My husband and I decided five years ago (around the time I moved in with him) that the next time we moved, we would hire professionals to do the job. Yes, it costs more, but given the hassles, timing, and expense of doing it yourself, it’s worth it to us. Here are our reasons:
- We’re tired of wrangling friends to help us
- It takes far longer for non-professionals to do it
- It’s difficult to effectively estimate truck size if you don’t move often
- It’s easy to injure yourself
- It’s easy to damage furniture by lifting it improperly.
On our last move, my friend decided the best way to move a fragile IKEA entertainment center was to tip it on its side. We no longer have a fragile IKEA entertainment center, because it collapsed in the elevator. Note: we only live one floor up.
And finally, once you exceed a certain age, it’s sort of unseemly to go around begging friends to help you move in exchange for pizza. That age, for me at least, is 30. We’re way over that, so no more corralling friends for us.
But, hiring a mover can be daunting. Here are a few tips to help you find good movers:
How to Find the Right Movers
If you just need help moving a couch up some stairs, go to your nearest Home Depot or hardware store to find some day laborers. They’ll gladly move furniture for a small fee. However, I don’t recommend that for a full move. Instead, you’ll need to actually pay money to hire more qualified people.
Ask friends and relatives for referrals. Chances are you know at least a few people who have moved. Ask them to recommend someone. If you’re buying a house, your real estate agent may have a list of recommended movers, so ask for it.
Look for Online Reviews. With that list in hand, check on Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, and Angie’s List to see if they’re receiving complaints or bad reviews. Select only those with good records. You should also check MovingScam.com for more reviews.
Call to Schedule Estimates. Some movers will offer an estimate over the phone, but it’s difficult to gauge a true cost that way. There’s a big difference between moving the 3-bedroom home of a pillow enthusiast and moving the 3-bedroom home of a book collector. Show the estimator all rooms that will be included in the move, including attics, basements, backyards, closets, etc. You should also point out elevator or parking restrictions if applicable.
Get a Written Binding Estimate and Other Information. At the time of the estimate, request a written binding estimate. You should also request all the business names they operate under, their DOT license number, and complete contact information.
Review the Estimates. Review the estimates side-by-side. Lowball estimates aren’t always the best. Choose the one that seems reasonable and has the best reputation.
Contact the Department of Transportation. As a final step, contact the federal Department of Transportation (for interstate moves) to verify that the company is reputable. For in-state moves, contact your local Department of Transportation or Attorney General’s office. Your state’s website may also provide assistance. You should also check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website to confirm that they’re fully licensed for your move, don’t have an above-average claims ratio, and are properly insured. You can also call 888-368-7238 to see if there are additional complaints.
Help the Movers by Being Prepared. Finally, make sure everything is packed and ready to go on the morning of the move. Provide complete directions to your new address. Label boxes clearly. Get pets out of the way. Before leaving the house, ask the mover for an inventory, then make sure everything that went onto the truck comes off the truck at the other end.
Moving is stressful, but hiring professional, reputable movers may actually make it easier. And although it will cost more, you also won’t have to buy pizza at midnight when your friends finally finish helping you move. If your friends really want to help, invite them over to help unpack.