How Much Will Your Move Cost? Here’s How to Figure it Out

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So how much does a move cost? It all depends. Years of moving experience shows that customers typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Gazillionaire
  • Employee relocating on the company’s dime
  • Confused soul wondering aloud, “Good gosh, how much is this going to cost me?”

As you probably guessed, most of us are the third one. AMSA, the American Moving and Storage Association, tells us the average in-state move costs $1,170, while interstate moves average $5,630. But take that with a grain of salt, because the real answer lies is in the details of your specific move—from off-base estimates to logistical issues, from slower-than-syrup movers to incidental expenses, all big and small.

So how is it possible to even come close to predicting the final number so we don’t go into shock when we’re handed the bill?

Some things are out of our control, but there are definitely things you can do and look out for to make the moment we get that final bill pleasantly unsurprising.

The Baseline Cost of Moves

These are the basic questions you need to ask ahead of a move:

  • Are you getting a Full-Service moving company to handle everything?
  • Are you renting your own truck, then hiring moving labor separately?
  • Are you doing everything yourself?

These are known as the three basic ways to move: A Hybrid Move, a Full-Service Move, and a DIY Move.

How much do movers cost?

Getting a Full-Service Move? That means the movers load, unload, and drive the vehicle all on their own. The estimate? Though it will largely depend on the distance traveled and volume of the move, Full-Service Moves run north of $1,500-$2,000, on average, and sometimes can be more expensive if it’s a really big move.

Hybrid Moves, on the other hand, separate moving labor from moving vehicle. That means you hire a mover to load and/or unload your stuff, then rent the moving truck on your own, saving you a lot of money. Roughly, the cost can run anywhere between $300-$1,000 for a truck and movers, occasionally more.

What’s the cost difference between a long distance and local move?

Local or state move? You’re looking at roughly anywhere between $100 to $300 for the moving truck, depending on the size needed and after accounting for mileage and insurance fees.

Moving long distance? Like, across the country? This will likely cost around $1,000 after gas and fees, plus potentially lodging and food.

As for local movers, prices vary dramatically based on scheduling and location. Moving during a busy summer is just going to cost more than during the dead of winter. Movers’ hourly rates also vary, depending on the size and distance of your move.

Here are some generalized queries on price ranges for “2 Helpers for 2 hours”, taken straight from HireAHelper.com:

  • Boston, Massachusetts: $250-$350
  • Austin, Texas: $200-$300
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana.: $300-$400
  • Los Angeles, California: $250-$400

Of course, some movers do charge more, or sometimes less. Check out our movers’ reviews, give a few of them a call, get some estimates, and then go with who you feel best about.

You might love our:

Moving Cost Calculator

If the quote from your movers felt expensive …
Make sure it lines up with the costs reported by other Americans.

Finally, there’s the DIY Move, which hides plenty of hidden costs, such as:

  • Gasoline
  • Power tools
  • Moving supplies
  • Pizza and beer
  • Heavy stress

Not to mention what it does to close friendships and schedules. You can get away with casually moving a bedroom with some friends, but let’s just say that in the past, I wish I had spent a couple hundred bucks to have had total peace of mind for those really stressful moves. As a mover, I recognize I am biased, but I am also just a person who has moved many, many times—just like you.

Why do random internet searches for movers cost more?

Moving estimations are rarely conservative. That’s because it’s dreadful to be ill-equipped and strapped for time, versus the other way around.

No matter which one you choose, having someone come out and do a thorough visual of your place and all your belongings can be an extra useful way to get the most reliable estimate of how much your move will cost, as it’s an estimate based on time needed.

Getting an estimate over the phone? That’s cool, but keep these two things in mind:

First, if someone can’t see all the things you want moved, no matter how pure their intentions, it is ultimately a guesstimate.

Why should I avoid “move brokers”?

Secondly, unfortunately, it’s a very real possibility that the “moving company” you quickly searched for on the internet is actually just a move broker.

That’s another term for a middleman who will assure you that they can give you an accurate quote – which will sound too good to be true – then sell your move to the highest bidder. That person will then come out (most likely in a rental truck) and load up your stuff … before telling you that your final bill will be a lot higher than you were originally told.

It happens every single day. Don’t let it happen to you.

That’s why after 20 plus years of experience moving people, I write for HireAHelper, a moving labor marketplace. All the movers are real movers with real reviews, which means absolutely zero of them are move brokers. Everyone here is the real deal.

Get a Quote

See prices for local moving labor. Read real customer reviews. Easily book your help online.

Still, marketplace or not, keep in mind that the more stuff you have, the more important it is to get an in-person estimate so your movers can give you a good idea of how many people you’ll need for how many hours.

Extra, Hidden Mover Costs

How much stuff you have isn’t the only thing that determines the cost of your move. Here are some other important factors that some moving companies take into consideration when giving quotes:

  • If the path from your door to the truck involves stairs or an elevator
  • If the distance from your door to where the truck will be parked is particularly long (meaning 75 feet or more)
  • If your movers can’t get their tractor-trailer anywhere near your place and they have to use a smaller truck to shuttle your stuff from your driveway to the big rig
  • If you have any (or a lot of) heavy, bulky or unusual items, like pool tables or gun safes

All or some combination of these will likely bring your quote up. This is another reason an in-person estimate is important. But if you do find yourself having to give movers a run-down of your stuff over the phone, be sure to let them know the lay of the land so no one ends up surprised. Also, don’t forget to potentially tip your movers.

Total: 

Local Hybrid Move: ~$350+

Local Full-Service Move: ~$700+

Long Distance Hybrid Move: ~$1,300+

Long Distance Full Service Move: ~$2,000+

Optional, Accidental and Potentially Hefty Costs

There are some potentially optional costs that can add up quickly.

Packing Costs

Doing your own packing? Be aware that boxes can get expensivea couple of bucks a pop on average.

