Moving can be hard and stressful, especially if you have a lot of things to move. Hiring professionals can ease the process, but it can cost a lot of money. If you are planning to move, there are specific steps you can take to save money when hiring movers.
I should know; I have moved six times since I came to the USA 30 years ago. Every time I move, I think I know what I need to do, but I always feel that I paid too much when it is all done. Our last move was from Los Angeles, California, to Dover, Delaware.
It was 2,724 miles. Let me tell you; it was expensive.
Well, we need to move again—this time from our home in the Dover area of Delaware to Lewes, Delaware. This is a local move, but I want to be ready to pay the least possible.
If you want to save money, book a professional service in advance, preferably in offseason. Pack whatever you can by yourself and get rid of any unnecessary items. Ask your friends and family for help and hire movers to do only those things you are unable to.
There are numerous tips and tricks to save money when hiring movers. Some may or may not apply to you or may not be practical to implement. Nevertheless, I think it is important to be aware of what you can potentially do to save as much money as possible when hiring movers.
Recognize Red Flags Of Moving Companies
Before we go over ways to save money when hiring movers, you first need to do what you can not to fall for a moving scam. Although the vast majority of moving companies are reputable, thousands of Americans report experiencing moving fraud every year.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that regulates the trucking industry in the United States urges consumers to be aware of the following red flags. You should question the moving company if you encounter one or more of them:
- The mover doesn’t offer or agree to an onsite inspection of your household goods and gives an estimate over the telephone or online — sight unseen. These estimates often sound too good to be true. They usually are.
- The moving company demands cash or a large deposit before the move.
- The mover asks you to sign blank or incomplete documents.
- The mover does not provide a written estimate (can be binding or non-binding).
- If you are moving to another State, the mover doesn’t provide you with a copy of the Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet and a copy of FMCSA’s Ready to Move brochure. Movers are required by Federal regulations to supply to their customers in the planning stages of interstate moves.
- The company’s website has no local address and no information about their registration or insurance.
- The mover claims all goods are covered by their insurance.
- When you call the mover, the telephone is answered with a generic “Movers” or “Moving company,” rather than the company’s name.
- Offices and warehouses are in poor condition or nonexistent.
- The mover says they will determine the charges after loading.
- On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck.
- The mover claims, “You’ve got more stuff than estimated!” Should this occur, be sure the mover provides a revised estimate that you both sign listing the additional items and/or services as well as a price that you both have agreed to and signed BEFORE they begin packing or loading. They should also provide you a copy of this new estimate.
The US Department of Transportation put together this video below, highlighting these red flags.
Tips for Hiring the Right Moving Company
In addition to keeping the above red flags in mind, do your homework before you sign any documents to ensure that you are hiring the right company for you.
- Ask for recommendations from neighbors, friends, and relatives
- Search the internet for negative online reviews
- Check with the Better Business Bureau
- Obtain estimates from at least three movers, and compare cost and services
Don’t Move in the Summer Season or on a Weekend
Now we are ready to talk about savings tips.
Thoughtful planning saves time and money in most situations, and moving is no different. Doing everything overnight will likely result in high expenses and a poorly done job. If you know you will move in a few months, now is the right time to start planning every aspect of it.
The month of May kicks off the busy moving summer season. According to recent moving industry trends, 47% of all moves for the year take place from May through August. You want to avoid these months if you can. The best time to hire movers is from late September through April. Demand during these months is low, and therefore you should be able to negotiate a better rate than during summer.
Unfortunately for us, the lease of our current house ends on August 31st. So, we will have to move in the summer to our new house in Lewes and pay a premium for that.
The day of the week you choose to move may also impact the price you pay. The same moving industry trends show that 55% of all moves take place during Friday, Saturday, and Monday. So, it would be best to move in the middle of the week Tuesday through Thursday or Sunday.
Ask Friends and Family for Help
If you plan ahead, you may use friends and family for help. Tell them weeks in advance so that they can plan their schedule accordingly. You will be surprised how many things you can do with just a little help. On the other hand, make sure friends and family don’t feel obligated to help you. You are better off paying some extra money than losing a friend.
Make Sure Your New Home is Ready
If you bought a new house as we did, make sure that all the works needed is done before your items arrive. There is nothing worse, and more expensive than keeping your belongings in a storage facility and hiring movers twice, instead of just one time.
Pack Everything Before the Movers Arrive
You think you are a pro and can pack everything the day before. You may be right, but if you are not, it may cost you dearly. Remember movers charge by the hour, and it’s not $10 an hour. So, give yourself enough time to pack everything you can before the movers come.
Get Rid of Stuff You Don’t Need
The additional benefit of packing ahead of time is realizing how many things you have that you don’t need. Identify three areas of your house to accumulate items to be donated, trashed, or sold.
Everything that is broken, used-up, or out of date, should be discarded. Instead of just throwing it in the trash, you may recycle it.
