How to Know Your Moving Cost Estimate

  1. Accurate Estimates Require Preparation and Coordination
  2. Rental Unit Leases
  3. Read All Terms and Agreements
  4. Packing 101 Tips
  5. Some Packing Methods
  6. Final Preparation

1. Accurate Estimates Require Preparation and Coordination

Moving costs are different from traveling costs because it isn’t just you and a bag or two that have to get from point A to point B. You have to coordinate the process of packing all of your belongings, transport them safely, and then unpacking them all. In the process, you also have to work out leaving your current residence, finding and paying for a new residence, and more.

All of these aspects of moving can be very costly. You can estimate the cost of moving by developing a thorough budget ahead of time and then comparing prices. Moving professionals from moving companies are also willing to help you calculate your cost of moving.

  • Ending a lease or selling a house

  • Signing a new lease or mortgage

  • Renting a truck or moving service

  • Paying for packaging materials or getting free boxes

  • Getting insurance for possessions being transported

  • Your own personal travel costs, like lodging and meals

  • Gas and mileage rates

For each category of cost, there are multiple little expenses. It can be frightening how quickly these can add up. In the category of renting a truck, for instance, you will have to pay not only for the truck itself, but for every day you have it, for each driver using it, for protection in case there is an accident, and maybe even for use of the dolly that you find on the back of it.

2. Rental Unit Leases

Signing a new lease can also throw off how you estimate the cost of moving. When you move into a rental, you generally have to pay more up front than you will on a monthly basis. Most rental units require a security deposit, an application fee, and sometimes even both your first and last month’s rent. That’s a lot of money to have to pay immediately, so you want to be prepared for it.

Cross Country Moving Made Easy With Tips

3. Read All Terms and Agreements

When you buy a plane ticket, you can simply look up how much it costs to fly from one location to another and look at that cost across different airlines. Moving truck rentals and services are not so simple. Different rentals and moving companies offer different services.

One company may charge you a mere $200 a day to move, while another may charge you $400, but the first one may not be covering the cost of gas or of loading your possessions into the truck. When you compare rates, be very thorough, reading all of the fine print. Make a new budget projection for each option you consider in order to see how the costs will really add up.

4. Packing 101 Moving Tips

Having your possessions properly packed by a professional is the key to a good move. However, you may have decided to pack your belongings yourself. This doesn’t mean your moving efforts will be futile, but it does put your items at a slightly greater risk of damage if you don't know exactly what you're doing.

Two Dollars Money

Remember, if you pack any of your items yourself, you will have to choose the self-pack option, which only allows for a basic coverage option on the moving insurance. This does not cover you for breakage or theft.

Packing Supplies and Labeling

- Boxes of assorted sizes

- Markers

- Bubble wrap/packing paper/tissue paper

- Duct tape or packing tape

- Labels

- Scissors

5. Helpful Packing Methods

Remember to use high-quality packing materials. The boxes and packing materials will be the only things protecting your items from being damaged or destroyed during the moving process.

  • Tape the bottom of each box before you fill it, for enhanced sturdiness.
  • Label the boxes according to which room they go to, and what is inside of them
  • Wrap every item carefully
  • Don’t fill boxes too much. Heavy boxes may break and are not as easy to move around.
  • Keep parts of furniture, entertainment centers, or appliances in a box labeled “hardware” or “parts”.
  • Use trash bags to pack beddings, pillows, and linens.
  • Place heavier items at the bottom of boxes.
  • Make sure you properly pack and secure electronics. Look at the owners manual if you are unsure of how to pack a particular item.
  • Ensure that boxes with delicate or fragile items are labeled clearly on the outside of the box
  • Securely close the moving boxes with packing tape.
If you are unsure of how to pack any item, in particular, ask your movers. They should be able to help.

6. Final Preparation

You should do a home inventory, including photos of items that have high values. You should pack paperwork, money, photos, computers, jewelry, or sentimental items that are not easily replaceable. 

Ask your mover about an item that you are legally not allowed to pack. These items could include food, medication, chemicals, liquor, or even plants. Ask your mover regarding any large items, such as instruments, statues, pots, pool tables, or anything else that will require special handling. Note that these usually come at an additional cost.
By following this simple guide, you should be able to simply calculate your moving estimate in no time.



Simon P

5 years, 1 month ago

I never labelled my boxes the first time we moved, biggest mistake of my life. Half my things were broken, now all boxes are well labelled, especially the fragile boxes!

user avatar

Ashley Richmond

5 years, 1 month ago

Hey Simon. Yeah. It's definitely important to label your boxes before having movers handle them, especially fragile ones. Thanks for sharing your personal experience.


