Moving Costs, Scams Create Relocation Challenges

Find out how much it costs your clients to move in 2023, and learn how they can avoid common schemes.

Home buyers and renters may need to budget more for moving costs. The average cost of a move is projected to peak at $454 this month. That’s about 7% higher than a year ago, according to a new report from HireAHelper, a marketplace for gathering quotes from professional movers.

Total moving costs reached all-time highs in 2022 and remain above $400 this year. So far in 2023, moving costs are up 4% compared to the same time period last year, according to the report. More than half of all moves occur during the summer months, which is also when moving costs tend to be highest, the report notes.  

Moving costs are notably spiking in certain parts of the country. For example, in New Mexico, moving costs have increased 39% in the first five months of the year, reaching $503, followed by Kentucky (up 30% and reaching $504) and Minnesota (up 25% and reaching $443). Overall, Wisconsin and Alabama have some of the highest moving costs in the nation, averaging $515 and $512, respectively.

At the metro level, movers in Cypress, Texas, and Louisville, Ky., are seeing some of the largest increases in moving costs this year, jumping 39% each.

chart of moving costs by metro

Silver Lining: Moving Costs to Fall Later This Year

But those looking to move may get some relief soon. The cost of moving is projected to drop later this year. “Last year, we saw the cost soar from $389 in April to $427 in May, which didn’t happen this year, as the costs largely lingered around the $400 mark,” researchers note. Researchers anticipate moving costs to peak in August before dropping below $400 by the end of the year. HireAHelper is projecting nationwide moving costs to fall to an average of $395 by December.

In some areas of the country, movers may already be seeing lower prices. Although Maine, for example, saw moving costs spike by 51% last year, the state currently is seeing a 15% drop in average moving costs since the start of the year—the largest decrease in the nation. Oklahoma movers are finding costs 10% cheaper than in 2022.

Watch for Moving Scams

As more people are on the move this summer, the number of reported moving scams is quickly rising. Moving scams are projected to post a 35% jump year over year by the end of 2023, according to a separate analysis by HireAHelper, in which researchers analyzed Better Business Bureau complaints filed about the marketplace for movers. Scams are being blamed for bilking consumers out of an expected $1.59 million in 2023, a 42% jump over 2022.

The average victim says they’ve lost $836 in a moving scam this year, the survey shows. The most common scams are:

  • No-shows: Incidents of movers not showing up for a scheduled move accounted for 26% of the scams reported. This is when a moving company asks the customer to make a deposit or to pay an upfront fee but then fails to show up for the job. Often, the so-called moving company is later unreachable, too.
  • Mover fraud: This is when fake moving companies pose as real businesses and perform the work of moving people’s possessions—but then demand a ransom for consumers to get their belongings back. This is also known as “hostage load,” as these movers extort customers for additional charges. These have comprised 24% of BBB complaints this year. The growth in these reports has prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to launch a crackdown this spring.
  • Change-of-address scam: This is when scammers trick people who have recently moved into paying a fee (usually around $100 or more) in order to have their address changed to their new residence. Victims are directed to a website disguised to look like the U.S. Postal Service. (The USPS offers a change-of-address service for free in person or at a modest fee of $1.05 online.) Change of address scams accounted for 31% of complaints—the highest percentage—but that is down from 37% last year, the report notes.

The report warns of other scams, like movers who fail to adhere to the terms of the contract, overcharge or bribe customers with discounts for positive reviews. The report notes that moving scams this year are the most prevalent in Wyoming (among one in every 4,426 moves), followed by Vermont, South Dakota and Oregon.

To avoid being duped by a moving scam, researchers offer the following tips:

  1. Compare multiple quotes from moving companies, and be skeptical of significantly lower or higher quotes, lack of details, absence of written contracts and excessive down payments.
  2. Check the company’s online presence, and look up verified customer reviews on websites such as the Better Business Bureau.
  3. Keep a detailed inventory, including photos, of your possessions in case anything goes missing. Lock up your most expensive valuables.
  4. Consider buying moving insurance as added protection.