Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (2023)

Post updated on May 12, 2022

In late 2020, BigSteelBox conducted a Canada-wide survey to examine customer satisfaction with the long-distance moving industry. A long-standing problem that the industry continues to grapple with is the perception that long-distance movers are constantly charging more than they actually do. But is this really the case? That's what we wanted to find out.

With overcharging as a central theme, the research objective was to learn more about the experiences of Canadians who have traveled at least 500 km in the last 24 months and to answer these questions:

  1. What kind of services do people use to commute long distances?
  2. Does billing by weight affect how often customers are overcharged?
  3. If you were moving with a traditional full-service moving company, did you know they would be billed based on the weight of your belongings?
  4. How was the weight of your items estimated?
  5. Were your quotes correct once the move was complete?

This article examines our findings from this long-distance moving survey, provides an insight into the moving trends we've seen over the past few years, and highlights some of the challenges long-distance movers face.


  • Long-distance search highlights
  • Long-distance transport has skyrocketed!
  • Why are so many Canadians moving to a new city?
  • How do most people move to a new city?
  • Why do most long distance movers charge by weight?
  • How accurate are weight-based mobile offers?
  • How many customers on the road didn't know they were billed by weight?
  • How much does a bid variance cost Canadians?
  • Pricing model for long-distance moves that gives you peace of mind

Long-distance search highlights

After analyzing the responses of 400 respondents to a survey conducted bySenti Market Research, we found that there is good news, bad news and some surprises that we didn't expect.

Here are the key findings of our research, which we will take a closer look at in this post:

  • 19% of respondents did not know they were billed by weight (more on that below)
  • 36% did not knowThe moving cost was based on the weight before booking
  • 30% overchargedthan stated, even if the carrier made a personal visit for the quotation
  • Among those who based their estimation of switching costs on weight,33% were overchargedthan expected (these customers were three times more likely to rate their experience negatively)
  • 91% of respondents ratedYour movement as 'good' or 'excellent' regardless of the detection problems encountered
  • The average annual growth of changes within provinces is 1.47% (data from 2016 census) compared to what we have seen for changes between provinces performed by BigSteelBox124% increasevon 2019-2021

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (1)

Long-distance transport has skyrocketed!

Before we dive into the poll results, it's important to take a look at some recent dataFernumzug in Canada, and the trends we've seen in 2020 and 2021.

From mid-2020 to late 2021, BigSteelBox saw a huge increase in the number of long-distance moves we perform for clients across Canada. Since 2015, the average annual growth in the number of our long-distance trips has been 12%. However, from 2019 to 2020 the increase was 33% and we expected a 25% increase from 2020 to 2021*.

Total number of BigSteelBox long-distance moves per year

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (2)

Compared to the 5-year compound annual growth rate of 1.47% in intra-provincial relocations reported in the last census in 2016, this suggests that there has been a significant increase in relocations. Of course, this comparison does not take into account our growth in market share, but it is further proof of the significant growth in long-distance transport.

Things have changed significantly since 2016 and the start ofThe COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an influx of long-distance changes– mainly from larger cities to smaller centers that many real estate agents have already seen up close.

We see that, but it's only part of the puzzle...

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (3)

Why are so many Canadians moving to a new city?

A popular theory supporting why Canadians are moving from big cities to smaller centers is attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which initially forced people to work from home. And then, even after restrictions were eased, many employers continued to offer the option to work from home.

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (4)

We see a lot of people from Vancouver and Toronto taking advantage of their more expensive homes.

“Now that many industries are becoming permanent workers from home, we are seeing an influx of people from Vancouver and Toronto who can capitalize on their more expensive homes and spend a smaller portion of their wealth to come to the Okanagan and live that dream . Lifestyle. It's a win for them.”

Rick Hamer-Jackson, Kelowna real estate agent - RE/MAX

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Ultimately, this change in the way we work and the widely accepted option of working remotely has given people more flexibility to live wherever they want, even if it means moving to a new city or to draw province. As such, many people have chosen to relocate to smaller cities and towns for a variety of reasons, including a lower cost of living, being closer to family and friends, and a more relaxed lifestyle.

If you are considering this type of move, read this post:6 tips for moving to a small town or smaller town

Although there is not yet much data available to support this theory, home sales hit an all-time high in 2020-2021. This is best illustrated by statistics published by theCanadian Real Estate Association(CREA). The chart below shows monthly home sales over the past 10 years, with a 10-year low in April 2020 and an all-time high in April 2021.

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (5)

How do most people move to a new city?

When people need to move to a new city or province, traditional moves still seem to be the most commonly chosen method. In our survey, we asked participants how they moved, and the three most common answers were:

1. Complete moving service:

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (6)These are movers that offer packing/loading and unpacking/unloading services and transport your items by truck.

These moves typically allow 1-2 days of packing at each end of your move and take 8-18 days to transport depending on distance, yet require minimal effort on the part of the customer.

