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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

How to Calculate Moving Costs

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 14 August 2019 12:00

Planning to move out, and don’t know how to calculate moving costs? We’re not gonna lie: this is quite tricky to figure out because moving out involves several elements, such as manpower, the type of service, distance and even the season you’ll move out. So, in order to get exact moving costs, you need to write down a moving costs checklist with these elements and do the math. What is the cost of moving out if you’re hiring a company to move to a neighborhood nearby in summer? Or what is the cost of moving out if you’ll move to another city by yourself in winter time? Let’s break down the elements you must consider and do some cost estimations.

How to Calculate Moving Costs

Don’t know how to calculate moving costs? You should determine the costs based on the size of the move, distance, if you’re going to hire a pro or not, and the season. 

What Should I Consider Before Moving Out?

There are four elements you need to keep in mind when creating your checklist.

  • Move size: How much will you move? The more you move, the pricier it will get. This is why it’s important to declutter your items such as purses, valuables and more before you pack your stuff up for a move.

  • Distance: Shorter distances are cheaper than long distance moving.

  • Professional Service vs. Do-It-Yourself: The average cost of hiring a professional moving company ranges from $300 to $1,500, the final price depending on total size and distance. Obviously, doing things by yourself will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

  • Season: Summer is the priciest moving season.


What is the Average Cost of a Moving Company?

In-town moving companies tend to charge from $50 to $200 per hour, and it largely depends on the manpower available. For example, if you want to move a small room (let’s say a studio or a one-bedroom apartment), it usually requires 2 workers and 2-3 hours for its completion, the final cost ranging between $150 and $400. A bigger room would obviously take more time (6 to 10 hours) and more manpower (up to 5 movers), and thus the price would rise to $600 and $2,000.


Large and cross-country moves, however, charge by weight. Prices start from $600 and can rise up to tens of thousands, according to the house size and distance. Single bedrooms weigh around 2,000 lbs., so they could cost between $600 and $2,500; a two- or three-bedroom house weighing 5,000 lbs. can cost around $1,700 and $7,000. These prices, however, largely depend on other factors, such as distance and additional fees, like trucks, specialty packing, bulky items, etc.


What is the Average Cost of Doing it Yourself?

Want to do the heavy lifting yourself? Good! You will erase several zeroes off from your budget, but not all of them, as now you have to consider investing in other elements to achieve a successful move. For example, there are three DIY moving options available today: rental trucks, moving containers, and moving freight trailers.

Rental Trucks

Rental trucks for local moves can cost anywhere from $30 to $500. Prices depend on the truck size and rental duration, and they can be fixed or hourly.


If you choose a rental truck for a one way move, we estimate that the final price would be around $200-$300 if it’s just a hundred miles, while cross-country distances cost up to $2,000-$4,000.


An important extra fee would be gasoline, and moving trucks normally move 8-12 miles per gallon, on average. Depending on how loaded your truck is, you’ll have to spend some additional money on the stations you find along the way so your vehicle can reach its final destination.


Portable Storage Container

Portable Storage Containers’ costs depend largely on the distance. If you move within 50 miles, for example, prices will be around $400 or $700 per container.


Because local companies charge according to the times you move the container, there are three fees you have to cover: the drop-off fee, the transfer fee, and the pick-up fee. That means, the more you move, the more expensive it will get.


Naturally, interstate moves cost more, from $900 to $4,500+. It’ll be more expensive if the company doesn’t count with a location at your destination, as you have to drop off the containers there, so find a company with nearby locations before you move.


The best part of the PSC is that some companies offer around 30 days of free storage in their final price, so driving back and forth won’t be as costly as the other options.


Freight Trailer

This is the best option if you want a cost-effective, long distance move without having to drive many times!


Freight trailer companies charge three things: distance, speed and storage used. Because of this, common prices range between $500 and $4,000.


Now that we’ve reviewed these key elements, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.


How much does a local move cost?

The most common price among local moving companies is $25/hour per mover. A local move of, let’s say, a two-bedroom apartment would require 3 workers and 6 hours to complete, and thus the price would be $450 in total. When you’re picking your movers, you should be able to go into detail of what those movers charge specifically.


How many boxes do I need to move a 3-bedroom house?

For those houses, we recommend a final count of 25-30 medium boxes and 15-25 large boxes.


Do you tip movers?

It’s up to you, but it’d be a nice gesture, especially if the movers did a good job. We recommend tipping each mover $4-$5 per working hour, which is quite a decent standard rate for them.

In Conclusion

So, don’t know how to calculate moving costs? In order to know what is the cost of moving, your moving costs checklist requires the following: the total size of what you’ll move (count the number of rooms instead of items), distance, who’ll do it and when you’ll do it. Do the math and decide which is the best investment for you. There are no such things as fixed moving costs, but standard rates do exist, and those are the ones you must consider. However, if you still don’t know how to calculate moving costs and want to have a closer estimation, we’ll leave you below a helpful box that might come in handy later. But remember: the definite price depends mostly on the resources you have at hand.


1 bedroom

2-3 bedrooms

4-5 bedrooms

<50 miles

$300 - $650

$750 - $1,300

$1,350 - $2,900

250 miles

$850 - $1,900

$1,700 - $3,500

$2,000 - $4,500

1000+ miles

$900 - $2,700

$2,100 - $6,900

$5,500 - $7,900

2500+ miles

$1,500 - $3,500

$3,900 - $7,000


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Rocky Degrenia

Small business owner; all types of flooring. #1 Rated Flooring Installer in Phoenix, AZ. Over 6 decades of experience and education. Residential and Commercial. Family man, father of three teenage girls.
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