Moving your home or business is stressful, but hiring professionals can make the experience easier. Whether you need help packing and moving valuable antiques, assistance shipping your vehicle, or a place to store your belongings before your new home is ready, you can find the best moving company for you.

We at the This Old House Reviews Team have compiled this guide on how to find and hire movers and what to expect when doing so. Read on for best practices when hiring movers, what questions to ask, and how to keep your moving experience smooth and stress-free.

When To Hire Movers

First, decide whether hiring a professional moving company is necessary. If you’re moving a one-bedroom apartment across town, you may find a do-it-yourself (DIY) option, such as renting a moving truck and tapping friends and family to help load and unload, is more cost-effective. For a large home or a long-distance move, you may want to put it in the pros’ hands.

Here are a few factors to consider before you hire professional movers:

  • Moving distance: If you’re moving less than 50 miles away, you may be able to opt for a DIY move to save costs. However, hiring local movers can save you both time and stress. Research local moving companies in your area before deciding to go with a pro; many charge affordable hourly rates.
  • Weight and number of belongings: Even a local move can be difficult if you have heavy, cumbersome, or large and fragile items. The same goes if you have several rooms’ worth of belongings to move. A professional mover is the best option if you aren’t strong enough to lift heavy items or boxes in and out of a truck. Movers have the training and equipment to move heavy items without injuring themselves.
  • Complexity of the move: The more complex your moving logistics—such as an interstate move or moving overseas, for example—the more you’ll want to consider hiring a professional moving company. Many companies offer services such as storage, specialty item handling, and furniture disassembly and reassembly.

How To Hire a Moving Company

Once you’ve decided to hire a professional moving company, the research portion begins. Start by looking up several moving companies that service your state and reach out to each for any information not readily available online. Before comparing costs, you should gather information about each company’s professionalism and service. Read reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or ask friends and family about their experiences.

Here are some other things to consider when deciding which company is right for you:

Questions To Ask Movers

Knowing what questions to ask a moving company is key to ensuring it will meet your needs. Some questions to ask are the following:

  • Are you a broker or carrier? A broker has access to a large network of service providers, but you’ll have to work with more than one company during your move. Since a carrier operates independently, your customer service experience may be more consistent. However, scheduling could be more difficult as carriers have limited labor and equipment and may not service your area.
  • Are you licensed with the FMCSA? Most companies will have this information on their websites. You can also check for yourself through the FMCSA website.
  • Do you require a deposit? Most moving companies require a deposit to secure your moving date, though some do not. Deposit amounts vary and can be as much as half of your total moving costs.
  • What are your payment options? Some moving companies only accept payment via credit card, and some only accept cash, checks, or money orders. Further, some companies require you to pay a portion of the total amount due at pickup and the remainder at delivery, so check to ensure your preferred payment method and schedule align with a company’s requirements before signing a contract. If you qualify, some movers also offer loans and financing options.

Factors To Consider

During your research into moving companies, consider the following factors:

  • Cost. After you’ve found a few reputable companies offering the services you need, it’s time to compare costs. Some companies provide instant quotes over the phone or on their websites, but many require an inventory of your belongings before they quote you a price. This is more common with full-service and long-distance moves than local or self-service moves, which typically charge by the hour or container rental period.
  • Non-binding vs. binding estimates. There are two types of moving estimates provided by moving companies: binding and non-binding. A binding estimate means that as long as the inventory and details you provide to the moving company don’t change between the day you get the quote and your moving date, you won’t pay more than the estimated amount. A non-binding estimate means the opposite—the estimate is an estimate only, and additional fees may be added to your bill on the day of your move.
  • Services offered. Make sure the company you choose provides the services you need, and ensure the price is within your budget. Consider companies that offer custom moving packages if you have special requirements.
  • Insurance options. Although moving companies are required to offer basic insurance, some offer more comprehensive options than others, such as free valuation coverage. Compare moving insurance options across your chosen companies and see which provides the best coverage.

How To Get a Moving Quote

Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few moving companies that fit your needs, it’s time to reach out for quotes. Many companies will provide quotes online or over the phone. Some require an in-person or virtual inventory of your belongings to provide a quote, and others can give you a ballpark quote in a few moments. Provide as much information about your move as possible to receive an accurate estimate. You should get quotes from at least three companies before making your final decision.

Here are the steps to take when gathering moving quotes:

  1. Make a detailed list of your belongings and have the details of your move, including the date and distance, solidified.
  2. List out any special services you require, such as fragile item handling. Also, note aspects of your move that could accrue extra fees, such as staircases or elevators.
  3. Reach out to the moving company of interest by phone or fill out its online quote form, if applicable.
  4. Follow up with a representative for a more detailed quote and confirm whether it is binding or non-binding.

