If you thought moving companies do nothing but put all your stuff on a big truck, you’d be right—if you were living sometime in the distant past.
Today’s moving companies are constantly expanding their range of services and offering them all à la carte. That half-job or heavy lifting you need help with? Sure, you can try begging and bribing your friends, or you can call up a few movers in your area. You might be surprised at what they can help you with.
So What Else, Exactly, Can Movers Help With?
More than you can probably imagine. Heck, you don’t even need to be moving to have them give you a hand! More and more, people are turning to moving companies for all kinds of tasks too big to tackle alone. Movers make great day laborers, for things like:
Clearing out your garage or basement
Having a couple of sets of hands to move stuff while you figure out whether it goes to the curb or your cousin’s house or back into the garage can save you an entire weekend (if your garage looks anything like mine)
This also applies to attics, sheds, or anywhere
Hauling individual furniture from Point A to Point B
From your house to the curb; from your bedroom to the basement; to that cousin’s house; to the municipal trash dump; to your local secondhand store or consignment shop
Moving everything out of the room you are repainting or remodeling
And then moving it back when you are done
Hauling stuff to your home from the furniture store
Or from your second cousin’s house, or from the garage of the guy selling that big beautiful piano on craigslist
Movers can (and often will) also take care of those jobs tangential to a move:
Even if you’ve managed to tackle your entire move on your own, you may be left with a mountain of unwanted cardboard boxes and unusable packing paper that you just don’t want to deal with. Movers, however, see gold in those mountains. So try giving them a call.
Protip: Most movers tend to charge for a minimum of two hours of labor, due to scheduling their business hours. This is not by any means a hard and fast rule, but make sure you ask before you book your help.
Can I hire movers to JUST help me load and unload my U-Haul?
Renting a truck or a moving container and hiring moving labor for all the heavy lifting is a huge trend—and for good reason. You save a ton of money by renting your own truck, and you save your back by hiring movers.
À la carte movers often:
Bring all the equipment
Have all the knowledge necessary to do the job right
Pack stuff you need packed, wrap stuff you need to be wrapped
Load it all up safely and securely
You drive your U-Haul (or Penske or Budget), or have your portable container delivered, and a fresh crew of movers unloads everything at your new home. This is what we call a Hybrid Move. As far as moving goes, it’s the best of both worlds. And it’s what HireAHelper movers do best.
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Protip: If you are moving locally, your movers may be able to rent you moving blankets for a small fee. But if you are moving out of the area, you might be able to rent them from your rental truck company. You may, however, have to buy them. Just please don’t move without them!
Can my movers do my entire move?
Yes, of course. Your traditional Full Service moving company will handle the whole moving enchilada if that is what you want, including packing up your entire home, right down to your last box of biscuits. This is the easiest way to move. It is also by far the most expensive.
Movers Know Best
Of course, we can’t tell you what’s best for you. But we can say with total confidence that movers know how to best handle your stuff. Whether it’s a single item job or a few pieces of heavy furniture; whether you’re moving one room or one door down or one hundred miles away; whether you need loading help, unloading help, or both, hiring moving labor is the best and most economical way to make sure your belongings are taken care of.
If you’re not sure what to do, that’s cool. Calling a mover and asking a few questions costs nothing. And it could end up saving you a lot.
If you’re planning a move and have done the slightest bit of research, you might be wondering, “What’s a moving container?” Most of us can understand rental trucks, which we often see passing by us on the highway.
Well if you’re still confused, think of moving containers as the younger, hipper cousins to rental trucks.
Moving containers (commonly, but incorrectly called moving pods given “PODS” is a specific brand) are basically just portable storage units. They are metal or wood containers in which you can store your stuff.
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Because they are portable, they can be loaded onto a truck for transport down the block (or across the country!). Moving containers make it ultra-convenient for people to load, pack and transport their stuff.
They can be delivered to your home or office, where it remains on the grounds while someone loads it up with your stuff. When you’re ready to move, you can call the company to have a professional driver pick it up and deliver it to the next location. There, you unload the goods and move in! You might have seen them on the grounds of your neighbor’s home or local businesses.
Once you know what they are, you’ll start spotting them everywhere.
What Do They Look Like?
It varies, but by and large, moving containers just look like big boxes. Container sizes vary. Some are as big as 16 feet long, while others are as small as 7 feet long. Their heights differ, too. Some are skinny and taller to take advantage of the height to pack in more stuff. Others are shorter, which is really convenient for loading but, of course, might not allow you to fit as many things.
