The Best Moving Companies for Small Moves

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Just because your move may be on the smaller side doesn’t mean it’s any less important. After all, you may be moving to a posh new studio apartment, moving out of your cursed dorm room, or needing to transport your girlboss small business venture to a new retail space. Whatever your reason is, make sure to hire one of the best moving companies for small moves to get your stuff from point A to point B.

What exactly counts as a small move? How much stuff do you have? When determining the size of a move, a good rule of thumb is to consider the number of rooms you’re packing up. Small moves are generally equivalent to a studio apartment or one-bedroom apartment full of items. Many moving companies would even consider a college dorm room to fall under the umbrella of small moves.

To prepare for a small move, first take stock of the amount of stuff you have. If you’re worried that your load is bigger than you anticipated, many companies that specialize in small moves offer flexible storage options as well as transport. Or, perhaps the best thing you can do is downsize altogether. It’s a new year—let’s promise to only hold onto stuff that truly brings us joy, like our mini waffle maker.

Best Moving Companies for Small Moves in 2023

Best Overall : Atlas Van Lines


Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long-distance, international
  • Type of Quote: Binding, non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Instant quote

  • Supports many types of moves (residential, military, corporate)

  • Robust mobile app helps you track your items

Cons
  • Customer service hours unclear

  • Long list of “non-allowable” items

Why We Chose It

Atlas Van Lines is one of the U.S.'s leading moving companies, thanks to the wide variety of services it provides for domestic (all 50 states) and international moves. Atlas Van Lines even operates a specialized small moves service called SimplCity that allows you to move in a matter of days, not weeks. Your inclusive SimplCity price covers materials, transport, and equipment. 

Once your move is set in motion, take all the details with you using Atlas’ mobile app. Atlas prides itself on technological advancements such as virtual estimates and digital inventory. It’s also a hub for keeping all your moving needs in check. For example, the app’s customer portal allows you to connect with your customer service representative and van operator, track your items while they’re in transit, pay your bill, sign up for text updates, and more. 

Getting a quote from Atlas Van Lines is quick and easy. All you need to do is submit an Instant Quote, but you can also directly contact an Atlas mover in your area. The Instant Quote process is made up of three easy steps: pick what type of move you need, fill out your personal information, and tell Atlas when you want to move. And if anything changes in terms of your needs, you can easily add on any other services you’d like.

Best for Flexible Moves : PODS


Pods Moving logo

Pods Moving

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 46 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long-distance, international
  • Type of Quote: Non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No tight moving deadlines

  • Three different container sizes

  • Easy access to your items

Cons
  • Can be inconvenient if you don’t have a driveway

  • Must provide your own container lock

Why We Chose It

Need a little more flexibility when it comes to your small move? You’re in luck because PODS’ goal is to keep things the least burdensome—you have complete control of the timeframe of your move. When it comes time to start packing, PODS will drop off its storage container and pick it up when you’re ready within a few days or weeks afterward. 

Since PODS are rented on a monthly basis, there’s no need to rush. You can easily change your moving date once your container is dropped off and keep your container for as long as you like for a monthly fee. And if you need extra help, the company will also be happy to provide loading and unloading on the big day.

To get started with PODS, choose whether you need the container for moving, storage, or both with the choice of 8-, 12-, or 16-foot containers. PODS also offers affordable options for where you keep the container; it can stay in your future driveway to simplify unpacking, or you can store your items at a local PODS facility ahead of your small move.

Best for DIY Moves : U-Pack


Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50
  • Moving Options: Local, long-distance, international
  • Type of Quote: Non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Quick transit

  • Only pay for the space you use

  • Contactless pick up

Cons
  • Storage containers only come in one size

  • Cannot transport overseas

Why We Chose It 

Do your things your way with U-Pack, the best DIY moving company for small moves. With U-Pack, you take charge of packing, loading, and unloading, and it takes care of the driving—whether you’re moving down the road or cross country. U-Pack operates in all 50 states (yes, even Hawaii) and will also transport your items across the border into Canada.