Meanwhile, packing paper goes for around $30 per 25-pound bundle, and box tape runs at minimum a dollar per roll.

Thinking of using bubble wrap? Plan on dropping anywhere from $20-$50 a shot.

You’ll save some cash by doing your own packing, but your packing supplies can run you a couple hundred bucks, at least.

Total:

Moving boxes: ~$0-25

Packing supplies: ~$35-75

Packing help: ~$75-100

Rental Trucks

Renting a truck? You may find one for $20 or $30 or $50 a day, but gas, tolls, equipment rental, liability insurance, mileage charges and any fees included in the fine print of your rental agreement add up fast. Plus, obviously, the bigger the truck you need, the more it’ll cost. Not to mention, some days are busier than others (e.g., holidays, weekends, etc.), and you’ll get charged more for a last second rental. (Read this rental truck guide for more info.)

If you are moving long-distance, you also need to factor in food and lodging. And by the way, if you’re driving that truck, how are you going to get your car to your new home? All of this basically means one thing: get a quote on a moving truck early

Total: 

Local (or daily) moving truck: ~$75-300+

Long distance moving truck: ~$1,000-5,000+

How much does insurance cost?

Planning on getting your stuff insured? Full-service moving companies offer free basic coverage against loss or damage, equaling 60 cents per pound for any lost or damaged item. If you are okay with getting fifteen bucks in return for your newly-smashed flat screen TV, then this is the plan for you. That’s called valuation, not insurance.

If you want to be actually insured, you’ll want to consider paying for coverage that actually means something—which will cost you a percentage of what your stuff is worth in total.

 

What Moving Insurance Actually Does

(And why it might not help you!)

Total:

Insurance cost is completely relative to the item you insure (as well as how far you take it). Taken from MovingInsurance.com FAQ:

The cost of the insurance, or premium, is based on a proportional rate, relevant to the declared value of your shipment and the level of deductible you have chosen, and includes an administrative fee. Rates vary depending on your insurance type as well as based on your household goods’ final destination, whether be locally, out of state or internationally.

Storage and Lodging

And if your new home isn’t ready when you are? This unfortunate possibility comes with having to shell out more cash for the extra time your stuff has to sit on the moving truck, the extra time you have to hold onto your rental truck, or the storage space you have to rent until your home is finally ready for you. You might not include such expenses in your moving budget, but be aware of the potential for things to go wrong. There’s even the hotel cost if you’re moving for more than a day.

And what if you don’t get your life all packed up on time? You’ll have to hire packers last-minute. Obviously, this situation is entirely avoidable. All you have to do is make a careful and calculated estimate as to how long it will take you to pack everything. Then whatever time frame you come up with, multiply by two and a half. (Seriously.)

Total: 

Storage container costs depend on their size and distance driven. Taken from Moving101:

You can move locally or long distance, but moving containers are more affordably suited to local moves of small houses or apartments…mostly because you need to rent out more than one container for larger homes, which raises the fee. And the costs associated with the company driving the container long distance (read: paying the driver, fuel, insurance, etc.) all pile onto your bill, but then again, you’re not driving that massive truck 2,000 miles in 110-degree heat. Tradeoffs. Prices range from just under $500 for a local move (with the largest container) to more than $5,000 for a long-distance move (with two of the largest containers).

Incidental Costs

After moving people day in and day out for decades, I’ve heard everything under the sun when it comes to random moving costs the customers weren’t expecting. But the thing is, they almost are never random, just unexpected. The list of sometimes surprising incidental costs include:

  • Restocking your pantry/kitchen, and replacing items you got rid of
  • Paying deposits on utilities, cable, and public services at your new home
  • Sucking up any cancellation fees or broken contract penalties for things like cable, phone and health club membership
  • Repairing damage in your old home – or losing your security deposit if you don’t
  • Changing your driver’s license and car registration
  • Running a credit check to pass along to your new landlord and new utility companies
  • Picking up all the little things you need for your new home: light bulbs, shower curtain, shades/curtains for the windows, cleaning supplies because you used up and wore out everything cleaning your old place so you could get at least some of your security deposit back
  • Getting socked with penalties for being late paying bills because your mail didn’t get forwarded promptly, or you missed a bill altogether

Apartment Costs

Also, are you renting a new apartment? Obviously, don’t forget you have a security deposit as well as first and last months’ rent to shell out. Those can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to the value of the entire month’s rent. Buying a new home? That’s another topic altogether, but with that comes closing costs, realtor fees, appraisal costs, inspection fees, attorney fees and more. Yay!

Long-term Costs

There’s another part to this incidental list, which includes moving costs that are repeating or more long-term in nature.

  • Does parking cost where you live, and how much?
  • What are the average car and health insurance rates in your new state?
  • With your new home will you be subjected to building maintenance fees? Property fees? Homeowners’ association fees? Do you have to buy special trash and recycling bins?

That’s a lot of stuff to take into account, huh?

Figuring out what your own move will cost is all about specifics, not averages. So get that in-person estimate (more than one, if you are able). Use a moving cost calculator. Find a deal on a reliable rental truck (and remember to read the fine print). Check out rates for coverage against damage. Keep an eye on all those incidental charges and keep a list of things you’ll need at your new place.

And please, leave yourself plenty of time to pack!


Illustrations by Vicki Tsai

Meet the World’s Most Expensive Movers

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Tired of hearing about how expensive it is to move? “Why is there a charge for shrink wrap?” “I shouldn’t have to buy more boxes, you guys should fit everything in the ones out in the garage!” “What do you mean furniture pads aren’t free?!”

Well, believe it or not, there is a cure for these experiences. Their names are Stephanie, Sara and Cassio, and apparently, they are more than happy to pay all kinds of extra charges for what they are being told is a “white-glove move”.

