If you’re like us, just the thought of moving is enough to make you cringe. Heck, between sorting through all your stuff, purging items, researching moving companies, and packing your precious belongings, moving to a new home can be a stressful, time-consuming process. And, with your plate piled so high, you’re bound to make some mistakes along the way.
We have you covered though. To set yourself up for a smooth move, make sure to avoid these seven slip-ups.
1. Waiting too long to get started
Ideally, you should begin preparing for your move at least six weeks in advance so that you have ample time to order packing supplies (e.g., boxes, tape, bubble wrap), donate unwanted furniture, and start using up things (e.g., perishables or frozen food, toiletries and paper towels) that you don’t want to take with you. Tackling these tasks early on will also help alleviate your anxiety level on moving day.
2. Meeting with only one moving company
You should get in-home quotes from at least three professional movers, says Scott Michael, president and CEO at American Moving & Storage Association. Obtaining these in person will enable you to not only get a more accurate quote, but also assess how comfortable you would feel working with the mover.
If you're concerned about costs, make sure the moving company charges you a flat rate rather than by the hour, since inconveniences like traffic or endless flights of stairs can quickly jack up the price.
To find a reliable mover, get recommendations from family, friends, or a real estate agent. If you’re moving out of state, you’ll need a mover who has a unique license number issued by the United States Department of Transportation (you can search for that here). On that same website, you can verify that your potential movers are up to date on insurance.
3. Not taking measurements of your new home
The last thing you want to do is pay to move furniture that won’t fit in your new home, says Regina Leeds, professional organizer and author of “Rightsize! Right Now!" “If you don’t have a copy of the floor plan, go over and take measurements yourself,” Leeds says. “Don’t eyeball it.”
4. Packing your stuff haphazardly
Packing things yourself can reduce moving costs, but organization is crucial, says Leeds. In addition to labeling each box, she advises taping labels throughout your new home to indicate what each room is. Sure, some rooms such as the kitchen are obvious, but who's to say what's a dining room, office, or extra bedroom for guests?
"If the house is vacant, the movers may not know what each room is," says Leeds. "And if they have to ask you a thousand questions, it’s going to take them longer to move you in."
5. Skimping on insurance
Even professional movers can break your stuff. The good news is most moving companies are required by federal law to provide “basic coverage,” which means the company is responsible for 30 cents per pound per item for an in-state move, or 60 cents for an interstate move.
To be clear: If your items are destroyed during a move, you won’t receive a check for the full original cost you paid. Instead, the replacement cost will be calculated based on the coverage limits—which, depending on what broke, may not be much.
You can, however, purchase additional coverage through the moving company. This insurance, known as “full-value protection,” gives the moving company two options if any of your articles are lost, destroyed, or damaged during the move. It can have the item repaired so that it's in the same condition as it was before being damaged, or it can replace the item with something similar.
Plus, with full-protection insurance, most moving companies offer an additional $10,000 in coverage for an additional $50, with a $500 deductible, says Lavi Brill, director of on-site sales for New York City–based Oz Moving & Storage. (Note: You may already have extra coverage through your homeowners insurance, so check your policy before buying additional coverage.)
6. Mistiming your move
May to September is peak moving season, since kids are out of school, says Michael. Therefore, if you have the flexibility, moving some time between October and April can help you cut costs. Moreover, moving on a weekday is typically less expensive, since there’s more demand for movers on weekends.
Pro tip: You can save more money by moving during the middle of the month.
“A lot of apartment leases expire at the end of the month, and a lot of home buyers close on home purchases at the end of month, so moving prices tend to increase during those periods,” says Michael.
7. Not claiming special discounts
Many moving companies offer discounted rates for certain groups such as AAA members, military personnel, or seniors, so do your research to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal for you.