U-Pack prides itself on only charging customers for the space they use. And since you’re planning a small move, you’re bound to get a huge deal. Simply reserve a few of U-Pack’s ReloCubes, which fit into one standard parking space, or a U-Pack trailer. Regardless of what you choose, rest assured that U-Pack’s experts will only measure the trailer space you fill up.

Because U-Pack is solely focused on the transport of your items, you can expect a quick, professional transit within one to three business days of pickup. You don’t even have to wait for U-Pack to pick up your things; start driving to your new home whenever you’re ready, and it will handle the rest. Plus, each U-Pack quote includes fuel, so you won’t have to agonize over any additional gas costs.

Best for Nationwide Moves : United Van Lines


United Van Lines

United Van Lines

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long-distance, international
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Dedicated personal move coordinator

  • Full Value Protection included in every quote

  • Wide variety of small moves covered, like dorm rooms, small offices, and assisted living facilities

Cons
  • Belongings may be shipped along with a stranger’s

  • Extra cost for precise pickup day

Why We Chose It 

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, especially if you book United Van Lines for your small move. United Van Lines is committed to safely transporting your items, no matter where your next home is. And for small moves specifically, it operates a moving program called Snapmoves that downsizes everything great about United Van Lines’ full-service moves into a tiny package.

Moving your belongings across the country (or world) can be quite the stressor. But each Snapmoves quote includes Full Value Protection, meaning United Van Moves will compensate you if your items are lost or damaged in transit. Unlike insurance, you don’t have to prove negligence. United Van Lines will assume responsibility for the entirety of your small move. 

Requesting a quote only takes a few seconds. Start by selecting whether you’re moving within the U.S. or internationally, and then pick your move-out date. Finish up by providing how big of a home you’re moving from in addition to your contact information. Before you click “submit,” let United Van Lines know if you need any additional services like packing, waste disposal, or unpacking.

Best for Last-Minute Moves : Bellhop


BELLHOP

BELLHOP

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 25 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long-distance
  • Type of Quote: Binding, non-binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Can schedule a move with as little as one day’s notice

  • Moving cost calculator can provide quick estimate

  • Free cancellation within 48 hours of booking

Cons
  • Cannot move items over 300 pounds

  • Does not accept cash or check

Why We Chose It 

Sometimes, life doesn’t give you as much time as you need. Maybe another moving company canceled at the last minute, or you have to relocate quickly. Regardless of the circumstance, Bellhop is here to help you when you have to move within a short timeframe. Its reliable short-notice movers are professionals at accommodating the wildest of timelines and have even completed same-day moves before.

Bellhop charges an hourly rate for local moves and a flat rate for long-distance moves. But it also provides the option for a more customizable move through Bellhop’s Build Your Own package. This will allow you to price out your move or customize your needs within your customer dashboard. Bellhop even accepts Apple Pay, so no need to scramble to find your wallet once your last-minute move is complete. 

To get started, click “Book a Move” on Bellhop’s website and tell the Bellhop team when go-time is; whether or not you need a truck, movers, or both; and where you’re going. After you submit your request, take a deep breath and start packing. If you wake up the next day and find you have more time than you originally thought, you can cancel for free within 48 hours of booking.

Best for Downsizing : 1-800-Pack-Rat


1-800-Pack-Rat logo

1-800-Pack-Rat

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 26 states *May be able to service your location upon request
  • Moving Options: Local, long-distance
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Weatherproof storage containers

  • Climate-controlled storage facilities

  • $10,000 protection for long-distance moves

Cons
  • Storage facility access is limited

  • Additional services are provided by third parties

Why We Chose It 

1-800-Pack-Rat not only helps you move your items but can also help you downsize. Maybe you’re moving to a smaller place in a more expensive city, or perhaps you’re simply trying to declutter. Whatever your needs—or goals—are, 1-800-Pack-Rat provides professional moving and storage solutions for all customers looking to relocate within the U.S.