Courtesy of the New York Times, here are some examples of what this white glove mover service in New York City is willing to help you out with.

  • $150 extra per move for a special “low-noise” box tape: For people who “don’t like the screeching sound of regular packing tape.” (Bonus guarantee: If the low-noise tape runs out, someone will hold their white-gloved hands over your poor delicate ears for you.)
  • $180 per hour (!) to figure out your move: That means they’ll do “…everything from taking an inventory of your home, to creating a budget and interviewing moving companies.” (Just don’t expect them to lift anything heavier than a pair of white gloves.)
  • $200 for a ride to your new home: Because, my god, have you ever seen how dirty a cabbies hands can get?
  • $500 per day to call the cable and gas companies to inform them of your new address: Yup, someone out there will pay you 500 clams to be put on hold for you.

To prove that people are willing to toss their money around like this, the Times also offers a few quotes, including a couple beauties from private citizen Stephanie:

“As with many of us,” says Stephanie, “my moves have often been hideous experiences.” (My god! They’re not even wearing white gloves!)

This type of service is “extremely helpful,” she continues. “Not like having boxes in a dark basement that are stuffed with 50 dining room dishes and a lampshade.” 

Pamela Muller, co-owner of NouvelleView, the company in question that specializes in suckering customers into thinking they can’t handle an address change, says her firm will “oversee every aspect, from the initial strategic plan to seeing that every box is unpacked.” (Especially the ones in that dark, scary basement.)

“I always say to clients that we are the most expensive in the business,” says Michael Jaque, a director at the shipping company Gander & White. At least they know what’s coming.

The funniest part about all this? NouvelleView says many of their clientele, with their delicate ears and their taxi cab allergies, still hire a traditional moving company to handle the bulk of the items!

And this is where you come in. Charge Stephanie, Sara and Cassio whatever you want for that shrink wrap, those boxes and the furniture pads you’re getting back anyway.

Just make sure you pick up some white gloves at Wal-Mart on your way over.


Cover photo from The New York Times.

The 3 Things to Never, Ever Procrastinate on When You Move

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Procrastination, as a strategy, is starting to get more and more interest from the scientific community.

For example, Adam Grant points out in his book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” that Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonardo Da Vinci were all notorious procrastinators. And hey, it worked out pretty well for them, so what’s the big deal? This train of thought has given me plenty of ammunition to justify all the times I’ve procrastinated for a test, a presentation, or heck, a daily shower.

But I know that one of these times this strategy is going to really backfire. Life is going to punch me in the mouth and, if it weren’t for my wife, our recent move would have been a disaster.

So Abraham Lincoln aside, here are a few areas where procrastination is absolutely not the best strategy. Take it from me, I’m an expert.

Finding All Your Moving Boxes

For our move, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say we used 50 boxes. And I’m talking good sized boxes, like the kind a kid would hop into to pretend they’re an astronaut.

So let’s compare approaches:

Procrastination Chris: “Oh, you know, we’ll figure it out. A couple nights before, we’ll go into a Wal-Mart and ask if they can spare a few extra boxes. That should be easy.”

The reality: Retailers aren’t always on board with giving away their extra boxes. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s like going into a restaurant at the end of the day and asking for any spare food; On paper, it makes sense since they’re gonna throw it out anyways. But in practice? Places of business don’t want to deal with this every single day.

My wife’s solution: Reaching out to friends who work retail weeks in advance, then getting the boxes in. She began the process weeks before, rather than a few nights before.

Booking the Moving Truck

I feel like anyone who buys a pickup truck automatically puts a bullseye on their back. You really need to start coming up with excuses for why you can’t help everyone in town move well before you put down your first downpayment.

Case and point: I remember being at a buddy’s bachelor party down in South Carolina and everyone that showed up had a pickup truck. Ford F-150, 250, even the 550, which is a monster truck that also fires off a cannon. I looked around and thought, “Man, if you ever have to move, you’ve got a small army here!”

But in most places, a lot of people don’t even own cars, let alone pickup trucks. And no offense to your buddy with a Mini Cooper, but that’s not gonna get the job done.

Procrastination Chris: “Eh, we’ll just get a U-Haul. Easy!”

The reality: Moving trucks aren’t totally simple. For one, they don’t have a normal rearview mirror; They’ve got these big side mirrors that stick out to give you a view when backing up. If you’ve never driven one before, it’s a lot to get used to. And maybe it’s just me, but it’s amazing how accustomed you get to a backup camera once you have one in your car. Without a backup camera and none of the “beep, beep, beep-beep-beep”, I’m surprised anyone before 2007 ever had a scratch-free bumper.

Most importantly, moving trucks get booked ahead of time. Yeah, that means you’re supposed to coordinate your move date with the date you need the truck, usually well ahead of time – especially during the busy season. Oops.

My “I got lucky” solution: One of my buddies loves helping people move. It’s like having a friend who enjoys doing taxes. He once drove a U-Haul from Chicago to New Orleans, so driving this one a couple block was small potatoes. Phew.

Get Help Loading Your U-Haul Truck

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

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Getting Help From Your Friends

In fairness, I sent out a calendar invite at least three weeks, maybe a month in advance to some co-workers and another friend.

I cannot, cannot, cannot stress this enough! Without a minimum of four regular friends helping out, I don’t think any move has ever been possible. And yeah, I know there’s an exception out there: the dude who sleeps on an air mattress and only owns like two outfits. But for the vast majority of us, we actually need help moving all of those boxes.

This is where procrastination can backfire big time. If I would have reached out only the day before – nevermind the morning of – they could have all had other plans and/or they could have quickly come up with an excuse. (“I, uh, gotta walk the dog.”)

This is one you don’t want to leave up to chance. Even if it works, it’s sort of like when a basketball player fires up a terrible shot and the coach screams, “No! No! No!”, but then it goes in anyway and they let out a sigh. Yes, procrastination may work every now and then, but not a great long-term strategy. Especially for moving.

