The Moving Checklist: Everything You Need to Know to Move

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Updated (12/3/2019): New info for 2019

The moment you know for sure that you’re about to move, life seems to turn on its head.

You instantly have a million questions on what to do next, but often feel like you have no place to turn for those important answers. That’s where we come in! This moving checklist will ensure that you get all of the essentials done so you stay on track for a stress-free move.

Create a Timeline to Tackle Your Move Using Our Moving Checklist

Moving is a process. It shouldn’t (and can’t) happen overnight. Our checklist provides a detailed and resourceful step-by-step guide as you start your journey to a new place, big or small. What should you be doing now? What should you be doing the month, week, or even day of the move? Heck, is there anything extra to do after the move, besides unpacking? We’re here to answer all of those questions for you!

Table of Contents

6 Weeks Before the Big Move

4 Weeks Before the Big Move

3 Weeks Before the Big Move

1 Week Before the Big Move

A Successful Moving Day

Following Up After the Big Move

6 Weeks Before the Big Move

Moving Checklist: 6 Weeks Out

How do I plan to move out? And what are my moving options?

Before you begin this moving checklist, we highly suggest you read this Moving 101 guide to get all of the details on your moving options. Essentially, moves fall into one of these three categories:

  • Do-It-Yourself Move: You rent the truck (or find a friend’s truck), load it up, then drive it all to the next location by yourself or with friends.
  • The Hybrid Move: You hire help to load and/or unload the truck, you drive and rent the truck.
  • Full-Service Move: You can relax while the movers take care of loading and driving. The movers you choose will depend on a number of factors, including budget and timeline.

Moving101 has charts and up-to-the-day costs to help you find the right move for your situation. Plus, you can use the Moving Cost Calculator to get your budget in order from the very start.

When should you schedule movers?

For the absolute best prices and flexibility, start purusing available movers and trucks now, at roughly six weeks out.

If you are renting a truck for your move, make sure to compare your options. U-Haul isn’t the only option anymore. Budget and Penske are just two of the rental truck competitors that have their own fleets available all over the country.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to stress about actually booking movers just yet … you have until about three weeks before the move to do it comfortably. And if you’re just booking labor-only move helpers from HireAHelper, you also have plenty of time to secure them – you don’t necessarily have to start worrying until two weeks before the move. After that, though, movers and trucks become harder to come by.

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How do I prepare to move to another state?

However, if you are booking a Full-Service Move, complete with movers, a truck and even a container, then booking now at six weeks out will keep you right on track. This is especially true if you are moving to another state, where things like state laws and paperwork for movers going across state lines come into play. This month and a half timeline is more likely to ensure the things you need on moving day are available and reserved just for you!

Consider renting a container for your things.

Container moves are a perfect way to move in some situations, especially ones where your new property is not ready yet. This container guide lays out the pros and cons to help answer whether or not a container move is a good fit for you. Did you know most moving companies will store your container for one month for free? Yes, this guide has the scoop to help you decide what’s the best plan for your situation.

Get rid of the stuff you don’t need now before you think about packing.

Purging before a move is a great idea for a number of reasons. Not only will you have less to pack up and move, but you’ll also have less to unpack and organize in your new place. The easiest way to slowly purge is to keep a small box or bag in every room of your house (especially in the closets). Items you find that are broken, missing or just never used should be added to these boxes and eventually donated or thrown away. You can also have a garage sale or sell your old items online, which will help you make some last-minute cash right before your move. For items you end up donating, be sure to save the documentation from the donation center so you can use it as a tax write-off at the end of the year.

What exactly can I do with my old stuff?

When it’s time to finally sort through the items in those donation boxes, here is a list of items you can donate to particular spots in your city. And if you have any random items to get rid of (a mattress, outdated appliances), we’ve got you covered too. Read up at those links!

4 Weeks Before the Big Move

Moving Checklist: 4 Weeks Out

Start notifying businesses about your upcoming move.

Four weeks before your move is a good time to start notifying the necessary people or companies about your relocation. These parties include:

  • Utility companies
  • Local schools
  • Homeowner’s insurance company
  • Current landlord
  • Bank/credit card companies
  • Government agencies
  • Anywhere you hold subscriptions
  • Anyone else who may be sending you important documents over the next few months

Not only do you want to notify them of your move, but of course you will need to give them your new address to them if you will still be using their services. When it comes time to change your mailing address, this step-by-step guide was extremely helpful for us.

Start collecting moving boxes now.

No moving checklist is complete without helping you figure out what kind of moving boxes you want. And there are plenty of ways to get them on the cheap … or even FREE if you do a little research. This checklist outlines all of the places you can score free boxes, and here’s a list of places you can try to at least get a deal on the ones you do purchase. But always remember that wherever and however you get your boxes, be sure they are clean and in good shape. No matter how cheap they are, there’s no value in getting your stuff dirty or crushed.

Since you still have plenty of time before the move, you don’t need to be frantically throwing items into boxes. Four weeks is plenty of time to start packing your stuff with an organized game plan. Will you pack items from one room together? Will you pack items of the same size together? Whatever method works for you is great, just be sure you are labeling your boxes as clearly and as detailed as possible so the unpacking process is even easier! If you’re not sure what labeling system is best for you, we really love this trick because it makes moving day efficient.

Purchase furniture to be built or delivered. 

Buying furniture now is a great idea so it can be ordered and delivered to your new home just as you’re about ready to set things up. Instead of lugging over that king-sized bed or oversized buffet, sell those items on Craigslist and look for new items that will fit. If they’re back-ordered or will take time to ship, that’s perfect because you still have a month to go!

Remember: if you have them shipped to your new address, you won’t have to worry about moving them. For items you end up buying on Craigslist, be sure to set up the pickup date on your moving day so that you can utilize the truck you have already rented! You can use this same trick at stores like IKEA. You can do all of your shopping and arrange to pick up these large pieces on your moving day so you can get the most bang for your buck for your moving truck rental.

3 Weeks Before the Big Move

If you decided to rent a truck, figure out which one and how big it needs to be about now.

Now that we’re three weeks out, it’s time to book your truck. The kind of truck you rent will be different for each move, but it will mostly depend on how much stuff you’re moving from point A to point B. You may want to shop around to find the best deal and see which day will be the least expensive. This post guides you through all of these important truck rental factors.

Okay, who exactly should I hire to move my stuff?

That’s the easiest question on this list! Just check out HireAHelper for all of your heavy lifting needs. You can find local movers to help you on moving day so you won’t have to lift a finger. It’s suggested that you book your Helpers about 2-3 weeks in advance, so now is the time to get this checked off your to-do list.

It’s (officially) time to start packing.

It’s finally time to start packing up. And since you already figured out where to get boxes on the cheap, you can go ahead and pick up all of your moving supplies. Don’t forget to consult this post for a list of all of the supplies you will need for packing (plus tips to pack them up efficiently).

Make sure you know what you’re not allowed to transport on moving trucks.

Yep, you can’t bring it all! Here’s an entire list of things you should keep off the truck come moving day. Be sure to have a game plan to get these items to your new place.

How do I pack strange objects?

Moving Checklist: 3 Weeks Out

Let’s face it, not everything you own is going to fit nicely into a cardboard box. But we’ve got you covered with step-by-step instructions to pack up even the most unusual objects, such as these: 

1 Week Before the Big Move – What should I do a week before moving?

Do the mandatory cleanups of your old place.