Full-service trucking quotes are usually based on the estimated weight of your items (with or without a personal home visit), but the final bill reflects the weighed weight once the truck is loaded and on the road.

2. Rented moving truck or trailer:

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (7)

This method is completely DIY (do it yourself) unless you rent packers/loaders separately from your truck rental.

These types of trips are charged based on the size of the truck/trailer rented, the time taken and the distance traveled. Moving with a truck or trailer gives you less time to move - typically just 1-2 days to load and unload at each end - and requires more effort on your part.

Truck and trailer rental quotes are based on rental length and mileage, but remember they do not include fuel costs. It's also a good idea to know the additional costs if it takes longer than expected.

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3. Moving container:

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (8)This method is partly DIY as you will have to pack/load and unpack/unload the container yourself unless you hire movers separately. A container shipping company will deliver a container to your current home and transport it to your new home for you, eliminating the need to drive a large truck or tow a trailer long distances.

This method gives you more time to complete your move, since most companies charge a fee for hiring a movermove containerper month so you can drop it off in time for your move and keep it for as long as you need it in your new home.

Container moving companies like BigSteelBox calculate and charge based on the size and number of containers you need and how far you are moving. So if you don't need any more containers or your transport distance changes after you've made the quote, the quoted price is the price you pay.

Our survey showed that most people still choose a full-service moving company for their long-distance moves, followed by truck and trailer rental. If you want to know more about the costs of different long-haul options, read this post:What is the cheapest way to travel through Canada?

Why do most long distance movers charge by weight?

If you check theWikipedia page on shipping costs” you will learn everything you always wanted to know about transport costs and how to calculate them. Weight is an integral part of most shipping cost formulas, which look like this:Fee ($) x distance x weight

Given that long-distance moving is closely related to the transportation industry, and most companies use long-distance trucks to move their customers' belongings, it makes sense that the industry primarily charges by weight.

Sometimes they include other variables such as mode of transportation (ship, rail, truck, plane), priority and volume of cargo, but these elements are usually a factor in the "fee". It is common in the moving industry to have ranges of distances that affect “rate”. Shorter distances have a higher rate per kilometer.

In many ways, billing by weight is better for the consumer. Knowing that weight is the measure that determines the final cost allows customers to make more informed decisions about whether or not to transport really heavy items with the rest of their belongings. Your grandma's antique cast iron sewing table might hold great sentimental value, but it's a lot heavier than a more modern machine and will add weight to your load - so keep that in mind!

Billing by weight can also be a confidence factor for consumers. All commercial vehicles with a permissible total weight (GVW) of more than 5,500 kg must appear at the weighbridge. This means that the consumer must have confidence in the final weight displayed on the scale.

Knowing that the scales never lie and will determine the final price you pay for a weight-billed move, it's no surprise that the final bills don't match the budget. The challenge for movers is to underestimate the weight to make your offer look cheaper than your competitors'. Our research shows that this is the exception rather than common practice.

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (9)

How accurate are weight-based mobile offers?

Now that you know WHY companies charge by weight and what moving methods base prices on weight, the big question is how often weight-based moving quotes are accurate, or more importantly how often they are accurate.inaccurate🇧🇷 Here's what we found:

Inaccurate weight estimates are common

Our research has shown that weight-based move estimates are still the primary method used by traditional movers to quote customers. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has made in-person estimates much rarer, even quotes from companies that made home visits before making a move quote were often inaccurate.

This is what our study found:

  • Citation inaccuracy ranged from 30 to 39%, regardless of the citation method (phone consultation, list of provided articles, or home visit).
  • Of those hauliers who had a telephone consultation to estimate their contents, 39% paid more than stated
  • Even when the carrier had an in-person visit from a company representative for a quote, they were charged 30% more than stated.
  • When the changer submitted a form or content list, they were billed 30% more time (the same accuracy as a home visit by a representative).

It's all too easy to look at the 30% inaccuracy statistic above and think the estimators aren't doing a good job, but that doesn't do them any favors. In contrast, 61% of telephone inquiries are correct or overestimated, and 70% of listings and home visits are correct or overestimated. This means that most time estimators are conservative in their approach.

The problem is that this exercise is extremely difficult to perform with a high degree of accuracy. If the client forgets a few heavy items on their list, or the home inspection misses an outside shed or storage space under the stairs, the budget is obviously underestimated.

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Despite the fact that most estimates are accurate, the margin of error when underestimating the weight is still very small (the average in these cases was only 13% of the reported weight).

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (10)

We now have reliable technologies for estimating mobile offers that were not available ten years ago.

"The moving industry has been able to handle long-distance moves for almost a century, but now we can use software to simplify and capture relevant information to create an accurate flat rate."

Stu Starkey, President of Two Small Men with Big Hearts Moving

There are many reputable movers (that charge by weight) that will take additional measurements and use technology to help them get the most accurate estimate possible.Two little men with big heartsPresident Stu Starkey recognizes the uncertainty some customers feel about long-distance moving costs based on weight.