My “hope-they-still-talk-to-me” solution: Very patient, very tired friends.

Make Moving Not Suck

Everyone’s moving situation is different, whether the city, suburbs or small town. I think back to that fleet of pickup trucks in South Carolina; Some people are lucky or they’ve got all their buddies around with the right vehicles for a move. They’re all set.

But for most of us, we’re not so lucky.

Most moves involve someone fresh out of college with their mom and dad, and the dad is getting upset because his kid procrastinated, and now his back hurts, and the mom is upset because the dad is upset, and then someone’s like, “Hey, you can’t park here,” and the mom looks over at the dad before he snaps, “Carol, I know, but I have to go feed the parking meter!” All the while the kid’s younger sibling is on their phone taking a selfie (#MovingDay). And everyone is about one step away from not getting together for Thanksgiving.

It’s not worth having one of the worst days of your life with your friends and family. Find some help. If you’ve got the friend brigade of pickup trucks, awesome. If not, hire it. It’s cheaper than you think.

And whatever you do, just don’t procrastinate on this one. No matter what DaVinci says. 


Chris O’Brien is an author writing out of Chicago. His latest release, “Moving Sucks”, captures all the pain of moving day, but with a comedic twist. Watch for its release on Amazon.com this November. For more info, email Chris@mediumraresizzle.com.

Every Last Thing You Should Know About Driving Your Moving Truck in the Fall

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Moving in the fall is easier on the schedule, but harder on basically everything else. As such, we offer the following morsels of random fall knowledge. Well actually, it’s knowledge that can make the difference between a safe drive and an accident. Knowing this stuff can prevent disaster, making your off-season move an uneventful success. Remember…

Keep these things on hand when you move during the fall

A good place to start is a list of the bits and pieces to have on hand during cold weather driving and moving:

  • Flashlight
  • Blankets
  • Ice scraper
  • Charged cell phone
  • Emergency flares
  • (Working) spare tire
  • Tools to apply spare tires
  • Salt or sand
  • Shovel
  • Cash

A flashlight, blankets and an ice scraper are obvious items. Also have a charged-up cell phone, emergency flares, a (working) spare tire and all the necessary tools and skills to put that spare on. Salt or sand can get you out of a slippery spot, and a shovel can get you out of a deep and powdery one. Food, drink and cash are good to have too.

The fall is when deer mate

moving in the fall

Research by the Pennsylvania Game Commission found that the “rut” – the mating season for deer – occurs between mid-October and mid-December, with the peak coming in mid-November. This means as autumn creeps toward winter, the bucks are chasing the does all over the forest – and all over the road. At dusk or dawn is when they are generally most active.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tells us that around 1.5 million deer-vehicle crashes occur annually on U.S. roads, most of them occurring during this annual rut. While a rental moving truck might do more damage to a deer than vice versa, losing control of your vehicle after hitting or avoiding a deer, then plowing into a stationary object and/or overturning is a common and very real danger. Be on the lookout for deer and other nocturnal critters, particularly along rural roads, and while driving through forested areas.

The optimal air pressure for your tires is NOT what’s molded into your tires’ sidewalls

moving in the fall

That psi figure on your Michelins is the maximum air pressure they are designed to handle, not what they should be inflated to. For that information, check the decal on the door jamb of your vehicle’s driver side door or the specs laid out in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Then get your tires checked.

Why is this a problem? Over-inflated tires have less contact surface with the road, which is bad news for a loaded box truck on wet, potentially icy pavement. Excess air pressure also increases your chances of having a blowout. This is in addition to the harsh, uncomfortable ride that stiff, over-inflated tires provide.

On the flip side, under-inflated tires can lower steering precision and cornering stability, things you don’t want to lose in any conditions, let alone on a slippery road. Interestingly, low air pressure, just like high air pressure, can heighten the possibility of a blowout. In addition, keep in mind that cooler temperatures can further decrease air pressure, so check your tires as the weather turns colder.

Be careful where you park (Also, what’s a catalytic converter?) 

moving in the fall

Did you know if your catalytic converter is clogged or being over-worked, it can get hotter than 1,600 degrees? (A catalytic converter, by the way, is a wonderful bit of chemistry and science that converts toxic by-products of engine combustion into less harmful gases.) Catalytic converters on your car are built and installed with a heat shield, but at those temps, there can still be more than enough heat emanating from the bottom of your vehicle to set a pile of leaves smoking. A moving truck sits relatively high off the ground, so the converter – located along the exhaust pipe between the engine and the muffler – may not pose as big a threat to a pile of leaves as the one on your car.

Either way, all this to say that parking on a pile of leaves is never a good idea. Aside from the potential for fire, leaf piles can hide things like potholes, debris and playful little children.

Sticking with the subject of leaves, never forget that they don’t have to be in a pile to be a hazard. Wet leaves can make for a mighty slick surface that can turn icy and even more slippery during the chilly late-year night. Dry, new-fallen leaves can hide puddles and ice patches as well.

Black ice is sneaky and terrible

moving in the fall

There’s a special term for water that freezes without air bubbles getting trapped inside; It’s called black ice. (Okay, so maybe you’ve heard of it.) Black ice, of course, is not actually black, but that absence of air bubbles combined with our vantage point as we roll along the pavement makes it appear black. It also looks like nothing more than a wet spot on the road, which is what makes it so innocuous, and therefore extremely dangerous.

Black ice is able to form on road surfaces when there is little to no traffic to disrupt the freezing process. Early morning, then, is when the danger is particularly prevalent. Be alert on those quiet country roads as well!

