Moving Costs to Consider in NYC

How much does moving cost in NYC? It’s one of the most common questions most NYC movers, including us, hear. However, the cost of your move will vary based on your circumstances. On average, moving a local studio or one-bedroom apartment in NYC costs around $800-100 with prices increasing from there. These base prices don’t factor in other costs that can affect your budget. So if you want to prepare financially for our next move, here’s how you can calculate and even save money on your next relocation.

Cost of Moving

That really depends on how you decide to move. If you plan on renting a truck or van and doing it yourself, your costs will be significantly lower. However, you’ll have to spend more time and energy packing, loading, driving, parking, and unloading all of your belongings.Since you’re probably not used to moving heavy boxes and furniture every day, you could seriously injure yourself if you don’t practice safe lifting techniques. You could also end up with parking tickets or a fine from the building if you end up damaging the walls or elevators when moving.

Hiring a professional will cost you more, but you can leave everything in their hands. Plus, many newer buildings won’t let you move your stuff unless you hire movers as they will have insurance that can cover any potential damages. The more stuff you have to move, the more expensive it will be. Other factors that can affect your moving cost include:

  • Packing services – most moving companies do offer a packing service, but this will really bump up your final budget as they will charge you hourly.
  • Storage – if you can’t move into your new place right away, you’ll have to put your belongings somewhere. Most moving companies do offer storage, but you could potentially find a better deal at other storage companies.
  • Moving supplies – You’d be surprised how quickly supplies can add up! All those boxes, tape, markers, etc. can add a couple hundred dollars to your final bill.
  • Tips – While not mandatory, if your movers do a good job you should tip them. The general rule is to tip around $4-5 per person for each hour of work. So for a small one bedroom apartment that took around 4 hours, you should tip each person around $20.
  • Insurance – professional NYC movers offer basic insurance for moving, but it won’t really help if they somehow break or lose your expensive items like cameras and TVs. If you have a lot of precious artwork, electronics, etc. You should invest in a third party insurance that will cover you for the full estimated cost of the items.

Moving Quote Terminology

When you first reach out to a moving company, chances are you will fill out an online form describing your needs. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the movers would come to your apartment to see how much furniture and other items you had and would give you a general quote based on that. Now, many movers are asking for a video/virtual tour of the home so they can get a general idea of what to expect. Most movers who have been in the business for years can give you a fairly accurate quote so when the final bill comes around, you won’t have any surprises. With that said, reading through a moving company estimate can be confusing so here are some things to look out for:

  • Charge by hour, weight, or cubic feet – different movers charge in different ways. You should try to avoid movers that charge by weight or cubic feet especially for local moves. Many questionable movers will also underestimate weight or volume and then lock you into doing business with them with their quote despite knowing that you will pay more in the end. While unreputable movers can also tack on extra hours to their final estimate, it’s a bit harder to get away with and even if you have a couple of extra boxes it won’t affect your final bill.
  • Bill of lading – also shortened to BOL, this is the official contract between you and the movers and is the most important document you will receive. Read it over carefully before signing and make sure that everything is listed correctly.
  • COD – short for ‘cash on delivery’ this means you will need to pay once everything arrives at your new place. Always ask the movers what payment methods they accept.
  • Materials Cost – if the movers had to pack a few things for you, you will likely see this charge on your final bill.
  • Stair/Flight fees – In NYC, most movers will charge you a fee for each flight of stairs they need to go up and down so if you’re moving to and from a walkup, you should set aside some extra money
  • Travel fees – Movers will include the cost of travel from their garage to your old apartment and back to their garage from your new apartment. It might sound obvious, but the further away your apartment is from the mover’s garage, the more it will cost you so always try to get local NYC movers if moving within the city.

Cutting Costs

So you’ve calculated out your moving costs and they’re more than you expected. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to save some money:

  • Declutter – the easiest way to save money is to get rid of stuff that you no longer want or use. Start this process early on by going through each room and putting everything through the 6-month test. If you haven’t used it in six months, you probably won’t use it when you move. You can donate to goodwill or, if you want to make some extra cash, sell them online or at a yard sale.
  • Pack yourself – this might seem obvious, but you can save yourself a lot of money by just packing everything yourself. Plus, there’s the added benefit of knowing exactly where you put every item.
  • Look into moving discounts – If you happen to own a car and have a AAA membership, you might be able to get a discount whether that’s getting free Full Value Protection insurance or a small cost savings on the final bill. Some companies also offer a military discount.
  • Look for free or cheap moving supplies – An easy way to slash your costs is to seek out free moving boxes and supplies from local businesses. You could also find some online on sites or your local Facebook group. Once you’re done moving, don’t throw those boxes out! If they’re in good shape, offer them up to someone else who might be moving.
  • Get quotes from multiple movers – You should never go with the first mover you find online. Instead, you should always reach out to a handful. You’re less likely to get scammed and you can better negotiate rates with the movers.


Ultimately, moving costs will vary depending on your needs. At the end of the day though, the more stuff you move, the more expensive it will be for you. Luckily, you can decrease your costs in a variety of ways. With that said, even if you are doing a DIY move, you should still set aside at least $800 for the move if not more. This way you can rest assured that you are able to cover any last minute costs.


Can moving costs be deducted?

If you’re donating items to charity before or after a move, make sure to itemize all of the belongings and record their cash value. You should be able to claim a deduction. If you work for the military, your moving expenses can also be deducted.

Will it cost more if I move during the holidays or the weekend?

It depends on the moving company. Some moving companies will charge a premium for weekends and holidays as that is a very busy time. Others will not. If you have to move on the weekend or holiday, make sure to call up several moving companies and get quotes.

What else should I consider before hiring a professional NYC moving company?

Professional movers are not cheap. If you don’t have the cash to hire them, then look into DIY alternatives. You might need to enlist the help of your friends and family, but it will only cost you the cost of the rental, fuel, and maybe some pizza and beer after the move. If you have more room in your budget, hiring movers might be worth it as it will save you time and energy. It’s up to you to weight the pros and cons of your moving method so make sure to think carefully.