Estimate Moving Costs by Planning Ahead

How do I best estimate moving costs?

2 Answers

Preparing for a move-whether it's across the globe or across town-can be a costly, stressful and time-extensive venture. Be prepared for the big move by researching, budgeting and planning ahead.

Perhaps the best resource you can use to estimate moving costs is the moving company you've chosen to work with. Before you call for an appointment, have your home's square footage handy, as well as detailed notations of any large equipment or furniture you have, such as a sofa couch, entertainment center or piano. They should then be able to give you a rough estimate, based on the size of your home and the number of large furniture items you have. The estimate should include costs of boxes, dollies, packing tape, labels and other moving equipment, as well as the moving costs per mile; the size of your home will help the moving company determine how many boxes you may need to pack up all of your belongings.

Make sure when you call the moving company to get them to outline each and every cost their estimate does and doesn't cover. Many moving companies also have a moving cost calculator on their web site, so that you can do your own research before calling.

If you have decided to move without the help of professional movers, calculating the costs of moving involves answering some basic questions:

  • How much will the truck rental cost, if anything? (Perhaps you have a friend's truck or vehicle from work that you can borrow.)

  • Will you need to hire any additional workers to help you move? Web sites such as offers services such as freelance movers who will come out and help you move for a reasonable hourly fee.

  • Do you have any special equipment, such as a piano, that will require you to hire a specialty moving company?

  • Will you need to purchase boxes for moving, or do you have an alternative? Items like boxes, packing tape and labels can often turn out to be a surprisingly high cost of a move; prepare to spend at least a few hundred dollars.

  • How about extra moving equipment? Do you need to rent an appliance dolly, hand truck or other equipment?

  • Will you be hiring a cleaning company to clean the house you're moving out of and/or the house you're moving into-or will you be doing that work yourself?

Your answers to the above questions will greatly affect the cost of your move, whether it ultimately amounts in the hundreds-or even in the thousands-of dollars.

When it comes to the often extensive costs of moving, it pays to plan ahead. Be sure to research the best prices-regardless of whether you're planning the move yourself or if you've decided to hire a moving company. Rates for moving companies, truck and equipment rentals and moving supplies can vary greatly depending on your type of move. You'll find that some companies specialize in cross-country and international moves, while others offer better prices on in-town or in-state moves. The internet is your best resource to determine these specialties and is a great place to start to research moving companies, read consumer reviews, find the best prices and estimate moving costs.

A word of caution on dealing with moving companies online. Often times scam moving companies will quote estimated move costs based on cubic feet or volume. This is the least accurate way to measure the total amount of goods to be transported as it is based on how the movers pack your things. The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration ( is the authorizing agency in charge of moving companies and recommends you select moving cost estimates based on actual weight of goods and the 400N tariff from moving companies that abide these guidelines.