1-800-Pack-Rat’s storage containers are designed to keep your items safe throughout the process: from being in transit, stored in a climate-controlled 1-800-Pack-Rat facility, or leaving the container in your driveway to unpack on your own time. And speaking of transit, when it’s time to get going, 1-800-Pack-Rat will include $10,000 in protection for long-distance moves!

You can request a quote for moving, storage, or both online and receive a quote in a few minutes. Simply choose which services you want, where you want to store your items, and provide your contact information to get the ball rolling with 1-800-Pack-Rat. And when you book your moving services online, you’ll even receive $50 off.

Best for Commercial Moves : Wheaton World Wide Moving


Wheaton World Wide Moving

Wheaton World Wide Moving

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Moving Options: Local, long-distance, and international
  • Type of Quote: Non-binding
Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Endorsed by the American Trucking Association

  • Can accommodate various businesses (medical, food service, retail, IT)

  • Locally owned and operated

Cons
  • Item protection costs extra

  • No real-time tracking of items

Why We Chose It 

Great news! You’ve signed the lease on a new commercial space for your business. Wheaton World Wide Moving is here to help. No matter what industry you work in—from hospitality to  food service to IT to retail—Wheaton World Wide Moving wants to be part of your business’ next chapter. 

The way Wheaton works is through a nationwide network of agents. Each agent independently owns and operates their own moving company, therefore operating on behalf of Wheaton. This allows customers to have expansive access to moving agents across the U.S. And with Wheaton’s accolades behind their name, you can trust that they will provide the service that is expected nationwide. 

For packing, Wheaton offers full-service packing services, in addition to assistance with a few specialty items. It carries all the moving supplies needed for the move and offers reduced-priced packing supplies if you’re packing on your own. 

Get started with your small commercial move by finding your local Wheaton agent via your zip code or by submitting a contact form on their website. You’ll have the option to request an in-home estimate or a virtual survey, providing customers with more flexibility. Wheaton also promises to get back to you on your request within 24 business hours. You can also call or email Wheaton at any time or request a ballpark estimate before getting in touch.

Best for Mobile Devices : Colonial Van Lines


Colonial Van Lines logo

Colonial Van Lines

Key Specs
  • Nationwide Availability: 48 states
  • Moving Options: Long-distance
  • Type of Quote: Binding
Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Industry-first moving app

  • No in-home estimate required

  • Free long-distance quote

Cons
  • International moves not supported

  • Limited add-on services

Why We Chose It 

The world is at your fingertips on your mobile device, so why shouldn’t you be able to manage your upcoming move that way? Not only does Colonial Van Lines have 50 years of experience in the moving industry, but they’ve also created an industry-first moving service app to help movers everywhere take care of business on the go.

The Colonial Van Lines app allows you to submit videos and/or pictures of your small load in order for the company to accurately forecast your moving estimate. You can also order packing boxes directly in the app, manage your virtual inventory, and check items off your Colonial Van Lines-provided moving checklist without ever having to log on to your computer.

Get started with Colonial Van Lines by submitting a quote online in three steps. Provide the company with the size of your current home, the date you want to move, and your contact information. Colonial Van Lines quotes are always free, even for long-distance/cross-country moves. You can also request a binding estimate by calling its customer service team.

Final Verdict

The competition is fierce when it comes to which company can complete a small move the best. Based on our research, Atlas Van Lines ranks slightly above the rest, thanks to its real-time tracking and the ability to serve all 50 U.S. states and do international moves. But if you need to move quickly or want to DIY, Bellhop or 1-800-Pack-Rat may better suit your timely needs.

If you’re wanting to book a self-service move, companies like U-Pack will simply transport your items from your current home to your future home and leave you to do the rest. Self-service moves are very cost-effective, especially if you have a small number of items. Small moves in general take less time, so it may work better for your schedule to DIY most of your move.

