Moving in Virginia? Here are 5 valuable lessons: Get multiple quotes, opt for in-person estimates, save by packing yourself, know prohibited items, and invest in moving insurance.
Nothing makes my blood pressure spike quite like the thought of moving. And as I’ve gotten older and accumulated more furniture and possessions, moving has only gotten more daunting.
The good news? My family and I just moved, and things went well.
My wife and I recently sold our two-bedroom condo in Arlington, Va, where we lived for eight years. We’ve temporarily moved in with my parents while we look for a new house.
That means we not only had to find a moving company, but also had to figure out where we were going to store all our stuff until we buy our next home.
Here are five key lessons I gained from the move. (Hopefully they can make your next move easier, both financially and emotionally!)
Moving expenses can vary widely depending on where you live, where you’re moving, how much stuff you’re transporting, and, most important, who you hire to do the move.
Some people take the DIY route and move. That typically entails renting a truck, which usually costs between $20 and $50 a day, depending on the size of the truck, according to the Moving Feedback research team.
My wife and I had no desire, whatsoever, to move ourselves. (I tried that once, eight years ago, and ended up with back pain for over a month after lugging a heavy dresser up three flights of stairs.) We knew we wanted to hire professional movers—and we knew it wouldn’t be cheap.
Nationally, the average full-service local move (less than 100 miles) for a two-bedroom home costs between $750 and $1,900, Moving Feedback data found. Unfortunately, rates in our area turned out to be significantly higher.
Still, to get the best deal, we obtained quotes from three moving companies. I’m glad we shopped around, because the first quote came in at a whopping $4,200, not including storage. (I dubbed that company the “Rolls-Royce mover.”) Our second quote clocked in at $1,700, but the company was new and only had a few customer reviews.
We decided to hire a third company, a well-established business that quoted us a reasonable estimate of $2,000 for the move, not including storage.
The takeaway: Had we not shopped around, we would have paid more than double the price of the company that we chose.
You can certainly get moving estimates by phone or online, but I believe the best approach is to get quotes in person. That involves an employee from the moving company doing a walk-through of your home to see exactly what furniture and other items they’ll be moving.
As a result, an in-person estimate is often more accurate than a quote given by someone who hasn’t seen, firsthand, the things that they’re going to be hauling for you.
Another reason I preferred getting quotes in person is that it gave me the opportunity to meet a representative from the company face-to-face.
That enabled me to get a close read on the company’s quality of customer service, which is no small thing when you’re entrusting a mover to handle your precious belongings.
Many professional movers offer packing services, but professional packing costs a pretty penny. The company we hired said they would charge an extra $700 to pack everything for us. That’s money that we’d much rather earmark for furnishing our next home, so we decided to do the packing ourselves.
To cut costs even further, we purchased 30 used boxes and packing materials—including packing tape, bubble wrap, and packing paper—from a person in our neighborhood through Facebook Marketplace for just $25.
There are certain items that professional movers won’t transport for you. This list includes some not-so-surprising things, like firearms, propane tanks, and fireworks, but also some things that I didn’t consider, such as:
Scuba tanks (my family doesn’t scuba dive, but interesting nonetheless!)
Moving companies are required to provide customers with “released value protection.” This basic coverage is typically set at just 60 cents per pound.
That means if you have a 50-inch smart TV that weighs 35 pounds, released value protection coverage would only provide up to $21 in reimbursement if the TV is damaged during the move.
We decided to pay extra for what’s called “full-value protection,” which is insurance based on the value of the items being transported.
Full-value protection allows the moving company two options if any items are lost, stolen, or damaged during the move: It can have the item repaired, or it can replace the item with something similar.
In our case, we paid an additional $240 to get full-value protection coverage of up to $25,000, with no deductible required in the event we need to file a claim.
Currently, our stuff is being held at a storage facility by the moving company (the storage fee is $350 per month), so we won’t know until we move to our next home whether any of the items suffered damage, but it’s nice to know that we’re covered in case something does go wrong.