A Moving Story

Gotene, SWEDEN: Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria, in a folk costume, receives flowers from a young girl during Swedish national day celebrations in Lundsbrunn, outside the western Swedish town of Gotene, 06 June 2007.
About 20 million Americans will pull up stakes and move this summer, and 40 million in the next year. Financial adviser Ray Martin visits The Saturday Early Show with a few guidelines.

Perhaps the biggest decision that you have to make during your relocation process is whether you'll hire a moving company or do the move yourself.

In theory, a self-move may be easier and more economical. But, in practice, this is not always the case. Before deciding whether to handle your own move, here are some factors to consider:

  • Do you have time to do the entire job? Packing, loading and unloading, and driving can be very time consuming. Relocation is a process that cannot be left incomplete with hope of finishing at a later time.
  • How many items do you need to move? Larger residential self-moves are more difficult. There may be heavy furniture and appliances that need to be packed and loaded.
  • Are you physically capable of loading and unloading on both ends of the move? Assess your situation. Never take on a role too big or overexert yourself under any circumstances. Cross-country driving is very tedious.
  • Do you have family and friends who are willing to help? Always have people help you through the relocation process. Remember that safety is the primary concern. Anyone handling heavy furniture is susceptible to injuries, even professional movers. However, moving companies have liability insurance for their employees in case of injury. Obtaining extra insurance for your self-move would be more costly.
If you decide to hire movers:
  • Do your research, ask around, and check Web sites
  • Get written estimates. A tentative final bill of local moves is estimated using a simple formula:
    Local Moves: (number of movers + truck) x number of hours = final price

    Estimating moves is an inexact science. Many variables factor into how long a move will take. A professional estimator uses his experience from doing similar moves in order to figure out how many hours the move will require. His estimate includes the amount of time that will pass from the moment the truck first leaves the mover's garage until it returns after the job is finished. He will then add in the cost of boxes, tape and other packing materials, extra insurance/valuation and known incidental costs, such as road and bridge tolls.

Time is money. With local moves, time is everything. You can save hours off of the moving time if you can recommend a quicker route to your destination than the one your mover was expecting to take.

Before the move:

  • Have complete knowledge of your new neighborhood, apartment complex, and the route to your destination.
  • Get a person to accompany the movers during the packing and loading processes. This will keep their attention squarely on the job at hand. It will also help keep you informed, just in case your furniture needs to be disassembled, and you've been sanding in your new home wondering why the movers are two hours late.
  • Check your new area for the availability of suitable parking for the truck - one that will allow the movers to comfortably load and unload your items. Double-parking means the truck has to round the corner every so often and you'll be incurred additional charges.
  • Find out about any restrictions. Keep in mind most big buildings, especially in city areas, allow moves only between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Remind your movers to provide the necessary certificates of insurance. These documents protect the building against damage. Building superintendents will not allow entrance without them.
  • Make sure a suitable elevator is available.
For long-distance moves, the reputation of a moving company is one of the biggest factors in selecting a mover. Experience and capability should take precedence over price.

Long-distance and commercial move charges are based mainly on the weight of your items and the distance they need to be moved.

Here is the equation for a long-distance move: Weight of items + Distance moved

It just makes sense that moving a sparsely furnished four-room house from Atlanta to Baltimore will be cheaper than moving a 20-room house packed with furniture from Boston to Seattle.

Because weight is perhaps the biggest determinant of price for a long distance move, here is something you must know: The weight of your items is actually measured on a scale. Actually, the scale is for the truck. Before the move, the weight of the truck without your goods is measured. This is called "empty weight." The scales are usually located at the nearest truck stops or at the moving companies' facilities. You are allowed to accompany the driver to the scale during the weigh-in to ensure that everything is in order.

Make sure that your mover provides you with an "empty weight" receipt.

Pick up and Delivery Service (you pack, they drive) is a low-cost alternative to moving yourself. Under this plan, you arrange for the delivery of a trailer. Next, you pack the trailer yourself, paying only for the space you actually use. After you've loaded the trailer, a professional driver picks it up and drives it to your new home.

Here is more moving advice from Ray Martin.

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