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How to Compare Moving Estimates 

Updated: May 24

All moving estimates are NOT created equal.  Many movers will “lowball” or under-estimate your moving job in an attempt to underbid their competition and win the project.  Depending on the type of move you’re doing, you can then be stuck paying actual time, cost, and materials when the job goes over budget.  Or worse, you can be in a situation where there aren’t enough resources (people/labor, truck space, etc.) to complete your project. We recommend selecting a mover with more than just price in mind. Check their reviews, get a personal recommendation, ask them what sets them apart from their competition, and go with your gut instinct when looking at your options. 

Here are some tips for reviewing and comparing your moving quotes: 

For Local Moves

Local moves are typically ones that happen within your state, or from one location to another within a 50 mile radius.  Local moves are typically charged by actual time and materials needed for the job, and the mover should give you a written estimate outlining an estimated number of hours, crew size, trucks/vehicles required, and materials. 

When comparing local moving quotes, look at the following:

  • Compare apples-to-apples.  Be sure to give consistent information when conducting surveys with the movers, and compare the inventories (weight and cubic feet).   

  • What is the hourly rate being quoted? How many crew people does that cover?  Does the clock start when the crew leaves the warehouse and end when they return?  How many hours do they estimate?  Movers with higher hourly rates are (hopefully) compensating their staff better, which likely means they have better employee retention and more experienced staff. 

  • What services are being included in your quote (full, partial, or no packing; debris removal; specialty services, etc.)? 

  • How many trucks, and are fuel/transportation charges included? 

  • Are materials included?  A home protection kit?  Boxes, tape, packing materials? 

  • Have they included any special charges, such as oversized/heavy items fees, disposal fees, piano handling charges, parking permits, crating services, etc?  These can often be left out of estimates and tacked on to your move after the fact. 

  • What are the insurance offerings, and has a premium been included in your moving quote? (Note that all licensed moving companies will provide free/included basic insurance coverage at a standardized rate per pound in case of damages, which is often much lower than the actual value of your belongings, so we always recommend securing additional coverage for your move.) 

  • Will your mover disassemble and reassemble furniture? Is that included? 

  • Do they have a support staff that you can reach out to for questions? Will you have a dedicated point of contact if any issues arise? 

  • Have your actual dates been factored into your quote?  Most moving rates fluctuate throughout the season depending on demand and availability. 

  • If you will require storage, what is the monthly fee for storage, fee for insurance coverage while in storage, availability and fees to access your items or have them delivered?

For Long-Distance (Interstate or International Moves) 

Interstate and international moves are typically estimated based on shipment weight.  Your mover should do an in-depth survey of your home and create an inventory of furniture and belongings that will need to be moved.  Estimates are usually non-binding, meaning that you will pay based on actual shipment weight and packing services required.  In some cases, you may receive a binding estimate, which means your estimate is a guaranteed, fixed price.  This is less common, and you should be sure to understand the type of estimate you are looking at.  Binding estimates can eliminate the uncertainty in relation to your move budget, but tend to be ultimately higher compared to a non-binding estimate. 

When comparing long-distance moving estimates, ask: 

  • Are packing services included?  If you are packing yourself, note that insurance is not likely to cover items “packed by owner,” and be mindful of any required inspections/repacks especially with international moves. 

  • How is the shipment being handled? Is your local mover an agent for a van line, or do they have their own interstate line?  Will a freight forwarder be involved? The weight and volume of your shipment, how quickly you need it to arrive (note that transit time estimates are typically provided, but there is never a guarantee on delivery dates/times) and distance it has to go will impact how your move happens.  Be sure you are comparing the same service types. 

  • Are all tariffs/fees/customs charges included, or are those handled separately?

  • What are the payment requirements, and when are payments expected? 

  • Has the seasonality of your move been factored into the estimate?  If you’re getting a ballpark based on a certain time of year, rates can increase or decrease depending on many factors.

We are always happy to help you evaluate moving quotes and make the right decision for your relocation. Reach out to us today! 

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