Are you thinking of moving? As the customer, it makes sense for you to review each company and the prices. Flat-rate movers may sound like the best deal. You pay one moving rate, no matter what. But when hiring a moving company, you want to save money, right? Sometimes hiring the flat-rate movers can end up sending your moving costs through the roof.
It turns out that the whole hourly versus flat-rate moving question largely boils down to the size of your current home and the distance you’re traveling. Here’s how to weigh each moving company option and decide which one is right for you (the customer!)—plus measures to take to keep the price low and get the best offer in either case.
When to hire hourly movers
Here’s a sample scenario: If you’re moving across New York state to a new home or within the same New York City apartment building, this is considered a local move, and therefore the hourly option is better.
A price based on time, which can range from $100 to $150 for two or three movers, often starts with a minimum of three hours, plus an hour for travel. A two-bedroom apartment might take three to four hours to move; a three-bedroom house could take seven or eight.
If you’re worried about your moving costs spiraling out of control, ask the moving company whether it can cap the cost for customers at a certain amount, even if the time spills over.
When to hire a flat-rate moving company
A flat rate is exactly that—a number that’s determined after an in-home or virtual assessment by the moving company of the size of your space and the amount and type of furniture you own.
A flat rate is typically the right choice if you’re planning an interstate or cross-country move, or moving a greater distance, like to a new apartment a couple of hours away, since moving like this contains more unknowns. If your moving truck gets stuck in gridlock traffic, we doubt you’ll enjoy paying your movers an hourly rate for this added time.
But don’t be fooled: The flat-rate price or flat offer you get from a mover may not include all the costs associated with your move.
“In many cases, flat rates are not flat at all,” warns Manuela Irwin, a moving expert with MyMovingReviews.com. Sometimes professional movers will charge unexpected fees for things you might assume are included (e.g., moving furniture up stairs or moving specialty items such as a pool table, piano, or bulky exercise equipment).
To avoid getting blindsided by hidden company fees or a surprise rate from your movers, it’s better to take the time and have an in-home estimate of your move. This way the movers can’t say that you hadn’t mentioned you have a piano when they saw it for themselves.
Also be sure to ask the movers or the customer service office if there are any extra fees if they end up moving certain items or providing extra services or spending more time (like unpacking your belongings, hauling away packing materials, or disassembling furniture). The more details you can provide about your move, the less likely it is that you’ll end up being surprised by unknown moving charges from the company.
To get an estimate of how much it will cost to move into your new place, check out this moving cost calculator, where you can punch in your number of bedrooms, beginning and ending ZIP codes, and move date.
Or use the phone number for your moving company and ask for a free quote. Ask movers about their fees for interstate and local moving so you end up with great service and a (relatively) stress-free move.