Consider what you wipe condensation off with

Cloth diapers are better than disposable ones. I’m talking, of course, about clearing the condensation off the inside of your windshield. Particularly when you combine the cool and moist fall weather with a malfunctioning rental truck defroster, having a cotton rag or an old t-shirt (or a throwback from the pre-Pamper days) can help you keep your windshield clean and your visibility high. In a pinch, wiping your windshield with your hand is a temporary fix during the day. But at night, the smears your skin leaves behind creates a nasty situation when the headlights from oncoming cars begin to shine through.

Worried about glare? Driving west in the morning – or east in the evening – will not help

moving in the fall

This is a consideration all throughout the year, but during the shorter days of the year, the sun can still be on the rise while we head out in the morning and can start sinking long before it’s time to call it a day. And while driving straight into the sun is no fun, facing away from it doesn’t completely save us either.

That’s because the sudden glare in the side view mirror as we turn can be blinding and can affect our vision even when that glare is gone. A bright sun behind us can also make it difficult to see what color that traffic signal is in front of us, let alone see if it’s changing. Also consider that when the sun is behind you, it’s directly in front of everybody going the other way!

Even when the sun is higher in the sky, any snow on the ground can produce a headache-inducing glare. Simply put? Those Ray-Bans aren’t just for summer.

Freezing fog is a real thing

moving in the fall

No, it’s not the latest trend in teenage mischief. Freezing fog, as the NOAA puts it, is made of “tiny, super-cooled liquid water droplets (that) can freeze instantly on exposed surfaces (and) can cause black ice to form on roadways.” So if a thick fog weren’t tough enough to drive in, there’s also the potential for black ice forming on the road surface when it’s cold enough.

In any event, reduced visibility from fog demands lower speeds and low headlights (not high beams, which cause more glare than visibility). And since fog is a result of the mixture of moisture and cool air, it is most prevalent at dawn in the colder months, particularly in hilly or mountainous terrain.

Even if you think visibility is not all that bad, remember that your headlights do more than just help you see the road. They also help others see you. And keep in mind that when you turn on your headlights, your tail lights come on too, which can keep speedy and inattentive drivers from slamming into you from behind.

If you don’t know all the specifics – of how catalytic converters work, how black ice forms, or how a doe chooses her buck – that’s quite all right. Just remember that the first can be hot, the second can be deceptive, and those deer can come out of nowhere fast. So make sure you’re prepared for them, and everything else these cooler, shorter days throw at us during your chilly move.

What to Do When Movers Break, Steal or Won’t Give Back Your Stuff

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At HireAHelper, we hear other people’s stories of bad movers all the time.

Whether these stories come to us through emails or from customers calling us after a moving company has wronged them, these same cries come up time and again: “All my stuff is missing,” or “All my stuff is damaged,” or even worse, “My movers are holding my stuff for ransom!”

There’s one word we always hear from these customers-turned-victims: “helpless”.

In these situations, it’s painfully clear: these movers aren’t playing by the rules. But what recourse do you actually have when your movers refuse to pay for damages, replace missing items, or opt to not deliver your stuff unless you fork over another thousand bucks?

Unprofessional movers get away with a lot of crap. That’s the unfortunate truth. But if you believe your movers have acted illegally and they aren’t taking responsibility, there are ways to fight back.

Here are four options you should immediately explore.

Alert your state’s Consumer Affairs Division.

Not only can investigators help you resolve your complaint about broken items or track down your stuff – or your movers – but they may also work with law enforcement authorities in getting unlicensed, unethical and illegal movers off the streets, just as they have in New Jersey. From New Jersey’s official website:

“Horror stories about predatory movers are all too common. By its very nature, the moving industry touches the lives of consumer when they are vulnerable and when they must rely on strangers to transport their valued possessions,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “These situations create the potential for abuse. We are enforcing New Jersey’s licensing laws in order to protect consumers and, just as importantly, to ensure a level playing field for New Jersey’s many honest and licensed moving companies.”

Movers must usually be licensed with the state. (Here’s a list to check your’s.) If they are doing moves across state lines, they must additionally be licensed by the federal government. Cross-checking this with your Consumer Affairs Division is a quick way to begin the resolution process. Get ahold of Consumer Affairs Division in your state via this directory, which is a government-run database with the corresponding phone number, website and/or email address of your local division’s office.

Get a Quote

See prices for local moving labor. Read real customer reviews. Easily book your help online.

If this was an interstate move, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can also get involved. How they can help, along with the info and links you need, can be found on their Protect Your Move page. Their toll-free hotline is 1-888-368-7238.

Call your local police.

In the past, there was not much local law enforcement could do in disputes between moving companies and customers due to the fact such disputes are civil and not yet criminal matters. But recent changes in some states’ laws have given those local authorities the power to mediate; In particular, some laws now intervene when a moving company is sitting outside a customer’s home demanding more money before they unload.

Just this year, Arizona passed House Bill 2145which in Arizona requires moving companies to unload customers’ belongings in case of a dispute regarding payment on an intrastate move. We’d hope that this would be standard lawful procedure across the country, but sadly not all states are up to speed on this loophole.

But regardless of civil versus criminal matters, a mover being properly licensed is something the police can act on. Knowledge is power – but only if it is used! 

Get in touch with MoveRescue.

This organization can assist you by obtaining information on your move, advising you as to your options and, in some hostage situations, working with the moving company to get your goods released. Plus, they’re vetted by United and Mayflower, two of the larger Full-Service moving companies in the industry. 

From their website:

Approximately 1.6 million Americans hire interstate household goods movers each year. Unfortunately, a reported 3,000 cases of possible mover fraud occur annually. Many of these cases involve criminals who offer low estimates and then hold customers’ possessions hostage in undisclosed warehouses, demand thousands of dollars in additional payments and threaten auction. MoveRescue is devoted to ending this problem by seeing that moving companies abide by the federal consumer protection regulations.

Move Rescue does offer a disclaimer that they cannot offer immediate and complete assistance to everyone who calls. Call them anyway: 800-832-1773.

