Preparing a Strategy for a Smooth Move
It’s time to move
Whether you’ve landed a fantastic new job, or you’ve decided to move back home to be near friends and family, no matter what the reason, moving can be stressful. You’ll need help from a reputable mover and you’ll need a good plan to accomplish your move safely and efficiently. We’ve outlined some steps below to help you. With the right plan you’ll soon be settled, with a successful move behind you.
Seek the assistance of a professional mover. Obtain 2 or 3 bids from leading companies that serve the areas involved in your move. Check references and verify in writing that your mover is properly licensed and insured. Most major moving companies will assign a moving coordinator to help you. This person will inform you about the moving process. Ask them for a written moving guide or planner to follow.
Only move necessities
Make an Inventory and evaluate your belongings. Only move items that are most valuable and items that can’t be replaced. Sell or donate items that you don’t need – well in advance of your move. Make a list of people to notify of your move including friends, family, and all parties with which you do business. Settle any outstanding bills with local creditors. Notify all utility companies of your move out date.
Cover all details
Empty safety deposit boxes. Pick up any dry cleaning. Return library books or video rentals. Retrieve local school records, health records and pet records. Make travel arrangements for the day of your move. Give yourself 1-2 days’ cushion to handle any unexpected events. Make sure your car is in good working order if you plan to drive to your new location. Arrange for insurance in your new location.
Purchase moving supplies, including boxes, bubble wrap and packing tape. Start packing at least 4-6 weeks before your move. Pack all items to be moved in sturdy boxes, with even weight distribution and properly bubble wrap all fragile items. Label boxes by room and by name, if more than 1 person in family. Plan ahead to reduce perishable food supply. Donate or give away items that can’t be packed.
Moving into your new residence
Plan ahead to ensure your new residence is clean and ready to move in. Call utility companies at least 1 week in advance. Have your new residence inspected to identify any repairs needed before you move in. Make sure you have adequate help to move in, and adequate time to get settled into your new residence. Provide your forwarding address to the post office and all essential contacts. Rest a few days.
Trends in Moving:
Moving Companies Offer Better Service with New Technology
What's Happening with Those on the Go
Professional moving companies have shifted their heavy lifting to new levels of efficiency and expediency. Thanks to technology, a move is faster, greener, more accurate, specialized, and interactive in real time.
"There continues to be an abandonment of paper (better for the environment) where a surveyor comes to your house with a clipboard and does an assessment and estimate," says Joab Schultheis, vice president, chief information officer at Atlas Van Lines, Inc. in Evansville, Ind. In its place, Atlas agents across the country offer a remote video survey that enables surveyors to view what’s going to be moved from your home without ever leaving their desk.
This technology tool reduces fuel costs and drive time, improves time management and energy-efficiency initiatives, and has a very positive impact on operations and customer experience. At the same time, mobile apps enable the company to email documentation that also speeds up the process. On moving day, Atlas’ professional van operators have an app that records inventory to make sure everything that is scheduled to be moved has been picked up and nothing remains behind.
If you still want a person to come to your home to discuss moving details and provide an estimate, it's no problem. Moving firms like Atlas oblige. Some customers also prefer a blend of the traditional moving process combined with use of new technology. Typically, those under 35 years expect and rely on digital options rather than phone calls or a personal visit.
New mobile apps make it possible for customers to track their moves in real time. Atlas’ MoveAtlas™ is a free mobile app with shipment tracking for your tablet or smart phone, and keeps you abreast of what’s picked up and what’s delivered. Says Schultheis, "We’re also focusing on providing those customers who want digital options with more self-service choices." "We are looking into offering customers the ability to schedule their own surveys or the type of survey they want. This puts it into their own hands."
In addition to the end-to-end moving experience, moving firms are also offering a menu of niche services. Schultheis says that Atlas agents partner with such groups as Move for Hunger to pick up unwanted food from clients' homes on moving day. "And if you need help with such moving related tasks as connecting utilities, we partner with local providers and can arrange for those services", he says.
