Moving to a new home can be very exciting, but it can also be a very challenging and stressful experience if you don't prepare for it properly. I recently moved out of my own home after 25 years and I can actually say, that the worst part about the move was that the moving company damaged a very good piece of my wooden furniture, which is a whole separate issue that I will discuss. The organizing and packing was actually fine because I followed my own easy tips. I am at the stage in my life where my children are grown and I want EASY in my life. I work much better when I create systems that are organized for myself but before I begin to share my system with you, the first thing that we need to discuss is how to find the right mover/moving company for you.
First, I would like to share my experience that I had with my movers so that I can hopefully help you to avoid this nightmare. I have been in real estate for 33 years and one would think that I would know it all ! Wrong ! I thought that I had. I had prepared all of my questions to ask the person who came out to do my moving estimate and was so proud of myself that I was so organized. It just comes to show that no matter how much we all know, we are all still learning something new every day. I had my homeowner hat on, not my realtor hat on and I became vulnerable. Anyway, he arrived t to my home and he asked me what the movers would be packing. I told him that they would be moving all of the furniture and I would be packing everything myself. Everything to me meant linens, dishes, books, anything in my cabinets that could fit in a box. Everything other than my furniture. There were just a few items that I had mentioned to him that I wanted them to pack such as a few very big heavy wall mirrors and large pictures. My handyman was moving my t.v.'s and a few other small fragile things that I didn't want the movers moving. I also informed him that I would be getting my own wardrobe boxes for all of our clothing because I could get it for less than what they were charging for the boxes. Yes, the wardrobe boxes were not part of the complimentary unlimited. That's ok though. I was happy to get my own. I asked him for the price to have them pack those few items and to give me the total. He informed me that they included unlimited boxes in the linen, book and dish sizes, as well as the packing tape and paper. I couldn't believe what a great price they gave me so I booked them on the spot. He told me he would have someone drop off the packing materials so that I could get started and to just let them know if I needed more. They seemed to be so accommodating.
The Day of My Move........... This is where the fun starts and it gets a bit out of control !
The day of the move, the movers and the foreman all arrived on time. I must admit, I did think it was strange that there was only one small moving truck . They came into the house and started moving all of our boxes out into the truck. I asked the foreman why it took all three movers to move our boxes while none of them were working on packing and moving the furniture out. He turned to me and said " You said that you were packing the furniture. How do you expect us to move it without being wrapped properly?" I was speechless !!! I said " What in the world are you talking about? I never never told you that I was wrapping and packing my furniture!" How in the world would I have packed my own furniture? I would have needed tons of industrial rolls of bubble wrap and tons of those big thick moving blankets. What in the world would I have needed them for if I was planning on doing all that ? Also, they dropped off tons of small boxes for me when I told them that I was doing my own packing. Was my dining room table really going to fit into one of those boxes ? I don't know if it was a communication issue, or if it was a scam. The foreman then told me that they could still pack and move all of my furniture but that it would be an additional fee, which was extremely high. What choice did I have at that point? Of course, I told them to go ahead and just do what they needed to do. This is where the ONLY ONE TRUCK came in. They misjudged everything that they were moving and the person who originally came to give the estimate didn't realize how much room all of our furniture would take up. That's a big goof in itself. So now they had to make two trips back and forth to move everything. Thank goodness we were only moving across town. We finally arrived to our new location and they emptied the first truck load. Then they went back to my home to load up the second truck load. When they arrived back at our new home, before they would empty the second truck load, they demand to be paid in full. I told them that they hadn't finished the job yet and that they would be paid after their truck was empty. There response was " We are not permitted to empty the truck until we are paid." So basically, they were holding our possessions hostage. Again, what choice did we have, so we paid them. They brought in the very last piece of furniture which was an old beautiful bar / armoire that had been hand painted and custom built. When they unwrapped it , we noticed that the top corner had been broken off. This was becoming a total nightmare ! I made them sign the contract that