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How Do Gas Prices Affect the Cost of Moving?

Posted in Moving on Jul 11, 2022, tagged with moving tips

How Do Gas Prices Affect the Cost of Moving?

Whether you’re hiring professional movers, a shipping company, or planning a DIY move, higher gas prices mean higher moving costs. That may not seem like a big deal if you’re moving across town, but the costs could be staggering if you’re planning to move long distance. 

According to AAA, gas prices have risen 26.6% since January across the U.S. As of April 5, 2022, the national average was $4.17 a gallon—that’s more than 41% higher than April 2021. On June 13, 2022, the national average was $5.014—that’s another 20% hike in just 2 months and the highest price on record.

Diesel prices have also risen an astronomical 79% in the past 12 months. Since diesel fuels the trucking industry, the cost to ship your belongings long distance may have increased dramatically as well.

National average gas prices as of June 13, 2022:

Regular Premium Diesel
Current Average $5.01 $5.69 $5.77
Yesterday Average $5.01 $5.68 $5.77
Week Ago Average $4.87 $5.51 $5.65
Month Ago Average $4.43 $5.07 $5.56
Year Ago Average $3.08 $3.69 $3.21

Professional movers and rental truck companies have no choice but to factor in the recent increase in fuel costs into their quotes. They’ve always added surcharges for gas, typically between 10-20%, but now thanks to spiking gas prices, that surcharge is now about 20-30%. That means a long distance move that would have cost you $6,000 a few months ago could cost you about $7,000 now—not exactly chump change.

What causes gas prices to fluctuate?

So what exactly is making gas prices rise so high? Crude oil prices account for 56% of the cost of gas. The cost of crude oil is influenced by supply, current and predicted consumer demand, inventories, and geopolitical events, including international conflicts. Other factors that can affect the price of gas are the value of the dollar, varying taxes from one state to the next, as well as refining, distribution and marketing costs. 

What’s cheaper—professional movers or a DIY long distance move?

When it comes to gas prices, you’re going to pay whether you hire a moving and shipping company like TSI or you rent a truck and make the long distance move yourself. Let’s take a closer look at how each option breaks down.

Full-service moving company costs

According to the moving industry standard, fuel charges have traditionally represented about 10-20% of full-service moving prices (typically closer to 20%). With the rising cost of gas today, some moving companies have increased that amount to nearly 30%. 

Back in 2021, some moving companies claimed their fuel surcharge was about 11%, and that it has been increased in 2022 to 28%. What does that mean if you’re planning a long distance move?  A typical 2-bedroom move from New York to Florida costs roughly $4,500—that’s the base charge. Add an 11% fuel surcharge and you’re looking at nearly $5,000. But those were last year’s prices. If you add the 28% fuel surcharge today, you’d have to spend almost $5,800—an $800 increase. 

Take a look at some of these long distance moving costs today compared to just one year ago:

Origin Destination Mileage Base Cost 2021 Cost 2022 Cost Difference
Seattle, WA Miami, FL 3,296.9 $5,500 $6,105 $7,040 $935
Boston, MA San Diego, CA 2,997.4 $4,700 $5,217 $6,016 $799
New York, NY Los Angeles, CA 2,798.6 $4,500 $4,995 $5,760 $765
San Francisco, CA Austin, TX 1,757.2 $3,400 $3,774 $4,352 $578
Minneapolis, MN Phoenix, AZ 1,642.0 $3,000 $3,330 $3,840 $510
Phoenix, AZ Portland, OR 1,270.6 $2,800 $3,108 $3,584 $476
Chicago, IL Denver, CO 1,001.8 $2,600 $2,886 $3,328 $442
Dallas, TX Atlanta, GA 781.5 $2,500 $2,775 $3,200 $425
Cleveland, OH Nashville, TN 522.2 $2,200 $2,442 $2,816 $374
Philadelphia, PA Washington, D.C. 139.6 $2,000 $2,220 $2,560 $340

If you have a smaller home and fewer belongings to move, say less than a truckful of stuff, you could also consider shipping your belongings with a dedicated consolidated shipping partner like TSI. Depending on what you have to move and how much you are transporting, this option may be cheaper than full-service long distance movers. Here's how much you can expect to pay for consolidated shipping:

Departure → Destination 1 bedroom 2 bedrooms 3 bedrooms 4 bedrooms
California → Texas $3,837.05 $4,801.99 $6,284.84 $9,372.30
Washington → California $3,637.20 $4,542.22 $5,896.36 $8,761.46
New York → Florida $3,837.05 $4,801.9 $6,284.84 $9,372.30
Virginia → North Carolina $2,692.21 $3,291.73 $4,030.56 $5,865.68
California → Arizona $2,812.11 $3,454.48 $4,273.38 $6,241.37

DIY moving costs

If you think a DIY move might save you some cash on a long distance move, you could be right…but not at the pumps. Fully loaded rental trucks will give you about 8 miles per gallon. If you’re moving 800 miles (from Dallas to Atlanta, for example), you’ll need 100 gallons of gas. In June 2021, regular unleaded gas cost $3.078 on average—so your move would cost about $307.80 in gas. Today, at $5.014 per gallon, that same move would cost you more than $500. That’s almost $200 more just to fill your tank. 

Check out these gas price calculations for a DIY move in 2021 compared to 2022:

Here’s an easy formula to help you calculate how much gas money you’ll need for a DIY long distance move:

Miles / MPG x Gas Price = Minimum Fuel Cost

Since gas prices are on the rise so quickly, you may actually find that hiring a moving company will cost you less (in gas) than a DIY move. Moving companies set their rates months in advance, so if you book far enough ahead of time, you could be locking in lower gas rates.

But how do you know how much mileage your rental truck will get? Here’s a handy U-Haul® gas calculator:

Truck Size Fuel Type Tank Size MPG
10 feet Unleaded 31 gallons Up to 12
14 feet Unleaded 40 gallons Up to 10
17 feet Unleaded 40 gallons Up to 10
20 feet Unleaded 57 gallons Up to 10

How to save money on gas during a long distance move

While there may not be anything you can do about the price at the pumps, there are a few things you can do to save some money on gas when you’re moving long distance:

  • Choose the right truck. The larger the truck, the more you’ll pay in gas. If you’re planning a DIY  move, take stock of how much you have to move, then choose the right sized truck for your needs.
  • Lighten your load. The heavier the truck, the less mileage you’ll get. Check out our 8 Tips for Decluttering Before Your Move.
  • Slow down. The slower you drive a moving truck, the better fuel economy you’ll get. Try to keep it just under the speed limit.
  • Wait. A recent survey revealed that nearly one in five Americans are contemplating a move in 2022. While many moves can’t be postponed, if you’re moving long distance for no other reason than a change of scene, you may be wise to hold off until gas prices settle down.

Wrapping up

Whether you’re looking to hire a full-service moving company or you’re planning to rent a truck DIY, one thing’s for certain—you’ll pay at the pump either way, at least for the next few months. If history is any indication, you may see some relief after Labor Day. 

The TSI team of professional long distance small movers can help you relocate safely and affordably. From small local moves to large-item shipping between states, TSI has a custom-made solution to suit your needs. Get your free quote online today. 

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