It’s always nice to leave your old property in good shape for the new homeowners, but for renters, it’s imperative to do a few things before you leave in order to increase the chances of getting your security deposit back. After your place is emptied, make sure to patch and paint any holes in the walls so you don’t get charged for this simple repair. If there is anything else your landlord requires (like getting the carpets professionally cleaned), be sure to coordinate this before you head out.

What else should I pick up at the store?

Call us crazy, but we think a fanny pack may be the best thing to wear come moving day … and here’s why! Now’s the time to find a sweet one so you’re all prepped and ready.

Also, consult this list so you have the seven items you absolutely need for moving day.

Prioritize the right cleanups for your new place.

Cleaning is the next big one on our moving checklist. If you can get into your new house, we highly suggest you head over there before you actually move everything in to give the space a good, deep clean. Here are five areas that need some TLC right away. You can also setup time for a locksmith to come over to your new place to re-key the locks shortly after your move.

A Successful Moving Day

Moving Checklist: Moving Day

Be fully prepped with all the right stuff.

  • Put on your handy dandy moving day fanny pack and make sure you have these moving day essentials all ready to go.
  • If you booked a container, it should be fully loaded before moving day … especially if you have a morning pickup for your container.
  • If you rented a truck, make sure you get to the rental place early to avoid a line. Start your day on the right foot and totally on time! Also, if you hired Helpers, make sure you allow yourself at least an hour for picking up the truck so you can get back in time. You don’t want to waste any valuable time with your hired help!
  • The best thing you can do is to have a talk with you and your moving team at the beginning of the day. Go over all of the key pieces of information so everyone is on the same page from the start. You need to be a confident leader!

If I hired movers what should I do?

Sit back, be a manager and watch them do the heavy lifting. Yes, this may feel a little awkward, but it’s what they’re there for! (Plus, for insurance reasons, you’re usually not allowed to help anyway.) Don’t be afraid to speak up if you want them to do something differently, like wrap the piece of furniture with one more pad for safety!

If I didn’t hire movers what should I do?

Get ready to hope your friends show up! Maybe do some stretches so you can avoid injury and mentally prepare yourself for being on the downside of a couch in a stairwell praying your friend holding the top doesn’t let go! At the very least, it’s going to be a long day, so stay hydrated and nimble. You’ll be extra excited to check this off the moving checklist.

Unload and label your stuff in the most efficient way.

If you used our labeling tips to make a gameplan for which room each box should be delivered, then you’ll want to label the doors in the new place based on the key. This will keep things organized and will ensure that your Helpers get the right boxes in the right rooms of your new pad.

Should I tip my movers? If so … how much?

There’s a lot of debate on whether you should tip your movers or not, and if you do tip…how much should you cough up? For more clarification, check out this post and then make your call.

Following Up After the Big Move

Moving Checklist: Hiring Movers

Get rid of or utilize all your moving boxes correctly.

Chances are you’ll have a lot of leftover boxes. Here are some ideas to make the most of all of that cardboard:

If you can keep those boxes around for your next move, your future self will thank you. But if you don’t want to repurpose or don’t have the room to save them, please, don’t forget to recycle them! Here’s a searchable database that’ll let you know the closest place to recycle anything of yours that can be reused, including those moving boxes!

Meet your neighbors online!

Nothing like starting off on the right foot with the people you’ll be living next to for quite some time. Check out this post on neighbor etiquette, download the Nextdoor app (must have!), and then muster up the courage to head next door and say, “hello.”

Unpack (efficiently). 

Of course! We’ve got industry tips to make your unpacking party more manageable and more enjoyable. (Yes, it can be fun, but make sure you don’t hurt your back!).

Can I finally relax?

Yes, it’s time to celebrate! You definitely deserve to focus on this celebration step before moving onto the few remaining steps! After your move we think it’s important to take a deep breath and celebrate in your new home. You’ve earned it!

What’s next?

Now the fun finally begins … getting settled into your new home! Consider painting the walls one of our favorite neutral colors, adding some smart home accessories, and even try tackling some of these DIY projects to transform your new home into home, sweet home. 

Two Ways to Take This Moving Checklist With You

    1. Tried and True Printer Friendly PDF – A ready-for-paper checklist. Pencil sold separately.
    2. Digital Friendly *Expanded* Version – Download/screenshot/save to your camera roll.

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The Last Minute Move Checklist: How to Move at the Last Minute

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So you’re moving soon? Like, really soon? Well, it’s time to get packing … literally.

Whether the official “we’re moving!” decision happened last minute, or life got busy and moving snuck up on you, you’ve found yourself here – needing to move fast. That’s absolutely okay.

Check out our last-minute move checklist here.

Everything that you need can get done. I know because I’ve gotten stuck doing it too, so I wrote a last minute moving checklist about my experience. Here’s how to get moved in record time.

How Do I Pack in a Hurry?

  • Broadcast to your friends and family on social media
  • Radically get rid of as much stuff as you don’t need ASAP
  • Call and email a list of utilities, school, and businesses
  • Check online for cheap, last minute movers
  • Sketch out how much time your packing will need
  • Prep a “necessities bag”
  • Do the mandatory cleanup
  • Don’t bother sorting, only pack

We’ll go over all of these steps below.

There are some very straightforward ways to make packing in a hurry fast. Whether in a 2 bedroom apartment, 3 bedroom house or more, these strategies will get you in the moving truck – with your stuff ready to drive off.

The #1 way to move in record time…

Last Minute Move

…is to have less to pack.

That’s why it’s vital to be ruthless on donating, selling and throwing things out. As shared in the Kon Mari Method, don’t bring items with you merely because you’ve always had them. Assess if the item:

  • Has a real purpose
  • Brings long-term joy
  • Actually gets used
  • Is a top priority for your new space

One question to ask yourself: “If this was put in storage for a year, would I miss it?”

If not, it’s probably good to give away or toss. Even if you don’t have 6-8 weeks, as you’re packing be ruthless. Put stuff in the “do not keep” pile. Want to be more radical? Put up a listing on Craigslist for a time and place people can come and just take stuff from your place under supervision!

Need last second, free boxes? Check out this guide.

How Long Does It Take to Pack a 2 Bedroom or 3 Bedroom Home?

How long does it take to move

The precise amount of time it takes to pack depends on the amount of stuff one has, but here are ballpark figures cited for a professional mover to move the place after you’re done packing, depending on the home style:

  • 1 bedroom apartment: 2 – 4 hours
  • 2 bedroom apartment: 3 – 5 hours
  • 3 bedroom house: 6 – 10 hours
  • 4 bedroom house: 8 – 12 hours

Please note: these are estimated moving times for professional movers moving a house, NOT the average person or family.

Most people who pack their own home need a much longer amount of time to have their home packed, compared to movers. Usually it takes a minimum of a few days for a 1–2 bedroom home.

Have social media? Use it.

It only takes a moment to broadcast your last minute move predicament to anyone who might be willing to lend a hand, Moving.com reminds us. Even if you hire movers, any extra hands on deck or donated resources will get things done far zippier.

Next, call as many of these people as possible, ASAP

Last Minute Move

It’s best to do this stuff about four weeks out, but better late than never, right? Even though some of these changes won’t take effect in time for your move-in date, it’s best you take care of contacting these people before you’re unpacking at the new place:

  • Current landlord
  • Utility companies
  • Local schools
  • Homeowner’s insurance company
  • Bank/credit card companies
  • Government agencies
  • Anywhere you hold subscriptions
  • Anyone else who may be sending you important documents over the next few months

Don’t bother labeling boxes

While the idea of boxes labeled “His clothes” and “Kids’ bedding” sounds lovely, time is too precious for such details in a rush. The most important thing is to get objects in boxes – and have them taped up. Yes, mugs may end up with lotions, but they’ll make it to the new home – that’s what matters.