Charlie Sitts

4 years, 6 months ago

Is it normal to get someone from the company to estimate my move by having them come to my house and look at my things first? What are the main factors affecting the cost of my move? Is it the amount of stuff I need to move out or is it the type of items that affect my cost?

user avatar

Ashley Richmond

4 years, 6 months ago

Hey Charlie,

It is perfectly normal for a mover to want to estimate your move by coming into your home and scanning your items. They usually base their estimate on the amount of things you have since they charge by the volume. The more stuff you have, the higher your price will be. Your price may also increase if you need to transport some special items such as a pool table, a motorcycle or a spa. Things like these are tricky to transport, so they may have a additional charge for those. If you have lots of expensive items, you may also be charged more since insurance will cost more for your goods. Let us know if you have more question.


Letty Carissa

4 years, 6 months ago

Do you know what percent of my moving budget should I allocate to the rental of a moving truck. I have a small budget and I wonder how much people usually spend on a moving truck. I am looking at moving truck rentals in my area and so far almost all rental companies are charging over half of my estimated budget for a moving truck. I was wondering what the usual cost for one was.

Add Comment


required (not published)


Prior to the 20th century, freight was generally transported overland via trains and railroads. During this time, trains were essential, and they were highly efficient at moving large amounts of freight. But, they could only deliver that freight to urban centers for distribution by horse-drawn transport. Though there were several trucks throughout this time, they were used more as space for advertising that for actual utility. At this time, the use of range for trucks was quite challenging. The use of electric engines, lack of paved rural roads, and small load capacities limited trucks to most short-haul urban routes.

The Motor Carrier Act, passed by Congress in 1935, replace the code of competition. The authorization the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) place was to regulate the trucking industry. Since then the ICC has been long abolished, however, it did quite a lot during its time. Based on the recommendations given by the ICC, Congress enacted the first hours of services regulation in 1938. This limited driving hours of truck and bus drivers. In 1941, the ICC reported that inconsistent weight limitation imposed by the states cause problems to effective interstate truck commerce.

A moving company, removalist, or van line are all companies that help people as well as other businesses to move their good from one place to another. With many inclusive services for relocation like packing, loading, moving, unloading, unpacking and arranging of items can all be taken care of for you. Some services may include cleaning the place and have warehousing facilities.

“The association of truckers with cowboys and related myths was perhaps most obvious during the urban-cowboy craze of the late 1970s, a period that saw middle-class urbanites wearing cowboy clothing and patronizing simulated cowboy nightclubs. During this time, at least four truck driver movies appeared, CB radio became popular, and truck drivers were prominently featured in all forms of popular media.” — Lawrence J. Ouellet

The moving industry in the United States was deregulated with the Household Goods Transportation Act of 1980. This act allowed interstate movers to issue binding or fixed estimates for the first time. Doing so opened the door to hundreds of new moving companies to enter the industry. This led to an increase in competition and soon movers were no longer competing on services but on price. As competition drove prices lower and decreased what were already slim profit margins, "rogue" movers began hijacking personal property as part of a new scam. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces Federal consumer protection regulations related to the interstate shipment of household goods (i.e., household moves that cross State lines). FMCSA has held this responsibility since 1999, and the Department of Transportation has held this responsibility since 1995 (the Interstate Commerce Commission held this authority prior to its termination in 1995).

A semi-trailer is almost exactly what it sounds like, it is a trailer without a front axle. Proportionally, its weight is supported by two factors. The weight falls upon a road tractor or by a detachable front axle assembly, known as a dolly. Generally, a semi-trailer is equipped with legs, known in the industry as "landing gear". This means it can be lowered to support it when it is uncoupled. In the United States, a trailer may not exceed a length of 57 ft (17.37 m) on interstate highways. However, it is possible to link two smaller trailers together to reach a length of 63 ft (19.20 m).

AMSA wanted to help consumers avoid untrustworthy or illegitimate movers. In January 2008, AMSA created the ProMover certification program for its members. As a member, you must have federal interstate operating authority. Members are also required to pass an annual criminal back check, be licensed by the FMCSA, and agree to abide by ethical standards. This would include honesty in advertising and in business transaction with customers. Each must also sign a contract committing to adhere to applicable Surface Transportation Board and FMCSA regulations. AMSA also takes into consideration and examines ownership. They are very strict, registration with state corporation commissions. This means that the mover must maintain at least a satisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). As one can imagine, those that pass are authorized to display the ProMove logo on the websites and in marketing materials. However, those that fail will be expelled from the program (and AMSA) if they cannot correct discrepancies during probation.

