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How to Estimate How Much a Local Move Will Cost?

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How To Estimate the Cost of a Local Move

A local move is one where your new home is 100 miles away or less. While moving locally can be less complicated than relocating long distance, the costs still can add up. Estimating your expenses well ensures that you’re not caught by surprise and can stay more financially stable once the move is over. The purpose of getting a quote from a moving company is to get an idea of how much the entire process of moving will cost.

What factors go into my cost estimate?

Generally, you’ll want to consider the following when getting a figure for your local moving costs, understanding that most moving companies charge by the hour for local services.

  • Travel time to the pickup point
  • Travel time to the destination
  • Packing belongings
  • Loading and unloading the truck
  • Liability insurance

    While it makes logistical sense to get your move started earlier in the day, think about whether you’ll end up driving during rush hour. Trying to navigate a busy freeway out of a city, for example, could add as much as 30 to 60 extra minutes to your time. Don’t forget to factor in any return trips you might need.

    Local movers usually provide boxes, containers and other packing supplies for you to purchase at extra cost. These are always clean and sturdy and so can be a good choice. It can be cheaper, however, to get used boxes elsewhere. Friends might have some, or you can check with local companies like grocery stores. They receive boxes daily and often happily will give them away rather than throwing them in the recycling.

    You’ll also save some money if you pack up your belongings yourself. Professionals, however, have tons of experience. A good team typically can pack up a one-bedroom apartment in 4 hours or less, a two-bedroom home in 3 to 5, and an entire three-bedroom home in 6 to 10. It might be worth it to you to pay for that efficiency, especially if you work long hours, don’t want to deal with moving clutter or have small children.

    When deciding whether to pack yourself or let your movers do it, keep in mind that some companies will allow you to buy partial services. With this option, you pack everything except valuables and breakable items. The movers then will be liable only for the items they pack.

    Looking at liability a little more broadly, many local movers assume liability only for damages incurred while they are packing the items for you. So if you pack your things on your own or contract a third party, the local moving company does not provide insurance for any damage that might happen in transit.

    Get clarification from your movers about their policy well in advance so you can purchase alternative coverage if you’re not already prepared through your renter’s/homeowner’s insurance.

    How else can I minimize my moving expenses?

    Remember, movers and truck rental companies usually charge by the hour. You thus can cut expenses by

  • Planning your layout for your new home in advance so you can place items quickly as they come off the truck. Take measurements!
  • Color coding boxes so everyone can tell which ones go where
  • Freeing space close to your building so the movers don’t have to walk as far
  • Telling the movers about possible complications in advance (e.g., construction, a piece of furniture that has to be disassembled to fit through the door, etc.)
  • Planning your move for the off season when demand for services is lower. Many leases end in the late spring, and summer is popular due to the good weather. Moving during the summer can cost you as much as 25 percent more than moving between October and April. Since leases also usually end at the end of a month, a mid-month move can be cheaper, too.
  • Donating, recycling or selling unwanted items prior to the move so you transport only what truly has value to you
  • Offering refreshments to keep movers energized
  • Checking for a tax break (this might apply if you’re moving for a job)

    It’s only an estimate

    Movers will do their best to give you a quote they feel is as accurate as possible, as their reputation depends on a good experience. But because so many variables can come into play, give yourself some leeway and round high. It’s always better to overestimate and have some money left over than it is to underestimate and scramble.

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