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How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part One (Local Moves)

in Local moving, Moving Costs by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

You’ve done your due diligence. You’ve gotten three estimates for your move, but why do they look so different?

The reality is, they shouldn’t look so different. All reputable moving companies will follow the exact same formula for estimating your move and the exact same formula for your final charges.

There are four types of moves – local, short hauls, interstate and international. Each of the four types of moves have different formulas in the way they are charged. But, despite that, calculating the cost of a move is not all that complicated.

Over the next four weeks, we will analyze types of moves and the types of estimates you will receive. 

If you are moving locally, your move will be charged by the hour. Of course, your mover might choose to cap or guarantee the price, but ultimately, that cap or guarantee will be based on the number of hours the move will take. You will also be charged for packing.

It’s recommended that if your home has more than three rooms, you should have a mover come inventory your home.

If you are looking at three estimates that all list a different number of hours, don’t fall into the trap of choosing the estimate that lists the fewest hours. Sure, some people might physically move faster than others, but at the end of the day, no matter who does the move, it will take approximately the same amount of time.

You will be charged based on the number of movers and the number of trucks. Fewer movers will not mean a cheaper move. As a matter of fact, unless there are so many movers that they are tripping over each other, shorting a move on movers typically ends up adding to the cost of the move, simply because efficiency goes down. On average, it requires approximately three to four man hours for every room in a home, without packing. If there are two movers, it will take about one to two man hours per room. If there are three, about one.

Obviously, these numbers are only averages. If your home is relatively empty, it will take less time and if you have a lot of items, it will take longer.

You might find more variables with packing, but they should be fairly easy to navigate if you keep these few facts in mind:

All items that aren’t furniture should be packed. You can pack them yourself or you can pay the mover to do that. You will be charged for material and the time involved in packing will be charged by the hour.

Of course you know that all clothing, linens, decorative items, dishes and cooking utensils need to be boxed but when I say that all items that aren’t furniture should be packed, I am referring to all electronics (including TVs), mattresses, lamps, framed pictures and mirrors. These boxes can be purchased through your mover (who generally delivers for free) or through box supply stores.

The more packing is required, the more the move will cost, but professional packers will pack much faster than most homeowners. Most full packs and moves will be completed within one to two days – as opposed to weeks of packing for most homeowners. Professional packers also do a much better job of packing than most people, helping to ensure the safety of all breakables and ensure that everything is well-organized.

Still, packing choices are a matter of priority. If budget is more of a concern than time, the first piece of advice most moving consultants will give is to pack for your own move.

If nothing else, many, if not the majority of customers, have the movers pack difficult to pack items.

If you are finding huge discrepancies between estimates, break them down based on what you now know and question companies. Are they willing to guarantee (or “bind”) their too-good-to-be true estimates and even if they are, ask yourself if you are willing to risk having movers who are rushed and possibly even sloppy and grumpy, because they know that they won’t be getting paid what the move is worth. If the difference is between an hour or two (on larger moves), that’s probably not worrisome, but it’s always a good idea to get a guarantee on even the most realistic estimates.

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Two (Long-Distance Moves)

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Three (Short Hauls)

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Four (International Moves)

How To Choose A Mover – Part One

in Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Image from SF Gate

Image from SF Gate

If you mention you are moving to a group of friends, you’ll probably hear a variety of stories – mostly bad. Of course, people tend to tell their bad stories before the good (a.k.a. non-eventful) ones, but despite that little quirk of human nature, moving nightmares could probably fill a library. A little preparation and knowledge is all you really need to ensure that while your friends are regaling you with their own tales of moves-gone-wrong, you can comfortably sit back, knowing that you really had a pretty good, albeit boring, experience.

It’s suggested that you get three estimates for your move but it’s likely that once you request moving estimates online rather than through an individual company, you’ll be barraged with enthusiastic movers. Personally, I would recommend doing a little homework and targeting three companies specifically rather than plugging information into a ‘lead source’ that broadcasts your information to random movers. So how do you find a good mover?

When you ask your friends about positive moving experiences, you might be surprised at how many will raise their hands to suggest a mover. That’s a good start, but you’ll want to investigate a little deeper. Try Yelp.com or AngiesList.com for more referrals or to research a reputation a little deeper.

Remember that different movers have different specialties. If you are moving across the country, you might be drawn to one of what are called, ‘major van lines.’ Major van lines are the big guys and their names have been around for decades. Despite the fact that you see a lot of trucks with their names doing local moves, the van lines themselves only do interstate moves. I’ll get to more on that in a bit. The advantages to major van lines is that they tend to be fairly well-organized and they are usually on the up and up. The disadvantages are that because they only do interstate moves, they often give you big windows of timing on both pick-up and delivery and they often charge large fees for any sort of storage or for a specific pick-up date. If you have any issues after your move, you might find you have to jump through some red tape.

You might see some companies who include “van lines” in their name but they are not considered one of the major van lines. Some of them might operate similarly to the major van lines, but some of them might not. If you are looking for a major van line, see how long a company has been in business. You can find this information through the Department of Transportation – ask for the van line’s DOT number or MC number (as opposed to the local agent’s DOT or MC number). If it’s less than 30 years, it is not a major van line. I’m not saying they are a bad company, but they are misleading you if they claim to be one of the majors.

If you decide to investigate some of the smaller names, you might find a lot of advantages, such as flexibility and the fact that you’ll probably be able to reach the same person on the phone throughout the moving process. Personally, I think the best moving experiences happen because of the personal connections you establish when you go with a smaller company.

If you are moving locally, all companies are small guys to one extent or another. As I mentioned, the major van lines only do interstate moves, so even if a truck has their name on it, if you are moving locally (and sometimes if you are moving to the next state over) you are being moved by their local affiliate (or agent). For local moves, the van line and agent have no connection other than the fact that if the agent racks up too many complaints, the van line might drop the affiliation. If you are moving across country, it will probably be the local agent who will be giving you your moving estimate, so it’s always a good idea to check out their reputation in both cases.
Watch for part two next week!

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