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Moving Costs: Doing the Math

moving box with dogApartment lease is up and you’re on the move again? If so and you’re wondering about the cost of moving in NYC, know this: It can fluctuate wildly depending on various factors such as:

  • Number of boxes
  • Moving distance
  • Ease of access (i.e., walk-up vs. elevator)
  • Furniture assembled/dissembled
  • Amount of heavy loads (i.e., piano, pool table)

Therefore, it’s a good idea to shop around to get quotes from a few different moving companies because they can vary widely depending on their schedule and interest in handling your move. To get a rough idea of moving costs, websites like Thumbtack and Unpackt allow you to compare moving quotes.

Moving companies in the city will charge either a flat rate or an hourly fee. I tend to prefer a flat rate, because it dissuades the movers from taking their sweet time and jacking up the price (I’ve known movers to get “lost” on the way from one apartment to the next, thereby adding several unnecessary hours to the bill.) Average hourly rates in NYC are about $95, and it should take between 4-5 hours to move a 1-bedroom apartment within 10 miles.

So, let’s say you are moving from a 1-bedroom apartment on the second floor to another 1-bedroom apartment on the third floor, about 8 miles away. You have about 20 large boxes and a few large pieces of furniture (like a couch and a bed) but no piano or anything extremely heavy. Based on estimates from and, most moving companies will charge about $400-$500.

Add in the cost of packing supplies (usually about $200 for boxes and packing tape, although you can cut that down by asking your local liquor store for their used cardboard boxes) and that brings the cost to about $700. And don’t forget to tip: industry standard is about 5 percent of the move, split evenly among all the movers – but you may want to add a little more if there were particularly heavy boxes (think: lots of books) or if your movers had to negotiate narrow stairs or passageways. That brings the conservative estimate for a 1-bedroom move to about $750.

If you have pricey furniture or expensive art, I would recommend shelling out for a reputable moving company with good insurance. If you’re really on a tight budget you can always rent a U-Haul, gather a few patient friends, and do it yourself – although in my opinion all the stress and heavy lifting may not be worth the money you save.

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