What Factors Affect Local & Long Distance Moving Costs?

By: Nik Watson Last Updated: Apr 23, 2024

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We summed up the most important factors affecting local and long distance moving costs through this comprehensive guide.

What Factors Affect Local & Long Distance Moving Costs?

After reading this article, you’ll know if you’re being scammed or if it’s a good deal. We shopped around with several different moving carriers to find the most accurate average prices in the industry.

Dive into the numbers below to find which factors influence your moving expenses. Plus, we gave you some tips on how to avoid these extra fees.

Here’s a chart from Moving APT that shows the different types of moving services and what each of them costs.

Moving Service Cost
Weight and Distance Varies by move
Time and Number of Movers Varies by move
Long Carries $75 per every additional 50 feet
Elevators $50 – $100
Stairs $50 – $100 per flight
Parking $20 – $200
Shuttle Fees $0.10 to $0.15 per pound, $300 minimum
Bulky Items $150 – $250
Specialty Items $150 – $500
Assembly and Disassembly $50 – $200
Insurance $10 for every $1000 of value, $250 – $500 deductible
Packing and Unpacking $60 per hour
Waiting Time $100 – $300, depending on number of movers
Last Minute Moves $150 – $500
Storage $0.06 per cubic foot
Peak Moving Season Up to 30% more than usual
Gratuity 15% to 20% of your total price
Tax Variable by state, sometimes up to 10%

Factors that Affect Moving Costs

Moving can be a real pain, but bringing in the pros, whether you’re moving across town or the country, can take a load off your mind.

Let’s get into the key elements that play a role in determining how much your move will cost:

1. Weight & Distance

The bulk of what you’re moving and how far you’re going play pivotal roles in the cost of your long-distance move.

Think about it… moving from a cozy studio or a small home involves fewer belongings than relocating to a spacious five-bedroom mansion. And naturally, moving to a neighboring state won’t rack up the miles (or the costs) like a cross-country adventure.

To get an understanding on both the weight and distance of your move, your moving company will probably send someone over to assess everything you plan to take with you. This visit isn’t just about counting boxes; it’s about spotting any potential hurdles—like a super long driveway—that could make the move more complex for your movers.

Cost: Varies

2. Time & Number of Movers

For those moving within the same state and under 100 miles, the time it takes your moving company to transport your belongings is what will dictate the cost.

Remember, local moves mean paying your team by the hour and per person. And it’s not just about moving time; factors like traffic and travel distance play into the final bill too.

A good rule to remember is that each room usually requires two movers, with the cost per mover ranging between $25 to $50. And while tipping isn’t mandatory, it’s definitely appreciated—don’t forget to show some love to your driver, too.

Cost: Varies

3. Long Carries

If your home is a good stretch from where the moving truck can park—think over 75 feet, like a lengthy driveway or a maze of hallways in your apartment complex—you might be looking at a long carry fee.

No need to stress, though. This fee only kicks in for the walk between the truck and your front door. These long hauls are part of what movers refer to as access fees, which cover anything movers have to maneuver through to get your belongings safely out of your old place and into the new one.

Cost: An extra $75 for every 50 feet beyond the first 75

4. Elevator Use

Moving your things from your room to the driveway is straightforward, but add in navigating through hallways and waiting for elevators, and it becomes a whole different ball game.

Elevators, while handy, add another layer to the moving process. They’re a part of the access fees too, because even though they’re there to make life easier, they require extra work from your movers. Not to mention, with weight limits to consider, it might take several trips to get everything up or down, which can be time-consuming.

Cost: Between $50 and $100

5. Navigating Stairs

Ever tried lugging a sofa up or down stairs? Imagine doing that with an entire household’s worth of stuff. Now you understand why movers charge extra for staircases. A couple of flights of stairs can really slow down the process, leading to an additional fee.

While the first flight might not cost you extra, be prepared for an additional charge for each subsequent flight your movers tackle.

