Factors That Affect Local & Long Distance Moving Costs

By: Harrison Gough Last Updated: Oct 19, 2023

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Moving costs vary based on distance, weight, service type, and additional factors, both for local and long-distance relocations.

Factors That Affect Local & Long Distance Moving Costs

Ever wonder why the quotes from the best moving companies vary so much? When you’re gearing up for a move, whether across town or cross-country, the impending costs are likely at the forefront of your mind.

Unsurprisingly, these costs are influenced by a myriad of factors, including the weight of your belongings, the distance you’re moving, and the kind of service you opt for, to name a few.

The dynamics of a local and long distance move vary, making the costing structures distinct. While a local move might focus on hours, long-distance treks might emphasize weight and mileage.

This article will break down the nuances of these factors, guiding you through the labyrinth of moving costs.

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Why Does the Pricing of Local & Long Distance Moves Vary So Much?

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of factors, it’s essential to grasp the fundamental differences in pricing structures for local and long-distance relocations.

Primarily, think about the scope of the move. The longer your journey, the steeper the labor costs. A jaunt across town with a local mover is typically lighter on the wallet than enlisting cross country moving companies. Simply put, moving personnel don’t spend endless hours on the road for a nearby shift, which is why local moves tend to cost less.

Lastly, it’s not just about man-hours. Longer treks equate to more fuel consumed and potential toll fees. These seemingly minor expenses can quickly add up, making long-distance relocations more expensive.

10 Factors That Affect Moving Costs (Local & Long Distance)

Moving companies don’t simply pull a number out of thin air for your move. They meticulously evaluate various parameters to provide an accurate estimate. So, what are these elements? Let’s explore 10 critical components that drive moving expenses.

1. Distance and Weight

Two of the most predominant variables that play into moving costs are distance and weight. A studio apartment, for example, inherently contains fewer items than a vast 4-bedroom house. Conversely, the travel distance is equally influential.

Transitioning to a neighboring town or even state will generally be lighter on your pocket than relocating from coast to coast. To refine their estimates and gauge the weight, many professional long distance movers dispatch an agent for a pre-move inventory review. This step ensures a more tailored, accurate quote while factoring in the exact items to be transported and their collective weight.

2. Moving Time

The old adage, “time is money,” couldn’t be more accurate in the moving industry: movers, especially reputable ones, often bill by the hour. Consequently, delays or unforeseen challenges can lead to escalating costs. It’s imperative, thus, to approach reputable movers for a precise timeline and cost estimate.

However, punctuality isn’t just on them. If you’re unprepared or tardy, causing waiting periods or postponements, you might incur additional fees. These can quickly rack up, especially if they disrupt the mover’s other scheduled tasks. Conversely, should a delay be on the mover’s part, they typically bear the extra costs.

3. Number of Movers

Local moves typically see fees defined by the number of movers and the hours they work. Each room in your home might require a team of two movers for efficient shifting. Depending on the company and region, each mover’s hourly rate can range between $25-$50.

While this might seem straightforward, costs accrue rapidly, especially for larger homes. Plus, it’s customary (and good manners) to tip the movers for their hard work, further influencing the final bill.

4. Long Carries

The term “long carry” is coined when the distance from the truck to your front door surpasses 75 feet. Situations like these—whether due to an extended driveway or labyrinth-like apartment complexes—can significantly inflate moving expenses.

Such challenges are broadly categorized under access fees. It’s critical to remember that a fee increase of $80-$100 can be anticipated for every additional 50 feet. A transparent mover will be upfront about such fees, but it’s always a good practice to proactively ask and confirm any potential extra charges.

5. Stairs

The simple act of carrying a bulky item up a flight of stairs is exhaustive. Now, imagine movers doing that continuously, all day. It’s labor-intensive and strenuous.

In scenarios involving multiple flights of stairs without the luxury of an elevator, you’re staring at additional fees. While the first flight might occasionally be included, subsequent flights usually bring added costs, roughly amounting to $70 – $100 per flight.

