two professional movers in front of a house

Looking for Moving Help?

Whether you’re moving down the street or across the country, you need a reliable and professional service that you can trust.

This guide covers all the screening questions you need to ask and what types of licenses and insurance a mover should have. It’ll also cover how to prepare you home for movers, what they are responsible for and what it should cost. You’ll learn how to avoid moving scams or hiring incompetent services.

If you have decided to hire professionals to move you and your family, recommendations are a wonderful way to find a moving company. The best way is through our professional movers directory, complete with background checked and screened professionals. While there are many to choose from, there are a few things to keep in mind as you are looking for prospective moving companies. Here are some of them.

On This Page:

  1. Hiring Moves
    1. Short vs Long Distances
    2. Regulations
    3. What Do Moving Companies Do?
    4. Additional Services & Costs
    5. Independents vs. Professional Moving Companies
  2. Tips for Choosing a Good Moving Company
  3. Questions to Ask When Getting Estimates
  4. How to Make Your Move Inexpensive
  5. FAQs
  6. How to Find a Moving Service in Your Area

Hiring Movers

Before you start looking into moving professionals, start by asking yourself a couple questions:

  1. Am I moving in the same city, state or across state lines? Where you move dictates who oversees the moving company you’ll use. Any state-to-state move is governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation while in-state moves only need to meet state guidelines, which can be much looser. We’ll get into why this is important below.
  2. What am I moving? Some things in your home go, some stay, some get donated. Figure out which is going where before you call a mover for a quote.

Short vs. Long Distance Moves

Short moves are great for smaller, locally licensed companies. Often offering cheaper rates, local movers usually know the area and can assist in almost all aspects of local or in-state moves. You should still do your homework – check reviews, complaints, licenses and insurance.

Long distance moves cost more due to more fuel use and higher interstate regulations. Both state and federal regulations may increase a mover’s costs, but it provides a way to check on the legitimacy of an organization and gives you peace of mind.

In-city moves are a great time to either test out your DIY moving skills or better yet, find a locally owned and operated moving company that specializes in short distance moves. Just do thorough research on any pro you hire.

State vs. Federal Regulation

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires all interstate movers to register a DOT number. Thirty-three states also require in-state movers to register for the same number.

Simply put, licensing and DOT numbers are a way the federal or state governments track movers and hold them accountable.

Even if you’re only moving in state, ask your professional if they have a DOT number or are a member of the American Moving & Storage Association – both is better. This ensures they are bound by Federal and/or AMSA guidelines.

Understanding What Moving Companies Do

There are two general types of moving services: Full-Service or Self-Packing. Whichever type you choose you can expect an on-site inspection for the estimate. Both services will load all your items onto the truck and offload them at the destination.

Self-Packing Companies Full Service Companies/strong>
  • load the truck with the boxes you packed
  • make no guarantees on the safety of your items
  • often don’t offer insurance
  • costs less – recommended only when your homeowners insurance covers possessions during the move.
  • pack all your household goods for you
  • insure your goods at varying levels (sometimes costs extra)
  • may help unpack at your destination (usually costs extra)
  • costs more – puts the full weight of liability in the hands of the movers

    Return to Top

    Additional Moving Services & Cost Factors

    Movers offer the basic package listed above, but they also have a wide range of additional services and cost factors to consider.

    • Vehicle transport – extra vehicles mean extra charges. The average cost to ship a car alone falls at about $950.
    • Unpacking – not included in most basic packages. This add-on helps speed up unpacking at your destination. You’ll need to be on-site to direct the operations.
    • Disassembling and reassembling furniture – for bulky or delicate furniture that would ship better in a more compact form. Movers will take your stuff apart and put it back together at your new home.
    • Appliance servicing and hookup – taking appliances means unhooking, draining and hookup at your new home.
    • Stairs – additional stairs equal additional cost.
    • Warehousing – if you’re looking to store your items for a brief period, moving companies often offer this as an additional service.

    Local, Independent Movers vs. Professional Moving Companies

    Local independent movers don’t have the overhead or some of the regulations that govern larger interstate moving companies. This can translate into slightly cheaper rates for short distance moves.

    However, if you go with a local, independent company for an interstate move, expect the same prices, service and insurance as you would from a professional company. Any differences in price or service is a red flag.

