Moving can be really stressful, which is why lots of folks hire movers. However, finding a company that’s just what you need that will also work within your budget can be another headache. These tips will help you find a reputable company so things will go as smoothly as possible on moving day.
We’ll cover some of the basics, including how to find moving companies in your area that you can trust, as well as what to look for when making a selection. We’ve also included a list of questions to ask when contacting movers.
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The first step if you want to hire a moving company is to figure out which type you need. They’re typically classified based on the services they offer and the distance they cover. Others are also classified by the specific types of items they move.
How far you’re going will help you figure out which type you need. In this article, we’re focusing on the following main types of residential moving companies:
- Local: If you’re moving locally or within the same state, it’s usually best to hire a local moving company. They tend to charge less (usually hourly) than larger moving companies and often offer free estimates. Some might also do long-distance moves at a cheaper rate. Just keep in mind, because they might not do those types of jobs often, they might not have the same knowledge or equipment a long-distance company would.
- Long-distance: These companies help people relocate across several states or even the country. They typically charge based on the total weight of your belongings, the moving distance, and any additional services requested. The more stuff you have and the further you’re going, the more expensive it will be.
- International: This is who you call if you’re moving overseas or to another country. These companies offer services most others do not, like container and freight shipping.
In addition to distance-specific moving companies, you’ll also find some that market themselves as either “full service,” “moving labor,” or “labor-only.”
Full-service movers are professionals who provide loading, unloading, packing, and unpacking services, along with the truck and all necessary supplies. Because they provide everything for you, you’ll pay a higher price for the labor.
Moving labor professionals will load and unload, but don’t provide a truck. Renting one will be left up to you, but most movers will offer guidance and tips for doing so. Some moving labor companies provide packing and unpacking services, but it’s usually up to you to get all the packing supplies.
The rule of thumb with labor-only movers is that the more you rely on them to provide services, the more it will cost you. However, the more work you put in yourself, the less it will cost you. It’s perfect for do-it-yourselfers or anyone looking for some extra muscle to help get the job done.
Once you’ve determined which type of moving company you need, it’s time to choose one. Let’s look at some things you should consider.
Every move is different, so it’s vital to hire a company that will take care of your individual needs. Consider which services you require before making your choice.
Do you need help with packing, unpacking, loading, and unloading? Or, do you simply need some help moving a few pieces of large furniture? Do you want the company to supply all the necessities, or do you prefer to take care of those yourself?
Almost all companies have a website these days for both potential and returning customers. This is not only a convenient way to advertise the services they offer, but it also shows they’re willing to invest in their business.
You should be able to find quite a bit of the necessary info we mentioned previously on a company’s website, including the services it offers, available discounts, and contact information.
It’s also an easy way to funnel out any less-than-credible moving companies—no website, no dice!
Online customer reviews are super helpful, as people are most likely to report either excellent or horrible experiences, both of which can be extremely helpful to you.
When a company has some positive reviews, you’ll also get a better understanding of how the workers and company operate. This can go a long way in proving a company’s trustworthiness even before the job starts.
When you hire movers, you’re entrusting strangers with all of your personal belongings. Understanding how they work from other people’s experiences is a big help in the selection process.
Possibly one of the most vital factors in selecting a mover is checking that they’re licensed and insured. Holding an official license means the moving company is a legitimate business and that they are legally bound to protect your property.
All insurance policies are different, so be sure to inquire about what type they offer and the details about how the policy works. For example, most insurances don’t cover your belongings during transit, as this is a totally separate form of insurance, often called cargo insurance.
It’s a great idea to ask about loss or damage claims and how they are handled in case the situation arises. It’s not uncommon for smaller companies to ask that you pack and transport valuables, like family heirlooms, jewelry, and safes, rather than allowing the company to do it.
This is one way they can protect themselves and your valuables, by ensuring they are cared for and handled by only you, the customer.
Moving companies charge in a variety of ways, including hourly and by weight of your belongings. On top of that, you’ll notice most moving companies charge extra fees for additional services.
- Hourly: Most local movers charge hourly, based on the amount of time needed to complete the job, the truck needed, and how many movers are needed. You’ll find that most moving companies charge differently depending on how many workers they need to compensate. On top of that, there are usually travel fees, and minimums, which is the least amount a moving company charges even if it takes less time to complete that job.
- By weight: Long-distance movers typically charge by the weight of your belongings, the travel distance, and other additional services or supplies needed. The more stuff you have and the further you are traveling, the more it will cost.
- Extra fees: Additional fees differ from one mover to another. One business might lump everything into the hourly rate, while others charge depending on what you need. For example, many moving companies charge extra for moving large items like pianos, as specific equipment is needed for such a task. In addition, some companies will charge for additional packing materials like blankets, tape, boxes, and packing paper. Then, there are travel fees, a fee calculated to compensate for traveling out to the job.
Typically, movers start charging the hourly rate when they arrive at the first location and continue charging for the driving time between both locations. So if the second location is three hours away from the first, you’ll get charged for three hours of driving time. This is separate from a travel fee.
All moving companies run their businesses a bit differently. To ensure you fully understand how a mover operates, you’ll probably need to ask some questions.
Although we’ve already covered many of these above, it’s handy to have a checklist when you’re talking to potential movers. Feel free to use the list below to make sure you cover everything:
- Are you licensed and insured?
- What type of coverage do you offer?
- Do you offer full service or labor only?
- What’s your minimum?
- How does your company determine or calculate prices?
- Do I need to purchase my own supplies?
- Do you offer packing and unpacking?
- Do you have a truck, or should I rent one?
- What type of equipment do you provide?
- Do you require a deposit?
- How does your company handle damage claims?
- What’s your cancellation policy?
You might not need to ask all of these—most company websites will cover the basics. Just be sure to ask those related to the type of services you need.
It takes a bit of effort to find the right moving company to help you out, but ultimately, it’s way less work than dealing with a move gone wrong. A little research will go a long way toward avoiding damage and lost items on moving day.