A change in living arrangements often requires a long-distance move to another state or even across the country. To create a realistic moving budget with as few surprises as possible, it is essential to learn the costs associated with a long-distance move. Considering the many tasks involved in a long-distance move, many of which can be quite physically strenuous, hiring a professional moving company is usually the best option.
Cost Factors and Estimates for a Long-Distance Move
While the costs associated with a local move are usually on a “per hour” basis, long-distance moving costs typically involve three factors:
- The weight of goods being moved
- The distance of the move
- Charges for additional services
The best way to determine the most accurate estimated cost of the weight of your goods is to request in-home moving estimates from three or four long-distance moving companies you would consider hiring. Moving companies may provide either a non-binding or a binding estimate of the anticipated weight cost. A non-binding estimate means the final weight cost may exceed the estimate. A non-binding estimate must be provided to you free of charge. A binding estimate also referred to as a “not-to-exceed” estimate, is a more specific agreement between you and the moving company.
Although the final cost could still change if you add more goods to the move later, a binding estimate provides a maximum cost the moving company agrees not to exceed. Keep in mind that moving companies may charge a fee to complete a binding estimate.
When preparing an estimate, moving companies determine the likely weight of the goods based on the average weight of items in homes similar to yours. Then, on the moving day, the moving company determines the actual weight of your goods by first weighing the empty moving truck and then weighing it again after your goods are loaded.
Average Long-Distance Moving Costs
A general rule of thumb for the cost of a long-distance move is between $.50 and $.70 per each pound of goods moved 1,000 miles from the original location. For example, the approximate weight of goods in a one-bedroom apartment is typically around 2,000 pounds, which equates to a moving cost of around $1,000 to $1,400.
Comparatively, the approximate weight of goods in a standard three-bedroom home is approximately 9,000 pounds, equaling an estimated cost of $4,500 to over $6,000. Costs can then increase or decrease depending on the distance traveled if less than or more than 1,000 miles.
Moving companies typically charge a “per-mile” rate, and other potential costs could include toll or fuel charges. As of 2018, the American Moving & Storage Association reports the average cost of an interstate move of around 1,200 miles is approximately $4,300.
Additional Costs for a Long-Distance Move
Moving companies usually charge for additional services that could be associated with your long-distance move. The most expensive extra cost is the actual packing and unpacking of your goods. Again, you should invite three to four moving companies to provide in-home estimates of the expected packing costs based on the amount and types of goods in your home.
Other special costs could include:
- Handling heavy, bulky or fragile items, such as pianos and swing sets
- Carrying items long distances between the house and the moving truck (over 75 feet)
- Disassembling furniture and disconnecting appliances
- Using stairs or an elevator
- Storing items prior to the move
Another factor that can affect the cost of a long-distance move is the purchase of full-value protection insurance. Most moving companies offer standard released value protection insurance at no additional cost, but it only covers a minimum of $.60 per pound, per item in the event of damage or loss.
Finally, the date you plan to make your long-distance move greatly influences the cost. The busiest season for moving companies is May through September, so they may increase their prices and fees up to 20 percent during this peak period. Moving costs are also higher on holidays, weekends, and even at the beginning and end of each month.
Be Aware of the Unexpected Costs of Long-Distance Moving Fraud
Each year, over three million people in the United States move to a different state, and about 650,000 of those people hire a professional moving company. When planning a long-distance move, it is essential to hire a reputable moving company to avoid being the victim of moving fraud.
Consumers can become victims of moving fraud in a variety of ways, all of which are costly. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports more than 4,100 consumers filed moving fraud claims in 2017, with the average claim being around $8,000. Fifty-three percent of those consumers reported being overcharged for services. Forty-one percent experienced either loss or damage of their property during the move.
Perhaps most surprisingly, nine percent of consumers were victims of hostage load situations, in which moving companies refused to release their belongings until a higher fee than what was agreed upon was paid. To avoid incurring unexpected costs due to moving fraud, be aware of these potentially dishonest activities:
- Providing cost quotes over the phone without visiting your home
- Refusing to prepare a written estimate
- Requesting a signature on a blank contract
- Insisting on cash payment prior to the move
- Offering only a cell phone number as contact information
A Successful Long-Distance Move is Priceless
The adage “you get what you pay for” usually applies to the costs associated with hiring a moving company for your long-distance move. Partnering with a professional, trustworthy moving company saves time, relieves stress, spares you from possible bodily injury, and ultimately ensures the safety of your most priceless possessions.