6. Elevators

Maneuvering items from your home to the driveway is one challenge, but relocating them from an apartment, navigating corridors, waiting, and finally fitting them into an elevator presents its own unique obstacles.

Elevators, akin to stairs and long carries, come with their own set of access fees. Beyond just being an extra step, elevators have their quirks. Weight restrictions often necessitate multiple trips, ensuring no damage to the elevator or your items. Typically, elevator-related fees hover between $30 – $75.

7. Packing Services and Supplies

For those short on time or looking for professional expertise, full packing services can be a savior. These services encompass both the manual labor of packing and unpacking and the requisite materials—boxes, bubble wrap, tape, and more.

The convenience, expertise, and supplies, however, come at a price that can oscillate between $20 – $200. It’s also a value proposition—having professionals pack your belongings often minimizes the risk of damage during transit.

8. Specialty Items

Every home has those unique items—grand pianos, delicate art pieces, or cherished antiques—that command additional care.

Due to their nature, these items often necessitate custom packing or special handling processes. Given their complexity and the risks associated with moving them, additional fees are commonly levied to ensure their safe transit.

9. Assembly and Disassembly

While it’s common knowledge that movers specialize in transporting goods, many also offer services to assemble or disassemble furniture. These can be especially handy for larger items that need to be dismantled for transportation and reassembled at the new location. However, as with all specialized services, these come at an additional cost.

The exact fee often depends on the complexity of the item and the time needed to disassemble and reassemble it.

10. Insurance

When moving, safeguarding your assets is of paramount importance. While many moving companies offer basic coverage in their package, more comprehensive insurance options may be available, albeit at an additional cost.

It’s crucial to understand the nuances of your chosen coverage and any extra fees involved. Given the potential high value of transported items, insurance isn’t just an extra—it’s a necessity.

Different Types of Moving Services

Choosing the right moving service can significantly influence your moving experience. A crucial step involves understanding the type of service you require.

Long-distance moving companies typically provide a trio of service tiers to cater to a broad range of needs and budgets: full service, partial service, and self-service.

1. Full Service

Unsurprisingly, the most convenient moving option is also the most costly: the full-service move. With this premium service, you’re virtually hands-off. On the scheduled moving day, professional movers will carefully pack each of your items, load them onto their truck, transport them to the desired destination, and unload them in your new home.

This convenience often comes at a cost calculated by the mile. Yet, for those looking for a stress-free moving experience and willing to pay a bit extra, full-service is the perfect fit.

2. Partial Service

Aiming to strike a balance between convenience and cost? Partial service might be your ideal choice. This service type costs less than a full-service move as it mandates a more active role on your part.

Perhaps you’re comfortable with decluttering, sorting, and packing your belongings but prefer professionals to handle the loading and transportation. Alternatively, maybe you’d rather drive the moving truck yourself after professionals pack and load your items.

Partial service provides a degree of flexibility, allowing you to pick and choose where you need the most assistance.

3. Self-Service

For those who take pride in a DIY spirit or are on a tight budget, self-service offers the most affordability.

As the name implies, you are largely on your own. The moving company’s role is pared down to providing a truck and driver. Packing, loading, and unloading? Those tasks rest squarely on your shoulders.

This option certainly requires the most effort, but for many, the cost savings and sense of accomplishment make it worthwhile.

By identifying which of these service types aligns most closely with your needs, preferences, and budget, you can make an informed decision that ensures a smoother moving process.

Weighing the Costs of Your Next Move

It’s clear that the landscape of moving costs isn’t flat terrain; it’s filled with undulating peaks and valleys shaped by numerous factors. From the weight of your possessions to the distance they must travel, the type of service you choose, and even the stairs or elevators they encounter, each element plays its part in determining the final bill.

However, understanding these factors arms you with the knowledge needed to navigate the terrain confidently. Whether you’re moving across the block or across the country, you’re now better prepared to estimate your costs and select the best moving companies for your journey. Safe travels!