Relocating to another state is no easy feat. To help make your transition as smooth as possible, we’ve broken down the top 10 tips you should know when moving cross-country.
1. Plan Ahead
Good movers’ calendars fill up fast, especially during heavy move season (June through August). To reserve the mover of your choice and save yourself from last-minute headaches, start planning for your move at least six weeks in advance.
It’s crucial that you hire a licensed, reliable mover when trusting them with your stuff across state lines. Check the following credentials when researching possible movers:
- USDOT License: Movers that cross state lines are required by the Department of Transportation to have a USDOT license. You can easily find a mover’s USDOT number on their MCR listing (shown below), website or on the written estimate they provide you. Always make sure the USDOT number is accurate and up to date at Safersys.org.
- Reviews: Read reviews on MCR to learn about other customers’ experiences with the movers you’re considering. All of our reviews are verified, so you can trust that they came from a real consumer for a real move. Look for review referencing interstate moves in particular so you know what to expect in terms of timeliness, communication and professionalism.
- Rating and Complaints: Finish up your investigation by sizing up a mover’s complaint history. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Better Business Bureau are both great resources to check on a company’s history with consumer complaints.
3. Know Your Options
Request quotes from at least 3 qualified movers; keeping in mind the cheapest option may not always be the best. Be aware of any hidden charges and the type of estimate offered. Non-binding estimates factor the weight of your shipment into the final cost. While binding estimates or, better yet, binding not-to-exceed estimates put a limit on the amount you will pay for your move.
Don’t trust estimates over-the-phone. Insist on an in-person estimate to help prevent surprise costs come move day.
Bonus tip: Watch out for another “catch”; be sure you understand the difference between a mover and a broker – learn more here. Your best bet is to stick with a mover since you’ll know exactly who is handing your stuff, and because brokers aren’t covered by current consumer protection laws.
4. Put It On Paper
After selecting a mover, obtain hard copies of the following documents:
- Estimate: This document describes the services for which you’ll be charged.
- Bill of Lading: The receipt for your shipment and the contract for its transportation. You’ll receive this from your mover on moving day, if it doesn’t look right, talk to your mover before signing it.
- Inventory: The detailed list of your household goods showing the number and condition of each item.
Having these documents on hand will ensure if something does go wrong, your bases are covered.
5. Consolidate Belongings
Consider this your chance to rid your home of extra junk. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you’ve used the item in the last 3 months; if not, it’s time to purge! Most interstate movers charge based on weight, so, the less stuff you have the cheaper your move will be. Don’t know what to do with your unwanted belongings? Think about donating to a charitable organization or hosting a moving sale!
6. Pack Accordingly
The further you move, the more potholes you’re likely to encounter along the way. To ensure your stuff is safe and secure, use durable moving boxes and packing supplies. Many movers will insist on certain types of boxes since they’ll need to fit well into the truck and sustain a long haul. Make sure to check with your moving company on any requirements. Move day kits can save you a bunch of time and money and usually come in standard mover-approved sizes. Kits contain boxes, tape, packing paper, markers and box cutters. The best part? If you order online, your kit will arrive, at your door in 1-2 business days. Check one more thing off your to-do list and find a kit that fits your move here.
Bonus tip: Some items are far too dangerous to be put in your moving truck, especially for a long-distance move, check out the 5 things NOT to pack in your moving truck here.
7. Protect Your Move
Even with great movers, accidents happen with 1 out of 4 shipments. In the event of loss or damage to your property it’s important to know your mover’s liability. Most moving companies are only obligated to compensate 60 cents per pound, and this often excludes boxes you packed on your own. Think about this… if your 46″ television gets damaged, you’ll only receive $20! To give you peace of mind during your big move, check to see what your current insurance covers. If it’s not enough, look into 3rd party coverage.
8. Moving Day
Be present on pick-up day to watch and direct the movers as they load your belongings. Typically, this is when your inventory sheet will be filled out. Be aware of the condition of your items and DO NOT sign your inventory sheet until both you and your mover agree on the condition. After your truck is loaded, walk through your home to be sure nothing was forgotten. Last but not least, exchange numbers and any important information with the drivers!
9. Be Available
As soon as your mover hits the road, have your cell on you at all times. Interstate moves are often done on a large tractor-trailer with 5 or 6 other household goods shipments. In these cases, movers need flexibility, so you’ll more than likely be given a “delivery spread,” the timeframe within which your shipment will be delivered. When given a delivery spread, you’ll be contacted by your mover 24 hours before delivery day. Arrange travel plans to meet the movers at your new place. If you’re unable to be there, you could be charged extra to have your items stored.
10. Delivery Day
Make the unloading process as smooth as possible by following these steps on delivery day:
- Have your payment ready. Typically you’ll pay your mover on delivery, before your goods are unloaded.
- Use your inventory sheet to check all items were delivered, and in good condition. Don’t sign any documents until you’ve confirmed this.
- When finished, don’t forget to tip your mover for a job well done! Learn proper tipping etiquette here.
Good luck and don’t forget to come back and review your experience to help others have a happy move too!