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.

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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

4 years, 9 months 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!

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Ashley Richmond

4 years, 9 months 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, 2 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, 2 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, 2 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.

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Did You Know


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Question 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.

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