Cheap Moving Companies

If you’re one of the more than 35.1 million Americans moving this year, you might be wondering how you’re going to get your entire household from Point A to Point B without spending a fortune. Unless you own a truck large enough to transport everything yourself, you’ll have to shell out cash for a moving truck, trailer, container, or professional movers. More than 650,000 households in the U.S. choose the latter for moving out-of-state, while millions more hire moving companies for local, short distance relocations. If you’re looking for a cheap moving company to assist with your transition, here’s what you should know first.

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What to Know When Hiring a Cheap Mover

When looking for a cheap moving service, here are a few things to keep in mind:

How Much Do Movers Cost?

On average, movers cost between $250 and $5,000. Local movers typically charge hourly rates between $89-$129, with a 2-3 hour minimum; additional travel and other fees may apply as well. Interstate movers charge based on the weight of the load, the distance of the shipment, and the level of service required. Expect to pay around $1 per pound for interstate moves. Most rooms in your home have approximately 1,000 pounds worth of household goods. So, for a 4-bedroom house with a kitchen, living room, and formal dining room, you could estimate the move will cost around $7,000. Additional charges apply if you desire a full-service move with packing and unpacking included.

How to Find Cheap Moving Companies

As you shop for movers, keep both affordability and quality in mind. To find inexpensive movers that you can trust to transport your things, follow these tips:

  • Take Time to Compare: As with purchasing any other home service, it pays to comparison shop. Request moving quotes from at least 3-4 moving companies, and if relocating out-of-state, request additional in-home estimates from at least two movers. Compare the rates you receive, making sure to note the specifics of the quote. Does one mover charge travel time, while another one throws in free moving boxes? Ensure you’re comparing apples to apples with the quotes you receive.
  • Be Wary of LowBall Estimates: While some movers are cheaper than others, any respectable operation likely charges rates on par with its competitors, since they often have similar labor and overhead costs. If you stumble across an affordable moving company that charges outlandishly low prices, be wary. This company may trick you into a contract, only to tack on additional expenses later, or they may be running an otherwise shady, disreputable operation.
  • Check Licensing: With the above in mind, run a quick background check on all the movers you speak with to ensure they have the proper credentials. If you’re moving locally or in-state, your state department of transportation, or a similar department, likely governs moving companies. State-to-state or interstate movers must register with the US Department of Transportation. You shouldn’t trust a mover who doesn’t bother to run a legal operation; after all, they have nothing to lose. A quick search in your state’s regulatory database or the US DOT database will reveal a moving company’s current standing with the regulating authority.
  • Proof of Insurance: Your moving company should carry a few essential insurance policies to protect your belongings while they are in their care. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the US DOT, an interstate mover must have active BIPD liability and cargo insurance policies to maintain licensing. You can ask your mover for a Certificate of Insurance as proof they are insured. Additionally, state-to-state movers must offer customers full value insurance protection. This mandate means that if the movers damage or ruin your possessions, they will cover the cost to replace them. Alternatively, you may elect released value protection, which insures your things at a minimum of $.60/pound. Some moving companies offer additional coverage. Understand your options and what type of insurance coverage your moving contract commits you to.
  • Request a Free In-Home Estimate: If you’re moving long distance, you are entitled to a free in-home estimate if you live within 50 miles of your moving company. FMCSA recommends requesting this in-home estimate to get the most accurate moving quote possible. The mover sends an estimator to your home, who reviews your household inventory and discusses your required moving services. Based on this visit, they approximate the weight of your shipment and calculate an estimated total cost based on standard rates published on their tariff sheet.
  • Ask About Form of Payment: Almost any reputable mover accepts multiple forms of payment, including credit cards and personal checks. Be leery of a mover who only takes cash or who demands a large deposit up-front. While it’s normal for movers to charge a small deposit fee to secure your moving date, a cash-only or large deposit requirement might indicate a less-than-reputable company.
  • Get Your Estimate in Writing: Before hiring movers, make sure to get the estimate in writing. This step creates an enforceable contract. Once you get the quote in writing, a long distance moving company cannot deviate more than 10% higher than the original quoted cost. FMCSA enacted this law to prevent customers from getting swindled by moving companies who inaccurately price jobs, then send a final bill that’s far greater than the initial quote.
  • Make Sure All Documents are Complete: The mover you hire will provide you with a Bill of Lading that describes the agreed-upon services and the final quote. Make sure this document is filled out completely, with signatures from the moving company representative, before you sign. Avoid signing an incomplete document; a dishonest company could go back and amend an unfinished contract, leaving you on the hook to pay more than you bargained.
  • Disclose Everything: While a mover cannot charge more than 10% of the amount quoted in the written estimate, they can amend the quote if the household inventory changes materially between the time they perform your in-home estimate and the day of the move. For example, if you forgot to disclose that you have a rear garage full of heavy moving boxes that you didn’t show the estimator when they performed their walkthrough, they could refuse to carry out your contract or amend it to include the weight of these additional boxes. Make sure to detail all services you need and disclose the entire inventory you’re moving up-front to make sure you don’t end up with a surprise later.

