Outside the Box: What to Find Out Before You Hire Movers

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Outside the Box: What to Find Out Before You Hire Movers

Whether you plan to move next month or next year, make sure you have your boxes in a row with these ten pieces of advice.

Moving is rough. In our experiences, movers have lost our photo albums, broken our TVs (and only given us fifteen dollars), and have been so late we’ve left town with our stuff in the hallway.

Plus, moving usually costs at least a few hundred dollars; when people move cross-country and have a lot of things, it can be as high as $10,000. No more horror stories. 

1. Ask if your estimate can be guaranteed.
There’s nothing worse than being charged more than the initial estimate after the job is done. Some movers guarantee that they won’t exceed their estimate, so ask specifically.

2. Understand your mover’s insurance policy.
Many movers will insure your items as part of the moving price. Find out whether they insure by weight or by an item’s value. (That’s why we only got fifteen dollars for our formerly-awesome TV when a mover smashed it.) First, read about different types of moving insurance, then ask about insurance policies when you compare movers’ estimates. To compare quotes, try a Web site like Moving.com.

3. Make sure there are no hidden fees.
Movers sometimes charge extra for unusually heavy items (like pianos), furniture that needs to be disassembled, gas lines that need to be disconnected, flights of stairs, and driveways that are too narrow (meaning that people have to shuttle your stuff to and from the truck instead of pulling up to the entrance). Ask about this when you get your estimate. Also, don’t forget to factor in a tip and cold drinks for the movers. For one or two movers, give at least forty to sixty dollars; if there are more than that, go with twenty dollars per mover. Add in extra if your stuff is heavy, if there are lots of stairs, or if the mover is really fantastic.

4. Verify the moving company’s valuation.
Read the moving contract for its estimated value of your belongings, and compare that to your estimation. If there’s a huge difference, then consider arguing for a different contract or going with another moving company.

5. Confirm accepted payment methods.
Not all moving companies accept credit cards, so don’t assume your does. Ask about your options for payment.

6. Get the deluxe treatment.
Many movers will supply you with packing materials as part of the cost of your move. So, before you buy yards and yards of bubble wrap, see if you can’t get your movers to include the cost as part of the whole package. (Unless you simply want those yards of bubble wrap for yourself.) Many moving companies are happy to deliver your boxes before the day of your move.

7. Learn to love wardrobe boxes.
Wardrobe boxes are our best friends. They’re great for bulky items that don’t weigh too much, like pillows, blankets, comforters, and hanging clothes. Before your movers come over, call ahead to ask the width of their wardrobe boxes. Figure out how many you’ll need by measuring the clothes in your closet and coat closet. Pack your clothes tightly so they don’t flap around or fall off hangers. You can also throw in bulky items like shoeboxes and baskets or containers, as long as you’re careful not to make these huge boxes too heavy.

8. Check credentials.
Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure that a major moving company is legit. In general, we recommend against going with a “man with a van” from Craigslist because you and your belongings will face a lot more risk. All the same, if you decide to go that route, the very least you can do is to check for reviews on websites such as Yelp. If your “man with a van” isn’t on Yelp, ask for references.

9. Be a taskmaster.
To make sure that the move goes smoothly, assign a color for every room in your new place and label boxes with each color so that the movers know where to put them. We also recommend designating a place for movers to drop the boxes, probably against the far end of a wall so that they’re out of the way. Move quickly and efficiently to save time and money, especially if you’re paying hourly.

10. Find out whether you’re eligible for a tax break.
If your move is part of a job change, you may be able to get a tax break from all your moving expenses. Read our rundown on tax deductions for moving expenses.

After all, it’s your belongings on the line. (Or, in the van.)

Originally published on LearnVest