Preparing for a move is often stressful and overwhelming, not to mention expensive. Below are some tips to keep in mind to make your move go smoothly when planning, whether making a short or long distance move.
Determine your type of move:
You have three basic choices: do-it-yourself, full service or a hybrid move. Doing a move by yourself is the cheapest method with only the cost of the truck rental, gas, packing material and maybe some lunch or dinner for anyone who helps.
With full-service moves, moving within a state is charged by the hour, while moving across state lines is charged by weight and mileage.
With a hybrid move, a mover will drop off a large container at your home for you to pack. The mover will then load the container onto a truck, drive the belongings to your new location and drop off the container for you to unload. Because you’re doing the manual labor of packing and unpacking, it’s far less costly than a full-service move. Also take into consideration tipping your movers $3-$5/per hour.
Hire a quality mover: If you do hire help, get at least three price quotes and do some research. Investigate a company’s reputation with the Better Business Bureau and a company’s complaint history at the federal government site. Look for two things when hiring a moving company: A full-service mover should visit your home in person, not give a quote over the phone or online, and should provide a written estimate, according to experts.
Declutter: No matter what type of move you’re making, taking less stuff is cheaper and less hassle. Set up a staging area, perhaps in a garage, with various piles, such as throw out, recycle, donate and sell. For many items, use the rule of thumb, ‘If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it.’
Be flexible: Like airline fares, moving rates depend on when you book. The busiest time for movers, and thus the most expensive time for consumers, is summer weekends near the 15th and 30th of the month. If you have time flexibility, ask what rates would be for different days or seasons. If you have extreme flexibility, ask about moving standby: waiting until the mover has extra space and needs to fill a truck.
Save on boxes and packing materials: Buying new boxes from a moving company is the most expensive choice. To save some money on packing materials, ask if you can buy used boxes from your moving company or find free boxes. Free boxes can be found from people who have just moved (your realtor can help you), or from various stores in your area that are throwing boxes away. If you’re packing your belongings yourself, start to fill suitcases, laundry baskets and plastic containers with unbreakable items. Use pillows, scarves and towels to wrap fragile belongings.
Mail books: If you have a large collection of books, pack them yourself and ship them at the postal media mail rate as it might be cheaper than paying a mover—a 70-pound box would cost less than $30.
Insure it: Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to determine whether it provides coverage for your belongings while in transit. If not, you’ll probably want more than the basic free valuation coverage a full-service mover provides. The standard valuation is 60 cents per pound per item. That means breaking a 10-pound, $1,000 stereo system would net you $6. You’ll want full replacement-value insurance, which reimburses you what it will cost to replace broken items. But don’t necessarily buy that insurance from the moving company. Moving insurance is likely cheaper from a third party, but be aware that you probably cannot get insurance on boxes you packed yourself.
Be prepared: Plot out where furniture and boxes will go before moving day arrives. The less time movers spend rearranging, the less expensive it will be. In urban areas, reserve a space or two in front of your new home for the moving truck by parking your own vehicle there ahead of time. If the movers have to park too far away to unload, you could incur a ‘long carry’ surcharge.
Stake your claim: If you’re moving for a job, negotiate the best relocation package you can. Unreimbursed expenses might be tax-deductible. For details, see Publication 521.