Updater suggests trying recyclable moving bins, which can save a ton of time during the packing/unpacking portion of your move, if you have more than a day to track some down.

“Sites like HireAHelper have a vast network of local movers and will personally call them for you to find someone who’s trustworthy and available right now.”

If you still insist on a loose way of organizing, the best way to fudge clarity is to assign a different color marker for each room of your house: kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc. Make an easily visible mark on each box for the general room it belongs to, and leave it at that.

Prep a “necessities bag”

Last Minute Move

When packing in a rush, a structured moving checklist may go the window. However, no matter how quickly you move, you absolutely need to make sure the most important items stay close by. These items are:

  • Important papers or financial items (like checkbooks)
  • Medications
  • Phone chargers
  • Daily routine toiletries, like toothpaste and moisturizer
  • 1 – 2 outfits for changing into

With this handy bag at the ready, you may move and have no idea where that favorite mug or comfy sweater is, but you’ll have the core items you definitely need.

Get pro help (for as little as $200)

Last Minute Move

As capable as you are, last minute movers have experience getting boxes loaded into cars at shocking speeds.

Let’s face it, if you could afford a $5,000 move, you probably don’t need most of the tips on this list. Luckily, if you call up your local truck rental place and they have something available, pairing a local rental truck with local movers can actually be super affordable, and might save your life during a last minute move!

While movers used to be expensive, the new gig economy has made it easier to hire movers that are actually affordable. In some cases, packing and/or labor help can be as little as $200.

Which, for most, is well worth countless hours of stress and squabbles. As stressed as you probably are, it’s hard to move your whole place knowing a pro moving team would have gotten the items into your truck safely – and in a fraction of the time.

Last minute movers have experience getting boxes loaded into cars at shocking speeds.”

Sites like HireAHelper have a vast network of local movers and will personally call them for you at the last minute to find someone who’s trustworthy and available right now. Their moving agents still compare your last minute options by their reviews and price point, don’t worry.

It’s true, your mover usually doesn’t have to be booked weeks or months in advance, it just helps.

Finish up with any mandatory clean up

Last Minute Move

If selling a home, it feels good to leave the home clean. If renting, cleaning is a necessity – especially if you want that much needed deposit back. At the very least, clean these top five items that leave the biggest “oh this looks clean” impression:

  • Kitchen cabinets and counters
  • The refrigerator (especially the inside)
  • Bathtub or shower
  • Bathroom counters & toilet
  • The stovetop

A sparkling bathroom counter and nice looking stove make a massive impact on a landlord perceiving the home as “doesn’t look so good”…or passing inspection.

Protip: Make sure not everything gets cleaned up – back up important files on your laptop or computer so nothing accidentally gets lost if your computer gets damaged or lost in the panic!

What about movers? Can they really pack that much faster than me?

Yes, they can.

No matter how efficient, organized and strong one is, a professional mover has the training and experience to pack a home at an incredible, near-unprecedented speed. A professional is trained to get multiple 5-star reviews one to three times a day! There is nothing they haven’t seen or done.

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Not only that, but because they work in teams (typically a minimum of two), vetted movers know how tackle any job as a united, “we got this” team, unlike most couples or families who’ve only moved a few times and still find lifting the couch “you got it!?” challenging.

In (literally) 1 minute, I was closer to a totally moved home

Because movers are so much quicker, hiring pros is the best way to ensure a smooth, less stressful moving timeline.

Luckily, I found out there are businesses who’s entire job is to find the cheapest movers available now, not just grimey ones who take your personal info and call you for weeks. Within seconds and with no personal information, I was able to get a free estimate for a pro moving team near me.

If time is the most important factor to you, affordable movers are the #1 recommendation for any efficient moving checklist. Trust me on this one.

Save the Last Minute Move Checklist

Last Minute Move Checklist
Last Minute Move Checklist

All the tips above and more, in one handy graph!

Have a little bit more time to move? Check out our robust moving checklist, too!


Allison Gower, a Bay Area native turned San Diego local, is a brand strategist and copywriter passionate about connecting purpose-driven brands and people. As seen in Forbes and a speaker at a variety of women entrepreneur events, her joy is empowering others – whether through education, personality-filled words or finding or starting great businesses. 
Illustrations by Emily Roberts

Can Movers Help You With Other Stuff Besides Moving?

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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?

You betcha!

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.


Illustrations by Rob Wadleigh

A Pro’s Guide to Moving Heavy Furniture Without Hurting Yourself

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Chances are, there are movers near you who can help you move that fridge, bed, or whatever else makes your back ache by the mere thought of picking it up. But if you can’t find the right help, or if you and your back feel up to the task, then keep reading—we’ve got you covered!

The First Step to Moving Heavy Furniture

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Okay, that’s a little weird, but moving heavy furniture is the same idea. You gotta really, really prepare.

Before you roll up your sleeves and start picking stuff up, you’ll want to do a few things:

  • Clear as wide of a pathway as you can
  • Measure that your furniture isn’t too big to go through that path
  • Mark a clear, physical end point where you will drop the item

The last one will probably be near your moving truck or storage container or, if you’re particularly strategic, a staging area (meaning your driveway, sidewalk, or the garage during sketchy weather) in order to better “Tetris” your stuff.

Disassembling Furniture

The great news is that many movers across the country will offer to disassemble any furniture that might need it in order to be moved. All you have to do is ask if your local mover offers the service.

If you’re disassembling furniture all yourself, there are plenty of basics to know when taking off table legs, moving desks, or detaching a flat screen tv.

The Most Important Basics When it Comes to Disassembly

  • When removing table legs, immediately reattach whatever nuts and bolts were holding the leg in place after the leg is off. This keeps screws from disappearing 
  • Always use a screwdriver with a magnetic head when unscrewing flat screen tv mounts, as losing important screws is extremely easy to do
  • Dresser mirrors always get removed and properly packed up. Any undetachable dresser mirrors require tons of special attention to move
  • Dining room chairs aren’t often designed to be taken apart easily, if at all. But if you have chairs with exposed bolts or screws, you may be able to disassemble them

The above just scratches the surface of what professional movers with experience know about moving furniture and disassembling furniture. You’ll learn plenty, just like I did, by trying to do it yourself.

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“The IKEA-Exception”

The furniture in your home didn’t just grow there, right? It had to have been carried in.

But the one exception to the “furniture doesn’t grow there” concept is IKEA-like furniture, or in other words, most anything you had to assemble yourself.

Full Service moving companies will generally refuse to move customer-assembled furniture made of pressboard. This is because such furniture was designed to be assembled, put in place, and never ever moved again. Any customer requesting their pressboard bookcase (or pressboard anything) be professionally moved usually has to sign a waiver stating they understand it will very likely get destroyed and the movers will assume zero responsibility for the destruction.

If you have any pressboard furniture or any furniture that – be honest with yourself – is generally cheap and flimsy, consider selling it or giving it away. Moving it costs time and money and will more than likely turn it into an unusable piece (or pieces) of trash.

Wrapping Furniture

how to move heavy furniture

At some point during the move-out process, you’ll need to wrap your furniture so it doesn’t get scratched, gouged and cracked into oblivion.

Cloth furniture pads (also known as “moving blankets”) are what movers use, and we highly recommend them. Wrapping your furniture before you carry it through your home and out the door can help protect it against incidental dings in the doorway and, quite possibly, holes in your walls.

