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How Are Moving Quotes Calculated ?

One of the most confusing things for anyone going through a move is the process used to determine the rate of the project. With this short guide, you’ll have a firm understanding of how your movers have determined the rate to charge – and whether or not it makes sense.

Of course, all of the information below assumes that you’ve chosen a reputable moving company. We’ve recently covered several tips for avoiding scams common in the moving industry, but also recommend you utilize the Fraud Prevention Checklist provided by, too.

The Onsite Survey

The first step in putting together an accurate quote is a visit from a representative of the moving company. They’ll take a thorough look at everything you need moved, and use it as the basis for the estimate. This process is usually undertaken with no obligation or fee.

The representative is hoping to determine three things during this visit:

  • The total cubic footage of everything that will be moved
  • Any special items that need to be moved (cars, boats, pianos, antiques)
  • The total weight of everything being moved

Necessary Materials

Your quote will vary depending on whether or not you’re packing all of your things or having the moving company do it. It will also vary based on who is providing the necessary materials, like boxes, packing materials, and packing tape.

Some moving companies aren’t willing to pack your things with your own materials. This isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. We simply mention it so you realize you may not be able to save money by providing your own boxes and tape. Moving companies that aren’t willing to use your materials are usually concerned with both the quality and quantity – if you provide weak boxes, they may break your things. If you don’t provide enough boxes, they might not be able to complete the move successfully.

Necessary Man Power

They’re also hoping to figure out exactly how many people will be needed to complete the move. Obviously, a studio apartment is going to require far fewer movers than a 10,000 square foot home.

Distance Traveled

After the movers have determined how much weight they’ll be moving, the cubic footage, any needed materials, and the total number of movers required, they’ll factor in the total distance of the trip. The longer the trip, the more expensive the move – but not just because of fuel costs.

If a moving company needs to send a truck a thousand miles for your move, they’ll also need to send all of their movers that far. This could increase the cost significantly.

Tipping Your Movers

While it’s generally not required (and some companies forbid employees from accepting tips), tipping the moving crew is generally considered good manners. Traditional tipping etiquette calls for a tip of about 15% to the crew.

Contact Your Movers

The best way to find out how much your move will cost is by contacting a mover and asking them to provide a no-obligation estimate. No matter how well you understand the process that goes into determining your moving quote, nothing can compare to having an actual written estimate from a reputable mover.