Moving Companies: Flat-Rate vs. Estimates

Flat-Rate Movers or Hourly: Which is best for me?

Hiring a moving company is another expense in an already taxing time. When calling moving companies for pricing, you will likely find two options. Some moving companies will ask you about the contents of your home and then give you a flat-rate. Others will tell you how much to expect per hour and the contents, generally, aren’t relevant.
So which is best? Both have advantages and disadvantages. The choice you make is going to be more specific to your move and circumstances. It is best to become familiar with both options so you can chose the right moving company for you.

What is an hourly rate?

Hourly movers are exactly that. They charge by the hour. This is one of the most common types of rates for local moves. Pricing can vary between companies even within the same city so it’s best to call a few companies. The billing generally begins when the truck pulls up and ends when the truck is empty. This can include drive time so keep this in mind. Traffic and distance can affect the cost of the move.

What is a flat-rate move?

A flat-rate move will either need a visual inspection of all your belongings or an online quote. The estimated weight, value and distance determine the cost of the move.

When to hire hourly movers

  • Local moves
  • Help with loading or unloading

For a local move, hourly is generally the best choice. A two-man crew and usually move a two-bedroom apartment in three to four hours. A larger house can take seven to eight.
Bear in mind that outside factors can affect the time of the move. For example, if the truck cannot park close to your home then the extra distance will take longer. Traffic can also affect the rate as the clock is still running, even while the truck is sitting.

When to use flat-rate movers

  • Long-distance moves, more than 2 hours away

A flat-rate moving company is going to be the better choice for a long-distance move. Because the clock keeps running, travel time will add hundreds of dollars to your move. A flat-rate move will help ensure you know exactly how much the move will cost.
Keep in mind that this flat-rate price may not be “flat rate” after-all. Unexpected fees for assumed items or situations can drive up the cost. For example, stairs or speciality items (piano, pool table, exercise equipment, etc.) aren’t included. Be sure to ask the moving company for a list of speciality items


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