Moving takes its toll: nerves become frayed, children are uprooted from schools and, almost without fail, your favorite furniture is scratched.
According to U.S. Census statistics, 19 million American households pack up and move each year. In 2010, Worldwide ERC, the Worldwide Relocation Association, reported the average professional household move cost $12,230.
The dollars and cents that go into those moves vary greatly depending upon a number of factors:
- Distance of the move
- Need for packing supplies and services
- Size/weight of the household being moved
- Use of professional movers vs. rental truck vs. friends with pickups
When it comes to a professionally handled interstate move – one that takes you from one state to another – load weight and distance traveled are the two biggest factors in determining the cost of your relocation.
The weight of your items is actually measured on a scale. Before the move, the empty truck is weighed; you may ask to accompany the driver to the scale during the weigh-in to ensure everything is on the up-and-up. Your mover should provide you with an “empty weight” receipt or certificate. The truck will be weighed again once it is loaded with your items.
A reputable mover will provide a cost estimate prior to your move. The estimate you receive will only be as good as the information you provide. If you have a shed full of bikes and tools that you failed to mention when the movers did their estimate, the estimated weight of your load won’t be accurate. Likewise, estimates given over the phone are not as accurate as those given in person. Companies can “guess” what your load will weigh based on an average 1- or 2- or 3-bedroom home, but if your home is minimally furnished or jam-packed with items, the estimate will be off.
Longer move, higher price tag
To get an idea of moving costs, consider these examples:
The fee for moving an average 1,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom apartment (goods weighing 5,500 pounds) from Chicago to Miami would be approximately $4,400 to $4,900. The same 1,400-mile move for a 2,800-square-foot, 4-bedroom household (20,500 pounds) would likely cost $14,600 to $15,600. Same distance, different loads.
For comparison, consider that moving a 1,000-square-foot, 3-bedroom apartment (5,500 pounds, same as above) 200 miles from Chicago to Indianapolis would cost roughly $3,200 to $3,700. Same load, different distance.
Reputable movers use a rate book published by the Household Goods Carriers Bureau. The book, Tariff 400-M, provides estimates for all long-distance moving transactions based on the weight of your belongings and on the distance they are shipped, plus the amount of packing and other services that you require.
Beyond weight and distance, you may find one or more of these fees applied to your move:
- A transportation surcharge if the moving company pays workers more for working in metropolitan areas, where labor costs are often higher.
- You may opt to purchase full value protection insurance for your belongings. (Released value coverage is provided by movers at no cost, but protection is minimal – just 60 cents per pound per article lost or damaged.)
- Charges for moving heavy items such as automobiles, boats, riding lawnmowers, snowmobiles or pianos.
- Additional charge for specialists brought in to disconnect gas mains or disassemble/assemble pianos and pool tables.
- Additional charge if the movers have to walk more than 75 feet from door to truck or need to use stairs or an elevator.
- Additional charge if your street is too narrow to accommodate the moving truck; movers may need to shuttle your belongings from your home to the truck via a smaller truck.
Be sure to ask your moving company’s sales representative about these add-on costs. Are there things you can do to avoid or reduce them? Working with the city to reserve parking space right outside your door, for instance, may prevent a surcharge.
Remember that the fees you pay to your movers are only a portion of what your total move will cost you. You also must factor in your personal travel and accommodations, on-the-go meals, the cost of new vehicle registration and driver’s license, utility hook-ups, and carpet and drapery installation.