This is a great opportunity for you to be generous and live a more frugal life. Ok, maybe that’s no you. You know what I mean. In this pile, you may put anything from old clothes that are still usable, to furniture that you don’t need anymore. If you have extra food at home, donate it, or eat it. Transporting cans and similar heavy groceries cost more money than it’s worth.
You can also make a few or many bucks, depending on what you have and how much time you have. A garage sale may be a fast option. If you have more time, you can sell your stuff in Craiglist, E-Bay, or use a smartphone app like Letgo. I used Letgo when we moved from Pasadena, and it was fun.
Move as Much as You Can Yourself
This works well especially when is a local move like ours. We have about 40 miles and I bring stuff in our Jeep whenever I have to be in the area. These are relatively small items, like boxes with books, which we have a lot of them. Like fifty boxes.
I am not kidding; my wife accumulated a lot of books as a result of having three degrees. I only have one degree, which is good for the move. 🙂
I am hoping that our moving company will have to move only the big items of the house.
Disassemble All the Furniture if You Can
You should disassemble things like bed frames, tables, and other furniture that should be disassembled to the extent that you can. The movers will do it for you, but it will take more time. Thus, it will cost you more money.
I have moved six times since I came to the USA and have had a chance to talk to many movers and learned the typical mistakes people make while moving. Avoiding these mistakes will save you money.
- Not having everything ready – Don’t think you can pack everything on the day you move. Movers are fast, and there is no way you will be packing as fast as they will be loading. And it can result in additional men hours and expenses.
- Not listening to the mover’s advice – Maybe you think that a sofa should be loaded before the table, but they know how to optimize space in their trucks and prevent damage. Long discussions are time-consuming and can result in broken furniture you will be responsible for.
- Not giving clear instructions and updates – If anything changed in the last minute, tell everything to the movers. They should be aware of any fact that may affect the moving process. For example, the new house is still under construction.
- Hiring cheap and unreliable movers – Check reviews online, ask around. It is better to pay a reputable company a bit more than to pay for new appliances after the movers brake them.
- Not disconnecting all appliances – You should disconnect the appliances you are moving to your new home, such as refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers, and any entertainment system before the movers arrive. Your moving company may not want to do it themselves for safety purposes.
Additional Tips and Tricks
These are some other tips and tricks to help you ease the moving process.
- Cancel your cable, internet, or similar services. There is no point in paying an extra month of service for the old location.
- After everything is loaded, check the house/apartment thoroughly. You don’t want to leave anything behind.
- Buy boxes, tape, and bags in advance, and make sure you have enough.
- When buying those boxes, try to get used ones you can get on numerous internet sites or mobile apps.
- Have a bag with necessary items packed separately. Inside you should have clothes, a mobile phone, and a laptop if you have one. If you are using any medications, have them packed in that bag. That will enable fast-moving without digging through already packed belongings in search of something you desperately need.
- If you have original boxes for appliances like computers or blenders, use those.
- If you are moving long-distance, consider selling your furniture and buying a new one when you arrive. Crunch some numbers; it may be cheaper to sell your furniture and buy new one than transporting it. I should have done this when we moved from Los Angeles to Dover. Lesson learned.
- Think of your pets – Your cat or dog may get scared of the whole process and may try to scape or stress about it. You may want to contact a good friend to keep your pet during moving day. You can also keep your pet in a quiet room. When we moved from Pasadena to Dover, my wife and I took turns and kept our little corgi with us walking around on a leash. That worked for us, but it may not work for you.
And last, but not least, participate in the process. You know your house, and what is packed, and where. The whole process will go much faster if you help the movers. Do not expect them to know what is wrapped in a blanket and why it should be positioned on top.
I have created a quick video to highlight some of the tips. If you like this video, consider subscribing to the House Notebook Youtube Channel.
Our Selection and Choice of Moving Company
There is no standard way to select a moving company or any company for that matter. But we have to choose one of the many companies in our area. I created the table below to show you what criteria I chose to select our moving company. I wanted to have some objective reasoning to justify my selection.
|Hands on Deck Moving Company LLC||Keep It – Moving & Labor||On-Demand Services, LLC|
|# of Google Reviews||72||140||1|
|BBB Customer Reviews||N/A||5||N/A|
|BBB # of Customer Reviews||0||5||N/A|
|# of Yelp reviews||10||12||3|
|Written estimate |
(4 hours/4 men)
|Additional hour cost||$185||$190||$125|
|Expected final cost (based on 6 hours)||$1,235||$1,291||$1,004|
You could choose your moving company in many ways, but it helps to have some analysis to see why you are choosing one over another.
On-Demand Services, LLC doesn’t seem to have enough history based on the low number of reviews. Unfortunately for them, the only three reviews they have in Yelp are negative. Although they are the cheapest of the three at $1,004 for a 6-hour job, I don’t trust them.
I could have gone with either of the other two. Keep It – Moving & Labor is the strongest based on the data, although it is a little more expensive. What made me select Hands on Deck Moving Company LLC is not the price, which is almost identical, but customer service.
One of the two company owners called me right away and gave me a good feeling that they are the right choice.