State of the Moving Industry 2021

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State of the Moving Industry 2021 in San Jose 

If you’re like so many thousands of people, you are looking to move in the near future. Please don’t be surprised if your moving company of choice is not easily able to accommodate your needs.

There are many reasons why moving & storage companies may be having trouble keeping up with demand here in San Jose and surrounding areas:

  • June-August remains the busiest time of year for moving individuals and families.
  • Moving companies looking to buy or lease new trucks are experiencing issues due to computer chip shortages and new fuel emission standards.
  • Industry-wide labor shortages are debilitating local and independently-owned moving companies.
  • Major slowdowns around ports and US customs are restricting access to people looking to move and ship their items.

We will discuss the challenges that moving companies must overcome in order to be successful.


COVID-19 and other factors have contributed to the reduced workforce for all moving companies. The moving industry is stripped of its workforce even though wages for non-managerial employees were raised 14% nationally in 2021 according to the Washington Post. Due to the average age of Long-Distance drivers being 62 years old, the industry immediately lost 15% of our drivers. This was due to drivers taking early retirement or deciding to hunker down and wait till things were safer, and they felt more comfortable crisscrossing in and out of multiple states.

People are experiencing troubles they would not normally have with a fully-staffed moving company. Jesse Newman of the Wall Street Journal featured Debora and Brian Roland of California in early 2021. The couple hired a moving company that promised the move would be completed within 6 to 12 days. After 4 weeks, their items were still undelivered and the home they just bought remained unfurnished. Simply put, the moving industry is overbooked and undermanned. You should be mindful that the trend will continue beyond 2021.

As in the case above beware of companies that may be over-promising delivery dates. A professional company will be upfront with you about these dates, but we still find some salesmen just simply overpromise to make the sale. 

Peak Season

Industry-wide, moving companies are accustomed to the peak moving season. There’s a strong correlation between when school is let out for the summer and an increase in demand for moving companies. June-August moves are scheduled 4-6 weeks in advance for local moves and even longer for long-distance. The non-peak season is usually booked 2-3 weeks in advance. Of course, if you call last minute you might find your favorite mover has an opening, but it’s safer to schedule as far in advance as possible to secure your preferred date.

Keep in mind since the COVID outbreak things have been a bit different. With children participating at home for school, and parents working from home, the normal busy months are busy but “busy season” started earlier this year and we expect it to continue well into October.

In a normal year moving & storage professionals recommend scheduling your move during non-peak season. People looking to move find there are usually benefits to scheduling a move between September-April. Typically there is a price reduction that we have not seen yet and dates are more flexible which again we have yet to see this season.

Appointments will fill up quickly for the best moving companies, so be sure to do thorough research on companies you’re considering:

  • Check reviews on trusted review sites like Google, Yelp & BBB.
  • Make sure the company you are hiring has a physical address near you and not just a pretty website.
  • NEVER hire a broker. Brokers simply farm the move out to a company that may or may not have a good reputation. Most reputable companies do not need to engage a broker to find work. Go directly to the source and hire an actual company, not through a third party.

NOTE: Lugg are NOT trained, professional movers. Anyone with a truck of any size (pickup or van) is able to register and they send that person jobs to do. Lugg is also expensive. They are charging per minute so, in the end, you are paying professional rates and not getting a professional mover.

Do your research. The Department of Consumer Affairs reported more than double the number of mover-related complaints between March and December of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Complaints included:

  • Moving companies that take your money and don’t complete the move.
  • Moving companies that hold your stuff hostage until you pay an exorbitant fee for unfinished services.
  • Moving companies that provide a super-low estimate to get your business, then overcharge you upon delivery.

Do your research to avoid hiring the wrong moving company.

Supply Chain

Moving companies rely on their fleet of trucks to move every client. New trucks have been built but are sitting in a lot because they don’t have the computer chip needed. So, no one can purchase new trucks at will.

Trucks are also being taken off the road, regardless of the milage because according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), by January 1, 2023, all trucks and busses operating in California must have at least a 2010-year model engine. This policy will require companies to retire many perfectly functional trucks. Moving Companies are scrambling to make sure they are not left with a depleted fleet but remember the first line above – there are few new trucks available to purchase.

CARB: This is a much bigger issue than people realize and adding to the supply chain issues. Both public and private companies are having to sell perfectly good trucks to other states because California doesn’t want vehicles on the road with engines older than 2010. These trucks are simply being sold to other states. No one is saving the planet it’s simply creating a hardship on many California companies, private as well as public entities are suffering.

This has also created a situation where Long Haul Drivers are refusing to come to California. A truck coming into California has to be retrofitted with air quality “stuff” at a cost of more than $30K per truck in order to enter. As an independent driver why come to California when they’ve got 47 other states to service.

Long Distance Moves

There are many reasons why people move out of state.

  • New employment opportunities
  • Moving home to be closer to family
  • More buying power for a bigger less expensive home
  • Overall lower cost of living
  • Better quality of life
  • Retirees moving to their dream home out of State

According to MoveBuddah, California dropped in population between January 2020 and January 2021. The first-ever population decline in the state’s recorded history. High costs of living and a statewide housing shortage, a slowing birth rate, and COVID-19 are all contributors to this loss of 180k residents.

With many more people moving out of California than moving to, moving companies began experiencing logistical struggles. The volume of outbound California moves is many times higher than the inbound moves creating a major issue with efficiency as many moving companies make return trips with empty trucks.

Your move may take longer to get from point A to point B during this time. Make plans that allow you to be without your belongings for a long period of time. Be mindful that the best and most professional moving companies are committed to providing you a quality moving experience, but there are just things beyond even the best companies’ control right now.

If you’ve hired a moving company that is experiencing logistical struggles, it’s important to be considerate of their challenges during this difficult time.

Borders and Ports

COVID-19’s impact on how we move internationally is significant. COVID-19 has put a halt to many things but moving isn’t one of them. People are continuing to relocate internationally for many of the same reasons people move out of state. Employment opportunities, closer to family, cultural experience and of course the biggest sector relocating is still retirees.

Moving internationally takes in-depth planning. Consult with an experienced international moving company and they will guide your move from start to finish. A professional international mover will handle the move from start to finish including customs paperwork, packing, loading and unloading directly into your new home no matter what country you are moving to.

Here are some tips that professional international movers suggest in the weeks leading up to your move:

  • Keep your important travel documents in your carry-on, separated from the rest of the household items. You’ll want easy access to passports, tax documents, visa information, immunization and medical records, pet medical records, travel insurance.
  • Check your mobile phone plan and add an international plan to your service if needed.
  • Contact your credit card companies to see who charges a fee for out-of-the-country purchases. You’ll want to take advantage of companies that don’t charge those fees.
  • Create a bank account that is local to the region where you are moving.

There are many slowdowns at ports and border crossings into the United States. Worldwide, several countries like the United States, China, Canada, Australia, implemented restrictive measures on ports and harbors aiming to curb the spread of COVID-19. The same restrictions were placed at border crossings.

If you’re moving internationally, understand your move may have more slow-downs compared to pre-COVID-19. The best advice we can give is to be patient with your moving company and be courteous to the volume of moves they deal with annually. You should be prepared to be without your items for longer than normal so plan accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Moving companies across the industry are all experiencing all the same issues related to staffing, peak season, COVID, supply chain, CARB, congested Ports.

Therefore make sure you:

  • Research moving companies early
  • Schedule early
  • Stay away from Brokers and other sites that sell leads
  • Do not shop price
  • Be patient with regard to schedule
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