Where Do I Go to Get a Moving Container?
PODS claims to be the founder of this niche in the industry, and it is arguably the best known of the container companies. But there are other big names, including 1-800-PACK-RAT, Smartbox, and Go Mini’s, to name a few. Even U-Haul has gotten in on the act with U-Box.
What Are the Differences Between Companies?
PODS offer customers the chance to rent up to three different sized containers based on their needs. Others, such as Smartbox, rent out just one size container. (In their case, it’s 8 feet wide and 7 feet tall.) Containers are also made of different materials, depending on which company you choose. PODS are steel-framed. U-Pack’s containers are made of “weatherproof metal.” Some others are made of wood and usually include some weatherproof type of covering instead.
People frequently debate the merits of each type of container. Some say the metal containers – the likes of which can be found at PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT – are best because of their sturdy construction and ability to stand up to any kind of weather. Others argue they lack air circulation, which can potentially cause mold, mildew, or at the very least, musty smells. The wooden containers, such as the pressure treated plywood ones that U-Haul/U-Box rents, might allow for more ventilation, but they are not necessarily as weather resistant.
If you really want to dig into all the pros and cons of each company, including average prices, reviews, pictures and more, check out the moving container page at Moving101.
How Much Do Moving Containers Cost?
Moving containers can be pretty affordable relative to other moving services. They are especially good for those moving to and from smaller homes and apartments.
Prices can range between around $500 (to move stuff to and from a small home or apartment in a local move) to $5,000 (for multiple containers making a long-distance move with many items from a large home). The cost really depends on the amount of stuff you plan on transporting and the distance the driver will be traveling.
How do you figure out exactly how much your containers would cost? These are the questions to ask:
How Big Is My Place I’m Moving Out From?
When you have a bigger home, you generally need to rent more containers, which of course elevates the price.
In addition, you have to be able to park these containers somewhere without violating local ordinances; with multiple large containers, you might have trouble—especially in a city where parking can be challenging. Sometimes, more containers also require more drivers or trucks. This all matters when gathering estimates.
Where Am I Moving To and From?
As you might imagine, the cost also depends on which company you choose, based on which container is better for your stuff and if they’re available in your area.
For example, PODS typically charges a little more than $600 for a local move and more than $3,000 for a long-distance move. On the other hand, Door to Door charges about $1,700 for local moves and more than $2,300 for a longer move. (UPDATE: Door to Door has been purchased by U-Haul and absorbed into their U-Box service.)
Moving101 Container Price Comparison
Clearly, all the prices are more than you would spend on a rental truck that you would drive yourself. That makes sense if you think about it. Companies are baking in the costs of the professional driver, their moving trucks, maintenance and fuel. (The cost will also rise the longer you keep the container for storage, as well as the more stuff you have to pack.)
Generally, moving containers remain economical for many of those planning a move and looking for a little more convenience and storage. It will cost more than a full-fledged DIY Move that includes renting a moving truck, but it won’t break the bank in the way a Full-Service Move would cost.
When Would I Use a Moving Container?
Moving containers are a good fit for people who want to conveniently load and unload their stuff in a specific location, on their own schedules. (There’s also no question it’s a better fit for those going a shorter distance and moving less stuff.) But there are plenty of times a portable storage is your best option.
Let’s say you can’t get the key to your place until the 25th of the month, but your lease ends on the 14th. What do you do? You call a moving container company.
How Does Booking a Moving Container Work?
Then typically, you go online or get on the phone, pick out a container, then schedule a date to drop it off wherever your stuff is. A sales representative will help you schedule based on how long you plan to keep the container for loading. You might ask about keeping it longer for storage purposes, in which case you can keep it on the grounds of the old place, or have it transported to the new place if you can get permission from owners or those moving out. Or you could even keep the container in one of the company’s storage facilities if they offer one.
You might need the container a few days to load it up. This is one of the differentiating factors between moving containers and trucks (and sales reps love to point this out). After all, rental trucks usually lock you into a schedule with little to no wiggle room.
But there’s a catch with that flexible schedule. Sure, you can keep the container for long periods of time. However, if you keep containers longer than one month, you will pay much more than the original estimate because moving container companies generally charge by the month.
