You know you want a good deal…but what does that mean?
Here are some questions to ask when you receive a moving estimate.
Most people recognize a fair price for things like milk and gasoline. After all, these are things we buy regularly. But how do you know you’re getting a fair price when it’s something you may only buy a few times in your life?
Moving companies come at a wide range of price points, and there are a lot of different factors that determine the price of a move.
You want a company that has competitive prices but who has good reviews and won’t slap you with surprise fees after the job is done. So how do you guarantee that the moving estimate you are given is a fair price?
Luckily, it is possible to tell—just from the estimate—whether a moving company is offering you a fair price. Here are five questions to ask yourself when you receive a moving estimate.
1. Were all your belongings included in the estimate?
The first step to a good moving estimate is an accurate one.
Be clear about each and every piece of furniture that the movers will be taking into the new house. If the mover gives an in-person estimate, be clear about what is coming with you and what will be sold or donated.
If the quote is given over the phone or internet, make sure you are as thorough and accurate as possible when telling them about the furniture, rooms, approximate number of people in your home, etc. You’ll also want to mention multiple levels or whether they’re going to be carrying things upstairs or downstairs.
Underestimating the amount of work your movers have in front of them will only create the illusion of a super-low quote. By the time the (much bigger) job is done, the final price will be much higher.
2. Is there lots of heavy furniture or stairs?
The heavier the items, the more they’ll cost to move. Whether your movers charge by the hour or levy a stair/elevator fee (which is quite common), anything that makes the movers work harder is going to cost you.
So make sure when you get your quote you mention the four-poster solid wood king bed that Gramma handed down to you or you may be shocked at the change in your bill!
3. How do they charge?
Different companies have different policies for charging customers.
Most places (like Cento) charge by the hour. Moving estimates are given based on how much time the job will take, the amount of items you have, and other details about your move (long-distance travel, stairs, bulky items, etc).
Other companies may charge by the number of rooms your home has or the weight of the move. Getting this information from a company upfront helps to compare quotes.
4. What’s included in the moving estimate?
Make sure that you discuss with your moving company exactly what is included in the estimate. If you’re expecting them to pack up your belongings and move them for you, but the quote was just to load the truck and drive to your destination, your quote will change significantly.
It’s important to look at the itemized list and make sure you’re on the same page as the moving company. If you want additional insurance coverage, that might come with a fee.
Also ask about any smaller charges that may add up. Being transparent about any surcharges is fine, but some companies may try to sneak in charges at the last minute, claiming that they weren’t included in the estimate.
5. How does it compare with competitors’ quotes?
In the moving industry, it’s difficult to compare apples to apples, since moving companies differ wildly in terms of experience (and fraud is rampant!). But if you’ve collected a wide variety of quotes and one of them is much, much higher than the rest, they might be overcharging you.
However, you should also watch out for moving estimates that are too low. Many companies will low-ball clients from the beginning, only to add a bunch of surcharges later. By the end of the move, you’ve ended up way over budget.
Try to find a company that expressly markets themselves with no hidden fees. Go over the list of what the quote includes, and ask about the random charges (fuel, stairs, elevators) and make sure that the number you see on their paper is the number you’ll see after the job is done.
Ways to Save On Your Move
Moving expenses tend to add up, so it’s normal to want to cut costs somewhere. But your choice of moving company can make or break your relocation experience, so here are some other ways to make up the difference.
- Compare moving estimates from multiple companies and read reviews to make sure you’re going with a reputable company. We like to recommend at least three quotes. Take into account reviews for each company and make a decision from there.
- Declutter before you start packing. You can either donate what you don’t need (and get a tax receipt!) or sell things to make some extra cash. Every item the movers don’t have to touch is money in your pocket.
- Decide between packing yourself or hiring the moving company to do it: Packing your own belongings is cheaper, but don’t forget to factor in the cost of replacing any items that may get damaged during transit. The pros know how to pack things professionally to keep them intact and save you a lot of headaches.
- Move during the off-season. Summer is peak moving time, so aim for a different season, if you can. If you have to move during the summer, try to move during the week instead of a weekend for some lower rates.
Moving your belongings from Point A to Point B is the final step in the entire moving process. Although it may only cost a fraction of what you already spent on renovations, realtor commissions, and closing costs, you don’t want to pay more than a fair market value for such a useful service.
For a stress-free move, make sure you accurately describe your items, where they’re going, and the layout of your current and new place. Doing these things will help you get a much more accurate moving estimate.