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Self-Moving or a Moving Company?

The most economical way to self-move is to do-it-yourself. Sounds simple enough, just rent a truck, load up your stuff and go. This can be a good choice if you're not going far, and don't have a lot of things to haul and especially if you have a strong back.

But think twice about a long distance do-it-yourself move. When you factor in all the costs, gasoline, motels, meals, insurance, packing materials, truck and equipment rental, you may not save as much as you planned.

Consider a few questions before you decide to handle your own move. Do I have time to pack, load, unload and drive? How many heavy items, like furniture and appliances, do I have to move? Am I physically capable to do this hard work? Do I have friends and family that can help me through relocation? Can I handle a big truck over a long distance?

Shop around for truck rates, and don't rent a bigger truck than you need. Truck rental companies have charts that help you calculate what's needed to haul your belongings. Companies like U-Haul and Budget make it easier with step-by-step moving and packing guidance.

How to Hire the Right Mover

Interviewing moving companies can take from 6 to 8 weeks, but is time well spent. There are a number of different sources such as the yellow pages, local newspapers, the Internet, flyers, and recommendations from friends and family. You will need to request bids, check references, and decide which moving company is the best value for your money.

Here are a few tips to help you make the selection:

  • Get at least three written estimates. Be sure to get them in person, rather than on the phone or Internet.
  • Check with your local Better Business Bureau and the state attorney general's office to see if there are any complaints against the mover.
  • Ask to see a certificate of insurance showing all required insurance liabilities and verify that their license and certificate number is valid.
  • Help the movers calculate the cost by showing them every single item to be moved. Reach a clear understanding of the estimate and all costs.

Planning Ahead

Timing your move is one of the first things to consider. Try not to move during summer months, May through September. The moving industry defines this as the peak and most expensive season for a move. Don't schedule your move on a weekend or holiday when packers and loaders have to be paid overtime. The best time to move is in the middle of the week in any month outside the peak season.

Early in the moving process you should decide what items will be going to your new home and what things will not. Gather up those things you don't want and either donate them to a charity or consider having a garage sale. Arrange for the charity pickup and garage sale at least two weeks before your moving date.

Start collecting suitable moving boxes and packing supplies if you plan to do your own packing or partial packing. You can purchase these materials from any moving supply company. Getting moving boxes from other sources may create difficulties either with size or strength.

Set aside a "packing room" and box up a few things each day. Pack seldom used items first. Collections and other small things take more time to organize and pack, so start working on them early in the moving process. Remember to dispose of all flammable, corrosive or explosive items well before the move.

Packing Do's and Don'ts

Chances are you will start packing weeks before your move. You'll need boxes, bubble wrap for packing fragile items, tissue and ink-free packing paper, scissors, a knife for opening boxes and rolls of packing tape. You'll also need to know how to do the job in an efficient and organized way. Here are a few tips from the experts that can help save your household goods from damage:

  • Make a master list of all household items and personal belongings.
  • Get more strong moving boxes than you think you will need.
  • Reinforce the bottom of each box with at least one strip of packing tape.
  • Pack boxes firmly to prevent the contents from shifting during your move.
  • Use clean, white crumpled up paper for padding.
  • Separate all items with paper to prevent scratches.
  • Place heavier items in the bottom of the box and lighter items on top.
  • Remove lids from ceramics and wrap each separately.
  • Seal open bottles with tape before packing to avoid spills.
  • Use an extra large box for lampshades and cushion them well.
  • Remove bulbs before packing lamps.
  • Put hardware from disassembled furniture together in plastic bag.
  • Leave clothes in dresser drawers and hang clothes in wardrobe boxes.
  • Place pictures in boxes between sheets and blankets for added protection.
  • Plates and record albums should be packed on end vertically - not stacked.
  • Number boxes when they are packed and sealed.
  • Label each box and its room destination.
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