That means you have one month to load your stuff, schedule a pickup and delivery at the next destination, unload, and finally plan for the final container pick up.
About that pickup: usually, the container company sends out a driver to load up your container onto a big truck and drive it to where it needs to go. Another reason people might find containers appealing is the fact they don’t have to drive a van or big rig themselves. You leave the driving to professionals. Anyone hesitant to maneuver one of those big trucks on a highway or a long distance could see this as a major selling point.
Can My Movers Help Me with Moving Containers Too?
Yes! Professionals can load and unload containers just as they would a rental truck. You just have to ask!
Moving containers can be a smart choice for people who are looking to make a Full-Service Move at a fraction of the cost, or especially to pull off a Hybrid Move. It’s also a great option for those who need storage. Getting professional help moving can make the move actually not stressful. If you want to save your back and your relationships (by not having to ask family and friends for help), then they’re worth consideration.
What If I’m Moving Long Distance?
Most container companies are actually excellent alternatives to traditional moving companies, since you can save a lot more money and transport is still included in your cost.
The best way to do a stress free, long distance move while still saving money is by hiring local moving labor on both ends of your move. This is called “Hybrid Long Distance”, and HireAHelper employs people who are trained professionals in getting you the best possible price point – sometimes as much as 40% cheaper than those big vans you see on the highway.
Click here to learn more about how to cut down the price for a long distance container quote.
Where Should I Start?
The first step is learning about the different companies and types of containers they have. Check out Moving101 for all the info you’d ever possibly need. Since every moving container company’s reviews and prices are gathered there in one spot, you can easily find your best option for you, based on your budget, availability and type of container.
The last step is to decide if you’re going to hire professionals to help you complete tasks like loading and unloading the container. Remember, don’t feel boxed in. You have the power to choose how long they work for and what items they move for you.
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With a little planning, moving containers fit nicely into any Full-Service Moving hack or Hybrid Move. You can keep your stuff somewhere while you’re moving, or have someone drive your stuff to wherever you need it. If you’re moving, you’d be a little silly to not compare prices and see if a container could save you a lot of money, or if using one would just be way more convenient.
What to Do When Movers Break, Steal or Won’t Give Back Your Stuff
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.
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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 2145, which 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.
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.
So you reserved a portable storage container (also called moving containers or shipping containers and/or ‘PODS’ containers – which is actually the brand that reserves the containers, not a name for a container) what do you do next? How do you actually load a PODS moving container?
I recently used HireAHelper for my Chicago Crosstown Move, and during the booking process I was unsure as to exactly how many helpers I would need. They do provide a handy dandy little chart directly on the page when you’re booking which is super helpful. But not wanting to make a mistake, I decided to look into this topic a bit more…just to make sure I was hiring the adequate amount of help.
Here are some mini-questions I asked myself leading up to answering the big question – how many movers should I hire for my move? (more…)
I believe that every move has its challenges. Whether you’re moving across town, or across the US, boxing up your entire life and transporting it to another location can be rough. My last move falls into the former category, as my husband and I had to move less than 5 miles from our apartment to a newly purchased condo. Even though this was the shortest moving distance we’ve ever tackled (check out our St. Louis to Chicago move here), it was still an exhausting process. (more…)
Design a Room: How to Arrange Furniture Without Lots of Heavy Lifting
We have a super quick tip today that makes SUCH a big impact when you are moving into a new place.
Although the HireAHelper team will be there with you to make sure you (or your friends) don’t have to do the heavy lifting during moving day, today’s super simple moving tip will make sure that wherever the HireAHelper Move Helpers place your furniture in the new place, it’s there to stay.
No one wants to hire help for a move just to find out they need to rearrange all the heavy furniture soon after. Plus, you hired help for a reason… let’s move that furniture in ONCE and be happy with the result. Here’s how to arrange furniture with minimal heavy lifting.
Everyone knows “the call”. You know, that one you make when there is a crisis and there’s only one person who seems to have the magical power to simultaneously calm you down while averting the issue.
When you get off of the phone you immediately realize that you were overreacting and that everything is going to be all right…thanks to this much needed pep talk from your biggest cheerleader.
So who are these special people that have secret powers to make everything better with one simple phone call?
Yes, those everyday superheroes who swoop in with a split second notice and make everything better again. How do they do it?! We may never know their secrets, but we do know that these amazing women around the WORLD seem to have the answer for everything. (more…)
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