Compare the Best Moving Companies for Small Moves

Company Nationwide Availability   Packing & Loading Options Vehicle Relocation? Tracking Option?  Type of Quote
Atlas Van Lines 50 states Full service, partial service, and self-service Yes Yes Binding and non-binding
PODS 46 states Partial service, self-service Yes No Non-binding
U-Pack 50 states Self-service Partial Yes Non-binding
United Van Lines 50 states Full service, partial service, and self-service Yes Yes Binding
Bellhop 25 states Full service, partial service No No Binding and non-binding
1-800-Pack-Rat N/A Full service, partial service, and self-service Yes Yes Binding
Wheaton World Wide Moving 50 states Full service, partial service, and self-service Yes Yes Non-binding
Colonial Van Lines 48 states Full service, partial service, and self-service Yes Yes Binding

What to Look for in a Small-Load Moving Company

Consider three main factors when booking your small move: price, availability, and reputation. Of course, you have to be able to afford it—and hopefully your ideal company will be available on your preferred moving date. But it’s equally as important to be able to trust whichever company you book. A company’s reputation may be the most important aspect of your decision.

Price

Before you even start researching, decide what you’re comfortable spending on your small move. Take into account how far away you’re moving from your current home, as well as how many items you’re planning on taking with you. Local moves will be cheaper than long-distance moves, which can run upward of $1,000 just for transport.

Then, decide what exactly you want out of your moving company. Do you want them to pack up your stuff, load it, and unload it or simply transport your items? Additional services like unloading, unpacking, and organizing may cost extra, but it can be nice to cross them off your personal to-do list. Look into what deals companies offer when it comes to item protection and coverage, as it may or may not be included in the quote. So decide on what your priority is and adjust your budget accordingly. 

Availability

How flexible is your moving date? The more flexible you are, the more companies you’ll have to choose from. If you’re looking to book a local move, a company may be able to pull off your booking with less notice. Long-distance moves typically require more advanced notice for companies to make sure there is a crew available for a multiday trip, if applicable.

Regardless of whether you’re moving down the block or cross country, a good rule of thumb is for you to schedule your move at least a few months in advance, especially if you want to book extra services like packing and vehicle relocation or pay for storage. The bigger your demands, the bigger your timeframe should be.

Reputation

Word of mouth is how businesses grow. It’s also how many people make important decisions. Current customer testimonials are always a great resource—many companies have them posted directly on their website. And the best customer testimonials may be closer than they appear; ask your friends and family whom they’ve worked with to pull off a small move.

You can also check out reviews published by trusted publications like The Spruce or see what messages customers have left on a company’s Facebook page, Google Business site, or even the Better Business Bureau. Seek reviews from multiple websites to make sure you’re getting a well-rounded opinion.

Factors That Affect the Cost of a Small-Load Move

There are two main factors that affect the cost of a small-load move: distance and level of service. The farther your movers have to travel, the more expensive your move will be. Remember, shipping your belongings to a different continent is also not cheap.

Full service is the most expensive type of move—with good reason. These types of moves typically include the loading, transport, and unloading of your items, furniture placement, and more. You can even add on services like packing, unpacking, and storage of your items while you’re waiting for your move-in date.

Self-service usually covers the transport of your items while you handle the packing, loading, and unloading. This is a great, affordable option for movers who want to oversee more of their move and save money while doing it. Since self-service moves take less of a company’s time, these companies are typically more flexible when it comes to scheduling.

Partial service moves are a good compromise for movers who want the best of both worlds. It is considered full-service but in a small package. In some cases, small load moves are automatically characterized as partial service moves by companies with dedicated small-move programs, such as Atlas and United Van Lines. 

How to Prepare for a Small Move

A small move will take less time to pack for, but your timeframe may be tighter than you’d like. Because you own less stuff, you may not be able to start packing until a week before the movers arrive since you need most—if not all of your things—to function on a daily basis. For example, if you only own a few pots and pans, your options are to wait to pack or to order takeout until you move. 

