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What Is the Average Cost of Moving?

Between 2015 and 2020, about 40 million Americans moved, which works out to about 13% of the population moving each year.

If you’re facing a big move, there’s plenty to think about. Depending on how far you’re going, you’ve got to deal with real estate agents, buy packing supplies, pack, show your house decide on a new one, and that’s all before you even make the move.

One thing you might be thinking about – other than it being a logistical nightmare – is the sheer cost of moving. There’s no denying that certain types of moves inherently cost huge amounts of money, but not all of them.

In this post, we’re going to help you break down the cost of moving by looking at a few key factors. 

What Is the Average Cost of Moving?

According to most sources, the average cost of a local move is just above $1,200, while a long-distance move can cost up to $5,000. There are countless moving calculators available online that can give you some indication of what your move could cost.

That said, you’ll never know until you start crunching the numbers yourself. The main things that affect the cost of your move are the distance, the size of the home/how much stuff you have, and whether or not you decide to hire a moving company.

If you’re moving from a 3-bedroom house in Los Angeles to one in Buffalo, it’s going to cost a lot more than moving an apartment’s worth of belongings from Los Angeles to Sacramento. Every situation is a little bit different and thus, each move comes with a different price tag.

What Are the Factors Involved in Moving Costs?

Let’s take a closer look at the factors that affect the cost of moving. We mentioned distance, amount of stuff, and whether or not you’re hiring movers, but that doesn’t exactly give you the entire picture.


How far you’re moving is the most important factor. If you’re moving within a city, you’re not going to see as much variance in the end cost as you will if you’re moving a long distance. 

A big reason for this is the cost of gas and vehicle rental. If you’re hiring movers, however, you’re also paying for their labor on top of the transportation costs. 

The demand for the location you’re moving to or from can play a role in the cost, as well as the time of year. If you’re moving at a peak time in a peak city, it’ll be reflected in the cost.

Volume of Goods

How much stuff you’re bringing with you will dictate the size of the vehicle that you need. Again, if you’re hiring movers, how much stuff you have dictates how much labor you’ll need. More belongings mean more labor, which means a higher cost.

Moving Truck

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make is whether to rent a moving truck and take care of the move yourself or hire professional movers. The cost of renting a moving truck depends on how long you need it and whether you’re returning it to the same place.

On top of renting a truck, you’ll have to think about things like dollies and moving blankets. The cost of filling the moving truck with gas will drive up the cost of your move as well.

Hiring Movers

Hiring a residential moving company might seem like the more expensive option on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that this isn’t necessarily true. When you consider the fact that your moving quote includes the moving truck and gas, in addition to laborers, the cost isn’t so bad.

A lot hinges on the accuracy of the quote. If you’re not thorough with your moving dates and how many belongings you have, the quote won’t mean much at all. 

Extra Costs

There are extras that you can opt-in to when you hire movers. Packing and unpacking services are a great option if you don’t have the time to deal with it on your own. If you’re bringing a vehicle, most moving companies will offer towing services as well.

You should also make sure the company offers insurance and add extra insurance for particularly valuable items.

Planning a Move On the Cheap

If you’re going to avoid spending thousands on your move, you have to start planning early. Deciding whether to hire movers or rent a truck to do it yourself is a big consideration, but it’s really the small stuff that lowers the cost of your move.

The first thing you should do is purge items that you don’t need to move. Everybody has a way of accumulating belongings and in the chaos of moving, we tend to pack and bring them along with us. If there’s anything that’s going to save you money on your move, it’s downsizing the move itself.

Start months before your move date, donating and selling items you don’t need. Give away and throw out whatever’s left over. You’ll be surprised how much cheaper and easier your move is when you have less stuff.

One of the hidden costs of moving is buying packing supplies. Look around on recycling day for boxes that you might be able to use and you’ll really cut into these costs. You can also scope out the online marketplace for used moving supplies.

If possible, choose to book your movers in the middle of the week. Most people try to move on the weekend so they don’t have to take time off, but you can find cheap movers on off days. Get as many quotes as possible and choose the one that best fits your budget.

Start Creating Your Moving Budget

Now that you know what to expect, you can start planning. The cost of moving is an unfortunate part of doing business, but the tips we’ve given you today should help you do it on the cheap. By starting early and being crafty, you can save big bucks on your next move.

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