Plan Your Best Move: The 7 Different Types of Moving Companies

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated May 3, 2022
A family and moving boxes at home
Photo: Marko Geber / DigitalVision / Getty Images

One size doesn’t fit all—choose your moving company with care 

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

When you decide it’s time to move, is your instinct to call the first moving company you find? It makes sense—every moving company is the same, right? Not quite. 

Although many companies provide complementary services, most offer specialized assistance to serve their clients' specific needs. Whether you need a residential, international, or small-load relocation, there’s a moving company that can handle the job. Read about the six types of moving companies to help you choose the best option for your move. 

1. Commercial Moving Company 

A mover tapes a box
Photo: motortion / Adobe Stock

Commercial movers focus on business relocation. They pack and move everything from small offices to large warehouses. Businesses choose commercial movers because their staff is highly skilled and familiar with specialized packing techniques, tools, and technology to ensure a successful transition. 

Most moving companies specialize in either residential or commercial moves. However, some companies provide both services. If you’re interested in residential and commercial moves, ask the moving companies about quotes and estimates for both during your interview.

2. Residential Moving Company

Movers carry furniture
Photo: New Africa / Adobe Stock

Residential moving companies near you take care of all of the moving needs related to your home—from your precious heirloom china to your garage full of tools. You can choose a full-service move or get estimates for specific services like packing or loading. Residential moving companies are typically the most common type of moving service available.

3. Local Moving Companies

Movers carry boxes
Photo: romaset / Adobe Stock

Professional movers usually consider a local move up to 100 miles within the same state and generally charge by the hour for packing, loading, unloading, and unpacking services. You’ll pay an average of $1,400 or between $100 and $200 per hour for a moving crew of four. 

Depending on your home size, you could have a large team of movers or two to three staff members transfer your items from your old location to the new one. When interviewing potential local movers, ensure they have the proper licensure, a thorough price estimate, and positive online reviews.

4. Long-Distance Moving Company

A moving truck on a highway
Photo: Level / Adobe Stock

If you need a long-distance (most often more than 100 miles) or interstate move, you’ll want to hire a moving company specializing in cross-country moves. You should know that you’ll spend between $4,000 and $10,000 or more for a long-distance move

Instead of paying by the hour like a local move, you’ll pay long-distance moving companies their fees according to your shipment’s total weight and the exact distance between locations, plus any specialty services like extra packing materials.  

Before you choose a moving company, you should interview at least three different companies to find the best-qualified moving team. Long-distance moves are more complicated than local moves, and you’ll need a company that’s licensed and insured, and recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

5. International Moving Company

A view of a cargo plane
Photo: Jaromir Chalabala / EyeEm / Getty Images

International moving companies take on the challenges of across-the-border moves by coordinating a vast amount of important paperwork, like customs and insurance forms, and the highly detailed logistics of sea shipments and air freight. Try to minimize the amount of household goods to ship because your costs are based on their volume and measured in cubic feet or meters. You’ll pay around $20,000 to move internationally

It’s highly recommended that you research and interview multiple international moving companies to help you move to another country because you’ll rely on their language expertise and experience with international import laws. 

6. Specialty Moving Company

A woman handles art
Photo: SeventyFour / iStock / Getty Images

Some of your belongings need specialized attention to ensure their successful transport to your new home. Let your moving company candidates know about your beloved specialty items; some can move them. If they don’t, they can refer you to specialty mover partners.  

If you’re moving any of these items, you should consider hiring specialty movers. 

  • Antiques

  • Artwork

  • Aquarium (with live animals)

  • Cars 

  • Collectibles 

  • Hot tub

  • Musical Instruments

  • Safe

  • Sports equipment

Small Load Moving Companies 

You can thank the burst of online shopping for the new shipping options to transport a few large items at a time. Now, you can receive the dining room set you bought from an online auction or send your nephew your old sofa for his first apartment through small load moving companies. If you don’t have a small load moving company near you, some commercial shippers like UPS or FedEx could handle the load, depending on the size of your shipment.

7. Household Moving Company

Movers in a house
Photo: / Adobe Stock

If you’re planning to move your residence, you’ll need a local moving company that can accommodate the services you need. Moving home isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation, so you should ask them to tailor their moving services to your situation.

White Glove or Full Moving Service

Consider a full moving service if, on moving day, you’d like for your job to be letting the professionals take over. A full-service move includes every step of the process, from disassembly and packing to unloading and unpacking your belongings at the new house. Keep in mind that white glove moves cost the most of all the household move services. 

Partial Moving Services

Another option is to take on some moving chores to save money. Most moving companies offer à la carte options to help you stick to your budget. Choose the jobs you can handle and let the company take on the rest.

  • Packing and unpacking: A crew comes with packing materials and expertly packs all of your items. Then, they’ll unpack and assemble your belongings at the new address. 

  • Loading and unloading: You’ll pay for the moving staff to load boxes and furniture at your old address and unload the moving truck into your next home. 

  • Pickup and delivery: A company transports your pre-filled portable container. 

  • Storage: Some moving companies have warehouse space for storage if you aren't ready to receive your household goods. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.