    Need to find a pro for your move?
    Find Pros

    Return to Top

    Tips for Choosing a Good Moving Company

    three professional movers unload a truck

    • Do research. Reading this article is a good place to start.
    • Read reviews. Look online for recommendations and check out our directory and any local or national moving associations.
    • Get at least three estimates. Be sure to discard any with “low-ball” figures; this is a giant red flag of a moving scam.
    • Ask to see their license and insurance.

    Moving Costs & Factors

    Moving costs an average of only $850 but can range anywhere from $200 to $6,700. Most interstate moves cost about $4,000 or $1,000 per room – significantly more expensive than in-state moves due to higher regulation and increased fuel costs.

    Factors that affect moving costs include:

    1. Fuel. Gas prices are the single largest consideration.
    2. Local or National Company. Local companies often have lower overhead allowing for cheaper rates.
    3. Full-service or just pick-up/drop-off. Packing yourself lowers prices but can make you responsible for broken, missing and damaged items.

    Looking to move cheaply, here are some tips to save money.

    Only Deal with Licensed and Insured Movers

    Ask the representative to demonstrate that it carries worker’s compensation insurance to protect the moving company and its customers.

    Interstate companies are required by law to be licensed and insured, but the level of insurance coverage is up to you.

    • Full Value Protection – This type is usually an additional cost. It covers your goods up to the full value or replacement cost. Movers have the option to either repair or replace damaged goods. They can also pay you for the cost of repairs.
    • Alternate Level of Liability – This no cost option only insures your stuff for $0.60 per pound. Not a great option if you have expensive furniture or electronics. If you opt for this route, make sure your homeowners insurance covers your household goods during a move.

    Find Reputable & Reliable Pros by Reading Ratings & Reviews

    Recommendations and ratings are the most trusted way to find a reliable professional. Though you shouldn’t stop there, look through our directory to read reviews of movers in your area.

    Return to Top

    Background Checks

    Though a company may have excellent reviews, always do a background check. This may seem like a little much, but it’s well within your rights to know. Plus, you’re entrusting all your household belongings to your mover and providing them with your address and access into your home.

    • HomeAdvisor Movers Directory. We’ve completed the background check for you. Every professional in our directory has passed one prior to being listed. Plus, verified HomeAdvisor members are able to leave reviews and ratings for each professional.

    Written Estimates & Contracts

    Never accept a blank contract and get a firm written price if possible. An estimate always starts with a home inspection. Make sure you follow our moving preparation guide before you start this process. Once at your home, show them everything. Every detail matters. Only use movers who do an in-home inspection before estimating the cost.

    Determine if it’s binding, non-binding not to exceed, or non-binding. Learn more about estimates here.

    Price Guarantees & Deposits

    Get a guaranteed price in writing. It should include guaranteed pick-up and delivery dates and all costs when you are ready to sign the contract. The contract should include a guarantee of how many hours the job will take, allowing an overrun of no more than 10%.

    Large deposits are a red flag. Most organizations don’t require a deposit of any kind, though if they do, they won’t exceed 20%. They have all your possessions – that should be enough of a deposit.

    Need to find a pro for your move?
    Find Pros

    Return to Top

    Questions to Ask Movers When Getting Estimates

    Here is a list of questions you should ask all potential companies. Asking questions up front helps you find the right professional while also protecting your assets.

    1. Can you send me three recent references that I can contact? Call a few clients to verify references.
    2. What moving association memberships do you hold? If they are members of any local or national moving trade associations. If so, contact the associations for further information.
    3. Can I see you full tariff list? This is a list of all rates and charges. Association members must abide by association tariff lists. If they are a member of any association, compare these lists.
    4. What extra steps do you take with fragile items? Any professional should be able to immediately tell you what extra steps they take during packing.
    5. Is the contract binding, non-binding or non-binding with a price ceiling?
    6. What experience does the moving crew have? This is especially useful when moving delicate or expensive items.
    7. What insurance terms and options do you offer?
    8. Is the moving crew company employed or subcontractors? This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it’s good to know who’s handling your goods.
    9. What is the moving timetable, including packing, pickup and arrival dates? Legitimate companies will give you specific dates for the move. Any vague answers to this question are a red flag.
    10. Ask for a complete inventory list or bill of lading. Do not let them leave without a complete inventory of your possessions. It’s a good idea to inventory all your items prior to packing and make a video or take pictures of the condition of any heirlooms or expensive items.