How To Choose the Right Mover

Choosing the best moving company for you comes down to the following factors:

  • Budget. Ensure the estimate fits your budget and accepts your preferred payment. It could be a red flag if your estimate is suspiciously high or low, so be sure to get quotes from multiple providers to compare.
  • Services. Choose the moving company that provides the services you need for the most reasonable price. Ensure it can handle any special services you need, but that you won’t be paying for anything you don’t.
  • Reviews and recommendations. Check reviews on sites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot and ask friends and family for their recommendations. A positive review from a trusted source can go a long way toward giving you peace of mind.

Pros and Cons of Hiring Movers

Hiring a moving company can make your move easier, but it may not be worth it for some people. Here are some pros and cons of hiring professionals for your next move:


  • Offers convenient solutions all in one place, including packing supplies and moving resources in addition to services
  • Allows your belongings to be professionally packed, reducing the chances of damage
  • Is less stressful and time-consuming, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your relocation
  • Reduces your risk of injury when trying to move heavy boxes and items


  • Requires preparation and detailed inventory to get a quote
  • Puts your belongings out of your control
  • Costs more than a DIY move
  • May take longer to receive your belongings at your new home

Types of Movers

Moving companies are generally divided into two types: carriers and brokers. A moving carrier handles your move directly. A broker is a middleman between you and a moving carrier; the broker organizes and manages your move but uses other companies to provide the actual moving services. Some companies are carriers and brokers, outsourcing any moves they can’t accommodate to third parties. Both types must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as professional moving companies.

Whether a broker, carrier, or both, moving companies also fall into one of three categories based on the services they offer:

  • Full-service movers: This moving company type handles your entire move from door to door, including loading all your items onto a moving truck, transporting them to your new home, and unloading them there. It will usually offer additional services, such as packing and unpacking, storage, furniture disassembly and assembly, and appliance disconnection and reconnection. A full-service moving company will cost more than self- or partial-service movers.
  • Partial-service movers: This category of moving company handles the heavy lifting for you but won’t offer as many additional services. A partial-service company generally provides loading and transport but leaves jobs such as packing and vehicle transport to you. Some full-service providers have partial-service options.
  • Self-service movers: A self-service moving company handles transport only and leaves the packing, loading, and unloading to you. Portable container companies such as PODS or U-Pack fall into this category.

Mover Qualifications

Movers must meet several requirements to register with the FMCSA as a professional moving company, but there are still ways one might take advantage of an unsuspecting customer. You can take several steps to verify a company is licensed and qualified.


Moving is a physically demanding occupation that requires skill and training. Check the moving company’s website to see if it provides any new-hire or ongoing employee training. Also, check online forums for customer reviews that offer insight into how employees behave on the job.


Moving companies use large trucks to transport customers’ belongings from place to place. These trucks usually require a commercial driver’s license (CDL), depending on the truck’s size and the state in which it’s registered. The company must also be licensed as a broker, carrier, or both with the FMCSA.


By federal law, moving companies must offer customers two insurance options: full-value protection and released value protection. Full-value protection covers items based on their value. If movers damage them during packing or transport, the company must either repair them, replace them, or pay you their current market value. Released value protection covers items by their weight. The maximum payout for damaged items under released value protection is 60 cents per pound. Some moving companies offer more comprehensive contents coverage plans for an additional fee.

Services Movers Offer

Moving companies offer various services to make your move easier, such as packing and unpacking, auto transport, loading and unloading, and furniture disassembly and reassembly.

Full-service companies may also offer the following solutions:

  • Appliance disconnection and reconnection
  • Artwork and antique handling
  • Fitness equipment moving
  • Freight forwarding via air or ocean
  • Moving supplies, such as packing paper or bubble-wrap
  • Moving tips and resources
  • Piano moving
  • Storage

Determine exactly what you’re moving and where you’re going before looking for a moving company to ensure any estimates you obtain are accurate. The more services you add, the higher the cost of your move.

Our Conclusion

Moving is stressful, but with planning and research, finding the right company can make all the difference. Hiring movers can give you time to prepare for your relocation in other ways. In some cases, however, a moving company may not be necessary. If you’re moving locally or with only a few items, a DIY option might be more cost-effective and less stressful in the long run.

If you decide to hire movers, research companies thoroughly, get quotes, ask questions, check with friends and relatives, and read reviews. Give yourself enough time to gather this information and review it carefully before making your final decision.

FAQs About Hiring Movers

Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews Team backs up our moving company ratings and recommendations with a detailed rating methodology to objectively score each company. We conduct research by reading through the company websites, analyzing customer reviews, conducting consumer surveys, requesting quotes, and speaking with customer representatives. We then score each moving company against our review standards for services, contents coverage, scheduling, trailer and container options, additional benefits, and reputation to arrive at a final score out of 100.

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