How to Prepare and Execute a Successful Move
After surviving the long process of applying for a mortgage, searching for the perfect home and sealing the deal, you're finally ready to settle in. However, your hard work is not over yet - you still need to move all of your possessions from point A to B. Few people enjoy moving all that much, but hopefully you can make the process a little more enjoyable by preparing for your move as soon as possible, and taking advantage of some expert advice along the way.
Most homebuyers will need to hire moving professionals to transport their belongings to their new house, as well as help load and unload them. Contrary to our natural instincts to save money whenever possible, it's unwise to make too many sacrifices when choosing a moving company. After all, these are people who will be responsible for almost all of your worldly possessions for several hours or days - not a responsibility that should be taken lightly.
To find a mover with the perfect balance of affordability and peace of mind, be sure to get estimates from two or three different companies. During your research, take more than just the price into account - verify their credentials, insurance coverage and reputation among former customers.
Licensing and insurance
Any company hired to move belongings across U.S. state lines must be licensed to do so by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In some states, movers need to be certified through their state's transportation authority even for in-state moves. Look into your state's requirements and verify the credentials of any mover before you sign a contract with them.
During your research, look into insurance coverage for the move. Federal law requires professional movers to have a basic liability policy of 60 cents per pound of any of your belongings that are lost or damaged while in their care. Since this is rarely an accurate substitute for the true value of an item, additional coverage options may be provided through the carrier or another insurance agency. No matter what, make sure you keep records of any insurance that may apply to your move in case you need to file a claim, as well as an inventory of your most valuable belongings.
Although rare, unscrupulous movers are out there who could try to swindle you out of cash, disappear with your belongings and more. Or, whether due to an honest mistake or carelessness, customers could simply be overcharged. The FMCSA noted several "red flags" to look for in a moving company that should be avoided:
- Not performing a pre-move onsite inspection: Honest movers need to know how to prepare for your move depending on the items you need transported, the layout of your current residence and more. If a mover offers to forego this inspection or simply won't agree to it, do not move forward with the plan.
- Demanding a large cash deposit prior to the move: Putting a deposit down with a moving company is not unheard of, but it should not amount to more than 20 percent of the contract's estimated cost. If possible, pay any upfront deposit with a credit card in the event some contractual obligations are not fulfilled.
- Limited information available: Legitimate moving companies will provide easy access to customer service and provide plenty of contact information online or in their contract. Ask friends and family members for advice on movers they've had good experiences with, and verify everything looks legit before any money changes hands.
Packing with perfection
Many movers will require customers to have their belongings securely packed before they are picked up and transported to the destination. Some services might handle this part for you, but often at significant additional cost. To make the most out of this dreaded process, remember to start early, make lists and have everything prepared well in advance.
For starters, make sure you have all the tools and materials you need which includes:
- Boxes: These are probably the most important of all moving materials, but don't overthink it. Many businesses will gladly give away spare boxes and crates if you ask politely, but you may need to accumulate them over several weeks and multiple trips. Just be sure to consider what sizes and shapes you'll need according to your possessions.
- Packing paper: Also known as "void fill," this is anything that keeps fragile items secure within their box. Newspaper is the old standby here, but don't forget about spare towels or rags to get the job done on a budget. You can also purchase bubble wrap or packing foam if needed.
- Packing tape
- Basic tools, like screwdrivers and scissors
- Labels and markers
As you get caught up in the whirlwind of packing, don't forget to take care of a few important things before you leave to ensure the first night or two in the new house goes well. For example, many people advise preparing a "first night kit" including a change of clothes, toiletries, snacks and a few other things that you want to keep close at hand, rather than dig through every box to find on your first day.
Additionally, don't forget to set up utilities and essential services well in advance of your move. Be sure your bank, credit card company and other important contacts have your new address. Do the same for your electricity, gas, and cable/internet provider so you aren't left in the dark on your first day.
For more help with the financials behind a great move, work with the money experts at your local Trustmark.