Cost: Between $50 and $100 for each flight

6. Parking

Securing parking for a moving truck is a whole different beast compared to finding a spot for your car. Beyond feeding a parking meter, you’ll likely need a permit from the city for the truck. And yes, this means dealing with public offices and forking over some cash for convenience.

Remember, some cities only issue these permits for a single day. If your move spans multiple days, you’ll need to budget for multiple permits.

Cost: Ranges from $20 to $200

7. Shuttle Fees

Big moves usually mean your belongings are loaded onto a semi-truck. But semis and crowded city streets don’t mix well. That’s where a shuttle service comes in. Shuttles are smaller trucks that ferry your items from the semi-parked on the outskirts of town to your new doorstep.

This extra step of shuttling goods back and forth adds complexity and cost to your move, reflected in the shuttle fee. It’s one of those necessary evils for navigating a city move.

Cost: $0.10 to $0.15 per pound, with a minimum charge of $300

8. Bulky/Specialty Items

When packing up your life, efficiency is everything. But bulky and specialty items—like your oversized couch, heirloom piano, or that vintage motorcycle—are unique challenges. They’re not just hard to maneuver out of your old place and into the new; they demand extra care to ensure they arrive in one piece, often leading to additional fees.

For both bulky beasts and precious pieces requiring special attention, expect to budget a bit more. These items need custom packing and careful handling, ensuring they’re safely transported without a scratch.

Cost Range for Bulky Items: $150 to $250

Cost Range for Specialty Items: $150 to $500

9. Assembly & Disassembly

Big, awkward items like your giant armchair or the family bookcase might seem daunting to move, but breaking them down can simplify things.

Movers offer assembly and disassembly services for a fee, ensuring items like fragile armchair legs or dusty bookshelves are moved safely and efficiently.

This step not only protects your belongings from damage during the move but also makes the loading process smoother.

Cost: $50 to $200

10. Insurance Options

While movers do their best to handle your items with care, accidents can happen. Legally, movers must offer basic insurance, covering 60 cents per pound of your belongings.

However, for those looking for more comprehensive protection, full coverage insurance is available. It covers the full value of any lost or damaged items. But be warned: if you pack your items yourself, full coverage may not apply.

So, if you were hoping for a quick way to upgrade your electronics through a moving mishap, think again.

Cost: $10 per $1000 of coverage, with a $250 to $500 deductible

11. Waiting Time & Last-Minute Moves:

Keeping your movers on standby can rack up extra charges. Efficient scheduling is crucial in the moving industry, and delays on your part can disrupt not just your move but others as well, leading to potential penalties if you’re not ready when they arrive.

On the flip side, booking your move at the eleventh hour is equally costly. Planning your move 3 to 6 months in advance not only saves money but also reduces stress, ensuring you’re packed and prepared well before the big day.

Cost for Waiting Time: $100 to $300 based on the crew size

Cost for Last-Minute Moves: $150 to $500

12. Peak Moving Season

The busiest and priciest times to move are June through August, major holidays, and typical break periods like Christmas, spring, and summer vacations.

Leases often expire at the end of the month, making the first and last days particularly costly. For the best rates, aim for a mid-week, mid-month move outside of these peak seasons, potentially cutting costs by up to 30%.

Cost: Up to 30% more

13. Storage

Moving can be unpredictable. Maybe you’re unsure when you’ll arrive or if everything will fit in your new space. Many movers provide storage solutions, often including 30 days free, to ease this uncertainty.

If you need more time, costs can vary, with long-distance storage rates around 60 cents per cubic foot for any period beyond the complimentary 30 days.

Cost: $0.06 per cubic foot

14. Taxes & Tips

While most states won’t tack on sales tax for moving services, purchasing specialized equipment or packing materials could mean paying a bit more.

To avoid any surprises, chat with your movers in advance.

Cost: Varies by state, up to 10%

Prep For Your Move

Before you pack a single box, you need a budget, and that means understanding all the cost factors involved in your move.

Now that you have the knowledge about potential extra services and their costs, you’re ready to hunt down quotes and get the ball rolling on your moving plans.

Check out our 2024 Best Moving Company List or our Moving Cost Calculator now.