The idea of moving all your stuff to a new house can be daunting whether it’s one street over or to the other side of the country. To make it a much smoother transition and one that isn’t so expensive, take the time to do your homework whether you plan on hiring a moving company or doing the work all yourself.
You basically have three choices of how to move:
Do it yourself
You rent a truck and do it all yourself with the help of some wonderful family members and friends. That means you pack it, unpack it, drive it and pay for the gasoline, hotels and meals along the way.
You might also have to rent extras like a dolly for bigger furniture, boxes and insurance. If you’ve never driven a truck, this might not be your best choice, but it could be your cheapest choice.
This is a good option if driving a truck makes you nervous. The company you choose drops off a trailer or truck to your home. You pack up your stuff, load the trailer and they come back with a driver to take the stuff to your next home.
But remember, you also have to unload the trailer, and what if you end up at a place you know no one? Moving a sofa by yourself up a flight of steps is almost impossible. If you are headed to a popular destination, sometimes the company will let you share the space of a bigger truck with other customers to save money.
They can do it all for you from packing up everything, packing the truck, driving it and then unloading it. Some have options of you packing all the boxes, too, to save some bucks.
No matter what kind of moving company you choose, movers are one of the top categories of companies searched on the Better Business Bureau website, bbb.org. The BBB Business Profiles list more than 20,000 moving-related companies.
The BBB offers tips on having a good experience with moving and avoiding scams:
Get at least three estimates
Show the mover all your stuff that will be moved. Keep your eyes open for really high and really low estimates. Don’t let them give you an estimate over the phone or by email. They have to see your stuff.
Do your research
Check with the bbb.org and the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) to identify movers that have pledged to uphold high standards of trust and to resolve complaints quickly. Also observe how long the company has been in business and read the reviews.
Get it in writing
Don’t sign anything until you read it thoroughly. Get copies especially the most important document called the bill of lading, which is the receipt for your goods and the contract for their transportation. Ask for written documentation of any special terms and conditions, complete costs, payment timelines and warranty information.
Know your rights
Interstate movers are required by law to provide you with certain information that explains the moving process, as well as your rights and responsibilities during and after the move. Ask for proof of licenses, insurance, etc.
Protect your possessions
Make sure that your mover provides full-value protection insurance for any lost or damaged possessions. Note that insurance is by the pound, so expensive items such as a flat-panel television may need additional replacement cost coverage in case they are damaged in transit. Find out what your household insurance will and won’t cover during a move.
Take your valuables with you
Cash, coins, jewelry, photographs and important papers should be taken with you or shipped separately using a shipping service with tracking numbers and insurance.
Things to do before you move
Create a file
Place all receipts, information about movers and lists of what you need to do. Many websites can offer free checklists of what to do for a few months before moving.
Take inventory of each room
This is the time to decide what you want to move, donate or trash. Just start with one room at a time to not get overwhelmed.
Use up food
Start using all the stuff in your freezer and refrigerator so you have less to move or throw away.
Mark the important boxes to be unpacked right away
Put a big red dot or star on those boxes that contain the essentials for the first night or so such as toiletries, coffee cups and coffee pot with coffee, and your bedding.
Notify your bank and credit card companies
Close out your bank account if already have a newly established account where you are moving, and make sure your credit card companies have your new address.
Keep boxes at the weight you can carry
Don’t over pack boxes and sacks. By the end of the day of unpacking, your arms will be exhausted. Also, pack items in containers you already have such as luggage, dresser drawers, storage ottomans, hampers and coolers.
Other ways to save money on the move
The best months to move are November through New Year’s according to Allied Van Lines. This could give you great discounts. Also, if you can coordinate moving during the middle of the month, you could also get lower prices. The busiest times are the beginning and end of months. The cost could be a lot less by choosing Monday through Thursday.