don’t need any longer.
Avoiding Common Moving Scams
Most moving companies that you find online will be reliable and trustworthy. Unfortunately, there are also a number of scams common throughout the moving industry. According to research from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) moving scammers may attempt to charge excess fees after you’re already invested in the moving process.
Finding yourself involved in a moving scam can make the already expensive moving process a nightmare for your household finances. When you compare moving companies in your area, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the following red flags.
- Too-good-to-be-true pricing: No one wants to pay more money than they have to for their move. However, extremely low pricing is one of the most common signs that a company is operating a moving scam. Moving companies use low prices to attract new victims—only to drastically increase the price of the move after your things are loaded, effectively returning your things as a lie. Be wary if a single moving company offers you rates that are significantly lower than other moving service providers, especially when combined with other red flags of moving scams.
- High-pressure sales tactics: Scammers depend on their victims not to take the time to really think about the offer they’re being presented with and compare prices. High-pressure sales tactics are incredibly common among moving scammers. For example, a moving company might offer you a very low price on your moving estimate before saying something like “this offer is only available today, so you’ll need to book your moving date now.”
- Offers available in cash only: When you pay for a service using a credit card, you have recourse if the service provider fails to offer the services that they promised you when you paid them. Scammers know that you don’t have this same recourse when you pay in cash, and there’s no way for you to get your money back without physically tracking down the movers. Be very wary of movers who claim that the only ways that you can pay them is through cash or money order.
- Companies that demand a large down payment: Another common sign of a moving scam is a large down payment in cash. Moving scammers may refuse to begin loading or unloading your things before receiving a large down payment in cash.
- Loading overcharges: Moving companies may occasionally need to assign additional fees on your move if you add more items to your move or if your building has multiple flights of stairs. However, it is against the law for a moving company to charge you more than 110% of your quoted estimate before delivering your goods to your new home. If the company needs to charge you more than 110% of your quoted estimate, they must do so after delivering your shipment. However, moving scammers may attempt to overcharge you at loading.
Remember—it is always against the law for a moving company to require you to pay an additional fee that is not in your moving contract before delivering your shipment. If the movers must assign additional fees for added weight, they must do so after they deliver your goods. If a moving company attempts to hold your household goods hostage in an attempt to garner an additional payment, contact the FMCSA immediately. The FMCSA can help connect you with local law enforcement agents who can help to get your things back.
Finding Your Moving Team
How can you possibly know how to select a moving company with so many options out there? An excellent place to begin is by asking your family members and friends for recommendations for inexpensive moving companies. Whether you know it or not, chances are high that you know someone who has completed a partial or full-service move in the past. Speaking with a few friends and family members before you select a moving company can help you find a reliable, affordable moving company for your upcoming relocation.
Inexpensive Long-Distance Movers FAQ
What is the cheapest way to move long-distance?
The cheapest way to move long-distance is to rent a moving company and tackle your own loading and transportation services. You may also want to consider utilizing a moving container company if driving a moving truck isn’t feasible for your family.
How much does a long-distance move cost?
The average cost of using a long-distance moving company to tackle your move is about $4,300. You can lower the cost that you pay for your move by working with a DIY moving company and by downsizing before you hit the road.
Who is the most affordable moving company?
Our recommended company for low-cost long-distance moves is International Van Lines. With experience completing both local moves and international moves, International Van Lines offers an affordable and professional way to move long-distance with assistance.
What month is the cheapest to move?
If you have flexibility with your moving date, you should consider moving during the late fall or early winter to save money. As a general rule, you’ll pay less for your move when you move during the months of September through April.