However, you can still begin your preparation for a small move well in advance. One task you can start on right away is getting rid of things you no longer use. That’s right, use your move to purge your belongings. No need to move things that you plan to throw away a short time later. After you clean the house, you’ll be able to give movers an accurate depiction of what you need to be moved.

Then, book your moving company as soon as possible. Not only will it appreciate the heads-up, but it may be able to offer you more options than it would at the last minute. At this stage, you can add on any nice-to-have services like vehicle transport, donation pickup, and more. Just make sure to organize these services ahead of time instead of asking about them the day of. Typically, the more all-rounded the service, the more crew members will be required.

Lastly, it’s time to pack. But don’t worry, if you dread this stage, you can find a moving company that will do it for you. Just have a plan so you’re not scrambling the night before and throwing your spatulas into a garbage bag.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Considered a Small Move?

A small move in industry speak is typically a move under 2,000 pounds and equates to around the size of a studio or one-bedroom apartment. Make sure to read each moving company’s guidelines, as some companies characterize small moves by the number of rooms you’re packing up versus the total weight of items. 

Companies like U-Pack only charge you for the container space you take up when it comes to transporting your items. If you book a trailer with U-Pack, the crew will measure all of the unused space left over and subtract that from your total moving cost. Pretty sweet deal for all bargain hunters out there!

How Far in Advance Should I Book Small-Load Movers?

Even though small-load movers will be transporting a smaller number of items, they still deserve plenty of heads-up. It’s best to book your movers as soon as possible after deciding you want to or need to move. If you’re tasked with moving at the last minute due to extenuating circumstances, short-notice crews from companies like Bellhop can help.

Once you know your moving timeline, search for whether or not companies have a minimum turnaround time or their own set of guidelines for when to book. This can help you decide if a moving company is right for you. It’s also a good idea to start your search as soon as possible to make sure the moving company you have your eye on even services your state.

Can I Do a DIY Small Move?

You can surely pull off a small move by yourself, but moving companies for small moves can make your life a lot easier. If you’re adamant about being involved, there are plenty of companies that allow you to choose which parts of the move you can take part in like packing and unloading. These are known as self-service moves.

If you’re worried about how much a small move will cost if you do it yourself, many companies offer their customers discounts, even for something as simple as booking their services online. And if you’re moving for work, it’s worth asking your Human Resources department if relocation assistance is available.

How Long Does a Small Move Take?

How long a small move takes largely depends on how far away your destination is and how much stuff you have. The more items you’re taking to your new home, the more trips you and the moving crew have to take into and out of the moving truck. If you’re on a tight schedule, especially for a cross-country move, some companies allow you to expedite their services.

A good “equation” for moving a small load is made up of loading, unloading, and furniture placement time added to drive time, each of which can take anywhere from one to three hours alone. From there, add the estimated drive time to that number to get a final ballpark timeframe.

When Should I Start Packing for a Move?

You should start packing for a move at least two weeks before your moving date. But it’s best to pack in stages so you don’t box up items you need. Make a plan that breaks down your belongings into categories from least used to most used. Then, pack in that order little by little until the moving truck arrives.

How Do You Move a Small Number of Things?

Moving a small number of things can sometimes be trickier than moving a large number of things, especially if you need access to all of your items up until the day you move. But moving companies like U-Pack, PODS, and 1-800-Pack-Rat let you load your things at your leisure and store your items on-site until moving day, keeping your most-used items within reach. 

Methodology

To find the best moving companies for small moves, our research team reviewed 19 nationwide services, collecting a total of 589 data points. Ratings were created by assigning weights to each of the 31 moving criteria we considered.

Our top picks received high scores in heavily weighted areas such as customer experience (23 percent), coverage and small-load capabilities (20 percent), moving services (20 percent), and pricing structure (20 percent).

The information presented here was verified by at least two data collectors through customer service calls. If we were unable to fill in data due to multiple failed attempts to contact a company, the company in question received a zero for any pieces of criteria that couldn’t be confirmed. For more details on our research process and scoring system, head to our complete moving methodology page.

best moving companies for small moves

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