    Need to find a pro for your move?
    Find Pros

    Return to Top

    Movers for Cheap – How Do You Make Your Move Inexpensive?

    man unloads van outside of his new home

    This is likely the first question you have when determining which service to use. Service costs vary a lot depending on the company, season, distance. You can save money by doing some or all the work yourself, picking the right dates and thinning out your possessions.

    Packing services cost an average of $50 an hour if you plan to rent a truck and make the move yourself. Doing the packing yourself avoids inflated packing material prices and the hourly rate. Pack your own and have a moving company ship your stuff to your new home for a fraction of a full-service rate. Be aware that most companies don’t guarantee the safety of any items they don’t pack themselves.

    Tips to Save Money Moving

    Avoid hidden moving costs and plan your move out ahead of time. Follow these tips to keep costs down.

    1. Get rid of some of your stuff. Before ever hiring a professional, go through your belongings. Have a yard sale and donate what you don’t need.
    2. Keep estimates visible in a bright folder. During the bidding and estimate collection process, keep estimates visible during in-home inspections. This may encourage more competitive bidding when the estimator sees that you’re doing your research.
    3. Avoid moving during holidays, weekends or at the very end of the month. You can save as much as half by simply moving in the winter instead of spring or summer.
    4. Hire professional movers. Avoid scams, loss of items due to underinsured amateurs and hassle-free moves.

    Preparing with a Household Moving Guide

    Preparation can save you both time and money. Check out our complete professional moving guide for details. Save even more by packing yourself with these packing tips.

    Return to Top


    What is a Reasonable Price for a Mover to Charge?

    Most movers charge by weight. Short movers often charge by hour, from $25 to $50 for labor. However, you can get a good sense of cost by the size of your home. A typical four-bedroom home runs from $1,000 to $2,000 for local and in-state moves. It’ll run almost triple for interstate moves at $3,500 to $7,000 or more.

    The number of movers you’ll need, and the truck size are determined by the professional you hire. They’ll let you know when they provide you with an estimate. When you move across state lines, expect to pay about $1,000 per room.

    What does a Packing Service Charge?

    Packing services cost an average of $50 per hour. This is a great option for those without the time to pack but want to rent their own truck.

    How Do Moving Companies Work?

    Moving companies work simply by packing up your belongings, loading them onto a truck, shipping them to your destination and unloading your goods into your new home. They should provide you with a timeline, contract and any additional services you might need.

    Return to Top

    How Far in Advance Should I Hire Someone?

    You should hire a company as far in advance as possible. This ensures you have the dates you want locked in and often get a better price with higher competition.

    Can I Hire a Service to for Furniture Moving?

    You can hire a service just to move your furniture. This cuts down on the cost of a DIY move with a smaller truck rental and less fuel expense. If you just need help loading the furniture into a rental truck, furniture moving services cost anywhere from $200 to $400.

    Should I Hire Movers or DIY?

    DIY moves aren’t tough if you have a studio apartment. However, hiring a professional to move your belongings to a new home frees up your time, insures your household goods and gets the job done seamlessly. DIY is doable, but you take on all the potential problems, which include:

    • Break downs and delays.
    • Taking time off to pack and move.
    • Underinsured or noninsured moves.
    • Broken items.

    Need to find a pro for your move?
    Find Pros

    Return to Top

    How to Find a Good Moving Service in My Area

    The best way to find a good moving service in your area is to do your research and ask the right questions. Every professional we list passes a background check and carries a current license and insurance.

    Return to Top


    1. Colin Wallace, January 29:

      For anyone reading this, I really recommend these tips that Home Advisor has given above. I recommend many of these same moving tips to potential clients learning more about my company. In addition to that, it is always a good idea to find a local mover in your area. A company that is family owned and operated stands on family values. Researching local movers first can save you the time of sifting through the riff-raff of big corporate companies.

      Nowadays, there are many resources to help you find a trusted mover at an affordable cost. Here are just a few sites that can help do the research for you:

      -Rate a biz
      -Better Business Bureau
      -Social Media (How well a company interacts with their clients can show a lot about the care of the company. Check to see if they reply to both good and bad reviews and how they handle them)
      -There are also many blogs with other great tips on both finding a moving company and also tips on making your move a smooth one!

    2. Angela Waterford, September 10:

      My sister is pregnant and she needs to move houses in two month’s time. Thanks for telling me that she can hire a full-service moving company that will help her pack all her household items for her. I think I’ll help her find such a company so that she can hire them as soon as possible.

    Are You Familiar With This Topic? Share Your Experience.