Types of moving companies: which mover is right for me?

Moving house is often referred to as an epic journey that will take to a whole new world and a brand new life. If every journey begins with a single step, then the first step of your relocation adventure is to decide on your most advantageous moving option – professional moving service, self-move, or something in-between. It is not easy to come up with the right solution, as you can choose from a great variety of possible relocation scenarios and available moving services.

Even if you have already set your mind on professional moving assistance (the logical choice, considering the magnitude of the moving process and all the hardships and risks involved in it), you may find it difficult to choose among the different types of moving services available, as each of them comes with its own specific benefits and disadvantages.

To be able to make an informed decision, you need to be aware of the specifics of different kinds of moves and the types of moving companies most appropriate for each particular move type.

Movers can be classified in several different ways according to the types of services they offer and the distance they operate within:

Local moving companies

Local movers take care of short distance moves (usually up to 100 miles) within the boundaries of the same state. They are regulated by the Departments of Transportation (or Public Utilities Commissions) of the states they operate within and don’t need a USDOT number issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Local moving companies charge by the hour (the average cost of hiring short distance movers is $30 – $40 per hour per mover), so your final moving cost will be determined by the number of work hours it will take the moving crew to load and unload your belongings and the time that the moving truck will need to get from your old property to your new one.

Long-distance moving companies

Long distance moves are usually interstate moves, but intrastate relocations that exceed the distance of 100 miles are also considered long-distance moves. The moving costs are estimated based on the total weight of your shipment and the actual distance to your final destination. Therefore, when planning a long distance move, you’re strongly recommended to ask three or four reputable cross-country moving companies for in-house estimates in order to get accurate moving quotes and to be able to choose the best movers for you.

Good to remember: All interstate moving companies need a USDOT number in order to operate legally (if your move involves the crossing of a state border, your move is considered an interstate move, regardless of the distance, so your chosen movers need to be properly licensed).

International moving companies

When moving from one country to another, you’re going to need the services of a moving company that specializes in international moves. International relocations require a lot of paperwork (because of the great number of custom rules and global regulations that need to be complied with) and have their own specifics (air shipment or sea shipment, import restrictions, proper insurance, etc.) that render them much more complex and difficult than other types of moves, so you need highly experienced international movers in order to ensure a safe and trouble-free overseas move.

International moving costs are based on the volume of the shipment, measured in cubic meters or cubic feet.

Regardless of the relocation distance, moving companies specialize either in residential or in commercial moves (although some companies deal in both home and office relocations).

Commercial movers

Business relocation needs – moving a small office, a big corporation, a shop, a warehouse, etc. to a new address – require great manpower, specialized moving equipment, and specific packing techniques that can only be provided by moving companies specialized in working in commercial settings.  Commercial movers have adequate training, extensive experience, and advanced technology that allow them to relocate entire businesses from one place to another in a safe and efficient manner.

The costs are determined by a number of different factors (total weight and volume of the shipment, complexity of the job, required specialized services, etc.) and can be extremely high.

Household movers

Residential movers assist shippers of household items in all stages of the arduous moving process. They provide different types of moving services, suitable for different kinds of relocation needs and preferences.

Full moving services

Full-service movers take care of a move from start to finish. They pack, load, transport, and unload their clients’ goods and can even unpack, install, and assemble household items as required.

Using full service moving companies is your safest, easiest, and most convenient moving option – the pros will do all the work, handle your relocation with maximum speed, safety, and efficiency, and assume the liability if anything happens to your items while in their custody. Opting for a full-service move will not only save you a lot of time and effort but will also help you avoid many unnecessary risks and ensure your peace of mind. Have in mind, however, that this is the most expensive moving option available.

Partial moving services

In case you don’t need (or prefer not to use) full moving services, you may request specific moving assistance:

  • Packing services. In case you have many delicate, valuable, or awkwardly-shaped items to pack for moving or don’t have the time to deal with the tedious packing process, you may request professional packing services. The pros will come to your home at the pre-agreed day and time and prepare your belongings for shipment in the quickest, safest, and most efficient way possible. You can then transport your goods yourself or entrust them to professional movers of your choice;
  • Loading and unloading services. You may choose to pack and transport your belongings yourself, but may not be able to lift your heavy items, take them safely out of your home, and load them onto the moving vehicle on your own. In this case, you can request loading and unloading services and have a couple of workers come to your home to assist you with loading your goods and unloading them upon delivery (for an hourly rate);
  • Pickup and delivery services. If you prefer to pack and unpack your items yourself but don’t want to rent a moving truck and drive it all the way to your new home, you can hire a moving company to transport your belongings to your new home. The movers will load your items onto the moving truck, drive them to your new address, and unload the shipment for you;
  • Small load moving services. If your shipment weighs less than 1,000 pounds (the contents of a single room or just one specific item, for example) and is not enough to fill in an entire moving truck, you’re going to need small scale moving services. Your goods will be transported together with other people’s items and will probably take longer to deliver;
  • Storage services. You may need the moving company to store your belongings for some time while pending further transportation.

Self-service moving

Self-service movers will transport your belongings to your new home, but it will be up to you to pack, load, unload, and unpack your items. You have two options:

  • A moving truck of the right size will arrive at your home at a pre-agreed day and time. You’ll have to load your already packed goods onto the waiting van as quickly as possible. Once you’re ready, the experienced and properly licensed driver will transport your shipment to your new home. Have in mind that you need to be there before the moving truck arrives, so that you can unload your items when they’re delivered;
  • A mobile storage container will be delivered in front of your home and left at your disposal for a certain period of time (previously agreed on with the moving company). When you have loaded the moving container, it will be picked up and transported to your new address. You will have several days to unload your goods before the company comes to retrieve the pod.

Truck rental services

If you decide to use truck rental services, you will be provided with a moving vehicle and some basic moving equipment but will have to take care of all aspects of your move (packing, loading, driving, unloading, and unpacking) by yourself. This is, in fact, a DIY move and you won’t have any professional moving assistance. You can learn more about renting a moving truck here.

Specialty movers

Some very delicate, very valuable, or very difficult to move items (like pianos, pool tables, hot tubs, safes, antiques, artwork, wine collections, etc.) require special care and need to be handled by properly trained, highly experienced movers who have the specialized equipment and professional know-how to safely transport them to your new home. If you have such a delicate piece to relocate, make sure you contact a specialized moving company with good reputation and many years of experience, so that you can rest assured about the safety of your treasured belonging.

Auto transportation companies

Auto transportation companies ship motor vehicles from one place to another. Their services are usually required when people move long distance and don’t want to spend several days on the road driving to their final destinations but would like to keep their vehicles and have them ready to use in their new surroundings.

SEE ALSO: How to prepare my car for shipping

Different types of moving companies offer different types of services and specialize in different types of moves. When planning your forthcoming relocation, make sure you research all the available options well so that you can choose the movers that best suit your needs.


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