Contact your local news.

More often than not, whenever we do hear of a customer finally getting their belongings delivered it was because they sought the help of a local news station. In this case, the victim had refused to pay her movers what amounted to extortion, and the movers drove off with her stuff. The victim then contacted a local news station and their consumer reporter got the recovery ball rolling by calling the FMCSA, who got right to work. From WFTV9:

“Every day I don’t have my stuff, I can’t work, it’s put me farther and farther behind,” said Smith as she fought back tears.

Todd Ulrich contacted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that oversees interstate moves.

After federal regulators reviewed the company’s estimates, and the final bill, the agency took action. It ordered the company to honor the $1,200 estimate and return her belongings or face a possible $10,000 fine.

“They felt there was negligence, and generally they were out of compliance,” said Smith

A week later the mover released the storage unit address and key.

Smith took a huge step toward starting her new life in Winter Park.

“I don’t believe I would have gotten here this quickly without your intervention, so I appreciate it,” she said.

Understand that the process took weeks, not minutes. If you find yourself the victim of a bad bunch of movers, you may also need weeks, or even months, to get the situation resolved. So before you find yourself a victim, protect yourself by doing your homework on any moving company you contact. This list of recommendations by the Illinois Movers’ and Warehousemen’s Association covers everything you need to know and do before you hire a mover.

Or to likely avoid any of this …

It’s harder to tend to these issues after they’ve already happened, which is why we built HireAHelper around holding movers accountable from the get-go; movers on our national database live and die by their reviews. We also work seven days a week to take care of any potential claims, or if something drastic happens, to find replacement movers as soon as possible (often for the same day).

Small claims court, calling the police or filing reports take a long time. Booking a vetted mover through a marketplace is much safer because even if something goes wrong, we work with you to fix it.

We believe it’s important to keep movers accountable, so you don’t have to.

As for opting to work directly with moving companies, you can help others from falling victim to the same irresponsible, illegal movers by writing an online review (which might more accurately be called an online warning), informing the Better Business Bureau of your situation, and filing a complaint with your state authorities as well as the FMCSA. These governmental agencies don’t usually have the resources to go after every moving company that pulls a fast one (sad but true), but if the complaints on a company start piling up there’s a chance that company will have the hammer of the law come down on them.

And that’s really all we want.

That, and getting all our stuff back, undamaged, on time and at cost. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.


Illustrations by Nicole Miles

Married and Moving In: What Does That Mean for My Money?

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Getting married and moving in with your partner is a significant turning point in both your lives. But in the process of packing up and combining all your worldly goods, things can get a little bit hectic. You may have found your dream home, but this is just the beginning – in the midst of all this excitement, you shouldn’t forget to keep a critical eye on your personal finances.

Things can get a little weird, so with that in mind, here are a few money protips to help you navigate life as a newlywed.

Clear the Air and Tell Eachother Your Debts

First things first: communication isn’t just crucial for your feelings! Openly communicating about finances is a massive step towards keeping tension out of your marriage.

Make no mistake: money is (perhaps unsurprisingly) one of the biggest causes of stress in relationships. So be honest and forthcoming with each other about your finances prior to moving in, so you can work on a plan to move forward together. That means laying all your cards out on the table. Make sure to discuss:

  • Your spending habits and priorities
  • What you each carry in terms of debt
  • Your credit standing
  • Current investments and income
  • Your goals are for the future

The more you communicate, the better you’ll be able to negotiate your financial landscape as a team.

Knowing What’s Mine and What’s Yours: What’s Separate in the Eyes of the Law

The distinction between separate and shared marital assets differs from state to state. In general, assets acquired before marriage, as well as gifts, inheritance and personal injury awards are considered separate.

Most other assets, specifically those acquired during a marriage, are seen as shared. This includes retirement accounts (like IRAs or 401(k)s), businesses, properties, income and investments. However, remember that some of these assets will be assessed differently depending on whether you live in one of these common law or community property states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

This can totally affect how you handle those assets, so read the links and be prepared!

Do You Share Debts Too?

In common law states, assets owned by only one spouse are legally considered separate, which can provide what’s sometimes called an asset protection advantage.

Those community property/common law states I talked about earlier, on the other hand, treat both spouses as equal contributors to the family unit, regardless of individual income level, which means they divide all assets 50/50. This includes everything earned or purchased during the marriage years, no matter if the deed, title or account registration is only in one person’s name. This also means that here, debt or liabilities acquired by one spouse are shared equally by both.

Yep, that means in the event that you want to override your state’s property laws, you’ll need to hire a lawyer to draft a prenuptial agreement. This will stand in court even if you move between states that apply different property laws.

‘Till Death (and Taxes) Do Us Part

Tax laws can be complicated, so make sure to do some research to determine whether you should file jointly or separately as a married couple. It will highly depend on factors such as children, rate of income and even nationality.

Filing jointly means your tax liability will likely change, pushing you into a lower or higher bracket. However, even with a higher tax rate, there are benefits. Married-filing-jointly couples receive exemptions, deductions and credits not available under other statuses. Adjusting your W-4 to the married rate or claiming the additional allowance also reduces the taxes withheld from your paycheck. Plus, spouses are also allowed unlimited tax free gifts to each other, which can affect how you handle larger assets.

Add it All Up – Together

One of the most proactive steps you’ll need to take is to – for real – sit down and make a mutual budget. This will keep both of you accountable to the shared responsibilities you’ll now have, so you don’t fall into debt.

Even if you decide to put one of you in charge of the finances, it’s still important to create a plan together. List all of your expenses, most of all including:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Utilities
  • Food and entertainment
  • Car expenses
  • Loan and credit card payments
  • Savings and retirement contributions

Discuss individual needs or preferences and make sure you come to a compromise in areas where you disagree. You’ll also need to decide whether you’ll split everything equally, or have each person contribute a percentage to the household based on their earnings.

