How Are Moving Costs Calculated?

A local move, commonly called an intrastate move, requires a moving company to relocate your items within the same state. According to the American Moving and Storage Association, a nonprofit representing members of the professional moving industry within the United States noted that the average cost of an intrastate move could be anywhere between $2,300 for four movers at about $200 per hour.

A local move's cost will mostly depend on a flat dollar amount per hour. But that is also a variable that isn't fixed – for example, if a customer is moving more than 50 miles away, the cost to transport will typically be based on the weight of the shipment instead of a standard hourly rate. When in doubt, inquire with the moving company you're working with, and they should explain what constitutes a local move and its corresponding price structure.

An interstate move is a long-distance move that typically traverses states. The American Moving and Storage Association states that the average cost to move across state lines can be between $4,300 and $4,800, with an average distance of about 1,200 miles. Unlike the time structure of an intrastate move, the price to move across state lines is based on the weight of the shipment, the distance, and any labor costs associated with contractors. Then you will need to factor in the cost of valuation and additional services to ensure the safe travel of your items across such large distances.

Regardless if you're moving intrastate or across state lines, other factors that will affect the quote you receive come into play. Here are the factors that affect how much a moving company charges you.

The Extra Service Add-ons

The cost of moving will be affected by the number of movers involved, services like dissembling furniture, packing services, and materials, representing labor costs. These additional charges will be added to the original quote since these represent raw materials and labor hours that you will have to foot.

The time of your move matters

The time of the year can also affect the quote that will be given to you. Moving company rates are much higher during the summer when there is a larger demand. Moving off-season will significantly reduce your moving costs.

Keep in mind that moving companies tend to be swamped during the warmer months, so there may be time slots that may be difficult to secure due to demand. If you want to secure an affordable quote, try to move during the second half of the month when there will be plenty of available movers and less hassle. Tuesday is also the least preferred day for a move, so you may receive a significant discount if you can relocate on a Tuesday.

Charges and surcharges

A materials charge for packing paper, boxes, mattress bags, and tape will also be factored in, with the sales tax included in the price. Typically you will be subjected to the sales tax of the company's home state, regardless of the state you're moving to.

Who pays moving valuation?

Moving companies are required by law to provide some form of valuation. There are currently two generally applicable levels for interstate household goods moves, one that reimburses the consumer for the replacement value of the goods and one that reimburses the consumer at a rate of 60 cents per pound. It's important to understand that moving companies do not offer insurance – movers provide tariff-based loss and damage liability, which moving companies call "valuation." Although the moving company's "valuation" functions similarly to insurance when loss or damage occurs, it is distinct. Valuation adheres to the series of transportation laws, and it is a level of liability that the carrier agrees to assume. It may result in higher transportation rates depending on your chosen valuation. Unlike insurance, valuation is regulated by the Department of Transportation. On the other hand, insurance was developed to spread the risk of loss and represents a contract in which the insurance company – in exchange for a premium – agrees to reimburse the shipper against loss. It's worth noting the difference between insurance and valuation, so you will know how your items are covered in the case of damage or loss during a move.

How is storage charged when moving?

Storage charges are determined by the amount of space needed (cubic feet) and the time your items are stored. Short-term storage may be offered when you need to temporarily move things while your home is prepared. Moving companies charge for every step of the process. You'll be charged for the movers to load up at the storage facility, you'll be charged for the warehouse laborers to inventory your belongings, you'll be charged the storage time, and then the move again.

Do moving companies charge for insurance?

Professional movers don't offer or sell insurance but instead provide valuations coverage. Valuations are what your goods are worth, and that's determined by you, the customer, before the move. You're entitled to free coverage if you don't purchase valuations. If you want more protection than that, movers may offer additional valuations coverage.

Here's a quick summary of how valuations work:

  • You must declare how much your entire shipping package is worth before the movers arrive. Valuation insurance protects you from theft or loss during transit. You need to know this information because you'll be paying for the added cost of protecting your items. Movers will give you an estimate of the money required to cover the value of your belongings.
  • You can choose full value coverage, actual value coverage, and deductibles. You'll also get a quote for the amount needed to insure your belongings. 

To estimate your approximate moving cost, use our Moving Cost Calculator.