Picking a moving company. Oy. I think picking a moving company has been one of the most challenging aspects of our moving process because, contrary to how the phrase normally goes, this was our first rodeo. Sure, Jason and I, both individually and jointly, have been through plenty of moves, but we haven’t been lucky enough ourselves to have the luxury of hired movers. It has always been just us, our own muscles, and those of any of our friends or relatives who we can convince to help us (usually through beer and food bribes).
Being green in this area, we started our search for movers in the same place I think most people do when they don’t know anything about a topic.
Also, before I go any further, I should note that when I say “We started our search,” it was actually Jason who took the lead on this daunting part of the move, which is something I truly appreciate. I’m just the one chronicling it here. Thanks, hunny!
Anyway, Google allowed us to get an idea of some big names in the long distance moving space. Bekins. Mayflower. Shleppers. (Yes, I love their name.) FlatRate. Plus a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head. We also spoke with friends about movers they used, both the good and the bad.
The next step was to contact the companies to get estimates. Unfortunately, a lot of the companies were not available on weekends to come do an in-home estimate, but almost every company was able to give us a quote online based on what we reported having that would need to be moved.
Another wrinkle in the process of obtaining an estimate was that we had to decide what level of packing would we need. Would we pack everything and the company would just come pick it up? Would we do a “partial pack,” where we packed some things, but the movers packed the rest? Or would we have the movers pack everything? As I’m sure you can imagine, the total pack by the movers would be the most costly and time-intensive, potentially even requiring that they be at our place for 2 days because our building had very strict limits on when moving could occur (only Mondays through Fridays, from 8:30am to 4:30pm). We ended up going with the partial pack because I knew there were plenty of things in our house that I could pack myself (hello, I can put books in a box just fine, thank you), but there are some things I wanted to leave to the professionals, like our dishes and glassware. Also, we found out that most companies will not insure items against damage that you pack yourself. All the more reason to have them pack the breakables.
Then we also had to decide if we wanted any unpacking services. The movers bring your things into your new place, but then there is an additional option of having them actually unpack all of your boxes in the house. Most friends we spoke with said this was a scam and “unpacking” was literally opening the boxes, taking out the items, and laying them next to the box. We didn’t want to waste the extra money on that and honestly, even if it was something more involved, I don’t think I would have any idea where I wanted all of our stuff to go in order to be able to properly direct the movers.
After deciding on the partial pack and no unpacking, we started the process of getting our online estimates and we also had one in-home estimate done, which returned a wide range of prices. Strangely, the range of prices was something we were expecting (anytime you are pricing out anything, there will obviously be a range of prices), but at the same time, it also made us nervous. Was there something we were missing? Did we not accurately estimate what will be packed and moved? It also didn’t help that the one in-home estimate we got was far and away the highest estimate we received, coming in at over $1,000 more than the closest online estimate. The more we thought about this, the more we realized we needed in-home estimates from the other companies.
Jason was a trooper and worked from home one day so that we could get these estimates. As with everything we’d experienced so far in the moving process, there were highlights and lowlights. One person even came in and asked Jason, “So how many boxes do you think you’ll have for the move?” Wait, what? We don’t know, we brought you here to tell us that! Haha, yeah, that was a good one.
At the end of the day, the prices were not all that different from the online estimates we previously received and it turned out that the prior in-home estimate we had truly was an outlier. I definitely think having the in-home estimates was crucial because it gave us peace of mind that a professional had evaluated the situation in person and that whatever number they arrived at would be the true cost of the move.
Besides for the cost, I think most other perks that the moving companies offered were relatively similar to one another. All offered some level of insurance on items they were moving. All offered the option to upgrade that level of insurance for an additional fee. Some included moving boxes as part of your quote. Some included packing your wardrobe as part of the price. Most let you add or take items off your moving inventory up to 48 hours in advance of the move. There was nothing that really stood out to us in the additional details that left us saying, “Yes, we absolutely need to go with this company because they offer X.” Because of that, we decided to go with the company that offered us the best price, FlatRate. (Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts where I’ve mentioned a company by name, I’m not getting paid by FlatRate, they’re just who we went with.) Before we signed on the electronic dotted line, we again checked the company out with friends, who reported that they had great experiences, and looked into the company’s reviews on Yelp, which were at 4 stars with over 400 reviews. With everything looking to be in order, we finalized our contract with the company and set a moving date. Another thing to check off the to-do list!
As they say, though, the proof is in the pudding. Stay tuned for posts on how moving day went in NYC and, what really matters, if our stuff arrives all in one piece (which we won’t know until at least sometime next week).