Save for a Rainy Day

Finally, build an emergency fund! This is critical in keeping your marriage stable when life gets rocky, and is severely lacking on most people’s ledger. It is guaranteed to come in handy when the car breaks down, the basement floods or a family emergency occurs. It will also protect you during job losses, serious accidents and extended illnesses.

There’s no way to predict what or when these events will crop up, but one thing is for sure: something always does. Make this a priority so an unexpected life event doesn’t end up driving your marriage into the ground.

Moving into a new home together as newlyweds can get a bit daunting as you’ll have to do things a bit differently. Make sure you take the previous tips into consideration when planning out your finances for your new life together – it’ll make many of your future issues a lot easier to deal with so that you can focus on each other and your marriage.


Beth Kotz is a contributing writer to Credit.com. She specializes in covering financial advice for female entrepreneurs, college students and recent graduates. She earned a BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, where she continues to live and work.

How to Move Your Stuff to College (Without Bothering Mom and Dad)

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In the college classic “Animal House”, Donald “Boon” Schoenstein famously exclaims to his fraternity brothers “We can do anything we want! We’re college students!”

Which makes me think Boon had plenty of help moving to college in Faber and into the Delta house. (Okay, maybe this dates me a little.)

Either way, whether this is your first time or your fourth time (or seventh, if you’re like Bluto), transporting all your stuff from your room at home to your dorm at college can be as challenging as any of your finals. (Moving to college without mom and dad can be tougher than your entire exam schedule.)

We can help you figure out how to get your stuff down to campus if you don’t have the luxury of hiring Mom & Dad’s Moving Company. Here’s your multi-scenario cheat sheet. 

You Have a Car

Awesome start! Nothing better than a road trip to kick off the new semester! But if you can’t fit everything into the back, what are you going to do?

Moving to College U-Haul Trailer

https://www.pinterest.com/jwcostner/

Got a mountain of boxes and bags? A mountain bike? A bunch of furniture and the all-important mini-fridge to transport? If so, think about renting a trailer to hook onto your car. U-Haul rents them one-way, based on availability. Check out our complete U-Haul pricing and review guide and streamline the decision-making process.

Wait, you don’t have a hitch installed on your car? U-Haul does that too, for a price. Just input your exact car model and they’ll give you an estimate right on their site.

But maybe you’re feeling crafty (and want to save some money)? Imagine how proud your parents will be if you installed it yourself! Here’s a popular step-by-step guide, with some pictures to boot.

DIY Corner: Color Code your Boxes

Allow me to introduce you to an old friend of mine: Washi Tape.

…But Maybe You Don’t Want to Pull a Trailer

Totally understandable. It takes some getting used to (plus, that aforementioned trailer hitch). In place of that, maybe consider shipping your stuff via ABF. They’ll put your stuff on a trailer with a bunch of other people’s stuff, which while risking damaging your (hopefully not too expensive) stuff, might still be advantageous since you only pay for the space your own stuff takes up. Another, more agile option is to order a ReloCube from U-Pack. These containers are 6’ x 7’ x 8’ and are dropped off for you to load up, then taken away and delivered to your new place on campus. (Packrat also offers containers, albeit in medium and large sizes.) Just take note…

Moving to college - ABF Trailer

Image by http://johncassiemillburn.blogspot.com/

Campus move-in day is living chaos. (Perhaps you’ve survived one or two of them.) Check with your college administration to see if there would be any logistical problems or policy issues with having a container placed outside your dorm – or anywhere on campus. Or anywhere even close. Be clear, and get any approval in writing before you try to sneak a 40-foot trailer with a forklift hanging off the tail end past campus security.

So You Don’t Have a Car

Unless you are planning on backpacking to college, you’ll be going through shipping options.

If you only have a few extra boxes to send, the good old US Postal Service is your cheapest bet. UPS is another option if you’re moving to college with only a small handful of items, and their online calculator allows you to estimate your shipping-by-air costs. (Oddly, for ground service, you’ll have to locate a nearby location and talk to someone directly).

If shipping stuff to college via the post office or UPS works for your pile of dorm-destined stuff, go that route first. If not, you still have ABF and U-Pack to fall back on. Again, check with your campus authorities and administrators before ordering up that trailer and forklift.

Moving to college with a rental truck

We see you there in the back with your hand in the air. And yes, you are correct. Renting a truck might be the best way to go if you are moving to college on your own. U-Haul is the first name that lots of people think of, but check out Budget and Penske too because the cheapest price is always different depending on where you live and the date you need it on.

You Want to Avoid Shipping Costs and Trailers Altogether

In this case, your strategy is more limited and depends on your situation. If you still have to buy stuff for college, don’t. Not yet. Avoid buying stuff when you’re still at home because you’ll only have to haul it all to college. Instead, order online and have it delivered straight to your dorm. When all is said and done, you might end up saving a few bucks on that mini-fridge.

Another consideration: although limited to the area you live in and the size of the vehicle, peruse some carpooling sites like Zimride and The College CarpoolMoving to college ride share

There’s also the possibility of people selling random stuff off the backs of trucks when you get there, on or around campus. (Sound weird? It happens every year on campuses everywhere.) If there are such people, you might really score. If not, you’ll have to go without the mini-fridge for a while. Your call.

On the other hand, you could end up with two mini-fridges if you and your roommate aren’t on the same page. Touch base with your roommate before the summer is out so you don’t both end up lugging two microwave ovens, TVs and mini-fridges all the way to campus.

Finally, whenever and however you pack up, think seasonal. Leave those extra blankets and sweaters and your snowboard behind. You can pick them up the next time you’re home after you head back for Thanksgiving or winter break.

Moving to College In Any Scenario

Plan ahead. Pack your boxes. Reserve that truck. And remember to check with the powers-that-be regarding move-in day policies and procedures: the parking situation, restricted move-in hours, having stuff delivered (early?) and, yes, driving a forklift across the quad.

