There are a variety of important factors that you have to take into account when you’re preparing for a move. In addition to gathering supplies and figuring out logistics, you’re also likely going to be looking into hiring a moving company.
Hiring movers is a great way to simplify the entire moving process. While it definitely ups the price tag, moving is back-breaking work, and there’s a lot to be said for the relief that comes with passing off the responsibility. Professional movers won’t just take the heavy lifting off your hands, they’ll also make the whole day run smoother and free up your time for other important moving day activities.
Throughout my many moves, I have always had an aversion to asking friends for help. As soon as I could afford it (and fine, even before I really could) I relied on movers to get my things securely packed, transported, and reassembled. And I never regretted it. While I could have gotten away with paying in pizza and beer if I’d just asked some friends or family members for moving assistance, the money I dropped on professional movers was always well spent.
Fortunately, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with movers, but there are horror stories. Heading to Google and typing in a quick search for “moving company near me” will get you a list of names, but you should do more digging than that when choosing who you trust with your most valuable possessions. Here are the 7 things you should always consider when you’re looking for a moving company.
Recommendations from people you trust
Google may not be the most reliable place to start your moving company search, but your friends and loved ones definitely are. You likely know quite a few people who have used moving companies in your area, so reach out to them and ask about their experiences and who they would recommend. It’s possible that someone you know had a bad experience with an otherwise highly-rated company, or was hit with a bunch of unexpected fees that aren’t listed anywhere on the company’s website. Likewise, perhaps someone had a wonderful experience with a relatively new company that doesn’t have a strong web presence. If you start with friends and family, you might glean some important insight that you won’t find online.
Once you’ve got the names of a few companies to look into, use online reviews to learn more about them. People generally leave reviews if they’ve had a really good or a really bad experience, and both of those are important to know before you hire a moving company. You can easily read moving reviews through Moving.com to learn about other people’s experiences with a company, and it may even clue you in on some important variables you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
A successful track record
There’s something to be said for giving a leg up to a new business, but a moving company that has been in operation for at least a few years is often the way to go. Based on information you find online, you should be able to discern a general idea of their record as far as being on time, keeping rates fair, and maintaining the condition of possessions. Unless you have a couple of really glowing recommendations about a new moving company, stick with the ones that have proven their competency over time.
License and insurance
Never use a moving company that isn’t licensed and insured. Any group of people can buy a truck and call themselves a moving company, but only those who are officially licensed and insured are legally bound to protect your property.
For interstate moves, movers are required to register with the U.S. Department of Transportation, after which they’re given a unique USDOT number. You can ensure a company has a valid DOT number, as well as insurance, by searching this database, provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Regulations for intrastate movers are on a state-by-state basis, though most states do have licensing requirements as well. Research intrastate licensing laws in your state, and then verify that your moving company abides by them.
To simplify the process of finding trustworthy movers, search our moving company directory, which features information about more than 600 reputable movers across the nation, including Better Business Bureau data and customer reviews. You could also search the American Trucking Associations’ ProMovers List. You’ll find a list of movers in each state that have already been vetted, so you know you can trust them.
When you call a mover to book service, they’ll give you a rate based on the number of hours and number of movers you’ll likely need from them. However, keep in mind that this is a base rate, and it doesn’t include additional packing materials you may need, potentially higher rates to move large, heavy objects, or other incidental add-ons. Moving companies can’t give you a set estimate on the phone, but they can give you a general idea of how much you’ll be spending. Be sure to ask about what constitutes an extra fee, and if the company isn’t forthcoming with the information, move on to somebody else.
A good fit for your individual needs
Every move is different. Whether you’re moving a four-bedroom house or a studio apartment, you need to make sure that the moving company you hire can accommodate all of your things. Think about your individual needs, and then ask the right questions to ensure you’re picking the right fit. Some things to consider are:
- Whether the company has a moving truck that is the right size to both fit all of your boxes and furniture and abide by any physical constraints of your property.
- Whether the company can provide additional packing supplies as needed, such as moving blankets, bubble wrap, garment boxes, etc.
- Whether the company is available in a time window that meets your needs and can guarantee pickup and delivery dates and times that are convenient for you.
Beware of rogue movers
Millions of people move every year, and while only a small percentage experience moving company fraud, it’s not unheard of. To verify a moving company is legitimate, check for an active license, look up their service records, and make sure they have a valid physical address (and not just a P.O. box). You also want to be wary of any mover that asks for a deposit, especially if they’re asking for more than 20 percent. The Federal Motor Carry Safety Administration offers additional tips for making sure that you hire a legitimate moving company.
Competition is fierce in the moving industry, and regardless of where you live, you’re bound to have quite a few options to choose between. Do your research, ask around, and don’t hesitate to look elsewhere if a company raises any red flags. Overall, you want a company with a proven history of safety, reliability, and high quality of service. You may only be using the company for one day, but a lot can go wrong. The more work you put into choosing the perfect moving company, the less work you’ll have to put into dealing with potential mishaps.