How to Plan for a Long-Distance Move
If you’re getting ready for a long-distance move, you have a mile-long to-do list. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to even begin. Let’s walk through some of those to-dos together. We’ll tell you what to look for in a mover, how to understand your moving quote, and how to pare down what you need to move. Once you have these in place, things will go a lot smoother.
Find a Reputable MoverIt’s never too early to find the right moving company. Start researching movers once you know the basic details of your move—when and where you’re going. You don’t need the exact dates pinned down. The last thing you want is an unreliable moving company. There’s too much at stake—namely everything your own—when you are making a long-distance move. You can do two things to ensure you find a reputable mover. Ask for referrals. Nothing beats a recommendation from someone who’s had a positive experience. Look for ProMover Certification. The American Trucking Association offers ProMover certification for moving companies that meet their standards. Certified companies must pass a background check and agree to ethical business practices. Scout out two or three moving companies to call. Conventional wisdom says to get three estimates, but time is precious. If you find a company you like on your second call, and they’re certified, you may decide to save yourself an extra step. That being said, don’t skimp on asking questions of your potential movers. A note of caution: Be sure to work with brick-and-mortar movers—in other words, real moving companies with a real place of business. Avoid moving brokers. Moving brokers are salespeople. They book your move and earn a commission. Often, they assume no responsibility if something goes wrong with your long-distance move. They sometimes undercharge on the initial estimate, leaving customers unprepared for the final cost.
Schedule Your Home SurveyReputable moving companies offer either an in-home or virtual survey of your belongings. This is another way of weeding out potential problems for yourself. Good movers want to know exactly what they need to move so they can give you an accurate quote.
Understanding Your Moving QuoteOnce a mover has surveyed your home, they should offer you a written quote. The quote should offer details about the specific costs of your move. Moving quotes have a lot of unfamiliar terms. It helps to understand a few.
- Valuation is the value that is assigned to your belongings in case anything gets damaged. There are two options for how to assign value.
- Full valuation offers the most complete protection. Full valuation means the moving company will repair, replace, or reimburse customers the full value of their belongings if damaged. You’ll pay a fee for full valuation, but it’s worth the peace of mind.
- Release Value Protection is the minimum value that a moving company can offer. It’s 0.60 cents per pound, which doesn’t add up to much. It would never replace your electronics.
- Binding contracts hold the moving company to their original estimate of the weight of your belongings.
- Non-binding contracts mean the original estimate is just that—an estimate. The company waits until everything is on the truck before they calculate the final cost. This can be more or less of the initial quote.
- Binding not-to-exceed means that the company won’t charge you more than the estimate, but if the weight of your belongings is lower, you’ll pay less.
Decluttering Your BelongingsEverything, everything, everything about your long-distance move will be easier if you pare down your belongings. Your moving quote is based upon the weight of your belongings, plus the time it takes to move everything. It stands to reason, then, that the less you have, the less it will cost. A couple of things to keep in mind before you declutter: You’re moving away from what’s familiar. Having familiar belongings with you can provide comfort. This is especially true for kids. Aim for a balance between paring down the stuff that’s dragging you down and holding onto stuff you really love. One way to approach decluttering is to start with the absolutes. Mark or box up what you absolutely know you are moving with you. Grab what you absolutely know you’re not taking with you. Whatever you’re not taking is either donated, sold, recycled, or trashed. Get that stuff out of your house as soon as you can. It will make maneuvering around the rest of your stuff easier. Onto the not-so-absolutes. These are the tricky ones. We think:
- Should I save it for my kids?
- Will I use it one day?
- Is it worth money?
- A special someone gave it to me. I’d feel guilty giving it away.
- Have I used it in the last year, last 2 years, 5 years?
- Will my kids feel obligated to keep it, just because I kept it for them?
- Is it worth having to move it or take care of it? Is it worth the space it takes up in my home?
- Will that special someone want you to feel burdened by their gift?
- Do I want to spend time unpacking this later? Will it be just put in storage when I get there?
Use a Week-by-Week Moving PlannerThere are just too many things to remember when you have a big, long-distance move. Save yourself a ton of mental energy and read through Armbruster’s two-month moving planner. There you’ll find a week-to-week countdown of the things you need to do and when you need to do them. This includes when to contact utilities, how to prepare for moving pets, and a moving day checklist.
Variables to Your Moving CostsA lot of things impact the cost of your move. Here are a few things to be aware of ahead of time. Appliances. If you are moving appliances, such as a washing machine or refrigerator, this will add to your cost. Each requires special prep on your part and special care to move. High-end valuables. Remember when we talked about valuation? Full valuation refers to the typical things people have in their homes. Items such as furniture, kitchen wares, clothes, books, and some electronics are usually covered by full valuation. Other items such as fine art or jewelry require a different level of protection. DIY packing or not. You can save money by packing all your own boxes (and movers wrap furniture). It will probably save you a few hundred dollars. Do be aware that most movers only provide full valuation for items their people pack.
Decide on Vehicle TransportationAre you shipping a vehicle to your new home? Ask your moving company what companies they recommend for this service. Call your insurance company to see if and how much they cover for car transport. Make sure to check your vehicle’s condition before and after transport. We can help with all of your long-distance moving needs. Contact us to get started!
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