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How Much Does a Small Move Cost?

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In the moving business world, the small move takes some real consideration. If you don't have a lot of things to move and don’t want to move yourself, then your best bet is almost always a small mover.

Most commercial moving companies require a minimum of 2,000 pounds worth of goods to handle your shipment - anything less than that is considered a small move.

What is a Small Move?hiring small movers

A small mover is your best bet when you want the service and hassle-free convenience of a mover. The small mover will work well when you’re:

Only moving specialty or fragile items

Think artwork, appliances, pianos, hot tubs, gun safes, or pool tables. Small movers are great when you’re doing a DIY move for everything but the things that you’re scared to break (or can’t lift).

Moving out of a small(er) apartment or dorm room
It’s not likely that you’ll have over 2,000 pounds of goods with a dorm or apartment move. Small movers take the stress out of even these low-volume complete moves.

Moving "just the big stuff" in town
If you’re moving across the street or across town and have taken care of your clothes, books, and kitchen already - a small mover can load up the couch, larger furniture, and specialty items.

While some small movers specialize in long-distance small moves, others operate locally as well. Small movers can help with any combination of tasks:

  • Packing
  • Loading
  • Shipping
  • Unloading
  • Unpacking

The services they provide are up to your needs and budget.

How Much Do Small Movers Cost?

Most standard moving companies will have a minimum charge for all shipments. Even if your total weight is under 2,000 pounds (about two-rooms' worth of stuff), you will still pay a minimum fee.

Small movers specialize in these small shipments, and using a small mover will save you money because the weight requirements for moving are different.

The cost of your small move will vary depending on the weight of your shipment, the distance you are moving, and the company you choose, as seen in the table below.

Pounds100 miles500 miles1,000 miles2,000 miles


The exact cost of your shipment will also vary based on:

  • The hours of labor
  • The value of your items
  • The specific item sizes
  • The layout of your move (number of stair carries or parking availability)
  • Assembly or reassembly needs
  • Special care instructions (crystal vases or oil paintings)
  • Extra insurance needs

If you are moving furniture, find out if there are any steps that you can take to prepare your items before moving day to lower your costs.

How Long Does a Small Move Take?

The time frame for a small move is often not set in stone. Since small moving companies transport minimal shipments, they often consolidate your belongings with those of other customers in a warehouse until they have another scheduled move in your area. This way, they can be more efficient by handling multiple moves and making the most out of their trailer space.

Small movers will rarely supply you with a concrete date of expected delivery. If you can be flexible about when you receive your shipment, you shouldn't have a problem hiring small movers.

Consider These Factors Before Hiring a Small Mover


Your Budget

Small movers typically charge based on the weight of your goods or the cubic feet they require plus the distance of your move and the time it takes to get there.

Make sure to receive an in-home estimate from any small movers you are considering for hire before booking your move.
Get an up-front statement of any fees for requested services. Include the services you desire and the price you expect to pay for them.

Restricted Items

Since they are handling a smaller load, small movers may accept moves that are not worth their time. Ask about restrictions or minimum weight, distance, or time requirements.

Moving Services Offered

Not every small mover offers the same services. Check with your potential moving company to see if they: 

  • Disassemble or reassemble furniture
  • Install appliances
  • Pack or custom crate

Availability of in-home Pickup Service

Small movers will often offer both in-home and curbside pick up. If you need to save a buck and have the help of some strong friends, curbside may suit your needs. If not, you will require an in-home pick-up.

Licensing Credentials

Be sure your mover has proper licensing credentials. Any interstate moving company is required by the FMCSA to be registered with a USDOT number to monitor safety, ethical business practices, and proper conduct.

Insurance Options

You should always have your items insured in case of damage or lost items. The standard liability coverage moving companies are legally required to offer is known as Replacement Value Protection.
However, many moving companies will offer Full Value Protection, which covers the full amount of replacing or repairing a broken or misplaced item.

Moving Company Claims Process

Ask your movers the standard process for filing a claim should anything become lost or sustain damage. You are legally required to file a written claim with the company to receive compensation. It is against the law for all interstate and most intrastate carriers to alter the charges indicated on your bill of lading without a formal written claim.

Ask the company if they have the form online and if not, where you can obtain one. You must submit your claim within nine months of the delivery of your goods by the movers via certified mail.

Is it Better to Hire a Mover or DIY?

If you prefer to have access to your belongings right away, you may consider handling your small move yourself. Because truck rental companies charge about per mile traveled plus a flat fee for the size truck you require, a mover could be more or less economical depending on the distance.

You could also opt to hire a "You Load, We Drive" service. These companies will deliver a portable storage unit to your door that you can load at your leisure. When you are ready, they will pick up the trailer and deliver it to the front door of your new home. With some companies, you only have to pay for the space that you use; fuel costs are often included in the price.

Some DIY Options Include 

Move With a Rental Truck or Trailer

Rental trucks range in price depending on distance and truck size needed. For a small move, a cargo van or small box truck can be very economical. If you're up to do the work, companies like U-Haul and Budget provide great value.

Move With Your Vehicle

If you already have a car, then this is the cheapest option for across-town moves. It also gives you complete control over your move-out process. It might take you a few trips, and you might have to sell bigger items, but it is the absolute cheapest way to go.

Rent a Moving Pod

For a quintessential self-service move, a moving container rental offers the security and time savings of a moving service with the control of self-moving. Residential moving containers can generally fit a couch and bed, plus the contents of a room or two.

Ship Your Items

Although an unconventional moving method, some people simply ship their items through USPS, FedEx, or UPS. Prices vary greatly depending on size and weight, although sometimes freight rates may apply. This isn’t our recommended method for an entire movie, but for a few small boxes, shipping can be a decent option.

Variables to Consider before Doing a DIY Move

Time and Energy

If you work full-time or have kids, you may not have time in your schedule. Driving a rental truck cross-country can take upwards of a week and can be stressful for some.

Parking and maneuvering a rental truck in town may even take more energy and attention than many people have on a busy moving day.
If your schedule and priorities can’t accommodate a DIY move, then a moving company might be your best option.

Available Help

Are you able to move all by yourself, or do you need help moving bigger items? If you have reliable friends or family that can help you, then a DIY move is doable.

Aside from the physical labor of moving, you will have other things to take care of - like address changes, utility hook-ups, and other pre-move planning. Attempting to handle everything on your own can be overwhelming.

Your Budget

A DIY move can sometimes be just as costly as hiring small movers. You'll pay a flat fee for the truck but also for every mile driven and all gas used. When hiring small movers, you'll usually be charged by weight and distance (long distance moves) or by the hour (local moves).

Myles Compton  Posted by Myles Compton on December 1, 2020

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