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How Do Moving Companies Calculate Moving Cost?

Your moving cost depends on many factors. These include the size and distance of your move, the moving date, the type of items you’re moving, and other additional services.

You don’t want surprise fees on moving day. You want the estimate to be reliable and as close as possible to the final amount you’ll pay.

Moving companies don’t like surprises, either. They want to assess your requirements correctly. This way, they can allocate the resources you need for an efficient and successful move.

In this article, you’ll see how moving companies calculate the cost and what you can do to ensure you get a reliable moving estimate.

What moving services do you need?

Moving situations vary, but they typically fall into one of these types:

  1. A full-service move
  2. A partial service move
  3. A specialty move

Choose a full-service moving company if you want expert movers to handle everything. They’ll pack your items, drive them to your new home, and organize your furniture. It is a stress-free, hands-off approach but also the most expensive option.

A partial service move will be cheaper because you’ll do part of the work yourself. You’re responsible for packing your items, and the moving company ensures the boxes reach their destination.

A specialty move involves handling and relocating high-end, heavy, or fragile items. Some examples are antiques, fine art, and pianos.

What are the methods for estimating a moving cost?

There are several, and a moving company may use one or a combination of these methods:

  1. Weight-Based Method: The moving company will weigh the truck with your loaded items. They’ll determine the cost based on weight and add the cost of additional services.
  2. Hourly Rate Method: This method is often used for local moves or when the exact duration of the move is not certain. Typically, moving companies charge a fee based on a minimum number of hours and additional fees for every hour beyond the minimum.
  3. Flat-Rate Method: The price is based on a predetermined limit on the weight, distance, number of rooms, and services included. A flat-rate fee is especially attractive if you’re following a budget. However, this pricing method isn’t suitable for complex moves involving high-end or heavy items and multiple destinations.
  4. Cubic Feet or Volume Method: To calculate cubic feet, movers measure the length, width, and height of each item or box. It’s a reliable method of estimating the space needed in a moving truck or container van. Because of this, the volume method is useful in international or overseas moves where space and weight restrictions are common.

What are the specific factors to consider in a moving estimate?

To provide you with a reliable estimate, the moving company will consider the following factors:

  1. Volume or Weight of Items: More items and heavier boxes require additional manpower and potentially a larger truck, leading to a higher cost.
  2. Distance: Distance affects fuel expenses, toll fees, and accommodations when moving across cities and states.
  3. Services Required: Additional services like packing, storage, and materials can increase your overall cost.
  4. Time of Year and Day of the Week: Moving during peak seasons or weekends tends to be pricier due to heightened demand.
  5. Accessibility and Special Requirements: Factors like challenging access at either end of the move (stairs, narrow streets, elevators) or specialized equipment can influence the estimate.
  6. Insurance and Valuation Coverage: The extent of protection you choose directly impacts the estimate.
  7. Additional Fees: Extra charges might apply for storage and unforeseen circumstances, so clarifying these potential expenses is essential.
  8. Size of the Moving Crew: Larger crews may be necessary for bigger moves, impacting the estimate accordingly.
  9. Moving Date Flexibility: Some moving companies offer discounts for flexible moving dates because this allows them to optimize their schedule.
  10. Type of Move: Residential and commercial moves have different requirements. Commercial moves might involve specialized equipment or handling, which can increase costs.

A reliable moving estimate will help you avoid unexpected expenses on the day of your move. The best way to get a reliable estimate is by providing the moving company with as much information about your move as possible.

How can you get a reliable moving estimate?

The Padded Wagon’s Request an Estimate Form is a convenient way for you to provide us with information on your move. Fill out the form, and a representative will contact you about your moving estimate.

Alternatively, you can request an estimator to visit your office or residence. Onsite estimates allow us to assess your inventory more accurately and answer your questions in person.

Ready to book your move?

Call us at 212-222-4880 or book online at