08 September 2023

A long-distance move is a complicated exercise, no matter whether you’re relocating for that dream job, retiring, or living out your dream of moving to the countryside. Probably the most critical of these complications is what it will cost you to make the move. To help you formulate a budget and a foolproof moving plan, we’ll take you through the possible charges for a long-distance move and cover the often-forgotten costs that come with a cross-country trek…

Picking the perfect moving company

There is something surreal about packing up all your worldly goods, and watching them be loaded onto a truck and drive away. It’s almost impossible to do it without a knot in your stomach and the fear that things won’t arrive on the other side – in one piece. Here is a list of criteria that you can use as you search for the furniture removal company that will best meet your needs (and budget):

1) Track Record

While word of mouth is helpful, it’s advisable to take the time to do a deeper dive into how their services match up:

  • Check their reviews on the internet via their online business profiles on Google and/or Bing – all of them – not just the five-star ones.
  • Check whether they’re registered with the Professional Movers Association: they have a membership list on their website and members must abide by their code of ethics. In addition, reputable companies that also do international moves should be accredited by the International Association of Movers which also sets out standards for how its members perform.
  • Check that the services that they offer are the ones that you need and want, like packing, dismantling, providing packaging, lifting, unpacking, setting up, etc.

If you’ve done all the above research and are still not sure how to tell if a moving company is trustworthy, good furniture removal companies will always do the following:

  • Come to your home (or conduct the check virtually) and do an onsite check to see for themselves what’s involved in the move, e.g., whether there are stairs or lifts, awkward, bulky pieces of furniture, etc. They will also ask for details of your new home so that they know what’s involved in unloading your household at your new home.
  • Do a detailed inventory of everything – absolutely everything – that will be moved, including an estimate of the number of boxes and cartons that you might need.
  • Give you a written quote. Only accept a quote that is in writing. Before you sign off, read the small print carefully to make sure you haven’t missed something in the terms and conditions. For example, there is often a premium on the cost of moves at the beginning or end of the month as well as over the festive season and school holidays.

2) Determining the price

Trying to work out what movers will charge is difficult. Bear in mind that in addition to your inventory and how complicated your move will be (e.g. up flights of stairs, etc.), the price will also be influenced by any insurance you take out, the number of people in the moving team, and the distance between your point of departure and the ultimate destination – your new home. As a very rough indication of what you can expect, the cost of a long-distance move for a one-bedroomed apartment or cottage could start at as little as R4,000 while moving a four-bedroomed house will start at around R14,000. As we have already noted, accessibility and the other services that the removal company will perform will impact the price you’ll pay.

Cost effective Alternatives

We always want to get the best bang for our buck and stretch our Rands as far as they go. In South Africa, we have an expression, goedkoop is duurkoop. In other words, when you buy cheap, it sometimes ends up being very expensive when all’s said and done. So, when you consider more budget-friendly options for your long-distance move, just make sure that the option you choose really does save you money and does lead to more expensive complications down the road.

Sharing the load

Many removal companies will offer customers with small homes the option of a partial and/or a load share. This means that you and another customer will share the space in a truck. Furniture removal companies maximise trips by making sure that either they have a return customer and/or that they have drop-offs or collections along the route. In this way, not only is the load shared, but some of the other costs, too. The human resources and the per kilometre costs are also shared, making it more cost-effective for the customer.

The DIY option

We always think that doing it ourselves is the least-cost way of doing things. However, sometimes when you add up all the costs involved in a self-move, this may not be the case. These are the things you’d have to think about and budget for if you move yourself:

  • Hiring a truck and/or trailer (be sure that it has the capacity you will need). If you hire just a trailer, can your own vehicle tow it? Or will you need to hire a vehicle for the move?
  • What will be the actual cost per kilometre for petrol/diesel and/or for the hire over how many days? Remember: the car or trailer that has been loaded, will increase fuel consumption as the engine has to work harder to move all that extra mass.
  • What will it cost you to hire crates, or buy boxes and wrapping for your delicate items?
  • Can you be sure that the hiring company has a depot at your destination so that you can drop off the truck or trailer? If you have to get it back where it came from, that is an added cost.
  • Help: Do you have the people power to move, lift, carry, and load your goods at your old home and then offload them at your new house? If they are not friends or family that you can pay in a free meal, what will you have to pay them?

Other things that could cost you in a long-distance move

So far, we’ve only discussed moving your household goods. If you’re moving more than a day’s car travel away, there may be other costs to factor in:

  • Travel costs: Air or ground travel for yourself, the family, and, if you have them, pets.
  • Pets: If Rover or Snowy travel with you, both the dog and the cat may benefit from medication and/or crating which will add to your cost. If, however, they cannot travel with you, the cost of professional pet transport services must be included in your moving budget.
  • Accommodation: This may depend on your circumstances. If you can stay with friends or family ahead of your departure, along the way, and/or in your new hometown, this could be a cost-saving. If not, this must be yet another line item on your budget.

If you’re contemplating a long-distance move to a new town, and don’t know where to start, contact your nearest RE/MAX office. As area experts, a RE/MAX Agent is likely to have a list of recommended suppliers in the area and might even be willing to show you around your new chosen suburb to help you become more familiar with your surroundings.

Have more unanswered questions? Here are some related questions – and answers – that might help…

Do moving companies provide boxes?

Some moving companies provide boxes, others do not. Either way, you need to check with them and if they supply them, what the additional cost will be. Alternatively, you could ask your local grocery store for their unwanted boxes.

What is the difference between local and long-distance movers?

Local movers operate only in one town, and in big urban areas, often only in one part of the city, like in the northern or southern suburbs of Johannesburg or Cape Town. Long-distance furniture removal companies will move furniture between cities and towns, like from Johannesburg to Cape Town and vice versa, as well as to towns and cities in between. These moves usually require a number of days, overnight travel, and/or accommodation for the team.

What is the difference between local and long-distance moving?

A local move is when you move from one part of a town or city to another and when the move will take less than a day to complete.

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