Moving to a new home involves so many tedious tasks and crucial decisions that it can be easy to overlook an important aspect of the relocation process — and lose lots of time and money as a result. To avoid such emotionally and financially draining missteps, it helps to be aware of the most common moving mistakes, and learn how to prevent them.
1. Not having a good moving strategy
When faced with an imminent relocation, the first thing to do is decide if you are going to perform a self-move or hire professional movers.
If you are planning to use professional moving services, you need to book them as early as possible, and decide on a beneficial moving date. If possible, avoid moving in peak season or during the last weekends of a month, when your choice of available movers will be restricted and your relocation costs will be much higher.
Create a detailed moving calendar to properly organize the time you have left until moving day. If you fail to do so, you may easily miss something important, or may not allow yourself enough time for a certain task.
However, the greatest mistake you can make when planning your move is failing to set an appropriate moving budget. Underestimating any of the crucial factors (including moving company charges, transportation expenses, and insurance and post-relocation costs) when making your moving budget will cost you dearly.
2. Failing to research movers
Make sure you are hiring licensed and insured movers you can trust. Ask for recommendations and references, read moving reviews, verify the company’s US DOT number, and find out about past complaints and disputes.
Ask for a few on-site estimates (preferably from five companies). Online estimates or estimates over the phone can never be precise. Ask for an on-site, binding estimate, and give your movers all the relevant information, such as possible obstacles and special requirements.
Compare the estimates wisely — a surprisingly low offer could mean you are dealing with either incompetent or rogue movers, so raise your guard.
And ask about the additional services your movers offer, as well as about their charges and relevant specific conditions.
Finally, carefully review the movers’ paperwork. Make sure you understand and agree with the provisions in the bill of lading, read the fine print, double-check the inventory sheet, and never sign blank documents.
To prevent damage to your possessions during shipment, avoid the following rookie packing mistakes:
- Leaving packing for the last moment. You need a lot of time to properly pack an entire household, so start packing as early as possible.
- Not providing enough protection. Wrap your belongings carefully, add padding to prevent shifting inside the boxes, and keep in mind that fragile items need extra protection.
- Not making an inventory sheet. A detailed list of all the items you have entrusted to the movers and their current condition will be very useful if any disputes arise.
- Packing all your belongings. Sort out your possessions prior to the move, get rid of stuff you no longer need, and take only items of high practical, aesthetic, or sentimental value.
- Packing non-allowable items, such as hazardous materials, perishable food, and plants.
- Neglecting to label the boxes to bring order to the packing chaos.
- Not packing an essentials box to make sure you can survive the first couple of days in your new place (until all your belongings arrive).
4. Not understanding your insurance options
When choosing liability coverage for your possessions, keep in mind that if you choose the Released Value option, which comes for free, your movers will only compensate you 60 cents per pound per item if any of your belongings sustain damage while in their custody. In addition, punitive damage claims are not allowed.
You’d be smarter to go for the Full Value protection instead, because your chosen company will be liable for the replacement value of every damaged or missing item. However, you need to declare items of extraordinary value (worth more than $100) in the bill of lading.
You may also consider purchasing additional insurance from third-party insurance companies for your most valuable possessions.
You’ll find yourself in a lot of trouble if your new place is not completely ready by move-in day. For example, if repairs are still being completed on your property when your household items arrive, it will complicate the unloading process. You may need to put your belongings in storage — at your expense — and stay at a hotel until the renovation project is complete.
Don’t forget to transfer the utilities, so that you have electricity, gas and water when you arrive in your new home. You will be able to unpack quickly and start your new life.