Finding a Professional Moving Company

So you're moving -- across town, across the country or perhaps overseas. If you've got too many belongings or too little time to handle a move comfortably on your own, it's time to find a professional moving company.

Hiring a mover or a van line is a major expense and one you should commit to researching as you would for any other big purchase. Fear not. There are some simple steps you can take to find a company to whom you feel comfortable entrusting your worldly possessions.

Do your research on moving companies.
Using consumer websites such as is a quick and effective way to narrow your list of potential movers. Local real estate agents are also a good resource for reputable movers.

Ask friends and family for advice as well. They will no doubt have either a horror story or a glowing review that can help guide your search.

When you have a pool of potential movers, check their websites for company history, insurance, years in service and number of employees. Though these details don't always indicate reputability, they can give you a better sense of who you'd be working with. is a wonderful resource to help guide your search. Be sure to check with the Better Business Bureau to assure there are no complaints against those companies you are interested in.

What kind of moving services do you need?
Decide in advance which goods will be shipped and which will be sold or given away. Then consider whether or not you would like the mover to pack your things and what other types of additional services you may want. How far your possessions are going and whether they will be placed into a home or storage facility on the other end are also important factors to consider when choosing your movers.

You might also consider meeting with a relocation consultant to survey your home and prepare a written estimate so that you have a cost basis to work from when you begin getting quotes.

Getting a moving estimate.
Always plan to get multiple quotes from professional movers. Moving companies often have different strengths and it is important that you have several estimates that you can compare to help you make a good choice.

Call or email the movers you are considering and begin the estimate process. Ask each prospective mover for how long his or her estimate is valid and what type of estimates they offer. There are two general estimate options available: binding estimates and estimated cost of services. Take the necessary time to understand your options, which may vary by company. Which estimate type you choose could have a significant impact on the final cost of your move.

Next, the moving company will send a representative to your home to see what you have to move. Be certain that the mover marks all items that are "going" and "not going" on the survey sheet. He or she will then prepare an estimate that will include transportation charges and the charges of any additional services that you requested. Keep in mind that if you decide to take more or fewer items, the cost of your move will have to be adjusted, so be sure to notify your mover immediately if there are any changes in your inventory.

Don't forget to nail down exactly how long it will take for your items to arrive. You don't want to get stuck paying premium prices for a slow delivery time.

Anticipating delivery issues.
Be sure to make the mover aware of any problems they may encounter at the delivery such as parking problems, road access, street accessibility, delivery time restriction or if there are any stairs or elevators involved. The cost of your move can increase for such occurrences. Try to reserve a "parking space" for the moving van if your new home is on a congested street. If the moving crew has to carry your load more than 75 feet from the moving van to your door you may be charged for excessive distance.

Some neighborhoods may prohibit trucks over a certain weight. In that case, the driver will have to offload your possessions into a smaller vehicle and the charge for that can be quite expensive. If you are moving to a high-rise building, an elevator reservation may be required. This can cause problems for the delivery schedule if the mover does not know about this in advance and additional charges will apply.

Coverage for loss or damage.
Also be sure to understand the coverage for loss or damage of your shipment. All licensed movers must provide liability for the value of goods, which they transport, but there are different levels of liability. You must be aware of the amount of protection provided and the additional charges that may apply.

Check references.
Once you've compared estimates by both weight cost and services provided, it's a good idea to contact their references, assessing the impartiality of those giving you a glowing report. Make sure, as best you can, that there is no personal or familial relationship between the reference and the company. Hopefully, your choice is now clear. Are you ready to start packing?

If you are having the moving company do your packing, make sure you or someone representing you is on site to supervise. It's important to have a witness to what is being packed and how.

If you decide to do your own packing or partial packing, remember that the moving company is not liable for damage to boxes packed by customer. The driver has the right to refuse to accept any carton that may be improperly packed. If the driver has to re-pack cartons that the customer has packed, additional charges will apply.

Finally the day has come to be reunited with all your stuff. If you can't be there yourself, be sure to have someone present on your behalf, checking the manifest to make sure everything has arrived and that there isn't any damage to boxes or furniture. If there is obvious damage to a box or item at delivery time, make immediate note of that on the inventory sheet so that you can seek compensation from the company according to their liability terms.