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Cheapest Moving Options for Moving Across the Country & Locally

If you’re moving cross-country or locally, you have several options for getting your entire household shifted from your current residence to the next. Here, we’ll analyze the cheapest long distance moving options and local budget moving choices, reviewing the pros and cons of each.

1. Selling Almost Everything

Whether you move yourself or hire movers, transporting things to your new home costs money. Instead of loading up the couch you’ve had since your college days and lugging along that bedroom set you aren’t particularly fond of, you could sell all or most of your possessions and start fresh in your new hometown. Here are some of the pros and cons of the leave-it-all-behind approach:

Pros:

  • Saves money on moving: Since you’re not bringing much with you, you won’t have to pay the expense of renting a moving truck or hiring long distance movers.
  • Helps you declutter & purge: Many of us have lots of worldly possessions that we neither want nor need. Selling or donating most of your things before moving helps you re-evaluate what’s important, so you can focus on having just the essentials in your new home.
  • You can update your décor: Getting rid of everything means you get to start over with new furnishings in your new place. This purge creates a fun opportunity to update your style and create the living space you desire.
  • Fun road trip or quick flight: Without the weight of your belongings, you can turn the move into a fun adventure, or expedite the process. Pack your car with clothing and other essentials you aren’t ditching, then hit the road for your new home, stopping along the way to take in the sights and scenery. Alternatively, you could ship your vehicle and buy a plane ticket for a fast trip to your new home. Either option is more enjoyable than lugging an entire household of furniture and belongings.

Cons:

  • Requires planning: If you decide to ditch your belongings before the move, you’ll have to get an early start sorting through your items and starting the sales process. Aside from the traditional pre-moving garage sale, you can also try selling your things using Craigslist or one of the multiple apps (like OfferUp, LetGo, and others) that make it simple to snap pictures and post your items for sale. While technology has made getting rid of things easier, it still takes time to list each piece, haggle with buyers, and arrange for pick-up. Give yourself at least a month to sell your unwanted possessions, or donate it all and take the tax write-off.
  • Could get expensive: While selling everything you own saves you a bundle on moving costs, it could turn out to cost more in the end. You likely got pennies on the dollar for everything you sold, but you’ll have to re-purchase many of these items at the full retail price to furnish your new home. You could end up shelling out more money on new furniture and décor than you would have spent shipping your old stuff to your new residence.
  • A rough start in your new home: Imagine moving into your new house or apartment with just a few boxes of clothing and personal effects; the living space will look barren and uninviting. If you need to start school or a new job right away, you might not have the time or energy to redecorate your entire home from scratch. Without a couch to relax on in the evenings or even a bed to sleep away the jitters of life in a new city, it could be a rough start to this new journey.

