The 3 Best Santa Cruz Movers (Based on Customer Reviews, Cost, and More)

By Jon Stubbs

Posted on January 17th, 2023

3 Best Moving Companies | How We Chose | Best Overall | Best for Range of Services | Best for Moving on a Budget | Cost of Movers | Avoiding Scams

best moving companies in Santa Cruz

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Hiring a full-service local mover in Santa Cruz costs, on average, $2,730 for a 3-bedroom home. This is more expensive than the national average of $1,963, but for people who don't want to (or can't) deal with moving heavy items on their own, it's worth it.

A three-bedroom home requires four movers working for about eight hours to complete the packing, loading, hauling, and unpacking process. Your bill will include labor charges of about $50 per hour per mover, a fee for the truck, and the cost of packing supplies. Don't forget to budget for a 10–20% tip for the movers.

We researched 648 Santa Cruz movers and ranked the top three to help you decide where to start your search.

🚚 Ready to get moving? Compare top moving companies near you, get custom quotes, and see all available discounts. 100% free with no obligation. Get started now!

3 Best Moving Companies in Santa Cruz (at a Glance)

What We Like
Avg. Customer Rating
Golden Bay Movers
Best Overall
4.7 (633 reviews)

NorthStar Moving Company
Best for Range of Services

4.5 (2155 reviews)

San Francisco Movers
Best for Moving on a Budget

4.8 (554 reviews)

Our team spent over 100 hours researching moving companies across the United States. We started with a list of more than 25,000 moving companies, then narrowed it down by eliminating companies that:

  • Were not registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA)
  • Had fewer than 10 customer reviews
  • Didn’t have a website
  • Had a relatively high number of safety and service violations according to the FMCSA

The remaining companies were ranked based on the following metrics:

  • 5x: Average customer rating across all platforms (Yelp, Google, Angi, etc.)
  • 4x: Total number of customer reviews (more reviews indicates a more reliable average rating)
  • 3x: Total count of out-of-service violations (as indicated by the FMCSA)
  • 2x: How many drivers a company has on staff per vehicles it has registered
  • 1x: Whether a company is full-service or only offers labor services

Each metric was normalized and then graded on a 100-point scale. The combined weighted average of the scores determined the final ranking score.

We also mystery-shopped to gather quotes from more than 150 moving companies and surveyed our team members β€” who have moved more than 300 times collectively β€” on what was most important to them when choosing a moving company.

We recommend full-service movers for people who can budget at least $300 for a one-bedroom apartment and at least $1,600 for a three-bedroom home.

Full-service is helpful if you have large, complicated things to move, can't carry heavy stuff, or have a busy schedule (which may include closing on your new home). Likewise, if you don’t have friends and family available to help, hiring experts can make your move much quicker.

Full-service moving typically includes:

  • Packing your items
  • Disassembling furniture
  • Loading the truck with your items
  • Delivery to your new home
  • Reassembling furniture

If you feel comfortable doing some of the heavy lifting and driving yourself, consider DIY moving or using labor-only movers who help you load your rented truck. DIY will certainly save you money (but maybe not your back).

3 Best Moving Companies in Santa Cruz

1. Golden Bay Movers: Best Overall

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.7 (633 reviews)
🚚 Reliability Rating
β›” Out of Service Violations*
πŸ’° Typical Cost**
Call for estimate

πŸ›£οΈ USDOT Number
*Between 2020–2022, FMCSA
**Estimate based on a move distance of 5–20 miles from a 3-bedroom home

We consider Golden Bay Movers the best local moving company for Santa Cruz residents because of its over 30 years of experience and wide range of services. In online reviews, customers praised its quick, efficient, and friendly team β€” even during tough jobs. Some clients left negative reviews about specific staff members, damages, and scheduling conflicts.

Golden Bay Movers' services are available throughout the Bay Area. It offers full-service residential, commercial, and long-distance moves, as well as labor-only services and storage solutions.

We gave Golden Bay Movers a medium reliability rating, as it only has one driver per vehicle. This can cause potential delays if a worker calls in sick on the day of the move.

⚑ Quick Tip: We recommend getting custom quotes from independent moving brokers. These services are free to use with no obligation and make it easy to compare multiple options to find the best fit and value. Get instant quotes here.

2. NorthStar Moving Company: Best for Range of Services

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.5 (2155 reviews)
🚚 Reliability Rating
β›” Out of Service Violations*
πŸ’° Typical Cost**
Call for estimate
πŸ›£οΈ USDOT Number
*Between 2020–2022, FMCSA
**Estimate based on a move distance of 5–20 miles from a 3-bedroom home

NorthStar Moving Company is one of our top recommended movers in Santa Cruz because of its wide range of moving services. In online reviews, past clients praise its professional and personable team and the efficient services it provides. Rare negative reviews mostly revolve around damage claims.

NorthStar Moving Company services the entire California area. It also has branches in Arizona and Texas. It offers full-service residential, commercial, and long-distance moving, as well as international moves and storage solutions. It even handles celebrity moves and high-value items like art and pianos.

Although it has several vehicles, we only gave it a medium reliability rating for having less than two drivers for each vehicle. This can cause delays if an employee can’t come to work at the last minute.

