Unless you’re moving into your first place, your belongings fit in the trunk of your car, and your friends are willing to schlep your boxes for free pizza and beer, your best bet is to hire professional movers. In six steps, here is how to choose a moving company and manage the process for the most successful move possible.
Choose your moving date(s). The busiest times for professional movers are the beginning and end of the month and on weekends, so moving midweek and in the middle of the month is ideal.
Research moving companies at least a month before. Ask friends and family for recommendations, do a Google search in your area, and check customer review sites. Make sure the moving company has a USDOT (US Department of Transportation) number and check online to confirm it.
Factors when choosing movers include:
- How much stuff needs to be moved
- How many valuable items you own
- The movers’ policy for liability of damaged items during the move
- Is payment a flat fee or do they itemize everything
- When and where you plan to move
- How soon the movers can deliver your belongings to your new place
Ask for an on-site estimate and get everything in writing. Ask the movers to do an on-site estimate of the total moving cost. Then ask for that estimate in writing, along with their USDOT number, insurance information, and the date and time of the move. Confirm this information a couple of weeks before the moving date.
Collect moving supplies. Get free boxes from grocery or liquor stores. Use towels, comforters, and newspapers for fragile items. Make sure you have packing tape, permanent markers, and special containers like wardrobe boxes.
Allow yourself ample time to pack. Give yourself at least a month. Start with the things you use the least. Reserve boxes and suitcases for stuff you use on a daily basis and will want to unpack first when you arrive at your new home.
Use the move as an opportunity to de-clutter. You don’t want to pay to move things you don’t need or want anymore. Donate the items in good condition to Goodwill or the Salvation Army and claim it as a tax deduction.
Arrange payment and tip. Depending on when and how you’re paying, be prepared to pay the movers and if you’re willing, you can tip for good service (10-15% of the total bill is standard.)