by Collin Bass, uShip
In the U.S., the summer season running from May to August is the busiest time of year for relocation, as families take off from work and school. Even with a break from work to move, however, moving your home and everything in it can quickly become a stressful, costly and time-consuming task. Thankfully, by planning in advance and taking just a few basic precautions, you can avoid stress and delays. Here are our top five tips:
1. Consider your expenses
The first thing to consider before your move is how much you have to spend. By having a budget set aside for your move, you can determine which type of moving service you’ll need— whether it’s renting a trailer or truck and using a self-storage finder, or going with full-service, white-glove moving services.
Be sure to include the cost of packing materials, your fuel cost (especially important for cross-country moving), an estimate of the moving company’s fee, hotels and any additional insurance coverage. Keep in mind that many of these expenses are tax deductible. If you’re on a tight budget, but would still like to have your largest items transported professionally, you might be able to ship your furniture more affordably as less-than-truckload (LTL) freight.
2. Compare quotes and service levels
Moving companies kick into overdrive during the peak summer moving season and will often charge more when demand is high. So, it’s to your advantage to compare rates from different moving companies at different service levels. It’s not unreasonable to tell one company you received a better quote from another.
uShip’s online marketplace for moving companies makes comparing quotes from competing movers an easy process throughout the U.S., but you can also call to solicit quotes from companies in your area. Be sure to ask each company whether the quoted fee is binding or non-binding.
3. Check out your movers
By doing some basic research on your moving company, you can be sure that your belongings will be safe throughout your move. Unfortunately, fraud occurs in the moving industry among unlicensed companies. So before you do anything else, Google the name and location of any moving company to locate feedback from past customers, view any obvious reports of fraud and to verify Better Business Bureau accreditation.
Moving companies are also required to have US DOT license numbers and operating (Motor Carrier) authority. All legal movers should provide you with these numbers, which you can quickly verify on http://www.safersys.org. Legal moving companies should also provide liability and cargo insurance, so be sure to request a Certificate of Insurance as written proof.
4. Pack sensibly
If you’re boxing and packing items for your move, it’s important to organize, document and label all your stuff in a consistent way. By devising a plan of attack before you start, you can make the packing process go more quickly— and ultimately make loading and unloading the moving truck much easier.
Before you start packing, create an itemized inventory of everything you want to move, with separate sections for each room. Be sure to note any existing damage to your items, and take photos of anything that could be damaged in transport. Many moving companies will require an itemized list of items for pricing and the Bill of Lading anyway, so it’s helpful to take inventory ahead of time. With this list, you can also be sure if everything loaded on the moving truck arrives at its destination. Another quick tech tip: When your mover starts loading, position a camera (one with a lot of memory or stop motion) toward your front door. If for some reason, anything becomes lost in transit, you can compare your video with the itemized list and Bill of Lading.
As you’re making your list, you can start packing the items you use infrequently right away (books, decor, appliances). Pack large items and things you use frequently last.
If you’ve chosen a “self-pack” move, be sure to invest in the right packing materials. Your furniture and any large, unboxed items will need to be protected on all sides with thick blankets, foam, packing wrap and tape. When packing items in boxes, try to keep each one at a manageable weight under 75 pounds, so the box stays intact and your movers can handle it without the risk of breakage.
5. Store your stuff
If there’s any question about where you’ll keep everything in your new home, or if you haven’t yet found a place to live in your new city, self-storage is a great option. Movers will be happy to load your storage unit on your behalf, and you’ll be at ease knowing you have access to your belongings at any time while you locate a home.
Finding a self-storage unit (through SpareFoot, for example) is often a much better option than using storage containers. Although they’re convenient, transporting a portable storage container often relies on terminal-to-terminal freight transport. With cross-country moves, it could sometimes take weeks or months to see your stuff again. So, make it easy and have professional movers load an accessible self-storage unit on your behalf.
Collin Bass is a writer and social media specialist at uShip, the world’s largest and most trusted transportation marketplace for household goods, freight, vehicles and other hard-to-ship items.
Photo courtesy of TVGuide.com