Moving is a trying time, both emotionally and financially. But good planning and preparation go a long way to offset the anxiety and the impact on your wallet. Here are the steps you should take to reduce the stress, whether you’re planning to hire movers to do it all yourself.
Purge & Sell (or Donate!)
The cost of your move heavily depends on how much stuff you own. That’s why your first step, whether you’re going the professional movers or DIY route, is to purge your belongings. Go through everything you own – from kitchen appliances to clothes to books to furniture – and decide if it should be getting put in the back of a moving truck. If you’re ready to part ways, then you could sell your items and put your profits towards the move. Or, you could also donate some or all of your castoffs.
Also, if it’s time to start upgrading some of your items, like that Ikea bed from your early-twenties that gives your mid-30s self a backache, then leave those pieces behind to save money on the move!
Next, Create a Budget
Budget – I know, it’s a universally hated word, but it’s important. You need to have a basic understanding of how much your move is going to cost in order to be financially prepared. Prices will vary drastically depending on where you’re moving (across town or across the country) and whether you’re going the DIY route or hiring professional help.
Think about how much you have to spend and do some research about the cost of your move based on the distance you’re going and how much you’ll be moving. There are plenty of online calculators that can help give you a guesstimate of your total cost.
Shop Around and Compare Prices for Moving Companies
You 100% need to be comparing your options before picking a moving company. Get a quote from several local options and read reviews on sites like Angie’s List. Word-of-mouth recommendation from friends and co-workers are valuable too. If you have any control over what time of year you move, then you may want to consider the fall or winter which is often the low season for moving companies, which could result in a price reduction for you.
Do You Have Insurance Coverage?
Things are likely to break or go missing during your move, so you should have some insurance coverage. You could check your homeowner’s policy, although it’s not standard procedure for your homeowner’s insurance to cover moving. You should ask your moving company about its coverage and be sure that you completely understand the coverage if one of your items like a dining room table or bed, were to be broken. Or if something in your old or new home gets damaged during the move.
You should also clarify who is liable if a mover gets hurt on your property.
Create an Itemized List of Your Belongings with Photos
In order to make any insurance claims, you first need to know exactly what is going onto those trucks and have an itemized list completed before the movers arrive. You should also take ‘before’ photos to strengthen any claim you may need to file.
Have a Box that You’re Moving Yourself
There are some items you don’t want to be putting on a moving truck. Your birth certificate, Social Security card, deed to a home, passport, financial documents and really anything else you’d keep in a fireproof safe in your home should be right next to you during the move.
Prepare for Hidden Fees
Do you have a particularly heavy or difficult piece of furniture to move? It could, and probably will cost you more. If you’re holding on to an armoire from your grandmother that you just never use, then perhaps it’s time to part ways.
You should also know when does the clock start for the moving company? If you’re paying hourly and the warehouse is 40 minutes from your home, are they nearly an hour in before they arrive or does the clock start when they ring your doorbell?
Have a Written Agreement
No matter how much you trust a moving company, you should have a written agreement in place outlining the scope of your move, costs, and the insurance coverage. This is a document to which you should be able to refer back if any disputes arise during your move.
What’s the True Cost of DIY?
Your time. That’s the biggest cost of DIY. But it also could end up being just as costly if not more so than hiring movers, especially if something is damaged and you don’t have an insurance that covers the move. Or, if you hit another car or damage the moving truck since you’re probably not used to driving a vehicle of that size. If you’re just moving about 10 miles across town and you have one or two bedrooms worth of furniture, this cost might shake out. But beyond that, it may be worth hiring professionals.
Another consideration is the full cost of hiring your own truck. It’s usually never that cheap flat rate you see printed on the side of the truck. The fine print often reads “plus mileage.” Know how much it will cost per mile, roughly the cost of refilling the gas tank, and how much it will set you back if your move takes longer than expected and you return the truck late
One great hack for the DIY mover is to ask for free boxes from your local grocery stores, liquor stores, fast food restaurants and even your office.
Don’t Get Stuck with Phantom Bills
You really don’t want to end up with an item in collection because you moved and forgot to tell the electric or cable company! Be sure to give your utilities companies a call before you move and let them know you no longer need service. Return items necessary, such as a modem from the Internet company, and it’s helpful if you can get it in writing that you’ve terminated service, just in case a phantom bill pops up.
Forward Your Mail
Set up a forwarding address on your mail. Not sure where you’re moving yet? See if a friend or family member would be willing to receive your forwarded mail until you can update the information with a final address. You can even do this on your couch and don’t have to go into the post office.
Can You Get Reimbursed?
After all is said and done, you should check and see if you can get a tax deduction or a reimbursement for your move! Unfortunately, a move across town probably won’t result in a deduction, but if you made a big move for a job, then you should look into it. You also will need to be able to report your relocation expenses on your tax return, so it’s a good practice to keep meticulous records during your move. Our friends over at TurboTax have you covered.