When you’re moving, the last thing you need is a list of surprise fees tacked on at the end. Here’s how to get an accurate estimate from the start.
When planning a residential move, it’s important to have an accurate idea of the final moving costs so you can set a realistic moving budget. Estimating your moving costs, however, is not as simple as it seems at first.
The movers will provide you with an estimate based on the total weight of your shipment and the actual distance to your new home. But plenty of other factors can also affect the final price and make your relocation significantly more expensive than anticipated.
To make a good financial plan for your upcoming move, you need to know exactly what can affect your moving estimate.
Required moving services
The factor that will most affect the final cost of your move is the amount of moving help you’re going to need.
If you want your movers to take care of all aspects of the relocation process (including packing your goods, loading them onto the moving truck, transporting them to your new home, and unloading and unpacking your items), your move will cost you a pretty penny.
But if you decide to do some of the work yourself (such as packing your belongings or disassembling your large furniture), you won’t have to pay for those services, and will be able to cut down the moving costs.
Keep in mind that any specific packing, handling, or transportation requirements you may have (like crating, exclusive use of the moving vehicle, or split pick-up or delivery) will also incur additional fees.
Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control may necessitate a specific service, regardless of whether you want to use it or not.
Poor access to the pick-up and/or drop-off location is the most common obstacle that affects the flow of a move and results in extra charges. Here are several examples:
- If your old home (or your new property) is not accessible to large moving trucks because of physical constraints (such as narrow roads or weak bridges), your goods will be picked up or delivered with the help of smaller vehicles. This will incur an additional shuttle fee.
- If the moving truck can’t stop in front of the entrance to your home and the movers have to carry your items over a considerable distance (greater than 50 to 75 feet), you’ll be charged a long-carry fee.
- If the movers have to take your goods up or down a number of stairs (or wait long for an elevator), you’ll have to pay a flight charge (or an elevator fee).
- If some of your furniture or appliances don’t fit through the doors or along the narrow hallways in your property, you will need hoisting services (that is, movers will take your large items in or out of the home through a window). These tend to be really expensive.
Storage needs are the second most common reason for increased moving costs. If you need your belongings to be stored in the carrier’s warehouse (because your new home is not ready to be occupied yet, or because you’re moving into temporary housing and want your items safely stored until you find a permanent residence), you’ll have to pay an additional storage fee.
And if your items have to be kept in storage for some time, because you’re unable to receive your shipment on the agreed date and time, all the warehouse handling costs will be at your expense.
You’ll also be charged extra for any idle time the movers waste waiting at your home if you’re not ready when they arrive to pick up your goods.
The time of your move
The specific time of year when your relocation takes place will also greatly affect the final moving costs.
It’s no secret that moving company rates are much higher during the summer — the busiest moving season— than they are for the rest of the year. So, moving off-season (anytime from September to mid-May) will significantly reduce your moving costs, and will also allow you to ensure the help of experienced moving professionals at the most convenient time for you (reputable movers are not easily available during the peak season).
Also, remember that moving rates are usually higher on national holidays and on the first/last day of a month, when many people need to move house because of rental agreements or job-related considerations.
If possible, avoid such peak periods and schedule your relocation for a day during the second half of a month when you can expect lower rates, plenty of available movers, and considerably less hassle.
As far as specific days of the week are concerned, the weekends are, of course, the busiest and the costliest. Tuesday, on the other hand, is the least preferred day for a move, so you may receive a significant discount if you decide to relocate on a Tuesday.
Your moving insurance
The basic liability coverage (60 cents per pound per item) you get for free when using professional moving services may not be enough to ensure your peace of mind, especially if you are relocating items of high sentimental or monetary value.
If you want full value protection (under which the carrier assumes liability for the full cost of repairs or the replacement value of any lost or damaged goods), your moving costs will go still higher.
With so many factors affecting your movers’ estimate, you need to be really careful when researching your moving options and choosing the best movers for you. Get three or four on-site binding estimates, compare the rates and conditions different moving companies offer, and make your pick wisely.