No true professional mover will ever dream of transporting heavy furniture without furniture pads.

Protip: Moving pads can make it hard to keep a firm grip on your furniture. I always preferred to wrap everything in the staging area, or right there on the truck.

The Most Important Basics When it Comes to Wrapping Furniture

Wrapping a refrigerator or a bookcase is pretty straightforward. Wrapping a non-rectangular item like a sofa or a chair can be a challenge.

  • The key is to secure your furniture pads neatly and tightly, covering every surface except, in general, the bottom side
  • You mostly need to just make sure the pads don’t come off. Some movers use shipping tape to keep their pads in place, while others use shrink wrap. Both are effective but costly (not to mention a little wasteful). That’s why other movers use big rubber bands called “mover’s bands”. They are versatile and reusable for applications far beyond moving furniture (like, say, wrapping an office chair)
  • To secure those pads, whether you use tape, shrink wrap or those big rubber bands, just remember: avoid putting tape or shrink wrap directly on your furniture’s surfaces

How Many Furniture Pads Do I Need?

For reference, furniture pads the pros use measure 72” x 80”, give or take.

End tables, small bookcases, and dining room chairs usually only need one (1) pad; most furniture needs two (2), while things like sofas, really large dressers, even some big headboards need three (3) apiece.

How many furniture pads do you need, then? Your best bet is to go from room to room, check how many things you have that need to be wrapped, note how many pads each item will require to cover their surface, then tally it all up. (To be safe, you might want to tack on a half dozen more!)

How Do Pros Move Furniture Through Doorways?

how to move heavy furniture

Angling

If your sofa is too wide to fit through a doorway in your home, there are a few things you can do.

The simplest is to tilt it 45 degrees (more or less) so the front edge of the seat cushions and the top of the back of the couch are aligned vertically. This will make the bottom rear edge of the couch look like it is sticking further out, but all you geometry lovers out there will appreciate how this actually makes the couch narrower.

Curling

If your couch is still too wide, try standing it on end and curling it through.

Laying down a blanket first will help you smoothly and safely slide your couch through the doorway. Ease the top back edge through first, then curl the sofa around the side of the doorway closer to the seat cushions as you slip the rest of the couch through. (You can also push it through seat cushion edge first.) This same strategy can be used when trying to get oversized easy chairs through a seemingly too-narrow door.

Detaching

If you find you need a few extra inches of clearance before your sofa will pop through that doorway, try removing the legs or feet.

Even though they are sometimes nothing but short squares of wood, I’ve found on many occasions that taking them off is the difference between success and a damaged door jamb. On occasion, I’ve had to actually remove a door from its hinges in order to get a couch out the door. While not difficult, you will need a flat head screwdriver and a hammer to coax those hinge pins out, and a couple of extra sets of hands to keep the door in place until those pins pop free.

Moving Furniture Up and Down Stairs

how to move heavy furniture

Hauling large pieces of furniture – more importantly, heavy pieces of furniture – down a flight of stairs is a dangerous proposition if you don’t take it slow (and smart).

  • Make sure you have a strong friend (if not two) on the lower end as you go down (or up) the stairs. Take those steps one at a time. Rest as often as need be, simply by laying that dresser or bookcase down, right on the stairs. Just make sure it doesn’t start sliding!
  • Watch for walls, banisters, and hanging light fixtures
  • It’s easy when you’re watching your feet to forget about everything else. And that, I can tell you, includes your knuckles!
  • When sliding items around corners on landings, use a blanket underneath
    • When doing so, put a blanket down to make the sliding process easier and to avoid damaging that dresser and/or the floor. If the floor is carpeted, the item is really heavy, or if the surface it is resting on is uneven, try walking that thing forward – using small, slow, easy steps

Using Wheels to Move Your Furniture

how to move heavy furniture

If you aren’t The Hulk, a little extra help in the form of wheels can make a huge difference. Here are what the pros use:

  1. 4-wheeler: A 4-wheeler is great for moving large, heavy items over long flat distances. Two main things to watch for: your piece of furniture is resting firm and balanced, and that the wheels, usually black rubber, aren’t marking or scuffing your floors.
  2. Hand truck: A hand truck has two wheels and a metal plate on which to rest your furniture, and a long upright surface with handles. Their soft-ish wheels let you move heavy items up and down stairs and across uneven surfaces all by yourself. However, we highly recommend having a second set of hands at the lower (bottom) end of that piece of furniture any time you are negotiating stairs.
  3. Appliance dolly: An appliance dolly is basically a heavy-duty hand truck with a strap to secure in place the refrigerator, washing machine, dryer or whatever. Despite its name, an appliance dolly can absolutely be used to haul furniture.

This All Seems Hard. Are There Furniture Movers Near Me, Just In Case?

Most likely, yes!

Get a Quote

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

Start by searching HireAHelper’s massive network of local movers to find movers near you to tackle the big stuff. You don’t necessarily need to hire an entire moving crew if you just need to move your heaviest items.

Normal moving rates will apply, usually starting at a couple hundred bucks for two experienced professionals for two hours. They will usually bring all the necessary equipment, too!

If you just aren’t sure you want to move heavy furniture yourself, relax. Professionals know how to do everything in this article, plus way more.


Illustrations by Marlowe Dobbe

Say Hello to the New HireAHelper Logo

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11 years. 250,000 moves. 100,000 reviews. 1 awesome new look.

Introducing the new HireAHelper logo.

Our New Look Just Moved In

HireAHelper has spent the last decade making moving anywhere in the country simple and affordable. Now we’re bringing that fresh “just moved” feeling straight to our website. Our brand new “H-logo” and green colors mark a moving adventure we can call our very own.

In other words, we just turned over a bright, green leaf.

The new HireAHelper logo in action

Is anything else new? Don’t worry, whether you’re moving or you’re a mover yourself, everything you love about HireAHelper is still here. We’re a nationwide marketplace of local movers that’s easier than ever to browse, with live help available 7 days a week. But more great additions are on the horizon. 

We’re Expanding

We’ve pioneered Hybrid™ Moving, and now we’re giving you even more options than ever before. Coming soon to select cities, we’re giving you the option to search our local mover marketplace for Full Service movers. This is a huge expansion to our moving options that will take even more stress out of your move. Stay tuned to this site for more details.


Moving soon? Want to join hundreds of local movers from across the country already in the marketplace? Come see for yourself why over 100,000 people have given their HireAHelper moves an average 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Let’s get moving.

5 Expenses I Didn’t Expect After Graduating

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Graduating is even harder than it looks.

I am one of the lucky ones who found my first job right out of school. But that secretly meant my living expenses suddenly skyrocketed after I had to buy a used car, move away from home and find and furnish an apartment.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew those purchases would be way more expensive than the usual trip to the grocery store. But there were so many details I didn’t even realize existed. It was a crash course.

Now I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to you. Here are the random expenses that hit me after graduation, plus how I survived a rocky first few months so that I remained intact before my first adult paychecks could make an impact.

1. Moving Costs More Than You’d Think (But There’s a Hack for That)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

When I graduated I lived on campus, but I still somehow had a lot to move into my first apartment. The first thing I did was figure out if anyone could help me move. In return for snacks, my friends and family were happy to offer some manual labor. I got lucky!