2. Using a Trailer to Move Yourself

Instead of selling everything you own, you could transport the essentials using a trailer. Perfect for smaller moves, enclosed trailers offer a secure way to move your things while keeping them safe from the elements. If you don’t own a trailer, you can rent one of four enclosed cargo trailers from U-Haul, which range in size from a 4’ x 8’ to a 6’ x 12’ model. Here are some of the perks and drawbacks of using a trailer:

Pros:

  • Affordable: This is one of the cheapest ways to move, as U-Haul offers one-way rentals in the hundreds of dollars. When we researched rates for a cross-country move from San Diego, CA to Charleston, SC, we discovered it would cost between $413 and $962 (depending on the trailer size), for an 8-day rental. This price is just a fraction of what it costs to hire low-cost professional movers for the same move.
  • Increased flexibility: Renting a trailer gives users lots of flexibility. U-Haul has a nationwide network of pick-up locations and a massive inventory of trailers, making it easy to pick-up a trailer on short notice practically anywhere in the country. Trailers come with a minimum rental window, depending on the length of your journey, but you may add rental days for added flexibility.
  • One-Way rentals available: This option is practical for long distance moves, as U-Haul has several drop-off locations scattered across the U.S. So, whether you’re moving from Sacramento to NYC or from Pennsylvania to Florida, chances are, there’s a U-Haul facility at your point of origin and destination. Trailer rentals work well for in-town moves as well!

Cons:

  • Small moves only: If you’re moving a 3-4-bedroom house, a trailer probably isn’t the way to go. The smallest U-Haul trailer measures 142 cubic feet, which is enough room for smaller pieces of furniture, like chairs, small sofas, or twin-sized beds. The most extended trailer, a 6’ x 12’ model has 400 cubic feet of storage space. This model accommodates most of the contents of a small studio or 1-bedroom apartment but still isn’t spacious enough for most households.
  • Must have the right vehicle: In addition to their low-capacity, trailers also require a proper car for towing. A hard-topped SUV or Jeep is necessary for most trailer rentals, though you might be able to haul a smaller model with a sedan. Check the U-Haul site for the specs and requirements for towing each cargo trailer.
  • Increased safety issues: Towing a trailer isn’t for the faint of heart. Overloading the trailer, driving too fast, failing to hook up the brake lights, and other missteps could lead to jackknifing the trailer or losing control of it. Before you rent one, read the manuals and make sure you’re up for the task.
  • Slow going: For safety, U-Haul recommends drivers keep speeds under 55 mph. Instead of barreling down the highway at 70 or 75 mph, you’ll putter along in the slow lane, watching cars whiz by you. A 2100-mile cross-country drive from Texas to Maine, ordinarily 32-hour road trip, would take over 38 hours to complete. If you’re in a hurry to get where you’re going, then this may not be the best option for you.
  • Must find helpers for loading/unloading: If you’re using a trailer for your move, you’ll probably need to find a few helping hands for loading and unloading it. Even if you don’t use a moving company for transporting your belongings, you can still hire inexpensive moving companies to help with packing or unpacking the trailer. Or round up a few friends and family to assist.

3. Renting a moving truck

Industry data estimates that over 1 million Americans rent a moving truck to relocate across state lines and many more rent trucks for in-town moves.

Pros:

  • More affordable than movers: In some circumstances, renting a truck is cheaper than hiring a professional moving company. For example, for a local Las Vegas move, it only costs $19.95 plus $.79/mile to rent a small 10-foot U-Haul truck. So, all in, your relocation could cost less than $50. A local moving company in the area charges between $100-$130 per hour, and most require a 2-3 hour minimum. That means you could end up spending almost $400 on a simple move across town. In this situation, it might be cheaper to rent the moving truck. However, make sure you have a detailed break-out of all costs and added fees before you leave the rental parking lot.
  • Don’t have to buy a plane ticket: If you’re moving across the country in a rented truck, you won’t have to spend money buying plane tickets for the whole family. Most moving trucks accommodate 2-3 passengers, depending on whether they have bucket seats or a bench seat. The rest of your loved ones can ride behind in the family car. Or, if you’re going solo, you can attach a trailer to the truck and haul it behind.
  • Explore the country: If you’re moving out-of-state, driving a rental truck may give you the opportunity to adventure along on roads you’ve never seen. Turn the move into an adventure as you check out scenic byways like Route 66 and pit stops like Arizona’s Grand Canyon, Arkansas’ aquamarine Buffalo National River, or North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Available in a variety of sizes: Rental trucks come in several sizes, offered by several vendors. You can rent anything from a 10-foot truck for a studio apartment to a 26-foot truck that’s big enough for 5-7 rooms’ worth of possessions. With this range of options, you’re sure to find a rental truck that suits your needs.
  • Your move on your schedule: With a rental truck, you have more flexibility to carry out your relocation on your timing. Instead of waiting for movers to show up, you can choose the date to check-out your truck, then fill it at your convenience. Make sure you return it according to the contract deadline to avoid incurring late fees.
  • Excellent for in-town and cross-country moves: If you’re moving across town, rental trucks are an inexpensive way to avoid borrowing a vehicle from a buddy. You can rally some friends and family to help you load and unload the truck, completing your move in a matter of hours. Rentals are also an excellent choice for long-distance moves if you’re up for handling this type of vehicle.

