If you’ve ever had to move homes as an adult, odds are it won’t shock you to learn that it’s been found to be more stressful than a break-up or divorce. There are so many opportunities for things to go wrong—from being unable to rebuild your furniture correctly or remembering which of all the boxes marked “kitchen” has the coffee maker, to being completely hopeless with rewiring all your electronics. And that’s after the time-consuming process of figuring out which type of mover you need and getting a reliable one. However, there are some steps to take to be proactive and make moving less of a horror story, though it may still fall short from being a fairytale.
- Understand which type of mover best suits your needs. There are two main types of moving companies: carriers and brokers. Carriers have fleets of trucks and movers on staff—they’re what most people think of when they think of a moving company—a direct provider of moving services. This type of mover is best for people who want to make absolutely, 100% sure that the company they chose is responsible for their things.
Brokers, on the other hand, are middlemen. They never actually even touch your stuff, but rather create a quote and contract it out to their partner carrier companies, seeing who’s interested in taking the job. This is great for consumers who’d rather somebody else take on the task of shopping around, or whose budget may mean they need the cheapest option they can find.
You may have also heard some other terms bandied around, such as full-service movers, or intra-state and inter-state. If your chosen mover advertises a full service, this means they’ll come to your home, pack everything up for you, transport it, and even reassemble your furniture for you! Be aware this usually comes with a corresponding bump in price. Intra-state means the company only moves within a specific state’s boundaries, whereas interstate means they can move you across state lines, say from Maryland to Mississippi.
- Make a budget—an honest one. However much the idea of a full-service mover may appeal to you, you need to take a good look at your finances before going crazy. After all, moves usually go hand in hand with other expenses, whether it’s a new home purchase or you’re just
- moving apartments—you’ll likely have to pay deposits on new utility contracts or purchase new appliances. Some have found that the average cost for locally moving a three-bedroom house is around $1,300, though this depends on where you live and how much stuff you have. Long-distance moving costs can climb to $5,000.
- Reputation, accreditations, and safety records. This is your life we’re talking about, after all, the sum total of all the things you carry around with you and that make your house a home. Make sure to look into company reviews, driving safety records with the FMCSA’s Household Goods Program website (the FMCSA database can also be used to check whether the company is insured), and look for the American Moving and Storage Association’s seal of approval.
- Get an estimate. Or three, really. This advice is standard across any big money decision. For movers, though, you need to be aware of different quote processes. While the best moving companies don’t offer estimates over the phone, only in person, some businesses do advertise the convenience of phone estimates—these should only be taken as very rough ideas, and never as the gospel truth. Phone estimates are generally unreliable because they haven’t seen your actual belongings, and the ultimate cost will depend on a lot on the combined weight of your move. That’s why you’ll find that often, an affordable quote over the phone will result in 30% or 40% overcharge, once moving day comes, your things are loaded into the truck, and actually weighed. And what do you do then? Either pay up or possibly lose access to your things. The issue is exacerbated because there are no consistent laws regulating this at the state level (though interstate moves are covered by federal statutes). There are also a lot of other factors that go into a moving quote as well, including the day of the move (weekends are more expensive), the distance being traveled, and whether there are stairs involved.