But when I got a job, it ended up being located out of state. So to save money, I figured out I could rent a truck and tow my car behind it, and only hire movers to do the lifting. Getting your own vehicle and hiring labor separately for either end of your move (Hybrid Moving) costs less than Full Service moving and varies dramatically in price, but the average cost is around $660. It’s an added cost, but plenty of critical time saved, which I needed.

HireAHelper lets you compare the price of movers and customize everything, from how many people help you move to what arrival time window you’ll need. The more options you can compare for a moving process the better, as every move is going to be a little bit different.

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How can someone so young take on that expense? Well, I barely had enough to cover the move, but here’s another thing I learned — many employers offer reimbursement for moving expenses! Make a note to talk with your new employer and ask if they make a similar offer. It was a lifesaver when my company helped me out so that I could put my money toward the next round of expenses!

2. Crossing State Lines Can Mean More Fees

When you move to a new state, you’re going to have to get a new state license and plate for your car. The steps will be different depending on your move, but you can check out the process for your specific state online to know what prices you’re in for.

I had to fill out paperwork and pay fees for the process of:

  • Getting an updated title for my car
  • Printing a new plate
  • Creating a new license

All of it cost about $200! Plus, there was the time it took to go to the DMV, get my new emissions test and talk with my car insurance company about my new address and license information.

Call the DMV where you’ll be moving to ahead of time for clarification because it really is a lot to deal with when you’ve never done it before. It definitely was for me.

3. Even My Used Car Had a Major Price Tag

An approximation of how getting your first used car looks.

When I was in school, I used my parents’ old car to get around to my part-time jobs and the grocery store. But after college, I knew I had to get my own ride. I’d been saving up for a while and figured I could negotiate the price of the car down to what I had in my savings account, but it turns out there’s so much more to it than that.

The only thing I knew about buying a car before I walked into the first dealership was that you have to negotiate your final price, but fees and taxes can’t be worked down. The dealer had to explain things like document fees and dealer fees, plus the sales tax. (Again, every state will be a bit different, though some fees are the same across the board.)

It’s smart to save up some extra cash to cover these fees since they’re non-negotiable. While you’re getting your down payment together, take steps to research what these expenses will be so you can better plan for the total cost of a car.

Lastly, make sure you can handle the monthly payment. While I saved enough for a hefty down payment, I did have to take out a small loan to cover the rest. I automated my car payments through my bank once my regular paychecks started rolling in so I would never risk jeopardizing my credit score with late payments.

4. My First Student Loan Payment Shocked Me

The amount I had to take out in student loans wasn’t nearly as drastic as what some of my friends had to sign for—proud state school grad here—but there are ways those loans can pull you into paying more than you originally borrowed. For starters, I had no idea what capitalizing interest was. Basically, it’s interest that’s triggered by specific events and causes your monthly payment to not even make a dent in your overall debt. The debt increases while your payments stay the same.

I also began to panic when the loan bills came in. I hadn’t even earned my first paycheck with my new job yet, so how was I supposed to pay $350 a month after already paying for moving and buying a car?

That’s when I started to research how to consolidate my loans, and it really saved me. The Department of Education can consolidate multiple federal loans with one fixed interest rate, which streamlines the process and extends your repayment period. Rather than juggling multiple payments, I just had to worry about one.

You may also consider private refinancing if you’ve landed a steady job and worked to build a credit score of at least 690. This can both consolidate your loans and lower your interest rate — but isn’t necessarily always the best choice for recent grads. Do your research! 

(So I Learned a Budgeting Trick)

Sure, I’d managed my own bills in college, but between forthcoming loan payments and the costs of moving and a higher rent, I saw my expenses skyrocket. 

So I did some research online and began militantly tracking all of my income and expenses with a Google spreadsheet. I vowed to follow the 50/30/20 budget, which stipulates that half of my earnings pay fixed expenses, 20 percent goes to debts and savings, and 30 percent is reserved for variable expenses like groceries and light spending.

TheBalance.com

It’s tempting to have your paychecks come in and put all your extra cash toward one big thing like a savings account or credit card debt, but metering it out will help you tackle everything at once. Building my savings while decreasing my debt has helped me more in the long run than just choosing one over the other.

Now, my healthy savings account means a minor emergency like a car repair doesn’t trigger any anxiety. After upending my meager college savings to move, a steady and dependable tracking system soothed my nerves and helped me navigate this whole new world.

5. Filling Up a New Apartment Drains Your Wallet

The process of finding my apartment was easy since everything is online now. I could map out how far each apartment complex was from my work and not have to worry about it being too far away. Actually getting settled was a whole different story.

I had to buy all my own furniture, and you can bet that I didn’t have the money to do it all at once! For a little bit, my apartment décor consisted of a mattress on the floor and the most basic kitchen supplies. A good list of basic apartment supplies you’ll need will consist of:

  • Plates and bowls
  • At least two or three of each type of silverware
  • A trashcan
  • Dish soap and a sponge
  • Toilet paper
  • Basic cleaning supplies (e.g., broom, cleaning solution)

Don’t panic if your apartment doesn’t feel like home for a little while. Getting more than the basics will take time, but eventually, your new fancy budget will help you get everything on your list, and your apartment will gradually feel more like a home and less like a living space. 

Plus, if you have a roommate, that makes your quest to fill the space of essentials even easier! Me? I bought myself a couch from a killer Amazon Prime Day deal—and I’ve been treating myself with one apartment item a month since.


Some of the above surprise costs were never mentioned to me because I didn’t know to ask about them.

Give your post-college world about six to eight months to settle down. Now, I’m much more financially secure and living in a home that feels cozy and welcoming. I’m finally ready to put some money into my travel fund and I don’t sweat the occasional sushi dinner. For now, you just have to buckle in and prepare for a crazy ride after that diploma lands in your hand.


Holly Welles is a millennial-focused real estate writer and the editor behind The Estate Update. For more home tips and financial advice, subscribe to her blog for even more financial advice.

How Do I Plan a Long Distance Move?

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Moving long distance requires patience, stamina, and grit. But it doesn’t have to be an awful experience. With some planning, a little know-how, plus some research, you can make the process of moving much easier. But just to help you out, we went ahead and did all the research for you.

After all, settling into a new, far-away land shouldn’t be anything less than transformational! 

How Am I Gonna Get Me and My Stuff Where I’m Going?

You have a number of options when planning a long distance move. Your options will all depend on these three things:

  • How much stuff you’re hauling
  • Your budget
  • Personal preference

What if I’m driving?

Some people decide to drive across the country, especially if they are bringing a vehicle or two. Beforehand, however, you should consider:

  • Car’s age and how many miles it has clocked
  • How many people and things it needs to hold
  • If it can handle a long trip without breaking down

If you need to get repairs ahead of time, then trust us, do that first. If that seems like it could be an issue or you just don’t wanna add hundreds of miles to your car, consider getting your car shipped.

Your other options are hitching it (to a truck for towing) or just ditching it. You can always try selling it or trading it in if you decide this is the end of the road for the car.

Are you driving with small children? Transporting pets? Both of those have special considerations, so click those links to learn everything you should know first.

What about my stuff?

The most hands-off option for getting you and everything long distance is a Full Service moving company. If you have the money for going that route, you need to find one with proper licensing, especially for interstate moves, as opposed to somebody off Craigslist.

What other options are there? Some people who make a long distance move opt to rent a moving truck for loading up their stuff and driving it themselves, then only hire movers for the lifting part, not the driving. This is called Hybrid Moving and can save a lot of money (if you don’t mind the drive). 

If you want to leave the driving to somebody else but still want to save money as compared to a Full Service Move, you can opt for portable moving containers like a PODS container. With those, professionals drive your stuff to and from destinations.

