Why Do Moving Companies Charge So Much? Understanding the Real Costs

Why do moving companies charge so much? Well, there are several reasons for this, which we will discuss in this blog. It’s important to recognize from the outset that moving is never a cheap endeavor. It involves risks, careful planning, and significant time and mental energy from both the movers and the clients. Anything that demands time and brainpower can’t be considered inexpensive. Moving is akin to a project, and projects come with their associated costs. This is your first succinct answer to the question, “Why do moving companies charge so much?”

Britz Couriers & Removals George banner on Movers Magnet

In South Africa, the cost of moving can range from as low as R1,800 for a small local move to well over R100,000 for a large national business relocation. Moving costs are never one-size-fits-all because each move is unique. Hiring movers is an investment, and it’s crucial to understand the reasons behind their seemingly high prices. In South Africa, moving expenses can fluctuate significantly, depending on the size and type of the property. However, moving costs encompass much more than simply relocating belongings from one place to another; there are numerous factors at play. The true cost drivers of moving are volume, fuel, labor, time, and various other variables.

In this blog, we’ll go into what influences your moving costs in South Africa, the risks associated with moving homes or businesses in the country, and provide you with five practical ways to reduce your moving expenses.

By the end, we hope you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of why moving companies charge the prices they do.

Economic factors: Pushing up Moving Prices in South Africa

The South African economy has navigated a challenging path filled with potholes, presenting a series of economic hurdles. Over time, we’ve witnessed various issues affecting the nation, such as the ongoing Eskom electricity supply shortages. This severe electricity shortfall has not only disrupted economic activities but has also led to increased operating costs for businesses. Many companies have resorted to costly diesel generators to maintain their operations.

Moreover, the cost of fuel has seen a steady increase in 2023, adding to the economic strain. Prices for various types of fuel have risen, including:

  • Petrol 93 – up by about 77 cents per litre
  • Petrol 95 – up by about 83 cents per litre
  • Diesel 0.05% – up by about R1.65 per litre
  • Diesel 0.005% – up by about R1.62 per litre

This surge in fuel prices has far-reaching consequences, particularly for industries reliant on diesel, like the moving sector. As moving trucks predominantly run on diesel, it’s inevitable that the escalating diesel costs will be mirrored in the prices of moving services.

Inflation and Labor Costs

The price of goods in South Africa has been on a notable upward trajectory, making life more expensive for consumers. What R3,000 could buy in 2022 might now only cover half the expenses. To ensure that moving companies retain a highly motivated and skilled workforce, they have had to increase employee wages. Maintaining an energized and motivated workforce is pivotal to the success of any moving company. Just imagine a mover struggling due to hunger while handling your valuable belongings – not a good image, right?

Supply Chain Disruptions

South Africa has witnessed some unsettling incidents, including the burning of trucks on the roads. This presents a significant risk to furniture removal companies, as these disruptions can lead to delays, damages, and loss of goods. Moreover, such incidents may also result in increased insurance costs, as insurers grapple with mounting claims. Consequently, the rise in insurance expenses may, in turn, drive up moving prices. Truck arson incidents in South Africa have shown a worrisome trend, and the year 2023 has seen some of the worst cases.

5 Non-Economic Factors that Increase Your Moving Quotes in South Africa

When it comes to understanding the factors that influence your moving quotes in South Africa, it’s not just the economic aspects that come into play. Non-economic factors can be equally impactful, and clients should consider them when planning a move. Each move is unique, essentially a project in itself, and moving companies tailor their quotes based on the specific scope of the project. Here are some non-economic factors that can significantly affect your moving quotes:

1. Distance and Volume

The distance of the move and the volume of items being transported are fundamental considerations that greatly affect the cost of your move. It’s a basic rule of thumb – longer distances and larger volumes will naturally result in higher moving costs. 

In South Africa, movers commonly base their quotes on the volume of your belongings, with volume being the primary consideration. The more goods you have to move, the more you can expect movers to charge you. Likewise, a move from Durban to Cape Town won’t cost the same as a local move within Johannesburg

2. Seasonal Demand

Moving costs can vary depending on the time of year. Peak moving seasons, typically during the summer months, tend to drive up prices due to increased demand. Toward the end of the month and the end of the year, the moving and storage industry in South Africa experiences a surge in activity. This often aligns with the conclusion of leases, where people relocate to new homes and new job opportunities arise. As people need to move before the start of a new month, moving companies become busier during these times. Consequently, moving during less peak periods in South Africa, such as mid-month, can often be more cost-effective. Some companies even offer discounts for moving during these off-peak times.

3. Geographic Locations

The cost of living and conducting business varies across different areas, and this can impact the price of moving services. Urban areas, with their higher living costs, often result in higher moving expenses compared to rural areas. In some cases, it may be challenging for a large truck to navigate in certain areas. In such instances, moving companies may partner with local, smaller movers who have smaller vehicles. This might involve a transfer of furniture from the larger truck to a smaller one, a process often referred to as “shuttles.” These arrangements can drive up your moving costs.