3. San Francisco Movers: Best for Moving on a Budget

⭐ Avg. Customer Rating
4.8 (554 reviews)
🚚 Reliability Rating
β›” Out of Service Violations*
πŸ’° Typical Cost**
πŸ›£οΈ USDOT Number
*Between 2020–2022, FMCSA
**Estimate based on a move distance of 5–20 miles from a 3-bedroom home

San Francisco Movers is our recommended moving company if you want an affordable yet exceptional mover. We were quoted only $1,560 for a 3-bedroom move, which is much cheaper than the city’s average of $2,730.

Previous clients praised its moving team for being professional, efficient, and personable. Those that left negative company reviews cited item damages, miscommunications that led to delays, and confusion with the payment process.

San Francisco Movers offers full-service residential, commercial, and long-distance moving, furniture moving, packing and unpacking services, and storage solutions throughout the Bay Area.

We gave San Francisco Movers a medium reliability rating for having a one-to-one ratio of drivers to vehicles. This could cause delays and scheduling issues if a worker is absent on the day of the move.

Next Steps: Compare Moving Companies in Santa Cruz

How Much Do Movers Cost in Santa Cruz?

Full-service movers in Santa Cruz typically cost $468 for a studio apartment, $2,730 for a 3-bedroom home, and $4,886 for a 5-bedroom home. If you're moving long-distance within California or leaving the state entirely, expect additional charges.

Each move is unique, and your particular cost will depend on the circumstances of your home. For an accurate quote, contact a local moving company with the details of your move.

Typical Cost Breakdown

The cost of your full-service move depends primarily on four key factors:

  • Size of your home
  • Number of movers and hours you’ll need them
  • Driving distance from door to door
  • Charge for use of truck (if not included in hourly rate)

At base, most companies charge an hourly rate per mover, then tack on additional fees for other factors.

Home Size
Number of Movers + Hours
400–650 sq. ft.
2 movers, 4 hours
700–1,000 sq. ft.
2 movers, 5 hours
1,100–1,500 sq. ft.
3 movers, 6 hours
1,600–2,000 sq. ft.
3 movers, 8 hours
2,000–3,000 sq. ft.
4 movers, 9 hours
3,000 sq. ft. or more
6 movers, 10 hours or more
Source: "How Many Movers Do I Need?" moveBuddha

Don’t forget to tip πŸ’Έ

It’s common courtesy to tip your movers 10–20% of the total cost. For a three-bedroom home, that could be upwards of $300.

Other Things That Could Increase Your Cost

Circumstances and challenges specific to your move could cost you more money.

πŸ•°οΈ Timing

Companies often charge higher rates for weekends, holidays, and jobs that require movers to work overtime.
🎹 Specialty items

Moving pianos or other heavy and awkward pieces might require additional time and movers.
🧳 Packing supplies

Extra bubble wrap for fragile items, large wardrobe boxes for clothes, and other packing supplies can add up. Save by providing your own.
πŸ“¦ Unpacking service

Some companies offer unpacking as part of full-service moving. You can save money by doing this yourself.
🏒 Difficult circumstances

Stairs, narrow hallways, elevators, and distant parking can incur additional time and fees.
πŸ—οΈ Storage

If your new home isn't ready, you'll need to store your items until you can move in.
πŸ›‘οΈ Insurance

If your renters or homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover transport of your possessions, you can buy insurance from your moving company or a third party.

How to Get a Quote

You can get a quote from most movers by calling or filling out an online form to provide details about your home.

For the most accurate estimate, ask the mover to stop by your home in person or virtually to take a look at your belongings. This will allow the mover to take note of more complicated items, such as antique furniture or extra heavy items.

Alternatively, a moving broker can do the work for you, providing a quote from a carrier in your area.

How to Avoid Moving Company Scams

Check your mover's Federal registration. You can check the company's registration, violations, and complaint history by searching on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.

Look for complaints on the Better Business Bureau website. Searching the company's BBB profile can give you an idea of what kinds of complaints have been filed against the company and how the business resolved them.

Understand your rights and responsibilities. By law, every interstate mover must provide documentation about your rights as a consumer and the mover's responsibilities. Make sure you read it carefully!

Know about your insurance options. If you're moving within the same state, your mover may offer you coverage, or you can purchase a moving insurance policy independently. According to Federal law, interstate movers must offer two different types of valuation coverage: full value protection and released value.

🚩Common red flags

  • The movers provide a low estimate over the phone without visiting the home or seeing the goods to be moved.
  • The moving company insists on cash or a large deposit before the move.
  • The mover does not provide a written estimate.
  • The company's website doesn't provide a local address or any information about its registration or insurance.
  • The mover asks you to sign blank documents.
  • The mover claims you have more items than the original estimate.
Source: FMCSA

If you notice one or more of these red flags when researching a moving company, it's probably best to avoid it.

How Far in Advance Should I Reach Out to a Mover in Santa Cruz?

If you're moving locally within Santa Cruz, look for a moving company about one month before your move β€” or two months ahead of time if you plan to move during the peak season of May through August. For interstate moves, start looking two to three months out, depending on the season.


We drew from the following sources to write this article:

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Posted in Moving