Truckload shipping is the movement of large amounts of cargo. In general, they move amounts necessary to fill an entire semi-trailer or inter-modal container. A truckload carrier is a trucking company that generally contracts an entire trailer-load to a single customer. This is quite the opposite of a Less than Truckload (LTL) freight services. Less than Truckload shipping services generally mix freight from several customers in each trailer. An advantage Full Truckload shipping carriers have over Less than Truckload carrier services is that the freight isn't handled during the trip. Yet, in an LTL shipment, goods will generally be transported on several different trailers.

In the moving industry, transportation logistics management is incredibly important. Essentially, it is the management that implements and controls efficiency, the flow of storage of goods, as well as services. This includes related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet customer's specifications. Logistics is quite complex but can be modeled, analyzed, visualized, and optimized by simulation software. Generally, the goal of transportation logistics management is to reduce or cut the use of such resources. A professional working in the field of moving logistics management is called a logistician.

In 1986 Stephen King released horror film "Maximum Overdrive", a campy kind of story. It is really about trucks that become animated due to radiation emanating from a passing comet. Oddly enough, the trucks force humans to pump their diesel fuel. Their leader is portrayed as resembling Spider-Man's antagonist Green Goblin.

In 1991 the film "Thelma & Louise" premiered, rapidly becoming a well known movie. Throughout the movie, a dirty and abrasive truck driver harasses the two women during chance encounters. Author Michael Dunne describes this minor character as "fat and ignorant" and "a lustful fool blinded by a delusion of male superiority". Thelma and Louise exact their revenge by feigning interest in him and then blowing up his tanker truck full of gas.

Business routes generally follow the original routing of the numbered route through a city or town. Beginning in the 1930s and lasting thru the 1970s was an era marking a peak in large-scale highway construction in the United States. U.S. Highways and Interstates were typically built in particular phases. Their first phase of development began with the numbered route carrying traffic through the center of a city or town. The second phase involved the construction of bypasses around the central business districts of the towns they began. As bypass construction continued, original parts of routes that had once passed straight thru a city would often become a "business route".

The feature film "Joy Ride" premiered in 2001, portraying the story of two college-age brothers who by a CB radio while taking a road trip. Although the plot seems lighthearted, it takes a quick turn after one of the brothers attempts a prank on an unknown truck driver. They soon find out the dangerous intentions of this killer driver, who is set on getting his revenge. Seven years later in 2008 the sequel "Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead" came out on DVD only. Similar to its predecessor, the plot involves another murdering truck driver, a.k.a "Rusty Nail". He essentially plays psychological mind games with a young couple on a road trip.

Released in 1998, the film Black Dog featured Patrick Swayze as a truck driver who made it out of prison. However, his life of crime continued, as he was manipulated into the transportation of illegal guns. Writer Scott Doviak has described the movie as a "high-octane riff on White Line Fever" as well as "a throwback to the trucker movies of the 70s".

Smoke and the Bandit was released in 1977, becoming the third-highest grossing movie. Following only behind Star Wars Episode IV and Close Encounter of the Third Kind, all three movies making an impact on popular culture. Conveniently, during that same year, CB Bears debuted as well. The Saturday morning cartoon features mystery-solving bears who communicate by CB radio. As the 1970's decade began to end and the 80's broke through, the trucking phenomenon had wade. With the rise of cellular phone technology, the CB radio was no longer popular with passenger vehicles, but, truck drivers still use it today.

The industry intends to both consumers as well as moving companies, this is why there are Ministers of Transportation in the industry. They are there to set and maintain laws and regulations in place to create a safer environment. It offers its members professional service training and states the time that movers have been in existence. It also provides them with federal government representation and statistical industry reporting. Additionally, there are arbitration services for lost or damaged claims, publications, public relations, and annual tariff updates and awards. This site includes articles as well that give some direction, a quarterly data summary, and industry trends.

Commercial trucks in the U.S. pay higher road taxes on a State level than the road vehicles and are subject to extensive regulation. This begs the question of why these trucks are paying more. I'll tell you. Just to name a few reasons, commercial truck pay higher road use taxes. They are much bigger and heavier than most other vehicles, resulting in more wear and tear on the roadways. They are also on the road for extended periods of time, which also affects the interstate as well as roads and passing through towns. Yet, rules on use taxes differ among jurisdictions.