Cons

  • Driving is tricky: If you typically jet around in your Toyota Corolla, then upsizing to a moving truck will take some adjusting. Prepare for the challenges of limited overhead clearances, a wide body, and wind resistance.
  • Poor gas mileage: Thanks to the wind resistance and heavy shipping loads, some moving trucks get as little as 10 miles per gallon on the highway. Make sure to factor in the expense of frequent gas refills if you’re renting one to drive cross-country.
  • Slow speeds: Several moving truck rental companies advise customers to stay under 55 mph for safety and improved handling. This reduced speed could feel very slow-going, especially if you’re rushing across the country over a weekend to start a new job on Monday.
  • Help with loading and unloading: Unless you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime competitive bodybuilding days, you’ll need a few hands getting your couch, appliances, and other heavy household items onto the moving truck. Plan on rallying the troops with some free beer and pizza!
  • Add-on fees: Make sure you understand all the charges before you sign on the dotted line. Many a renter is surprised to find out how much environmental fees, insurance, taxes, and other hidden fees end up costing. Additionally, you might need to rent equipment like an appliance dolly and moving blankets. All these expenses add up.
  • Liability: When professional movers transport your items, they assume the liability not only for their moving truck but for damage or loss of your household goods as well. When performing a DIY move, you take responsibility for all the above. That means, if you drop your brand-new flat screen or drive the truck into a too low-clearance, you’re responsible for paying.

4. Renting a moving container (like PODS or U-Pack)

The most revolutionary thing to happen in the moving industry since U-Haul got its start, moving containers bring together the best of rental trucks and professional movers. While you must do the hard work of packing your pod, you get to leave the driving up to someone else. Here are some other pros and cons of this discount moving option:

Pros:

  • Don’t have to drive: Instead of trying to navigate low clearance bridges and worrying about blind spots in a rental truck, with a portable storage unit, you don’t have to do any of the driving! After you load your container, just call the company to arrange pick-up. They deliver your pod to your new home.
  • Pack at your-own rate: One of the most significant advantages of using a moving container is the ability to prepare for your move at your own pace. Most companies, like PODS and U-Pack, drop-off your container and give you unlimited time to pack it, whether that’s a few days or even a few weeks.
  • Makes storage seamless: If your move entails being without a home for weeks or months, you might need a place to store things. Renting a storage pod streamlines the transition from home to storage to the next house. Load the container once, and the storage company transports it to a secure warehouse until you schedule a delivery. Alternatively, most pod companies allow customers to use containers for on-site storage – an ideal option for those working on a home renovation.
  • Variety of sizes and options: There are at least a dozen national and regional moving pod companies that offer storage containers. Not only does a wide selection make it easier to comparison shop for the best price, but it also means you can choose a container size that works best for your needs.
  • Affordability: In some cases, moving containers are a cheaper option than hiring a professional moving company.

