If the key to finding a great apartment is location, location, location, then finding a reputable moving company is all about research, research, research.
When you're researching moving services, you need to make sure your movers won't take advantage of you or break your valuables.
Before you sign a contract and book your professional move, do your homework and follow a few tips for finding a reputable moving company.
Several referral sites provide recommendations that have been vetted by past users but before you check those out, consider asking friends and neighbors first. Often, they'll give you first-hand accounts and real testimonials since they don't have anything to lose or gain from their referral.
This approach can be as easy as asking friends on Facebook which company they recently used to help them move and whether they liked the experience (or not). You can also ask if the fee were reasonable and if they were on the hook for any unexpected or hidden costs.
Also, don't forget to reach out to other trusted sources, including real estate agents. They're in the business of helping people move and their network is strong.
If either of those isn't an option, check out online referral sites like Yelp, Angie's List and the Better Business Bureau for listings of businesses and be sure to read their ratings and reviews. People aren't shy when it comes to reviewing businesses and services but keep in mind not all reviewers are created equal.
Once you've chosen three moving companies that seem like safe bets, call each of them so you can make sure their moving business follows regulations (and isn't a moving scam). You should only work with businesses that have local offices and are willing to send a person to your house to do an estimate.
Avoid moving companies that offer to give you an estimate over the phone based on cubic feet — they may estimate low and end up charging higher once they see the entire space and items needed to move.
Instead, ask the companies to come to your home for a personal estimate. Make sure they look at all of your items and consider the value, as well as the volume. Also, will the company be responsible for transporting any pets? Don't forget to discuss how your pets will make the move.
It's very important to get each estimate in writing so you can compare companies and their pricing. The written estimate will also help you make sure the company doesn't sneak in extra charges at the tail end of the job.
Finally, make sure you ask for references, insurance coverage info and the company's Department of Transportation (DOT) number so you can do the next phase of research.
Now that you're armed with first-hand information about the professional movers you interviewed, it's time to check their references. Call the customer names they gave you as referrals and find out first-hand what their moving experience was like.
Then, check the moving company's record by entering their DOT number into the federal government's database to make sure each is licensed to transport your belongings. Keep in mind this database only covers interstate movers.
Once you cover these bases and you've developed a budget based on the quotes you received, you can make an informed decision and choose a professional mover.
Tipping movers isn't required but is common. You should include this as part of your research and budgeting. Typically, most people tip $4 to $5 per mover per hour or five to 10 percent of the total moving cost. Others default to a flat fee, depending on how much time was needed.
Moving is a lot of work, but it's your responsibility to protect your move and find a reputable moving company. Your time and effort will pay off when your valuables are packed and delivered safely to your new home.