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The average professional household move costs a whopping $12,230, according to a 2010 report by Worldwide ERC, an association that tracks mobility costs. However, this cost is for a full-service professional move, in which the moving company packs up your belongings and essentially handles the entire move for you. While many people choose to hire professional movers, others opt to orchestrate the move themselves by renting a truck. This is a good option if you have the manpower to move by yourself, but if that's not feasible, you may need to enlist the help of professional movers. (Bing: Find a trustworthy mover)
If you hire professionals, there are ways you can reduce expenses, such as through tax breaks, research and packing up small belongings before the movers arrive.
Approximately 16.7 million households move annually, according to the Census Bureau. People make moves year-round, but the most popular time for moving is summer, because most families want to move when their children are out of school, says Julie Reynolds, a spokeswoman for Moving.com, a website that connects consumers with professional moving companies.
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You can save money if you move between October and April, because a summer move costs 25% more than moving during those months, says Phil Liu, co-founder of CityMove.com, a free website where consumers solicit bids from movers.
U.S. News spoke to moving experts for their best cost-saving tips when hiring movers.
1. Unload what you don't need. The weight of your load is a big factor in determining the price of a long-haul move. To downsize, get rid of your junk through services such as College Hunks Hauling Junk, which will come to your house to take unwanted possessions off your hands. Another option is giving to charity. Move for Hunger, for example, accepts canned goods.
"Finding things that you can recycle, donate, give to a friend or throw away, you can reduce the amount of items you have to transport by 40 to 50 percent," Reynolds says. She recommends starting to go through your house 60 days before your move and organizing things by room.
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Also, measure to see if you have any furniture that won't fit in your new space, says Linda Bauer Darr, CEO and president of the American Moving & Storage Association. "It's kind of like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, but you don't want to pay someone to move something that you won't use," she says.
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2. Time it right. A midmonth move will save you the most money, because movers are busiest during the beginning and end of the month as leases turn over.
3. Save on boxes. You can purchase used, recycled boxes and pack small items yourself to decrease the amount of time the movers will have to spend. You can then typically sell those boxes back to the company that you purchased them from to recoup costs, Reynolds says.
4. Plan and organize. Order colored tape and label which room each box goes to. "That way, you don't have to have somebody at the truck, telling the unloading crew where to put things," Reynolds says. Even better, if you snap pictures of your next home and draw on them to show the movers in advance where each item will go, you'll reduce the moving time even more.
5. Cover your items. A big benefit of hiring professional movers is that you can insure the expensive items you're transporting. Insurance costs extra, but it will save you money in the long run if anything breaks. However, your goods might already be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance, so check your policy first.
If you purchase insurance through the mover, be clear about what you're signing. Reynolds recommends asking questions such as, "Is this replacement value or market value?" and, "If I pack it, do I pay a different type of insurance than if your movers pack it?" Often, moving companies will offer you coverage of up to 60 cents per pound, so the insurance doesn't necessarily take into account what the items are, Bauer Darr says.
6. Snag a tax break. If you're moving because of a job change, you may be able to deduct certain moving expenses, such as transportation and storage costs for household goods, as well as travel and lodging expenses incurred while moving from your old home to your new home. To see if you qualify, check the Internal Revenue Service guidelines or consult a tax preparer.
7. Price it out. Reynolds advises contacting at least three professional moving companies to compare prices. You'll also want to get an in-home estimate by each mover, Bauer Darr says. That way, the mover can get a better idea of what they'll be moving and can give you a more realistic estimate for the move. "When they come in, it's good to ask questions like, 'Is this something you should handle?' 'What are the items I should pack myself?'" Bauer Darr says.
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8. Research the mover. Make sure that you're hiring a legitimate mover — a licensed company equipped with the proper insurance and resources to complete your move efficiently. "Unfortunately, it's too easy these days to put your name on the side of a truck and call yourself a professional mover," Bauer Darr says. To help you vet moving companies, AMSA provides a list of certified "ProMovers" at Moving.org. Also check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company.
These strategies take time, so plan ahead to ensure your move is a cost-efficient one.
Ask your moving company for a list of prohibited items before you start packing. Flammables, aerosols, toxic or caustic materials and cleaning fluids are all examples of items your mover cannot haul. Some movers also will not haul liquids of any kind (including liquor bottles).
Use sturdy cartons, mark "Fragile" or "Liquids" with arrows pointing up on all four sides so that your movers have an idea of what they are loading.
Do not overload boxes with heavy items, especially flimsier boxes. If you can't lift it; it's too heavy.
If you buy moving cartons, do not buy all 6.0 cubic ft./Extra Large cartons because they give you the most box for your buck. They are made for lampshades and comforters. I have moved too many 6.0's full of books that can weigh up to 300 lbs. They will not hold the weight, they will collapse and your mover will not be liable.
Fill your cartons to the top. Use crushed newsprint or towels if needed. Cartons that are not filled are more likely to crush when stacked on. Your things will most likely be stacked 8' to 12' high, so sturdiness is important.
Ask your mover for a "partial pack" if you just want them to handle the fragile items. This will not only relieve you of the most difficult packing job but will also make those "Carrier Packed" (CP) cartons insurable.
Always mark your cartons on their sides so that the marking is visible when the cartons are stacked. If you are using used cartons, be sure to cross out the old markings to avoid confusion on the delivery end.
If you choose to pack valuables like coins or jewelry, pack them in cartons marked "Twilight Books" or "Romance Novels." They will be safe.
I'd never want a number of strangers packing my own personal things. I would skip the expensive rates of having the movers do this, and do all my own packing, downsizing as much as possible so I have less to pack. Then leave the movers to my boxes of stuff. My personal effects are my life and nobody else's business.
And you should never, ever pay for boxes as some other readers have pointed out.
Good tips but some info is wrong.
#3 Interstate Movers do not sell or purchase used boxes. They sometimes give used material away, but usually not enough to fully pack more than a small shipment. You will need to supplement them either with scavenging for boxes or purchasing boxes.
#5 The correct legal term is 'Valuation" not insurance. It is not the same. You, as the shipper, are releasing your goods to the driver and moving company, in lieu of a value of, or a "Declaration of Value". If your goods are worth shipping, it is probably important that you get "Full Value Replacement Coverage" instead of 60 cents per pound. I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken to someone who moved, only to find out that they had damage and only got pennies on the dollar for the repairs. Not only did they not purchase the coverage, they did not even know that it was available to them.
#7 Compare proposals! Long distance moves are done by weight. This is to protect you. Make sure that the weights are close. Some companies intentionally under estimate the weight. A "Binding" price is only good if the weight is accurate. The driver can protest under estimated shipments forcing the sales rep to renegotiate the move while the truck idles in front of your residence on load day. This goes for packing too. Compare packing by looking at the carton quantities on each proposal. Make sure that they are specific as to what they have agreed to pack.
#8 On Interstate moves, make sure that you are dealing with a carrier that has "Interstate Authority".
A DOT number on the side of the truck does not constitute "Interstate Authority". There are regulations in place to to protect you. Look for the "PROMOVER" Logo.
We always do our moving and packing our selves. I go to a store, get free boxes and bring them home. I start packing a month ahead. We rent a truck and 3 to 4 spanish guys that stand by the roads and give them no more then $45-$50. They move all the stuff with my husband and unload where i need them. The whole moving may cost me $300.
Why pay soooooooooo much? This was in state moving. I live in Virginia.
Most importantly, NEVER let your movers take boxes that contain valuables such as jewelry or silver. That's how I lost two valuable rings. Take that stuff with you!