The professional moving industry is an extremely competitive business. Moving companies have to entice consumers to select them if they want to make money and this and this can sometimes be done through the moving quote. What often appears like a reasonable quote from a professional moving company can turn into a final price that does not come close to what you originally budgeted. Asking the right questions up front and doing a lot of the “leg-work” on your own will save you time, aggravation and money.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of the six most common money pits you may not initially think of when you decide to move.
Moving supplies – The costs of moving supplies can get expensive and are normally not included in the move. Boxes, tape, markers, paper, and bubble wrap all add up. Boxes alone can run $2 and up; with the average eight-room house requiring more than 100 boxes, you are able to get an idea just how expensive this can be. Some moving companies will include a few types of boxes with the price of the move, but make sure you have them put that in writing. Another way to avoid hefty supply charges is to do the packing yourself. Buy the boxes and the packing material at a local store several days in advance (where they are probably cheaper) and get to work!
Moving Special/Heavy Items – Certain large or expensive items such as pianos, hot tubs, appliances, or heavy furniture might cost extra due to their weight. Be sure to ask in advance if you have a doubt or make sure the moving company includes the heavy lifting fees in the estimate so the movers are well prepared to lift the extra weight.
Insurance – Professional movers are legally liable for your belongings however the level of liability depending on the moving company varies. The “no-additional fee” option typically pays pennies per pound if your belongings are lost or damaged. Accordingly, it is wise to buy extra insurance which can tend to be expensive. Unfortunately, there is no easy “do-it yourself” way out of this one. If you want your belongings protected while someone else is handling them, you will have to pay for it and if you have a homeowners insurance or renters insurance policy, your belongings will not be covered during the move.
“In transit” costs - Longer-distance moves are usually subject to travel costs such as gas, tolls, lodging and meals. Be sure to have the mileage/gas is included in the quote provided by the moving company. Also, if you find yourself moving from one major metropolitan city to the next, there is often a surcharge.
Date and Time of Move – This is a huge area which consumers fail to recognize and it costs them a lot of money. Because leases usually terminate and start at the end and beginning of the month, respectively, moving companies get very busy around this time. Moving companies take advantage of this by charging more for moves at this time. Additionally, time of day can also influence the price of a move. An early morning move often costs more than one in the afternoon. The more flexible you are regarding the moving date, the easier it will be to find a better price. Further, moving during the winter could also potentially save you money as this is off-peak season.
Tipping – According to Realty Times, it’s customary to tip professional movers about $25 each (assuming you are doing a one-day local move – the longer the move, the bigger the tip). If you have 3 movers, which is the typical crew for a minimum job, this quickly adds up. You do not necessarily have to tip the movers, although if the move lasts throughout the day it would be nice to offer. Water and/or soda are also appreciated as it can get very hot when doing a move, especially in the summer.
Finally, remember to review the moving contract. If there is anything in the contract that is unclear or is not consistent with the quote that you received over the phone or online, be sure to ask questions. Signing something you don’t agree with could become a very costly mistake.
Moving can be a huge expense so the better prepared you are to deal with unforeseen issues, the better off you will be. Make sure to address the above and you will be in a great position to make informed decisions both before and during the move.
Published or updated February 16, 2013.