A final option to explore is to rent space in a freight truck that a professional driver hauls to your final destination, or sometimes to a warehouse for pick up.

The pros, cons, and prices of all of these options (and much more) are covered extensively on Moving101.

If you opt for a moving crew, make sure you get the answers to these questions:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How much experience do you have serving clients moving long distance? How does that compare with the number of local moves you conduct for clients?
  • Do you have proper, up-to-date licenses? Are you legally able to work in both states and cross state lines?
  • What kind of feedback do you get from clients?   
  • How would you describe the value you provide for the price you charge?
  • What are your policies regarding damaged or lost goods? What are your policies regarding re-scheduling or canceling service?

And you shouldn’t just take their word for it either. Get genuine opinions by consulting verified reviews on HireAHelper or anywhere you look.

What if I’m flying?

If you’re taking a plane to the final destination, you should obviously consider bringing some things with you in luggage or handbags to save money on however you’re moving the rest of your stuff. Pack clothes and personal items that won’t break in the luggage, and bring fragile stuff, such as laptops and digital devices, in your carry-on bag. Paying for extra luggage on a flight is sometimes cheaper than shipping it via snail mail! Pile up your stuff, do the calculations and see what works best with your budget.

Looking to maximize your flying budget? In “The 10 Best (and Worst) Airfare Search Sites,” Frommer’s shares some of the best places for you to seek hot deals for air travel. When researching prices for flights, consider the following online travel agents and booking sites, but recognize that being better known does not necessarily mean being the best.

Should I ship my stuff?

You could theoretically choose to ship some of your things via UPS, FedEx, or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, it’s cheapest to send through USPS, but after packages get to only two pounds, pricing typically levels out. (That said, check out media shipping rates if you want to ship out a parcel or three that each weigh around 20 pounds.)

Of course, you probably have more than a few pounds worth of stuff. In this case, moving containers are a savvy pick for getting your stuff driven to where it needs to go for you. Not only do shipping containers come in different shapes and sizes, but you can plan to keep them placed somewhere for usually as much as a month at a time, so there’s lots of flexibility with using a moving container for a long distance move.

There are several things to consider when thinking about using a moving container:

  • Do you care if it’s wooden versus metal?
  • How many do you need?
  • How long do you need it to wait for you before unloading it?
  • Do you need help loading and unloading it?

Your options will depend on where you live, due to which moving container companies are available to you. Beyond PODS containers, check out this massive break down of the best moving container companies for your exact situation.

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

How Much Do Long-Distance Moves Cost?

Long distance and interstate moving companies charge based on weight, distance, and any extra equipment or insurance options you opt into.

The average cost of an interstate move is $4,300 for an average distance of 1,225 miles and a shipment weight of 7,400 pounds, according to the American Moving and Storage Association and as reported by numerous outlets.

But ultimately, as we’ve explained above, the price will depend on:

  • Your exact starting and ending points
  • How much you need to move
  • Modes of transportation
  • Who, if anyone, you decide to hire

One more big factor to consider is if you have any specialty items to move, such as a baby grand piano or gun safe.

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Are there any ways to reduce the price?

Here are some money protips you should know as you collect estimates:

  • Binding vs. Non-Binding Estimates: This is important to know if you’re pursuing a Full Service move. A binding estimate means you will pay the final price of the estimate regardless of whether your stuff ends up weighing less or more than expected. A non-binding estimate means you could end up with a different final tally, either less or more, depending on the weight
  • You can bring the price down by being flexible with travel dates; weekdays, especially in the offseason (read: not summer) are often cheaper
  • Ask moving companies for discounts. For example, members of the military and veterans often get cheaper rates for rental trucks and containers
  • If you have time before you have to move, you should try to start a moving fund
  • Be sure to keep track of spending and make a written out or digital budget
  • Those who are moving for work should see if the company reimburses for any or all of the move

What if I’m Moving Across State Lines?

Doing your homework on what is required of you for your specific interstate move is the first step.

Interstate moves are particularly complicated due to state laws. You have to know what you are responsible for when you cross into another state.

Hiring movers? Some moving companies can’t even provide service for interstate moves because they lack the proper license. Check in with your mover ahead of time. (Of course, typing in your ZIP code into HireAHelper filters all that stuff automatically.) 

In addition, you have to know both state and local laws and ordinances that may be relevant to you. Both your departure and arrival towns likely have parking rules, which will be a consideration as you’re loading and unloading, especially if you’re leaving a PODS container somewhere for a week or more. (You think you can just park a big truck on a busy New York City road any time you want?)

Also, some states have certain laws restricting what you can bring in. For instance, there are a number of items that are illegal to bring into California, including certain firearms and fruits. Yes, your pet ferret, among other things, can’t join you if you’re headed for the Golden State.

To-Do list for interstate moves

What do you need to do if you’re moving to a new state? This is what your to-do list should look like:

  • Forward your mail. Regardless of distance or state, do this first. This requires filling out a change of address form with the United States Postal Service (USPS)
  • Get a new driver’s license and plates. Typically, states require you to get your new license within 30 days, so make this a priority. Unfortunately, this will probably require standing in line at the DMV. One thing we can guarantee is it will be as annoying as nails on a chalkboard no matter what state you’re in
  • Establish domicile for tax purposes. In other words, that means becoming a resident (No matter where you go, they’ll have taxes!)  
  • Transfer your utilities
  • Get a license for your pets if you have any (as long as they aren’t ferrets in California!)

How Do I Pack My Stuff?

Anyone who has ever moved can tell you that packing up your entire world is maybe the most stressful part of the journey. Getting sturdy cardboard boxes and wisely packing them is one way to ensure the process is easier. Refraining from making any of the boxes too heavy and keeping items that will go in the same room in one box are obvious tips.

Make sure to label everything. Most importantly, make use of soft items, such as pillows, to serve as buffers between breakables and harder items. Use appropriate packing material – such as bubble wrap and newspapers – to protect glass, china and other delicate items. You can learn more in “How to Pack a Moving Box.”

If you want to be extra cautious with your stuff, then turn to professionals for help with packing your things.

Should I get rid of my stuff?

Take a look over the vast empire you’ve established. You must recognize that the less stuff you have to move, the better off you’ll be. After all, professional moving companies generally charge you based on the weight of the stuff you need to be transported. In other words, both literally and figuratively, you will have lifted a weight off your shoulders if you downsize.

“You’ll almost certainly want to bring some of your stuff, but the vast majority of what you own is replaceable,” writes Scott Meslow in GQ. “And the cost of moving most of what you own across the country is comparable to the cost of just buying something similar—or better!—once you actually arrive.”

The good news? Purging can be cathartic. Discover some ways you can unload your stuff before moving day:

  • Sell stuff online through Craigslist, eBay, or Etsy
  • Have a traditional garage sale
  • Give away things to your friends and family
  • Donate items through charities or religious organizations
  • Throw away old, worn out, or unusable items

Experts suggest taking photographs, especially for anything of great value. You may want proof of exactly what condition the chosen ones – items with which you simply can’t part – were in before they get on the moving truck (or whatever mode of transportation you choose).


Moving long distance is a tremendous undertaking. But if you prepare and research your options, you can make the move successfully without pulling out your hair. As you deal with the technical aspects of the move, give yourself a break if you – or others in the family – get emotional. Starting a new life in a new place is never easy. A stress-free move is the first step to arriving at this new world. 

