Congratulations on moving! Not only does a new roommate await you but a new life with new adventures. But before you get there, you will have to find movers, obtain boxes and pack your belongings. Starting with finding movers, you will have to conduct extensive research that can actually be a smooth, painless exercise so long as you follow a few basic steps and stay on your toes.
1. Research movers. Ask for recommendations from family and friends, check out the phone book for local movers, and go to a website that offers free quotes from a list of prescreened quality moving companies.
Don’t always assume that a big van line is the best option; there are plenty of quality, independently-owned movers that can offer you a great experience at a reasonable price.
2. Start calling. Don’t accept quotes over the phone; the only solid estimate is one that you get after you have a representative from a moving company come to your home to look at your stuff.
However, you can use this initial phone call as a screening process to see if you’re comfortable with the movers — ask about the number of moves they conduct, whether they own their own equipment or contract out, how long they’ve been in business, and whether they’re a member of the American Moving and Storage Association.
None of their answers should disqualify them, but asking these questions is a good way to give you a glimpse of the type of company you’ll be working with. After talking to a handful of companies, arrange for at least three in-home assessments so you can get accurate estimates of how much your move will cost.
3. The in-home assessment. Show the moving company everything you plan to move. The more thorough you are in detailing what has to be moved, the more accurate the estimate will be. Also, let the estimator know about any factors at your home — or the home you’re moving to — that could complicate the move. A steep set of stairs to climb, for instance, might add to the costs.
Remember: Disclose everything so there are no surprises at the end. The in-home assessment is a good time to get a feel about the company you’re thinking of hiring — a quality estimator probably represents a quality company. You should also get a lot of information about the company, because this interview will form the backbone of your decision.
There are several factors that determine not only the price you will pay for your move, but the quality of service you receive. For example, some moving companies will negotiate for your business.
Above all, beware of the low-ball offer. There is such a thing as “too good to be true.” If an estimate is extremely lower in comparison to the others, you’re more likely to get hit up for costs later.
4. The estimate. Now that you have the moving estimate, be sure you understand it completely. The documents you get from the moving company should include the estimate, which could be a combined document that serves as your order for service and your bill of lading — be sure to clarify with your moving company.
For an interstate move, make sure the estimate has a description of the type and quantity of goods you’re shipping, the distance of the move, delivery dates, and any additional services you’ve requested.
A local move estimate (generally under 50 miles, but it varies state by state) won’t go by weight, but by hourly rate and any additional costs you’ll be responsible for; an intrastate move over 50 miles will be based on weight
During this process, you’ll also be asked to consider valuation coverage to protect your goods. You are covered up to the predetermined amount. Your existing insurance policies could cover you as well, be sure to ask your agent — but its barebones, so you might want more.
5. The final check. You’ve narrowed down your list of your movers; now you should check them out with the secretary of state, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make sure your mover is licensed and doesn’t have any problems with unresolved complaints.
6. Choose your mover! From your research, choose your mover based on the total package: the in-house assessment, estimate, services offered, insurance and experience.