No one really knows what the future holds in the moving business. Will robots eventually be making moves? Will drones drop ship small moves? Probably not — at least not in the near future. However, driverless trucks are on the horizon, Schultheis points out. "We have a long way to go but the advancements continue. What I’ve read is that driverless trucks will have a driver onboard the vehicle to keep an eye on things but not be involved in the driving of the vehicle." One advantage is that driverless trucks can be on the road 24 hours a day, which will result in expedited service for customers and improved productivity for moving companies.
Whether you want a high-tech or a low-tech move, here are 7 key questions you may want to ask up front:
- What won’t you move? Pets? Chemicals? House plants? Cars? Big musical instruments like a piano? Do I need a specialized mover?
- Do you crate special items such as valuable art or sculptures?
- How do you calculate the cost of the move?
- Will I take care of my own packing, or will the moving company pack for me? And who will provide the packing materials?
- Do I need insurance to cover the move if something is damaged? What are the options? Atlas recommends Full Value Protection that provides coverage to repair or replace anything that may be lost, damaged or destroyed during a move. You – the customer – would then have damaged items replaced with like-items, or be given a cash replacement at current market value of items, regardless of the age.
- What about storage? Atlas has a warehouse management system that is being rolled out to keep track of items and their location. Items are tracked with barcodes and color-coded stickers as they arrive at the warehouse.
- Are there any discounts for seniors or AAA members? Atlas offers an AAA discount.
Moving is an emotional and physically challenging experience, whether the process is high or low tech. When your possessions are in the hands of a moving company, you want to make sure your belongings are delivered in a safe condition and timely manner.
Plan ahead to cut costs and reduce stress
Fact: The average person in the United States moves an average of 11.4 times, according to FiveThirtyEight advice columnist Mona Chalabi. Some moves may be so close to your current home that you can handle hauling on your own with help from a few friends and your car or by renting a small truck.
Others may include bigger loads and be farther away, enough to require the expertise of a skilled moving company. You may even have a piano that demands special expertise to transport the delicate item safely, with legs taken apart first and then added later. Regardless, you should take your time and simplify the process by planning the move far in advance. Here are 10 key points to help.
1. Get recommendations. As with any big undertaking, ask friends and family and even real-estate salespeople for names of experienced moving companies. Look online for Yelp reviews, check their background for years in business and complaints or law suits filed with organizations such as a Better Business Bureau. Interview three in person, and be sure to compare apples to apples, says Keith Snode, vice president of sales and marketing at Flat Rate Moving, based in New York City.
2. Obtain price estimates. If the distance between the consumer's home and the company's office or its agent's office is within 50 miles, the estimate must be based on a physical survey of client goods, according to Manuela Irwin, Business Development Executive of theMovingBlog.com, based in Boston. Consumers can waive this requirement that both parties can sign before the shipment is loaded. The pricing of each move gets calculated by weight for long-distance moves--typically more than 100 miles, or the time needed to complete a local move, plus additional services such as packing and unpacking, disassembling and assembling furniture, handling bulky items, storage, and so on, says Irwin. Prices fluctuate during the year. In New York, the busiest times are the last days of a month and first days of the next month, says Snode. He recommends some flexibility if possible. From May to September costs more, Irwin says. If you move locally, you might consider a flat-rate service company such as Flat Rate, which thinks it was first to base price on volume, not by time. "Distance factors in but it's minimal" Snode says. Also understand what a "binding quote" means, he says. "If you list all furniture and forgot to add a chair and want to add that to your quote, you negate the original quote."
3. Get rid of what you don't want to move in advance. It's best if you first scale back furniture and possessions you don't plan to move so they don't clutter the estimator's vision of what you will be taking. Don’t forget to show them an attic or basement filled with stored items, too, if you plan to move contents there.