Car Shipping: How to Ship Your Car (Safely) If You’re Moving Long Distance

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Every year, a large number of people moving to a new state ship their cars for the first time. Shipping a car isn’t hard, but a few common mistakes can cost you a lot of time and money, especially when trying to juggle the logistics of moving your house too.

So I’m using my decade of expertise to help. Here’s how to (safely) do an auto transport using a step-by-step process.

How to Find an Auto-Transport Company

If you reside in a big city, these days it’s as simple as typing “my city auto transport” into Google. The “my city” being either the city you are shipping to or from.

Literally hiring a company online to move your car is usually the easiest part of the entire auto transport process. It’s cheaper than hiring a professional driver, keeps miles off your tires, and it’s helpful if you aren’t able to drive the car to your new place yourself. 

Does the company have to be located where I’m going or where I am now?

No. Finding a company based in either your origin or destination city isn’t crucial. You can absolutely hire a company from anywhere in the country to ship your car. But companies based on where you are or are going are ideal because of the flexibility they might offer with scheduling. The shippers will be in your city of origin or destination for a few days, as opposed to passing through, which usually leads to more flexibility.

What if there is no auto-transport company near me?

Unfortunately, finding an auto transport company specific to your city isn’t always possible, especially if you live in a rural area.

If you live where there are few options near you, your first step is to search for a company based in the opposite place that you are shipping your car either to or from. Every state typically has at least a few auto transport companies that can help.

If you still can’t find one (or you don’t like any of the ones that you do find), move on to just a general search for auto transport companies elsewhere in the country. Yes, you can still receive fine service from a company not based in your state, it’s just an advantage to have someone familiar with your route to work for you.

I always recommend calling them, as opposed to emailing, because you get a much better feel for what working with that company will be like.

Also, call more than a few of the (reputable) companies that show up in your search. (More on finding reputable companies below.)

How much does it cost to transport my car?

This will vary significantly based on lots of factors, but transportreviews.com reports that the average cost is $983, based on the average distance of 1,662 miles. Obviously, this price will fluctuate lower or higher, depending on where you’re transporting your car, as well as how big your vehicle is.

How do I get a quote?

Be prepared to tell the company this basic information:

  • Where is the car is coming from?
  • Where are you going?
  • When do you want to have it shipped?

Knowing the basics is all it takes to get a quote. Want to be really sure what your best option is? It’s standard to get as many as four different quotes to get a good idea of what a fair price is. (Or at least tell them you’re collecting quotes.)

How to Hire a Good Company

How do you know who a bad company is? Knowing this begins with understanding what is happening behind the scenes. There are two types of car shipping services, and first-time shippers usually have no clue which they are (or how good they may be) until well after they ship their first car.

What’s a “Broker” and what’s a “Carrier”? And why does it matter?

Brokers are companies that don’t actually own the truck that ships your car.

Almost all of the companies that you find online are brokers and don’t actually own the transportation. Their purpose is to find the carrier who will actually ship the car. This can sometimes be a necessary step because finding a carrier without the connections that brokers have can be extremely difficult.

You generally want to avoid brokers who are not upfront that they themselves are not shipping your car!

Brokers charge a set fee for their service and make an educated guess on what the rest of the transport will cost when they give you a quote. Whether or not they tell you they are a broker upfront depends on what kind of company you find.

Carriers are the companies that own trucks and employ drivers. This is the company that will do the actual relocating of your vehicle. The reason brokers are necessary is due to most of these shipping companies being extremely small.

It’s not uncommon for the owner of the company to be the driver and sole employee. These small companies don’t have websites and don’t do any marketing because they rely on brokers for their freight. If you are not already inside the industry, finding a company on your route and on your schedule would require hours of work.

With the magic of the internet, it’s easier than ever to check who is and who isn’t legit. Before you request a quote from a company, check their reviews. Car shipping companies have many different sales tactics to trick you once they get your information.

What’s the most common tactic to trick customers?

After ten years of experience, I know it’s simply to promise impossibly low prices in order to get you to book right away.

Do not simply request quotes from as many companies as you can. By giving away your info, you will run into very persistent sales people that will never stop calling you. Furthermore, there are some companies that look like transport companies but are actually what are known as “lead generators”. This means the information you put on their site is going to be sold to 10 or 15 different companies. Your phone will not stop ringing for days!

You want to get as many quotes as you can, but you need to make sure the company is a legitimate broker or carrier before you inquire. How? Check for and read verified reviews before requesting quotes. This will help you avoid bad websites. Did you get an extremely low quote? That’s a red flag.

Get a Written Contract (Then Read It)

If you found a good broker, getting an easy to understand contract should be a breeze. But you still have to be careful (just like you should with every contract you sign!).

What should I watch out for?

Read through the contract very carefully. If your contract says anything – and it will be small – about the price “not being guaranteed”, this is a major red flag.

I have heard plenty of stories from customers about how they signed a contract with a broker, only to be told at the last minute that the price is a $100 to $500 more “than expected”.

Just imagine the moving truck has all of your things, then the broker calls and says they have a carrier but it is going to cost $150 more. You won’t really have a choice by that point.

Correctly Prepare The Inside and Outside of Your Car to Be Shipped

It is standard practice to get your car inspected by the shipping company, but first, you need to clean the car so that an accurate inspection can be done.

If the car is dirty, the driver might miss something when they do the inspection on pick up, or you might miss something when the inspection is done on delivery. An accurate inspection is vital in case there is a problem.

Do auto-shippers charge by weight?

Yes. Lighten your car as much as possible. Auto shippers will charge you by the weight of your car, and bigger vehicles will cost more to ship.

Most drivers allow 100 pounds or less for free. (Remember: the personal items you put in the car cannot be insured.) If you exceed 100 pounds, you could be charged extra for the added weight. For a totally packed small car, the driver will ask for around $200-$300. A totally packed large SUV or truck could be from $300-$500 extra, or the driver might even refuse the shipment. If you need to put things in the car, let your broker know ahead of time when you are booking so that they can arrange it with the carrier.

Drivers also prefer you leave the car with a quarter tank of gas. That’s enough so that they don’t have to worry about it running out when moving it, but not so much that they haul additional weight for no reason.

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Arrange to Get Your Car Exactly Where You Can Get It

Now that you’ve found a good company, you’ve signed the contract, and you’ve readied your car, you need to tell the company the best place to have the car picked up.

When will my car be available for pick up?

If you are flying, think about which end you need the car more. Is it the city the car is being picked up in, or the city it is being dropped off at? Trust me, in my experience, you will definitely beat the trucker to your destination. Remember that all delivery dates are estimated.

Moving trucks have one pick up and one drop off, so you can imagine that a moving truck estimate is much more accurate than auto transport trucks, who routinely have to deal with around 10 different pickups and drop-offs a day! Because of this fact, make sure that you have a backup plan on the day of pick up and drop off.

If the car isn’t delivered when and where you need it, ask a friend that can hold onto the car for you, or maybe a neighbor. It’s not even unheard of for a hotel manager or car dealership to offer this as a service.

What to Do When Your Car Shows Up

When the truck comes to pick up the car, make sure the driver does an accurate inspection and that you get a copy of the inspection report on pick up. This ensures the state of your vehicle cannot be altered. The inspection report is the only thing that can support your claim if any damage occurs.

The delivery driver does the inspection on pick up, you do the inspection on the delivery. Remember that if you sign the inspection report, you are releasing the driver and the company from all liability. That means if you notice something later, there is nothing you can do!