Cons:

  • Loading & unloading: Unless you’re the Incredible Hulk, you’ll need assistance loading and unloading your storage pod. This means you must either enlist the help of a few buddies or hire local movers by the hour to assist.
  • Parking permits and HOA restrictions: Some cities may require you to apply for a special permit to park a storage container on the street. In some neighborhoods, you might have to contend with HOA regulations that prohibit these eyesores from taking up space in your driveway. If you live in an apartment, the complex management may not allow you to take up limited parking spaces with a container either. Before you rent a moving pod, make sure to check the rules and regulations where you live.
  • Limited access to storage: If you arrange short-term storage for your pod, you may find that it’s inconvenient or impractical to access your belongings. Unlike with a self-storage unit that offers 24/7 access, you’ll have to schedule a time with the container company to access your pod.
  • Not much control over arrival: While you get to choose the drop-off and pick-up dates, the date your pod arrives at your new home may be out of your control. Be sure to ask your container company about the specifics of

5. Hire professional movers to handle the job

Whether you’re moving locally or out-of-state, hiring affordable movers to do the job takes most of the work out of relocating. Here are some reasons for and against using movers for your relocation:

Pros:

  • Help with a variety of services: Pro movers usually offer a wide range of moving and storage services, including packing/unpacking, warehouse storage, furniture moving, appliance delivery, office and residential moves, apartment moves, last minute moves, and more. As the customer, you get to choose select services or elect for a full-service move.
  • Assume responsibility for your items: When the movers take your possessions into their care, they assume the liability for any goods that get damaged, lost or stolen. Interstate and intrastate movers are required to carry insurance to protect your things. Instead of entrusting your grandmother’s prized armoire to your husband’s sometimes clumsy friends, you can leave it in the hands of movers who will take full responsibility.
  • Door-to-door and full-service solutions: Many movers offer full-service solutions that include carefully boxing your items and unloading everything at your new residence. This end-to-end option seriously reduces moving stress, especially if you’re short on time to do-it-all yourself.
  • They manage loading and unloading truck: Instead of breaking your own back trying to lift heavy boxes and haul weighty furniture, you can let the movers sweat it out while you supervise. Professionals manage the entire loading and unloading process, so you never have to lift a finger.
  • Saves time: If you’ve ever moved, you know it can take hours just to box up your kitchen. Professional movers can knock out the work in a fraction of the time it would take to do it all on your own.
  • Fully equipped with truck, supplies, and equipment: Movers come fully-prepared with everything needed to orchestrate a smooth move. In addition to a full-sized moving truck, a moving company brings moving supplies, blankets to protect your furniture and appliances, and dollies to safely transport your things to and from the truck.
  • You don’t have to find people to help: Except for a handful of saints, most of your friends and family would prefer to sleep in on Saturday morning over helping you move. Instead of contending with a round of mysterious last-minute cancellations, hire professionals that will show up on time to get your move done.
  • Trained and knowledgeable: Moving and storage companies have a trained staff that is well-versed in nearly all aspects of moving. If your move includes conquering complicated logistics like getting a treadmill down a set of stairs or packing up your ultra-thin (and expensive) wine glasses, professional movers are up to the task.

Cons:

  • Might be more expensive than some of the alternatives: Hiring movers is usually more costly than using a self-moving option like a rental truck or borrowing a truck from family or friends. However, once you factor in the value of time and additional expenses like gas or rentals of moving equipment, you might be surprised at the relative affordability of a using a mover.
  • Scams are possible: In the moving industry, one if of the most significant worries is hiring a scammer. Referred to as “rogue” movers, these illegitimate moving companies run illegal operations and often swindle customers out of hundreds or thousands of dollars with fraudulent tactics. When shopping for movers, make sure you follow the tips we shared above, and always make sure your mover is licensed!
  • Long-distance moves could take a while: While local movers can complete most residential relocations in less than a day, if you’re moving long distance, plan on it taking a bit. Most affordable moving companies consolidate shipments to make a move more efficient and cheaper for consumers. This means that after they pick up your load, they might stop at two or three other homes to pick-up additional shipments on the way to your new address. Sometimes it takes as long as 3-4 weeks for the movers to show up with your load.
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Cheaper Options For Your Next Move

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How to Move Cheaply

According to the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), the moving industry had an $85.7 million impact on the economy in 2016. About three million people move across state lines yearly, and still more move from town to town within the same state. Moving is an expensive business, which might explain why more and more people are finding ways to minimize the cost of relocation.

Across America, people are learning to move cheaply. Here are seven tips for saving money on your moving costs.

