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Avoid these common moving mistakes

Avoid these common moving mistakes

#1: "Winging It" Instead of Planning Ahead

Relocation is a huge job and procrastination is your worst enemy. Even seemingly small moves, like moving a studio apartment across town, can be nerve-racking and costly if they're not well planned. If you have the luxury of time, you should start planning your move months—yes, months—in advance.

Start making travel arrangements, look into moving companies, pack, and get your financial and logistical affairs in order as early as possible. Start keeping a specific notebook or binder for moving-related information. Keep all your records in it, from copies of the moving estimate to restaurant suggestions in your new neighborhood.

There's a lot to do, but here's a good start: use our Moving Checklist to help you create a plan of action.

#2: Bad Timing and Poor Scheduling

Timing is key. Favorable weather means the summer months are typically the most hectic time of year for moving companies. However, spring and autumn can get very busy, too. And remember that moving companies may not be available if you're moving close to a holiday.

Start researching your options for moving companies a month to two before your moving date. The last thing you want is to be stuck with an unknown or unreliable moving company, high rates, or the nightmare scenario: no moving company at all.

If you're planning to drive your own moving truck, make sure you schedule the rental well ahead of the day you actually need it. Find out the exact dimensions of the truck's cargo space, and maybe even swing by the rental company to get an idea of the space you'll require and whether a 13-foot truck's really up to the job.

Even the day of the week you pick can affect your move. Higher demand means companies often charge top dollar for weekend moves and truck rentals, and the increased daytime traffic also means more time that your belongings will be in transit.

#3: Choosing a Less-than-Reputable Moving Company

Research is critical here. Choosing the wrong moving company can mean stolen or damaged property, a move that is far more expensive and longer than originally quoted, and being overcharged for things like packing tape. And once all your stuff's in their truck, you're in a terrible position to argue.

Though you might find some great deals on the Internet, think about following a personal referral from family or friends. If that's not possible, check with your realtor or a moving trade organization to find local moving companies with a solid reputation and years of experience.

Check out trustworthy websites offering real customer feedback to see what clients say about their experiences with the company. Find out if the mover has a DOT (Department of Transportation) number and enter it in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's SAFER system to make sure they're adequately insured. You can also give the DOT a call at 1-888-368-7238 to find out if there are any complaints about the company.

Here are some questions to ask before you hire a moving company:

  • Are they licensed by the state and do they have workmans comp insurance?
  • Will they do an in-home estimate?
  • Is their company going to be handling the move or are they going to hire a subcontractor?
  • Will this move require any special arrangements, like a transfer from the semi truck to a smaller local truck to help navigate big-city streets? This may affect the cost of the move and increase the risk of damage to your belongings.
  • Do they require a deposit?
  • What forms of payment do they accept?

#4: Moving with Unnecessary Items

Indiscriminately jamming everything you own into boxes might seem like the simplest way of packing, but it also guarantees needless stress and expense. For one thing, extra stuff equals extra weight, so you may end up overpaying your movers or overstressing your own back.

Moving gives you a perfect opportunity to cull your possessions. Use your move to get rid of clothes you don't wear anymore, books you've already read, outdated technology, and more.

#5: Insufficient or Nonexistent Insurance for Valuables

Moving is tough on your stuff. Even if every item you own is carefully packed and handled by experienced movers, accidents happen. Get familiar with your insurance options before your move. That way, when things are at their most stressful on moving day, you can rest assured that if anything gets damaged, you're covered.

Call your moving company to find out the details of its liability coverage policies. This coverage will either be based on the total weight of your items, the assessed value of your items, or the full value of replacement of your items. Weight-based coverage might cover about $0.30—$0.60 a pound . So if a mover drops your 35 lb. state-of-the-art stereo system, you could be looking at a reimbursement of about $10.