What to Expect When Hiring a Moving & Storage Company

Moving into a new home can be a fun experience, but most people just end up feeling stressed by all the work involved in packing and moving your personal belongings. Besides vowing to stay in your one-bedroom apartment forever to avoid moving entirely (no matter how big your family gets), another alternative is to hire a moving company. Millions of people avoid doing this each year because they’re not sure what to expect, so here’s an overview to help you make the most of your next move.

1: Hire the Right Type of Mover

There are actually two different types of movers out there—interstate (between two states) and intrastate (within your current state). Hiring the right one matters, since interstate movers must have special federal licensing through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation in order to legally move you from one state to another. These national movers will often have facilities to help with storage as well, in case you cannot move into your new home immediately and have no place to keep your stuff. If your move is intrastate, be sure to check state regulations and licensing before hiring.

2: Start the Planning

You will need to know approximately when you’re going to move, and most movers will ask for about a four- to six-week window. It’s important not to procrastinate so you have enough time to do any light packing you were planning (to reduce costs), throw away items that you don’t want to move, and still have your home ready for the movers on your scheduled date.

3: Common Services

Different moving companies may offer different services or ways to customize your experience, but in general you can expect professional movers to offer some or all of these services:

• Packing your belongings at your current home
• Loading the moving truck
• Transporting your items to the new home
• Unloading the moving truck
• Unpacking your belongings at your new home

The middle three are pretty standard, while the first and last are ones that you might be able to change to keep costs down. The more movers do, the higher the cost, so doing some items on your own can keep costs down. Keep in mind that a company’s liability might change if you do some things on your own—for example, if items you packed are damaged in transit, the moving company is likely not liable for that.

4: Get Estimates

It’s important to get a free in-home estimate and not just an estimate over the phone, since final costs depend on total items and weight. If you estimate incorrectly it could add up to a lot of extra costs later. It’s also important that you get a “binding” estimate versus a “nonbinding” one, since the latter could change dramatically during and after the actual move. Compare quotes side by side to get an idea of which is best, making sure to ask about and compare the quality and experience of the company, the services offered, liability and other coverage, and any other fees not included in the quote.

5: Go With Experience

The moving industry can sometimes be filled with fly-by-night companies that won’t provide good service. Generally speaking you’re better off going with an experienced company that has been doing it for a while over a cheaper company that has only been in business a few months.

Taking some time to research your moving company in advance, and knowing what is and is not expected from a full-service moving company can ensure that the process goes smoothly and you get your items to your new home safe and sound.