Flat-Rate Movers vs. Hourly: Which One Saves More Money?

When hiring a moving company, you’ve got two basic choices: movers who charge by the hour, and those who charge a flat rate. If you’re trying to save money, which should you pick?

Forking over a lump sum may sound like a rip-off, but then again, if you pay hourly, you’ll find yourself nervously watching the clock—especially when your truck’s stuck in traffic.

It turns out that the whole hourly versus flat rate question largely boils down to the size of your current home and the distance you’re traveling. Here’s how to weigh each option and decide which one is right for you—and some measures you can take to keep your costs low in either case.

When to hire hourly movers

If you’re relocating across town or within the same apartment building, your move is a local one and therefore the hourly option is the better choice. An hourly rate, which can range from $100 to $150 for two or three movers, often starts with a minimum of three hours, plus an hour for travel. A two-bedroom apartment might take three to four hours to move; a three-bedroom house could take seven or eight.

If you’re worried about your moving costs spiraling out of control, ask the moving company whether it can cap the cost at a certain amount, even if the time spills over.

When to hire flat-rate movers

A flat rate is exactly that—a number that’s determined after an in-home or virtual assessment of the size of your space and the amount and type of furniture you own. This is typically the right choice if you’re moving a greater distance, like a couple of hours away or across several states, since such a move contains more unknowns. If your moving truck gets stuck in gridlock traffic, we doubt you’ll enjoy paying an hourly rate.

But don’t be fooled: The flat rate may not include all the costs associated with your move.

“In many cases, flat rates are not flat at all,” warns Manuela Irwin, a moving expert with MyMovingReviews.com. Sometimes movers will charge unexpected fees for things you might assume are included (e.g., moving furniture up stairs or transporting specialty items such as a pool table, piano, or bulky exercise equipment).

To avoid getting blindsided by hidden fees, it’s better to have an in-home estimate of your move; that way the movers can’t say that you hadn’t mentioned you have a piano when they saw it for themselves.

Also be sure to ask if there are any extra fees for moving certain types of items or providing certain services (like unpacking or disassembling furniture). The more details you can share about your move, the less likely it is that you’ll end up being blindsided by surprise charges.

To get an estimate of how much it will cost to move, check out this moving cost calculator, where you can punch in your number of bedrooms, beginning and ending ZIP codes, move date, and more.

Article source: Realtor.com

© 2020 by Judy Meucci

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