4. Overhead and Operating Costs

Running a moving company involves various overhead expenses, including office space, administrative staff, marketing, and other operational costs. These costs are naturally factored into the final price you receive. Smaller moving companies in South Africa often have lower overheads than larger ones. Some of them provide high-quality service at competitive prices, making them an attractive option for cost-conscious clients.

5. Supply and Demand

The cost of moving services can be influenced by the dynamics of supply and demand in a particular area. In regions with fewer moving companies, prices may be higher due to reduced competition. Additionally, specific routes and destinations may have higher demand than others. For example, the Johannesburg to Cape Town route is typically busy, with many long-distance moving trucks carrying loads to Cape Town but fewer loads returning to Johannesburg. In some cases, moving companies might offer lower prices because they have empty return trips. This underscores the importance of comparing quotes from various companies, as platforms like Movers Magnet enable you to find quality companies offering competitive prices, often due to these supply and demand dynamics.

Risks Associated with Moving

The question lingers – “What are the risks associated with moving?” and “Why do moving companies charge so much?” The answers, to a large extent, are intertwined, as the inherent risks often drive up the costs of the moving process. These risks touch not only clients but also the movers themselves, creating a dynamic where both parties must carefully weigh their actions and expectations.

For Clients
Damage to Belongings: One of the primary concerns for clients on a move is the potential for their belongings to be damaged during the transition. Even with the most meticulous handling, unforeseen accidents can happen, and valuable or fragile items may suffer breakages or damage. Clients often rely on moving companies to have comprehensive insurance coverage in place to protect against these unfortunate losses. It’s crucial for clients to discuss insurance and replacement considerations with the moving company before the move commences. Don’t hesitate to ask the necessary questions to ensure your peace of mind.

Delay in Delivery: Delays in the delivery of belongings to the new destination can be a source of immense disruption and stress for clients. These delays can stem from various factors, including weather conditions, traffic, or scheduling issues. In such instances, clients may find themselves burdened with additional costs for accommodation and other related expenses. Delays in delivery can have life-altering consequences, especially in the case of long-distance moves. Just imagine a scenario where you’ve moved to Johannesburg for a new job, and your first day of work is fast approaching. But your moving truck is nowhere to be seen. Such situations have led to considerable hardships for some individuals.

For Moving Companies

Damage to Client’s Belongings: Moving companies shoulder the responsibility of ensuring the safe transit of their clients’ belongings. However, there’s always a risk of accidental damage during the move. This can result in potential claims from clients and increased insurance premiums. Consequently, these increased expenses can lead to higher operating costs for the moving company, and ultimately, these costs may be passed on to the clients in the form of higher moving prices.

Worker Injuries: The physical demands of moving are considerable, and employees may be at risk of injuries while lifting heavy items or navigating challenging spaces. These injuries can lead to worker compensation claims, driving up labor costs for the moving company.

Vehicle Accidents: Moving companies operate a fleet of vehicles for transportation, and accidents involving these vehicles can lead to damage to the company’s assets. This, in turn, may result in increased insurance premiums and potential legal liabilities. These factors can have a direct impact on the overall cost of moving services, which could, again, influence moving prices.


Why Do Moving Companies Charge So Much? It is not Unique to South Africa

People across the globe, not just in South Africa, often find themselves questioning, “Why do moving companies charge so much?” Moving is undoubtedly a costly venture on an international scale. As highlighted by The New York Times, “Moving is Wildly Expensive.” These expenses can place significant strain on individuals and families, including the hardworking people of South Africa, who are already grappling with the increasing cost of living, marked by rising prices for essentials such as food, fuel, and electricity.

To compound these financial challenges, external factors like geopolitical tensions, market fluctuations, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have emerged. The incessant rise in fuel prices and interest rates has further heightened the financial burden, pushing some individuals to make difficult decisions, including downsizing their homes or, in extreme cases, facing the risk of losing them.

The truth remains that moving is an undeniably substantial expense, one that often catches us off guard. Therefore, taking a proactive approach and seeking out comparative quotes is imperative. Particularly with South Africa’s recent interest rate hike aimed at combatting inflation, the significance of financial planning has never been more evident.


In conclusion, the pricing structure of moving companies encompasses a multitude of expenses directly related to the exceptional services they provide hence “why moving companies charge so much”. While it may initially seem steep, investing in a reputable moving company often proves to be a wise choice to safeguard your cherished possessions.

The crucial takeaway here is the significance of comparing moving quotes. It empowers you to find the ideal quote that aligns with your budget. Paying a slightly higher fee for a reputable mover can translate into peace of mind during a stressful period and safeguard against potential damage.

In summary, moving can be a costly endeavor due to a plethora of factors, but entrusting the job to a professional moving company can ultimately save you money and alleviate stress. Whether your move is local or long-distance, prioritize the comparison of quotes to ensure a seamless and cost-effective transition.

Scroll to Top
Movers Magnet South Africa