One final note before class is dismissed: Even if mom and dad end up helping you move into your college pad, that doesn’t mean all your stuff will suddenly, magically fit into the family trucks. So when they start scratching their heads, staring at your mountain of stuff and wondering what to do, tell them everything we just told you.

They’ll be proud of their well-educated kid.

How-To Guide for Getting the Best Rental Truck For You

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You’ve spent weeks packing up. You’ve spent days cleaning your bathroom and your floors. You’ve spent hours tying up loose ends and your last few spare minutes posting about how crazy your move is making you. Now all you have to do is rent a truck.

A truck! Crap, I forgot!

If you planned well ahead and reserved your truck, you’re part of an admirable, enviable minority. If you’re moving tomorrow and haven’t started comparing rental trucks for moving? May the gods of the move be with you. (But seriously, we”re here to help.) Deciding what size truck to get to searching for a decent deal, renting a truck blindly can be as bumpy as driving one, so here are some key areas to focus on for smoothing things out.

Properly Measure How Much You Need to Move by Trying This

For most people, it’s hard to believe how much stuff they really have. It’s even harder trying to figure out how big a truck they’ll need. If you’ve rented a truck before, your experience will be invaluable, but if this is your first time, don’t underestimate how bulky your world has become!

Not a blind endorsement for Penske, but it’s a valuable tool

General packing guidelines, based off a typical move

Penske’s online “Truck Wizard can help determine what size truck you’ll need. Inputting items like furniture and appliances is easy. But estimating how many boxes of varying sizes you’ll have is tough if you haven’t already packed up. As an experiment, I tried it out using my own place. At first, I couldn’t believe I’d need that big a truck. But the next size down ended up being too small. 

Finding out halfway through your move that your stuff won’t fit in your truck is a nightmare you don’t want to live through. So when estimating how much stuff you have, be over the top thorough. And don’t forget all that stuff in the closets and the garage!

Pick Your Move Day Wisely to Get a Good Deal

Do you have any flexibility at all in scheduling your move day? If so, take advantage. When trying to rent a truck, moving on a weekday in the middle of the month versus moving on the last or first day of the month is the difference between heaven or hell.

If your flexibility is limited and you find yourself running into roadblocks trying to nail down that rental, try a few of these tricks:

  • Rent round trip if possible. Dealers need to keep their inventory of trucks in places that are busiest. Otherwise, they have to move the trucks around themselves. Got a car? Leave it behind, make your move, then return your rental and drive your car to your new home. (Or have a friend follow you in your car.) They can help you unload and drive the rental back. (Check with your rental company’s policy on this.)
  • Try a dealer somewhere out of town. The smaller dealers out in the boonies might have trucks hanging around while their colleagues in the city are scrambling.
  • If your move is local, consider making two trips in a smaller truck.
  • If you’re moving long distance, try drop-off points that may not be in your new town. For example, if you’re moving to Eugene, OR, look for a deal that involves dropping your truck off in Portland. Again, inventory logistics can drive a rental company’s truck availability, not to mention the price. You might even ask where they need trucks and try to figure out a deal. Even with the extra day or the cost of getting back to Eugene, you may still come out ahead.
  • As implied in that previous point, it pays off to physically call all the rental companies. Speak to people. Ask about possibilities that don’t show up online. Be friendly. Be inquisitive. Be persistent.

Dealing with Price Differences

The quotes you get from the various truck rental companies out there can vary significantly. Put as simply as possible, there are three main reasons for this:

  • The quality of trucks available that day
  • The quality of customer service
  • Hidden charges

Ultimately, because prices depend so much on where you personally live and who else is moving that specific day, it’s impossible to flat-out say which company has the best deal every single time. However, you can find all sorts of information on truck rental companies online. 

Moving101 is an exhaustive resource with as much information about every moving truck company under the sun, including dimensions, tons of real, up-to-the-day reviews, and a ton more.

moving101.hireahelper.com/

In addition, here’s one fairly comprehensive forum thread that may be of interest that discusses a few tips and warnings that may also be useful. Keep all of these resources in mind, as your personal (and figurative) mileage is subject to local quirks.

Some (Not So Obvious) Protips

  • If you’re worried about insurance on your rental truck… good! It’s not likely that your credit card or your personal car insurance will cover you in the case of an accident. Thus, you’ll want to know exactly what you’d be facing in case of a mishap and what kind of insurance is available to avoid a financial disaster. Rental companies will offer various types of insurance, and sometimes at different levels. Here’s a good rundown by ValuePenguin on the wonderful world of rental truck insurance terms.
  • If you’re worried that the truck you reserved won’t be there waiting for you, you’re not crazy. It happens (maybe with some companies more than others). Trucks break down, people return them late and some trucks just seem to vanish. To increase your chances of getting the truck you reserved, one idea is to get to the rental place early. Another idea: if for whatever reason you are super-concerned you won’t get the best one, arrange to pick up your truck in the evening after people have already (presumably) begun dropping them all off.
  • If you are booking your rental online, HireAHelper does offer discounts on Penske and Budget
  • If you are in a real pinch and you don’t have all that much stuff, think about renting a trailer from Uhaul instead of a truck (from anyone). Even if you have to pay to have a trailer hitch installed on your vehicle, the money you save renting a trailer instead of a truck will in all likelihood more than cover the cost. Plus trailers don’t break down nearly as often as trucks. Just make sure there’s a spare tire!

Price, quality and customer service. Insurance, truck size and availability. It’s a difficult road to navigate – we know – but with knowledge, persistence and a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be well-equipped to handle this last, important piece of your moving puzzle.

The Comprehensive Guide to Moving With a Child

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Moving With Small Children is a Big Challenge. Here’s How to Succeed.

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