Household Goods: Cost Drivers 

Operational differences between Van Lines, Agents and local movers are just one factor that can impact the cost of your move. Company size, government regulations, licensure and service add-ons are all things that you will need to be aware of. Below are some of the factors that will impact the cost you will pay and the level of service that you will receive. Be sure to understand how these items affect your own move, as well as the cost that comes with it. 

  • Interstate moves: moves across state lines are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Van lines must be registered with the FMCSA and possess a USDOT number. Charges for base transportation services are governed under this administration's tariffs.
  • Intrastate moves: moves within a state are not regulated by a governing authority and are not subject to following interstate tariffs, and therefore are deregulated.
  • Tariff: a governing set of rules and base charges by which interstate moves must abide by. Be aware that not all movers use the same tariff version.
  • Deregulation: the absence of regulations and governance of charges. Costs for deregulated moves (within any given state) can vary greatly. Note that Federally regulated movers can still conduct deregulated moves.
  • Seasonal industry: the move industry has a condensed seasonal ‘high time’ in the summer months when children are out of school. Movers are sometimes short-handed for quality employees during this time, which can affect cost and service quality.
  • Weight: the base transportation cost is usually determined by the weight of your shipment. Otherwise, the cost of your move will be based on a ‘guaranteed estimate’.
  • Packing and unpacking: charges for packing and unpacking, including the purchase of boxes and wrapping, are in addition to the transportation. Note that movers will not usually insure items that they do not pack.
  • Maid service: a high-end service beyond unpacking to put everything in its place. General unpacking services, for example, will place your dishes on a counter or tabletop, not in a cabinet.
  • Insurance and valuation: the carriers base insurance included in your move price will only cover pennies on the dollar for your household goods. By purchasing Full Value Protection coverage, all of your items should be adequately covered. You may also want to purchase additional insurance for valuables, antiques and collectables. We suggest to not ship jewelry and other valuables that you can move yourself. 
  • Appliance servicing: certain appliances will need to be disconnected and reconnected to water or electrical hookups. This service will be an additional charge and is usually contracted out by the mover.
  • Dismantling and rebuilding: items like swing sets and home fitness equipment will need to be dismantled before shipping. This service will be an additional charge and is usually contracted out by the mover.
  • Shuttle services: some home locations may make it impossible for a large moving truck to drive up to. In this case your goods will be transferred to a smaller truck and shuttled to your door at an additional charge.
  • Long carries: if the move crew needs to carry your items more than 100 feet to your door you may be charged an additional fee. This charge will increase with each additional long carry increment.
  • Stair and elevator fees: additional charges will apply for moving items up stairs in apartments and condominiums or for moves involving elevators.
  • Waiting time: if your home is not ready to be moved into when the movers arrive you will be charged an additional fee. Waiting time can be charged by the hour or by the day to offset the crew’s down time.
  • Fuel surcharges: high fuel prices may result in additional charges being added to your bill based on the number of miles driven.
  • Crate charges: the cost of crating an item for protection, usually of high value or frailty.
  • Storage charges: the cost of storage is divided into several parts: delivery into the facility, the first day of storage, additional storage days, and delivery out of the facility. You may also be charged additional fees if you need access to the facility at anytime during the storage period.

The 3 Phases of a Successful Move


1] Properly research the new destination before you decide to move. Understand your financial and social impact to you, and download the free assessment form. Stressed Out by Moving


2] Learn about each step of the move process to get your move started in an organized way.


3] Manage transition and stress from the very beginning. Each family member needs to be fully engaged throughout the entire move to properly assimilate into their new environment.

Move Acronyms

AMSA  American Moving & Storage Association

CWT   Cost per one hundred pounds

DOT    Department of Transportation

PBO    Packed By Owner

SIT     Storage In Transit


Real Estate Acronyms

BPO   Broker Price Opinion

CMA  Comparative Market Analysis

FDR   Formal Dining Room

MLS   Multiple Listing Service

TI      Tenant Improvement


Relocation Acronyms

CRP   Certified Relocation Professional

COLA Cost of Living Allowance

FMV   Fair Market Value

MVA   Market Value Analysis

PCS   Personal Change of Station (military)



Also see Definitions and Terms

Avoid being excluded from certain policy benefits by first speaking with your Relocation Counselor...

More »

Exceptions to policy are commonplace in relocation, but only if you ask... More»

Not everybody gets a Relocation... More»