Choosing and Working with Movers
For many people anticipating a move, the decision of whether to hire a mover or move themselves is an easy one. The cost could be out of the question for some and for others, a do-it-yourself move, let alone even doing their own packing, is simply out of the questions. But if you’re at that point where you might consider hiring a mover, there are some important things to consider.
The cost of a move is based on distance, type of furniture, day of the week or month and access. If you are moving out of state, have lots of huge antiques, live on the fourth floor of a “walk-up” and can only move on Labor Day weekend, plan on paying top dollar and then some.
What’s going to move?
Before you start talking seriously with movers, think about the job you’ll be asking them to do. Everything in your current dwelling needs to find its way into one of three separate categories:
- Things to be sold at a garage sale or thrown out
- Things that the movers will move
- Things you will move yourself
Once you settle on what the movers will handle, it’s time to reach out to potential moving companies.
Call at least three moving companies to come to your home and provide you with moving estimates. The estimates are generally not binding, but some movers will give binding estimates guaranteed to be your final cost. The guaranteed estimate may actually be higher than a non-guaranteed estimate, but there won’t be any surprises if your move ends up taking longer than anticipated.
Packing materials can add quite a bit to the cost of moving. Whether the movers are doing your packing or you are doing it yourself, try to get used boxes from the moving company -- they should cost you about half as much as new.
Hire Reputable Movers
In addition to the estimates, consider the reputation of the mover. The lowest bid is not always the best choice. Wouldn’t you rather pay more and hire a reputable company that will stand behind their service? Check with local consumer protection groups if you're making a short move. If you’re making a longer move, contact the Interstate Commerce Commission. That agency can provide a summary of the most recent performance reports of the largest moving companies.
If you're moving to another state, the ICC requires the moving company to give you a document entitled "Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods." It details your rights and how to protect them. If you're moving within the state, check with the state attorney general for any regulations affecting the move.
Even when you use a professional mover, there are ways to cut expenses. If possible, avoid the peak summer season. Minimize accessory charges -- hooking up appliances and moving heavy furniture up more than one flight of stairs. Also, do as much of the packing as you can, but leave expensive and fragile items to the movers (for insurance reasons).
If you pack your possessions and move in a rented truck, your moving bill will be a fraction of the cost. You'll also increase the amount of work and worry for yourself.