For a moving environment, you really can’t beat the Bay Area. During the summer, the weather is almost always dry and sunny and during the winter, well, the worst we see is rain. Despite that, fewer people move in the winter, even in the Bay Area.
If you have school children, moving during the winter might not be a viable option, but if you don’t or if you are moving within the same school district, a winter move can give you a lot more flexibility than a summer move.
Summer is by far, the busiest moving season. What that means to most people is that movers tend to get booked up fairly quickly and as a customer, you have little room for negotiation.
During the cooler months, all of that changes. Movers need you more than you need them, or so it seems. You should have a wide option of availability and the movers themselves will be less harried. Winter is also the best time to negotiate a deal, but you want to be careful. Too good a deal is still too good a deal, whenever you decide to move. So, here are a few tips to ensure that your winter move is a good value rather than just cheap:
1. Do your homework. Some movers are going to be desperate this time of year, but not the better ones. Good movers have enough of a following to keep them in business year-around. Get referrals. Check Yelp, Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau. Even a cheap move can be a ripoff if the mover is sloppy, inexperienced or even crooked.
2. Don’t trust too good a deal. Believe it or not, the profit margin on moving is very slim. A mover has to pay for gas, for the movers, for many materials used throughout the move and for other overhead. More than 20% off is usually an unrealistic figure with some exceptions. Either they will get it in other ways, like claiming that you didn’t uphold your part of the deal or they will cut back on quality.
3. If you do get a better than 20% off deal, find out why. There are times when giving fantastic deals is to the mover’s benefit. For example, if they have a move being delivered in your area, it might be better off for them to get some money for moving you back to their home base than for the truck to go back empty. For deals like this to work, generally you have to be very flexible with pick-up and delivery dates. In other words, fantastic deals generally require some give and take. Question a mover who offers you such deals without the give and take.
4. Don’t be too impressed by 60% or more off on a long-distance move. I’ll let you in on a little secret. For moves of more than a few hours away, most movers charged based on what is called a tariff. The vast majority of reputable movers use the exact same weight-based tariff, then they discount based on that tariff. The average discount is about 60%. It’s unnecessarily complicated, I know, but that’s how the industry works.
If moving in the winter is out of the question for you, it’s never too early to prepare for a spring or summer move. Before listing your home for sale, you should consider readying your home by storing all clutter and furniture that it mismatched or not in pristine condition. Ask about winter storage specials too. You might be shocked at the deals you can get.