How to Use a Relocation Calculator

Written by Flora Richards-Gustafson
Updated July 15, 2015
Garage filled with a bike, boxes and other items
A relocation calculator can help you estimate your moving expenses, and determine which moving option is the best. (Angi/Eldon Lindsay)

Using an online relocation calculator helps you estimate your moving costs, and determine the best moving method.

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Knowing how much your move will cost can help you determine the best moving method for you. Can you afford to hire a mover, or should you plan to do most of the work yourself? As a starting point, use a relocation calculator to eliminate some of the cost-related surprises before you start packing.

An online relocation calculator is a helpful tool you can use to estimate moving expenses based on the weight of your belongings and the amount of space they occupy. Moving companies differ in how they generate estimates, but using online relocation guides can give you a good idea how heavy your items are, and how much space they'll take up in a moving truck.

For example, relocation calculators say that the average computer weighs about 35 pounds and takes up 5 cubic feet.

Meanwhile, there are other factors to consider when planning a move:

Storage sizes

If you can't unpack immediately after the move, you may choose to store your items. If traveling, you may need to rent a trailer or hire a moving service. The cost of each differs by company and depending on your belongings. Different options include:

• Storage containers that range between 10 feet and 26 feet and can hold up to 7,395 pounds (1,592 cubic feet). Smaller containers are best for one-bedroom apartments. The largest can fit the contents of a four-bedroom home.

• Storage facilities, which range between 5 by 5 feet and 20 by 10 feet. The smallest spaces are about the size of a coat closet or about 150 cubic feet. The largest can accommodate up to 1,000 feet, about the size of a master bedroom.

• Transport trailers that range between 4 by 8 feet and 6 by 12 feet. The smallest trailers can transport 142 cubic feet, about the size of a studio apartment. The largest hold about 2,600 pounds, or the contents of two bedrooms. Some moving companies have larger trailers that trained drivers operate.

The cost to hire full-service movers

Several variables go into the cost of hiring a full-service moving company. Such companies take into account the amount of belongings you want to move, the size of trailer needed, the number of days it takes to transport items and the number of miles the company needs to travel.

The cost also includes how much work it takes to pack the home's contents, as well as the number of workers needed. A moving company may charge extra if you wish to buy insurance, which experts recommend is always a good idea.

Based on 2014 member reviews, the cost of a long-distance move that included packing ranged between $5,425 and $7,375, and averaged $6,402. The cost of a local move that included packing ranged between $1,875 and $2,550, and averaged $2,211.

The cost of moving yourself

If you plan to pack your own belongings, you'll need supplies such as boxes, packing tape, labels, permanent markers, packing paper, bubble wrap and furniture padding. If you plan to rent a truck to transport your belongings, calculate the daily rental cost of the moving vehicle, gas, mileage and, if needed, the cost to rent a hand truck.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally published Oct. 4, 2012.

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