1.  Collect free boxes before your move.

Uline’s website shows that moving boxes with handles can cost up to $3.15 a piece, even when purchased in bundles. You can cut down on your moving costs by collecting as many free boxes as possible in the days, weeks, or months before your move.

Here are a few ways to gather free moving boxes:

  • Save up all your large shipping boxes, such as those you receive from Amazon.
  • Ask your neighbors to pass any unwanted moving boxes to you.
  • Search Freecycle and Craigslist for moving boxes. People who have moved recently often want to get rid of these space-takers and will give them to you for free if you pick them up.
  • Check with your local schools or grocery stores. They may have boxes they want to dispose of.

2. Shop Around

Don’t go with the first moving company you call. Instead, get quotes from three to five movers in your area. If you’re packing and moving your things but renting a moving truck of some kind, then be sure to compare rental prices as well. You can secure quotes online to begin the elimination process, but you will need someone to do an in-house estimate for accurate pricing. To locate up to four movers near you, use the quote form on the greatguyslongdistancemovers.com homepage.

3. Pick Your Moving Date Carefully

If you do intend to use professional movers, be sure to choose a cheaper moving date and time by following these tips:

  • Move in September through April. May, June, July, and August are the peak moving months, and movers will charge more during late spring and summer.
  • Aim for a mid-week move. Weekends are the most expensive days to hire movers because people often prefer not to miss any work when they move. But if you can take leave in the middle of the week, or you’re between jobs, you can save some serious coin by avoiding Friday through Monday moving dates.
  • Schedule your movers to arrive toward the middle of the month when the demand for professional movers is lower. The first and last weeks of a month see the most moving activity.

4. Reduce Your Load

For long-distance and out-of-state moves, moving companies charge according to the weight of your belongings. If you reduce the number of heavy things to relocate, you can save a lot of money.

Moving is a great time to sort through your library and decide how many books you want to keep. Books, especially hardbacks, can add up in weight. If you can bear to part with them, some of your books could be given to your local library or other charity or sold for cash to used bookstores.

Also, seize this opportunity to get rid of old or worn-out furniture you are likely to replace within the next year anyway. Consider saving on the moving cost and just buying your new pieces soon after you relocate. To get rid of unwanted furniture before a move, list it on Craigslist or Freecycle. You may even get a little extra cash this way. If you need to get rid of the furniture quickly, however, consider offering it for free.

5. Do Your Own Packing and Loading

The AMSA reports that only about 22% of people hire professional movers when they change residences. Some 45% of people rent a truck, such as a U-Haul, and pack and load their own boxes. You can cut out the middleman altogether and save on the substantial labor costs associated with packing and loading. Doing this yourself is an investment of your time; however, consider that the average mover costs at least $25 per person per hour. You can cut down on your packing and loading time by recruiting some friends or relatives to help and offering them pizza and drinks in exchange for their cost-saving efforts.

6. Borrow a Truck

While 67% of people who move either hire professional movers or rent a truck to transport their supplies, another 33% don’t do either. Instead, they move their goods in their own vehicles or borrow vehicles from friends or family members. For the cost of gas and meal, you might be able to persuade a friend or family member with a nice truck to haul some of your belongings.

This do-it-yourself option is best for short moves for obvious reasons. With a short move, you can even make multiple trips in your personal vehicle to move your household goods. It will likely take 4 times longer than the professionals could have done it, but if you’ve got the time and want to save, this is a great option for a really cheap move.

7. Deduct Your Moving Expenses from Your Taxes

You may be able to recoup a portion of your moving expenses through a future tax deduction. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you might be able to deduct reasonable moving expenses if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your move “closely relates” to the start of work. This means that the move should be completed within a year of your work start date.
  • Your move passes the “time test.” To deduct moving expenses, you’ll have to work full-time for at least 39 weeks in the first year following the move. If you’re self-employed, you must work full time for 78 weeks during the first two years following your move.
  • Your move passes the “distance test.” As a rule of thumb, this means your new job location should be at least fifty miles farther away from your old apartment or home than your old workplace was from your old residence. If you are moving for a new job, that job must be at least fifty miles from your old home.

Depending on your marginal tax rate, you could save up to 37% on moving expenses by utilizing this tax deduction.

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