Moving can be expensive. Even if you're only relocating across town, hiring someone to pack your items, drive them to your new home, and then unpack them again is quite an expenditure. Local movers typically charge about $25 per hour, and long-distance movers often cost much more. However, this does not mean you should overpay. It's important to make sure you're getting the best deal possible on your move -- and you can achieve that by following this five-step process.
Step 1: Start early.
As soon as you know that you will be moving, start looking around for moving companies that offer service in your area and in the area where you'll be moving. You can start looking around before you even have a confirmed moving date -- as long as you know the address of your new home. You can start making a list of movers to contact and then contact them officially when you do have an actual moving date in mind. The best, most affordable companies are often booked a few months out, so the sooner you sign a contract with a company, the better.
Step 2: Narrow down your list.
Once you have a list of moving companies compiled from references friends have given you and from websites you've discovered online, it's time to narrow down that list. You can do this by reading online reviews. See what people have to say about various moving companies on your list, and cross out any companies that customers have frequently commented are too expensive, hard to contact, lax on insurance policies, or unprofessional. (It does not matter how cheap a moving company is if you're not confident they'll get your items to your new home in one piece.)
In the end, you want a list of three to five moving companies that you are pretty sure offer affordable, reputable service.
Step 3: Call for estimates.
Call each of the companies on your list, and ask them to visit your home to provide an estimate. Do not settle for an estimate over the phone -- it's much harder for them to give you an accurate estimate if they don't physically see what you will be moving.
When the movers come to give you estimates, make sure you verify exactly what the estimate includes. Double check whether there will be additional charges if packing takes longer than planned or if the truck gets stuck in traffic.
Step 4: Compare your estimates.
The ideal moving company will give you a flat rate quote, which means that they will charge you that much for the move no matter how long it takes or what goes wrong along the way. However, some companies will give you a quoted rate per hour and then estimate how many hours your move will take. Comparing these two types of estimates can be tough. To do so as fairly as possible, calculate how much the by-the-hour companies will cost if they take three or four hours longer than they've estimated. This way, you leave some room for error in your comparisons.
Once you've made sense of each estimate, list the companies in order from least to most expensive.
Step 5: Choose your movers.
Start with the moving company at the top of your list. This should be the cheapest one. Read any information they have given you carefully, scour the internet for all of the reviews you can find on them, and decide if there are any cons to hiring this particular company. If not, give them a call and schedule your appointment. If there are some downsides -- and you're not willing to live with them -- move down your list to the next company. Ask yourself the same questions about them. Keep proceeding in this manner until you reach a company you feel confident hiring. This is the most affordable moving company that offers the services you need. You can now proceed with confidence that you have not paid any more than necessary for your move.
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