In my experience, damage doesn’t happen often and the process for getting reimbursed is not difficult if you do everything right. Almost all damage during transport is extremely minor. Small scratches or a dent is the most common of these things.

Most companies will prefer to handle the matter directly rather than have you go through their insurance company. The most important thing is that you do not sign the inspection report until you have received your reimbursement. Again, damage almost never happens in the first place, but you need to make sure you handle the paperwork properly if it does.

Do I have to do anything else after the car is delivered?

Hopefully, everything is done correctly and the process will be seamless. But if not, leave a review.

If you were happy with the service it’s always nice to leave a review saying so. The best place online to do this is on transportreviews.com, which in my experience is the biggest and most sincere community for car transportation reviews online. By leaving an honest review, companies know what they are doing right and you’ll help the next person transporting their vehicle make a more informed decision.

Similarly, if you weren’t happy with the service, let your broker know. Some things are out of the control of the broker and the driver, so be understanding if your car was a day late. Like I mentioned earlier, dates are always estimates in the auto transport industry.

If however, you feel that your experience was poor, then it’s especially important to leave a review. This helps future customers and the companies that are doing good work out there.


Max is the owner of MiG Auto Transport. He has been in the auto transport industry for over seven years. Originally from New York, he now lives in (sometimes) sunny Jacksonville, FL. He loves his wife, dog, cars and (sometimes) the Jacksonville Jaguars.

How to Best Unload Your Moving Truck

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Loading your truck is like getting ready for prom. You want everything to be perfect.

Unloading, on the other hand, is kind of the same way; take everything off, drop it on the floor and go jump in the pool with your friends, right?

Yes and no. Unloading a moving truck is definitely easier than loading one, but like jumping in the pool, there are good ways and bad ways to do it.

Below are some tips for safety and speed so you can not only do the job right but have plenty of time for the post-party. (And this all applies for moving containers too!)

How to Prepare Your Unload

Park on a flat, level surface

If you are renting a portable container like a PODS, you can expect it will be set on even ground. The same thing goes for a rental truck.

You’ll want to park in a similar level place, to make unloading both safer and easier. If you simply have to park on a sloped surface, point the front of your truck downhill. (You can imagine why.)

Apply the emergency brake

This applies even if you park on a level surface. It also doesn’t hurt to put chocks – or rocks or blocks of wood – under one or more of the wheels. 

Open the back of the truck slowly

Your stuff will have shifted around in transit, and the possibility of something tumbling out onto the ground, or on you, is very real.

If something is about to come tumbling out, you may feel and/or hear it pushing against the door as you open it. But not always.

Keep your eyes open and have an extra set of hands ready.

Ramps slide out quickly, be careful

Rental trucks generally come equipped with a loading ramp that slides right out from under the rear door. Unlatching it, sliding it out and locking it in place is simple. So is hurting yourself if you aren’t careful.

That ramp is heavy! And pulling it too hard can turn it into a battering ram with you being the one getting battered. Ease it out all the way and set it down on something not your toes. And remember to set those hooks at the top of the ramp securely in place!

How to Unload Safely and Quickly

Get off to a pretty slow start

That’s right! Even if nothing looks about to topple over, you still want to take it easy when you begin unloading your stuff.

Your stuff will shift and resettle in transit

This goes triple if you have a freight trailer!

The pedal of the bicycle you so carefully placed on top of all those boxes might now be stuck in between two of those cartons, and pulling too hard trying to free your bike can send a whole stack of stuff cascading down on top of you. 

Remember, if your truck was packed to the gills, you won’t have much room back there for your feet. Take your time. Watch your step. Ease those first items off the truck, always aware of how close your Nikes are to the edge of that deck. One misstep and there goes your stuff (and you).

Assign a ramp person

If you have someone (or a few people) helping you, assign one person to stay on the truck to break down the load and put everything at the edge of the deck where the others can grab it without having to climb into the truck.

Not only does this save time, it also eliminates a ton of bending over.

Working like this, it’s never long before the person on the truck gets ahead of the others. This is a good time for that person to nominate someone to help carry that sofa or dresser off the truck and into the house. In addition, jumping off the truck and helping get all the stuff they’ve set on the deck into the house is the obvious way to keep the process rolling.

Tackling the unload all by yourself? Try working in a similar fashion. As you break down your load, position as many boxes and other items as possible along the edge of the deck. Then you’ll be able to make a bunch of trips back and forth without having to walk up and down that ramp every time, saving both your legs and your back.

 

Form a box brigade

Building on above, if you are lucky enough to have two or more people helping you unload:

  • Keep one person working on the truck
  • One person carrying stuff from the truck to a staging area (usually the garage or the front door)
  • One person working inside carrying everything from the staging area to where it all belongs

Naturally, the person on the truck will start getting ahead of the person carrying stuff to the staging area, who will in turn probably get ahead of the person running back and forth inside the house. Periodically jumping off the truck or stepping inside to help your buddy catch up keeps everyone moving – and quickens the process of emptying out that truck or portable container.

Which, of course, leaves more time to enjoy the pool.

Use a dolly

When you are unloading your moving truck, a hand truck (also known as a dolly) is your best non-human friend.

Rolling heavy stuff means you don’t have to carry it. Rolling a stack of boxes means making one trip instead of three or four! The bigger your load and the heavier your stuff, the more you will thank yourself for having that hand truck around. It’s an essential item to rent of your moving truck doesn’t come with one, or if you don’t hire moving labor.

Make sure, by the way, to use that hand truck correctly. You should always be higher than the dolly when rolling stuff down that ramp. If you are hand-trucking something large and/or heavy, have an extra set of hands at the lower end to keep that thing moving steadily—and slowly!

Want to really learn how to use a dolly? Check out this post.

Center everything before it goes off the truck

It goes without saying that when you’re unloading major appliances and large pieces of furniture – or anything for that matter – you want to be doubly certain neither your feet nor the wheels of your hand truck miss that ramp.

But you also want your hand truck to hit the ramp squarely; if one wheel starts going downhill before the other your hand truck will start to tip to one side. Your buddy on the bottom end will naturally try to steady it, which can send one of his feet off the side of the ramp, and things will just keep going downhill from there.

Whether you are rolling or carrying that big heavy appliance or piece of furniture, you want to get centered on the back of the truck before you head for that ramp.

Again, when using a dolly, those wheels go down before you do. If you and a buddy are carrying that item, whoever is holding the bottom end needs to travel down first. In either case, the person on the lower end is responsible for maintaining a straight line of forward progress. 

Ready to unpack?

That’s a whole other thing, so make sure to read our unpacking guide too!

Protip: If you have to walk up a slope or up any stairs, it’s good practice to turn yourselves around so the person holding the top of that big bulky piece is again in a higher position.

Going upslope, however, the person on top takes over steering duty. The person on the bottom then will have the responsibility of providing most of the upward momentum. (This is especially true when going up a staircase.)

In other words, the person on bottom pushes while the person on top does their best to avoid banging into the walls and tripping up the steps. 

Get Some Quick Help

And if all else fails (or you realize you have more stuff than you thought you did after loading your truck), do yourself a favor and double-check our movers’ prices for unloading trucks.

Get Help Unloading Your Rental Truck

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From my decades of experience moving people, an unbooked mover is pretty motivated to come out, as opposed to sitting around doing nothing. Do a quick fly by on HireAHelper if you were wondering, “But are there any local movers near me available to lend me and my friends a hand?”

I’ve saved plenty of people’s moving day who thought to check, even last second.

Illustrations by Emily Roberts
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