January 29, 2014

Understanding the Costs of Moving

Hiring a full-service moving company can certainly seem like the answer to all your moving hassles -- the company packs your things, the company loads the truck, the company drives to your new home, and the company unloads your boxes in the proper rooms. But moving company prices can leave movers with a bad case of sticker shock, especially if the moving estimates they received at the beginning don't look anything like the final bill. Here are a few of the less obvious factors in moving company prices that you need to know before signing a contract.

Does the Company Charge by Cubic Foot or by the Pound? Not many average people can give a ballpark measurement of cubic feet or weight just by looking at something. Rather than guess at the weight of your belongings or at how much space they'll take up in a truck, have a professional come in and assess each room for you. Giving a moving company an inaccurate estimate of your total cubic footage or weight can result in a huge difference between your initial estimate and final price.

Know What Questions to Ask About Insurance. First, check your homeowner's policy to see if your possessions are covered during a move. If they're not, then ask the moving company specifically what kind of insurance they offer. Ask if there is a different kind of insurance required if you do the packing yourself. And be sure to ask if the insurance they offer is for market value or replacement value.

Can You Find Ways to Lower the Price? Many movers offer some flexibility when it comes to their services. If you agree to pack, load, and unload your own boxes, you can save a significant amount off of the full-service moving company prices. However, if you're willing to do that much work anyway, you might also want to check the prices for moving van rentals. Realize, though, that with a rental van you will also be responsible for driving the vehicle, which can be a major hassle and source of stress.

Many companies offer online moving cost calculators, factoring in distance traveled, weight of your belongings, and timeframe for the move, in order to give you a rough idea of what your move will cost. These tools can be a useful starting point, but never take them as the final say in what you will pay. Know your options, understand your costs, and communicate thoroughly with your moving company at every stage of the journey, so you can avoid any financial surprises at the end of it all.

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January 11, 2014

Hidden Moving Costs

One of the biggest worries people have when facing a cross country move is the cost. How much will a full-service company cost? How much to move myself? Many companies offer moving quotes online, completely free if you submit your contact information. But while these quotes provide a good starting point, they are rarely the final number. Why the inaccuracy? Here are some factors that can radically affect price.
  • You Only Think You Know Your Stuff
    You're probably quite good at your job, whatever it is. But unless your full-time career is moving boxes and furniture into a truck, you're not likely to have an accurate idea of the truck space your belongings actually require. Most moving quotes online ask for the number of rooms you will be packing, but this will yield only the most general of estimates. If you want a far more accurate quote, invite a moving professional to your home to assess your space requirements. They really know their stuff when it comes to your stuff.

  • Hidden Costs While Packing
    Along with not knowing how much room your stuff might take up, you usually have no way of knowing the right amount of packing material. Few things can be more frustrating than packing up your worldly possessions and running out of boxes, tape, packing peanuts, or plastic wrap. A cost that many people fail to budget into their move is food during the whole moving process -- the fridge is empty, the dishes are packed, but you've spent the whole day working up a fearsome appetite. So out comes the pizza, paper towels, paper plates, and the extra garbage bag to throw it all into when you're done.

  • Hidden Costs on the Road
    Always read the moving quotes online carefully for mileage costs. If those are not included in the estimate, you may be in for a shock when the odometer is read and the final bill is sent. Likewise, you'll need fuel money, toll money, washer fluid replacement (or a good ice scraper, depending on the conditions), and probably road snacks. If your drive will take more than one day, you'll also need to budget in money for at least one night in a hotel.
Traditionally, moving container companies provide more accurate quotes; since they do all the driving themselves, they're able to fold the travel costs into the estimate much more easily and with fewer variables. But even moving quotes online from moving container services won't include the cost it takes to get you to the new location, whether by car, bus, train, or plane. A good rule of thumb is to drastically overbudget your move, so you have the reserves to absorb any surprise fees or costs, and the emotional wherewithal to roll with whatever punches might come your way.

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January 10, 2014

Your Moving Quote Reading Between the Lines

Getting accurate moving truck quotes can be a tricky affair. You need detailed information on where you're going, how much you have to move, and the timeframe in which you have to move it. Here's an even further breakdown of what you'll need.
  • How Far Are You Going?
    The names of the cities involved (moving from and moving to) will get you very general quotes, as will some ZIP codes. Always be sure to supply specific addresses for the most accurate moving truck quotes. Similarly, get a heads-up on how easy it is to park a truck at both location -- knowing how far you have to carry boxes and large pieces of furniture can impact your timetable.

  • How Much Do You Have to Move?
    Perhaps the biggest discrepancies between original moving truck quotes and actual final costs occur because of an inaccurate appraisal of the amount of stuff to be moved. Getting your moving quotes online can result in even greater inaccuracy, as most online quotes only ask for number of rooms. The best way to get a more reliable quote is to have someone from the moving company come to your home and look at your rooms.

  • When Do You Have to Move It All?
    Moving truck quotes are going to be higher during peak moving times (around the end/beginning of each month, as well as the entire summer). Unfortunately, with the average lease agreement starting and stopping on a monthly cycle, it can be very difficult to schedule a move for any time other than peak moving times. Just make sure, when you receive your quote for your moving van rentals, that you get the peak-time quote, rather than an average of rates across the month.
And even if you do get all the info you need, circumstances beyond your control can conspire to change the price. Equipment could require unscheduled repair, weather could become a factor, or the rental you were supposed to get might not have been returned yet. Just be as prepared as possible, whether you're using a full-service company, a portable moving container, or doing a complete self-move with a rental truck. Planning ahead will help keep your last-minute surprises to a minimum.

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