By:
Jacob Beckstead
Posted:
February 9, 2024
Article type:
Pricing
Applies to:
All Moving

Why is Moving So Expensive Right Now?

Over the past few months, the question of "why something is so expensive" has popped up continually over a number of industries. As full-service movers, we're always asked, "How much does it cost to move?"

But when it comes to moving, we notice that the cost - whether you use a moving company or do it yourself - is surprising for many people right now. So let's break down the primary drivers of this cost increase.

Moving is expensive, no matter how you do it. There's no magic "cost to move calculator" because each move is different, but if you still need to decide whether or not DIY or truck rentals are right for you, we break down what you should consider here. Also, if you want to know more about what drives moving costs with a moving company or how expensive it is to move with a moving company, check out this article. We break down facets of the common question: How much does it cost to hire a mover?

Before we get going, we'd be remiss not to mention again that judging moving companies is more than judging price. It's essential to evaluate effectively - not just search for movers near me and pick the first one. There are lots of scams out there offering low prices.

So. Let's discuss which factors are driving up moving company prices right now, and hopefully, temporarily.

#1 - Capacity

Moving companies rely on the space within trucks to get your belongings from A to B. If there is a time when less space is available, that space becomes more expensive. This is one of the key reasons why using a van line agent is advantageous when looking to move.

Now, moving a home takes up different capacities depending on the type of move. The longer the move, the more this factor comes into play. Local movers (those who only do local moves, not long-distance moves) have a different capacity problem. Right now, two factors are causing this shortage of space on trucks.

  1. The first is a shortage of truck drivers. A problem growing for a while is that drivers of large tractor-trailer trucks are harder to find a recruit. There are limitless articles explaining why that may be, but the fact is that while moving companies can buy trailers for more space, a driver is always required to pull a trailer with your belongings to where it needs to go. It's harder to find people willing to do this job - even though the pay is quite high.
  2. The second factor is demand. As if the desire to move wasn't already building during the COVID-19 pandemic...the moving industry has seen a surge of people looking to move from expensive areas to less expensive areas. Combine a much higher-than-normal desire to move with a shortage of space to haul your belongings, and you're left with a short supply of capacity.

This short capacity costs more to acquire because anyone looking to move will compete for it on moving day. Drivers who haul trailers will typically pick the trailer that pays them the most when deciding what to transport. And so, to compete, this means charging higher prices. It also means that any flexibility you have with your move date might save you a ton of money; capacity is more difficult to schedule, being in such short supply.

But it's more than just capacity.

#2 - Labor

Anyone who has used a moving company knows that a good team of full-service movers is highly trained and capable; they make a move a good experience. It's not just general labor or a general contractor.

That capability doesn't come by accident - it takes time to learn, practice, and perfect. Consider this: if you have specialty items such as family heirlooms, expensive electronics, or valuable antiques - who do you want to do the packing services or move them around? These positions are considered skilled labor because moving skills are a trade that is learned over time.

With that, we all know that the economy is short of people willing to work. There are hiring signs in every window. Moving companies have to pay more money to hire movers: to recruit, build, train, keep the best moving crews and compete for labor. Remember, movers have to pack, load, unload, climb flights of stairs, lift heavy objects, and do it all day, every day. So this is one area that makes a lot of sense.

As a moving customer, you want the best possible crew to move you. It means less damage, faster service, and a better experience. However, like most things, you get what you pay for. Knowing this, moving companies work to hire the best people for moving crews. And these people deserve to earn more for their skills. To compensate them, movers will raise hourly rates, average costs, or adjust prices that you can expect to pay.

#3 - Fuel and Insurance

Over the past few years, the average price of diesel has risen from $3 to $5+ per gallon. Insurance rates are also continuing to rise. An average truck will hold between 100-150 gallons of fuel and get approximately 5-8 miles per gallon. With these things in mind, it can cost roughly $2500 in just fuel to get a tractor to and back from a destination roughly 1000 miles away.

That is a change from just a few short months ago when the price was roughly half that amount. Insurance has increased substantially, adding up to additional costs to move your house and belongings.

But how else does this impact you? Consider this: a van line will have hundreds of trucks on the road at any given time, meaning that a doubling of costs equates to millions of dollars extra per year in fuel alone to keep moving fleets, well, moving.

#4 - Parts

Complicating the fuel and insurance cost is the fact that tractor trailers are known to break down. These trucks aren't necessarily unreliable, but engines are known to break when you drive a vehicle for hundreds of miles every day without taking many days off. It's more constant than your average family car because the engine is pushed hard without relief day after day.

So, to fix trucks when they fail, you'll need a part. With shipping problems plaguing the country, and the fact that most diesel engine parts have increased in parts due to them being scarce, this increases costs for moving companies in two ways.

  1. The actual price for acquiring a part you need to fix a broken diesel engine is high.
  2. The time it takes to get that part means that the truck is sitting in the shop while waiting for the part.

In the past, most parts were available in just a few days. Now, some parts can take weeks to arrive. All of that time without hauling goods means that the capacity for moving shipments is further reduced. And, well, see #1 again.

What Is Not Driving The Cost Increase: Greedy Companies

It may be easy to blame price increases on greedy companies, but the cost of transportation has risen so quickly that many companies are struggling to keep up. Profits are not rising. In fact, in many cases, they are shrinking. Take a look at the graph below.

According to TradingEconomics, which gathers data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the cost of transportation - as measured by the Transportation CPI - has increased by almost 70% from 2020 to 2022.

Solving this problem will take a combined effort of solving capacity constraints, attracting more labor, lowering fuel and insurance costs, and solving a supply chain crisis that makes parts slower and more expensive to source before we can see prices drop too much lower.

But, until that time, companies can help by offering the best help and information to customers looking to buy moving services. This information can help you make the best decision for your situation, such as, is valuation right for you? or how much does it cost to move a house? To learn more about how to make sure you get the best move, you can check out our learning hub for articles that teach you every step of the process, save money and help you stay as informed as possible, and make the best decision for your dollar.