There’s more to moving than throwing your stuff into boxes and renting a truck. Successful relocation can be like running a small company — it requires careful planning, budgeting and strategizing. If you overlook these factors, you may be looking at a potentially stressful moving day. Here are five common moving mistakes people make and how you can try to avoid them.
Relocating can be a huge job, and procrastination may be your worst enemy. Even seemingly small moves, like packing up a studio apartment to move just across town, can be nerve-racking and costly if they’re not well planned. If possible, you should consider planning your move months — yes, months — in advance, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Plan travel arrangements, look into moving companies, start packing and notify your utility companies as soon as you can. You may want to keep a notebook or binder or download an app for moving-related information. Make sure all of your records are in it, from copies of your moving estimate to contact information for the utility companies.
There’s a lot to do, but here’s a good start: Use our checklist to help you create a plan of action.
Timing is key. Favorable weather means the summer months are often 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.
Research your options for moving companies a month or two before your moving date, says Better Homes and Gardens. The last thing you want is to be stuck with an unknown moving company, high rates or, even worse, no moving company at all.
If you’re planning to rent or drive a 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 stop by the rental company to get an idea of the space you’ll need and whether your desired truck may be enough.
Even the day of the week you pick can affect your move. Higher demand means moving companies may charge top dollar for weekend truck rentals and moves. You might also want to consider the time of day you’re moving, too. Depending on the time, you might run into traffic, which could mean more minutes that your belongings will be in transit and potentially a higher rental bill (if you’re paying by the hour).
Researching moving companies can be critical. Choosing the wrong moving company may result in a move that is more expensive than originally quoted, being overcharged for packing materials and, worse yet, damaged or stolen property. And once all of your belongings are in their truck, you’re in a tough position to negotiate.
You may find some great deals online, but consider asking for a personal referral from family or friends. You could also check with your real estate agent, your local chamber of commerce or the Better Business Bureau to help find moving companies with a solid reputation and years of experience.
Check out trustworthy websites offering real customer feedback to see what previous clients say about their experiences with the company. Find out if the mover has a Department of Transportation (DOT) number and enter it in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) system to help make sure they’re adequately insured. You can also reach out to the Better Business Bureau or give FMCSA a call at 1-888-368-7238 to find out if there are any complaints about the moving company.
Randomly stuffing everything you own into boxes might seem like the simplest way of packing, but it may cause needless stress and expense. For one thing, if you decide to not go through and declutter your belongings you may end up with more boxes and extra weight, so you could end up overpaying your movers or straining your own back.
Moving gives you a perfect opportunity to pare down your possessions, says Popular Mechanics Magazine. Use your move to help get rid of clothes you don’t wear anymore, books you’ve already read, outdated technology and more.
Moving can be tough on your belongings. Even if every item you own is carefully packed and handled by experienced movers, accidents may happen. Get familiar with your insurance options before your move. That way, when things are at their most stressful on moving day, you can feel assured that if something gets damaged, you may be protected.
Also, consider calling your moving company to find out the details of its liability coverage policies. This coverage may 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.
With some planning, you may be able to make your move a little less stressful on you and your loved ones.
Originally published June 17, 2012.