"One of our main goals is to make the move less stressful," says Starkey. “Our team performs over 10,000 changes annually in Western Canada alone, allowing us to continually learn about our customers' most common issues and concerns. Two Small Men has a history of innovating with our solutions: For example, at our Western Canada locations, we are experimenting with long-distance moving flat rates to give customers peace of mind.”

Starkey also credits advances in technology with improving the accuracy of Two Small Men's quotes.

"With easy access to cost-effective digital solutions, we are able to offer our clients and movers proven, reliable technology that simply wasn't available a decade ago," continued Starkey. "The moving industry has been able to handle long-distance moves for almost a century, but now we can use software to simplify and capture relevant information to create an accurate flat rate."

The positive news here is that the moving industry is doing better than we expected and that some companies are taking steps to make quotes as accurate as possible, but it's clear there are still issues and improvements that need to be made. The best way to avoid unexpected expenses after completing a full service move is to ask the company you are working with as many questions as possible before signing a contract.

You can even request prices based on larger weights to be prepared for different scenarios. This should also be easy to do yourself as the estimated weight will be stated in your listing along with a tax/cwt on the items (CWT = cost per 100 pounds). By changing the estimated weight and multiplying it by the rate/cwt you can see how much more (or less) you will end up being charged.

learn more aboutHow to compare quotes from moving companies.

How many customers on the road didn't know they were billed by weight?

Perhaps the most troubling issue our survey uncovered is that some long-distance customersI don't know they are charged by weight, or youdoesn't quite understand what it means to be billed by weight.

For mobile subscribers who ended up being charged more for the weight of their content, the data showed the following:
  • 36% were unaware that the cost of their move is based on weight before booking.
  • 19% didn't know they were billed by weight until they received the bill.
Among all engines supercharged by weight (not just the supercharged ones):
  • 25% only discovered this after booking.
  • 10% was communicated upon receipt of the invoice.

While this certainly doesn't sound positive for the moving industry, it should be viewed with caution.

There will always be people who are confused or just don't pay attention to offers and contracts. While people who were surprised to be billed were more likely to report a bad experience, the industry still had very high levels of satisfaction in the survey, regardless of how they were billed.

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Even if the satisfaction scores are high, it is still very important for companies to understand that they need to make this much clearer in their quoting and billing process.

How much does a bid variance cost Canadians?

Our research showed that 29% of Canadian long-distance movers who use any moving method were charged more than what they were charged. This markup was typically about 12% (or $250) higher than what they expected based on their original bid.

Of those whose moving costs were based on weight, 33% of respondents were overcharged. In this group, the typical markup was 13% (or $400) more than the original quote. And 90% of the time, the additional cost was at least partly because your content weighed more than estimated.

Long Distance Moving Survey Reveals Good and Bad News for Canadians (11)

We're pleased that our research has shown that extreme "heartbreaking horror stories" are fairly rare.

“There is a general perception that the moving industry can be unreliable and regularly overcharge clients. However, the fact is that most people have positive experiences with change. We are pleased that our research has shown that extreme 'heartbreaking horror stories' are actually quite rare."

Brian Hawkins, Operations Manager, BigSteelBox

So while some movers don't have policies that offer compensation for damaged goods, which can also contribute to the higher end cost of a move, the underweight scenario is often the source of the "moving horror stories" that often make it to the office press. and create distrust in the industry. And while satisfaction can be quite high, as our poll results show, unfortunately, a hard-hitting story that gets a lot of media coverage can undo years of goodwill.

While there are clearly areas for improvement, we view the results of our long-distance moving survey as positive for the overall moving industry due to the following key factors:

  • Overall customer satisfaction is very high, regardless of the type of service: 91% gave it a 4 or 5 star rating
  • A high percentage of the citations were correct: 61 to 70%, regardless of the method
  • The average overhead value was relatively low: 12-13% depending on the listing method

All in all, we're very happy that our research showed that these extreme "heartbreaking horror stories" where the final bill is $1,000-$2,000 over the offer are the exception rather than the rule.

Ultimately, people will choose the moving service that best suits their needs, and we hope this research into moving industry fees and how Canadians feel about their previous moving experiences will help them make more informed decisions. .

Pricing model for long-distance moves that gives you peace of mind

At BigSteelBox our pricing model is all inclusive. Our offers are not based on weight as long as the customer does not exceed the maximum content weight of 10,000 pounds (the average content weight of a fully loaded 20ft BigSteelBox is approximately 7,500 pounds).

The price shown does not change unless customers require more containers or something changes in relation to the distance they are moving. We strive to be as transparent as possible in our pricing and ultimately to make the switch as smooth as possible for our customers.

If you think a BigSteelBox would be a good fit for your long distance move, we're here to help!Request your free quote onlinenow or call1-800-373-1187.

The data presented in this article is the result of a survey conducted bySenti Market Researchin December 2020.

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