Here's how to avoid making errors.
1. No plan, Stan - Moving involves myriad tasks that need to be coordinated to make it all work. With no plan, you won't know what you need to get done, what help you'll need or how to go forward to get everything done.
2. No budget – If you have a lot of stuff or moving a long distance, you will likely have moving services that will cost into the thousands of dollars. Understand how these costs fit into your budget, and be sure to include travel to your new home, auto transport, temporary living expenses, etc. With a budget and a plan, you can go forward and shop for the moving services that fit both your needs and your budget.
3. Ignoring moving’s high season - Moving companies, particularly the good ones, get very busy in the summer. So the more you plan ahead, the greater the chance you’ll be able to line up a mover, and the more negotiating leverage you will have. The best deals for moving are likely to be found during the winter and during the second and third weeks of the month -- many renters will be leaving their residences at the beginning of the month when most leases are signeed.
4. Not getting quotes from several movers - The surest way to overpay is to not shop around. Moving companies know their competition; let them tell you why they are the best choice for you and get the information to make the right comparison and right choice for you.
5. Choosing a mover that substantially undercuts others - Quality moving companies tend to price their services in a reasonable pricing band. If one company prices its services significantly outside this band (25-40% less than other estimates), watch for two things: their estimates aren’t based on the same set of criteria -- weight, men and hours needed, etc. – as their competitors, or, even worse, you get a host of unexpected charges at the end of your move.
6. Not getting a binding estimate - Never let someone start your move without a written contact that indicates what services you will be receiving and how much you will be paying for them. If you do not feel comfortable with the estimate or the contract, don't sign it.
7. Failing to disclose everything to the movers – Maybe your apartment is on the fourth floor of a building with no elevator; maybe you actually DO want to move that metal shelving unit in the basement; maybe the street your new home is on is just a wee bit too small for the moving van.
None of these obstacles is insurmountable, but they WILL make your move more expensive; if you don’t tell the mover about them, you will be charged for it later. If a moving company is going to have to climb a bunch of stairs, or it’s going to have to transport items it didn’t account for in the estimating process, it is going to get weighed or carried at some point and it will end up costing you in the end.
8. Assuming it is easier and cheaper to move yourself - It doesn't sound like it would be hard but packing all of your items correctly, loading them into a truck and driving this truck to your new residence isn’t a picnic. It might take you longer than you ever expected, it will cost much more than you thought, and you probably won't be as happy with the outcome when it is all over. Moving is a specialized service involving industry specific equipment, supplies, trucks and staff.
Quality moving companies give very specific training to their moving crews and foremen that provide them with proven, best practices and techniques to best pack and transport your items. Proper packing and use of the right supplies and equipment can substantially reduce the risk of damage in transit.
9. Not understanding your insurance options – During a move, things can and often do go wrong, even with experienced moving professionals. In most cases, your household items will not be covered under your current homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy. Moving companies will provide released value protection if you do not pay for or elect supplemental insurance. Ask about it.
10. Not transporting your most valuable items yourself - Always carry important documents with you when you move -- items such as passports, wills, and financial documents. Other high value items such as jewelry and watches that can be easily transported should also be hand carried. Always back up your computer files just in case something happens to the computer in route. If you have an especially valuable or prized item (such as an antique or artwork), make absolutely sure that you oversee the packing. If you have any concerns with the way something is being packed, ask the movers for additional protection.
11. Not carefully checking the moving inventory - This document is proof that items that were packed from your residence made it on the truck. Go through this document carefully and make sure that you verify that everything was packed and put on the truck -- this also makes for easier packing. When your items arrive at your new residence, review the inventory checklist to make sure everything that you verified previously found its way to your new home.
12. Treating your movers poorly – Do you really want to get off on a bad foot with the folks who will be loading your possessions onto a truck, driving them hundreds or thousands of miles, and then unloading them in your new home? Being a mover is a tough job – it combines heavy physical strain with the need for a gentle touch. Think of these folks as your own personal protector throughout the move.