4. Ask about valuation options. Federal law requires movers to offer two valuation options: Released Value Protection that is free of charge and compensation equals 60 cents times each pound, or Full Value Protection, which requires movers to repair or replace any items or make a cash settlement based on the current market replacement value, says Irwin. The latter plan is subject to each company policy. The industry minimum replacement value is usually $6 per pound, so the standard amount is calculated by multiplying the estimated weight of the shipment times $6 per pound, Irwin says. Some companies offer replacement value of between $8 and $12 per pound. The amount of valuation a consumer declares on the Bill of Lading is the total maximum liability for loss or damage while the shipment is in a mover's "hands." Movers can also offer different deductible levels. Movers aren't liable for any items they won't move, sometimes jewelry, plants or expensive wine, and there's a fine line regarding what you pack yourself, says Snode. Some consumers may want to secure insurance from a third party if their homeowners insurance doesn't cover certain items in transit.
5. Pare costs. There are additional costs if the mover is packing you up, and you’ll pay extra for packing materials, or if the movers unpack, dispose of packing materials, and arrange items, you also will be charged additionally. Some companies may give you some free boxes or a discount, or even place items in specific rooms but be sure to ask in advance what the estimates include.
6. Update appraisals and inventory everything. This is not a time to leave anything to chance. Make a detailed visual list with your iphone or a video camera of what you're moving (you’ll be glad you did in case something is lost or broken during the move), and list items in writing by the boxes they're packed in, so you can check off each one as it leaves your house and then when it arrives at the new destination. For example, one box may contain your family silverware, which you've previously had appraised; another may contain all your family photos. You can't put a value on the latter, but you still want to know they arrived safely. Make a copy and keep these lists and images in a file, on your computer in a word document, on an excel spreadsheet, or store via iCloud.
7. Make a plan where everything will go. In addition to labeling the contents of each box, you want to note the room in which each item will go. Example: Silverware, box 1, goes into the dining room. This way the movers know where to place everything, and you don't have to move stuff again.
8. The day of the move. Be sure you are present and check off boxes and furnishings as they are taken to the moving truck. Make sure nothing is left behind. Try to be present when the contents arrive at your new home. Again, pull out your inventory list and do a double check that all has arrived.
9. Unpacking. This can be overwhelming if you're moving dozens--maybe even more than 100 boxes. Check for breakage and, if boxed, keep it in the box until you file a claim. If the movers aren't unpacking you, remember you don't have to unpack all at once but can do so slowly. Save boxes and return them to the store where you purchased them if you can get some of your money back, or break them down and save for a future move or simply recycle.
10. Breakage or loss. Interstate movers are required by law to inform clients about an arbitration policy. Each company's claim process may vary for anything destroyed or in need of repair. Take a photo of the item that was damaged and save it for inspection rather than try first to get it repaired. Email a photo of the item before it was broken and, if it’s crated or in a box, save the box with the broken parts. Contact the company and representatives you dealt with. Most companies have a written claim form you'll fill out and within the company's set time frame. A claims adjuster will be assigned who will find a repair company to inspect damaged items and estimate the cost to repair or replace.
Once the move is finished and everything is in place, you can put your feet up, relax on your sofa or favorite chair, and take pleasure in the place you now call home.
Barbara Ballinger is a professional writer, author, blogger and speaker who has long focused on real estate, design, and personal finance. She has co-authored many books, including Successful Homebuilding and Remodeling, The Kitchen Bible: Designing the perfect culinary space, and The Garden Bible: Designing the perfect outdoor space. She regularly contributes to the National Association of Realtors® Website and magazine.
Margaret Crane is a nationally known freelance writer, blogger and journalist who has co-authored with Barbara Ballinger several books and articles on real estate, design and family business. Her byline has appeared in Realtor® magazine. With more than a half-dozen titles to her credit, Margaret’s latest design book is The Kitchen Bible: Designing the perfect culinary space.