How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part One (Local Moves)
You’ve done your due diligence. You’ve gotten three estimates for your move, but why do they look so different?
The reality is, they shouldn’t look so different. All reputable moving companies will follow the exact same formula for estimating your move and the exact same formula for your final charges.
There are four types of moves – local, short hauls, interstate and international. Each of the four types of moves have different formulas in the way they are charged. But, despite that, calculating the cost of a move is not all that complicated.
Over the next four weeks, we will analyze types of moves and the types of estimates you will receive.
If you are moving locally, your move will be charged by the hour. Of course, your mover might choose to cap or guarantee the price, but ultimately, that cap or guarantee will be based on the number of hours the move will take. You will also be charged for packing.
It’s recommended that if your home has more than three rooms, you should have a mover come inventory your home.
If you are looking at three estimates that all list a different number of hours, don’t fall into the trap of choosing the estimate that lists the fewest hours. Sure, some people might physically move faster than others, but at the end of the day, no matter who does the move, it will take approximately the same amount of time.
You will be charged based on the number of movers and the number of trucks. Fewer movers will not mean a cheaper move. As a matter of fact, unless there are so many movers that they are tripping over each other, shorting a move on movers typically ends up adding to the cost of the move, simply because efficiency goes down. On average, it requires approximately three to four man hours for every room in a home, without packing. If there are two movers, it will take about one to two man hours per room. If there are three, about one.
Obviously, these numbers are only averages. If your home is relatively empty, it will take less time and if you have a lot of items, it will take longer.
You might find more variables with packing, but they should be fairly easy to navigate if you keep these few facts in mind:
All items that aren’t furniture should be packed. You can pack them yourself or you can pay the mover to do that. You will be charged for material and the time involved in packing will be charged by the hour.
Of course you know that all clothing, linens, decorative items, dishes and cooking utensils need to be boxed but when I say that all items that aren’t furniture should be packed, I am referring to all electronics (including TVs), mattresses, lamps, framed pictures and mirrors. These boxes can be purchased through your mover (who generally delivers for free) or through box supply stores.
The more packing is required, the more the move will cost, but professional packers will pack much faster than most homeowners. Most full packs and moves will be completed within one to two days – as opposed to weeks of packing for most homeowners. Professional packers also do a much better job of packing than most people, helping to ensure the safety of all breakables and ensure that everything is well-organized.
Still, packing choices are a matter of priority. If budget is more of a concern than time, the first piece of advice most moving consultants will give is to pack for your own move.
If nothing else, many, if not the majority of customers, have the movers pack difficult to pack items.
If you are finding huge discrepancies between estimates, break them down based on what you now know and question companies. Are they willing to guarantee (or “bind”) their too-good-to-be true estimates and even if they are, ask yourself if you are willing to risk having movers who are rushed and possibly even sloppy and grumpy, because they know that they won’t be getting paid what the move is worth. If the difference is between an hour or two (on larger moves), that’s probably not worrisome, but it’s always a good idea to get a guarantee on even the most realistic estimates.