they damaged it, and they agreed to sign it. I would have at that moment cancelled my check for payment except for the fact that we had to pay the balance in cash, which we were aware of when we booked them. At this point, we just wanted them out of our home. I contacted the owner of the company asking him to reimburse me for the damage and he told me that he was not responsible because I had not taken out insurance through them. I had always thought that movers carried basic coverage for damages. Luckily, I put a claim in to my homeowner's insurance and they covered us for the full amount. A few days later I gave his company a horrible review on line and sure enough, the owner of the company called me harassing me and basically threatening me to remove the review. I told him that I would not remove my review because people needed to be aware of how they conducted business. He told me that if I would remove the review, he would compensate me monetarily for the damages. I told him that he was a little too late because my insurance was covering me. As much as I would have loved him to take money out of his pocket, I felt that it was more important to get the message out to everyone of how unethical and how mismanaged their company was. We had used this company 25 years ago when we moved from our other home to this one and they did such a wonderful job that we never thought to check their reviews. They seemed to be fairly priced, offered 3 months free storage if we needed it and unlimited packing materials. Sounded great ! Even though the business had still been around, I had never taken into consideration that they would have new employees and possibly negative since we had used them last.
There are many questions that need to be asked when interviewing your movers ...
1) Do they travel to your new location ? Some movers only stay within a set radius or state. If you are moving across the country, make sure that they travel to that location.
2) Are they insured for any potential damages to your contents, your current home itself, your new home or personal injury on the job? And is there a cap on their insurance. Do they offer additional insurance that you can purchase ?
3) What is their cancellation policy and is your deposit refundable ?
4) Do they include any packing materials such as paper, bubble wrap, packing tape and boxes (different sizes)
5) Will they come out to do a complimentary estimate on your contents ? Is it charged by the job or by the hour? If hourly, what do they charge per hour ?
a) What will they charge if they pack your items, or if there are specific items that you would like them to pack, how and what do they charge ? Is it an hourly rate, or by the job ?
b) Is their travel time included in the estimate or is that additional ?
c) How many men/women will be moving your contents? In case you would like to tip them or have soft drinks , snacks/meals, it's good to know how many movers.
6) Ask how each item will be packed and are there any extra charges for specific items such as big mirrors, wall paintings or anything that needs special boxes and packing ?
7) Get an estimated amount of time that it will take so that you can properly plan your day. If you are having them pack your items, find out how long for packing and how long for travel time.
8) Do they offer storage at a facility and what is the fee ? Do they offer one or two months complimentary ? Some companies offer free storage for a few months if needed.
9) If you are doing your own packing, make sure that they agree to drop off all of your packing materials ahead of time according to your choice date. This will allow you to start packing ahead of time at your own pace so that you are not pressured and stressed.
10) Make sure that they can accommodate your date ! There really is a difference in movers. Don't just make your decision based on price or on who is available for your date. The service that you receive is just as important. Check reviews and get recommendations. Asking your realtor is a great way to get a recommendation. Sometimes it's worth changing your moving date if you can , based on the mover's availability if they have an excellent reputation.
DON'T FORGET : When getting an estimate, don't forget to let them know if you have items outside of your home as well...patio/deck furniture, planting pots, outside decorations, bbq, etc. It's easy to forget outside furnishing.
IMPORTANT : Always make sure that you make arrangements for your children and pets for the day of the move. This will make your life so much easier.
If the mover that you choose to use charges for all of the packing materials, there are some options before you commit to using their packaging. In my area, there are some local facebook groups and neighborhood groups that put postings on line when they are finished with their moves. They post that they have packing materials if anyone would like to pick up at their garage or curb. I saw some local posts where people were doing just that and I was able to pick up wardrobe boxes, dish boxes with the dividers, bubble wrap and lots of other sized boxes that my movers were not including. This saved me a lot of money as well as being able to recycle.
IMPORTANT ! Check with your personal home owner's insurance company to see what type of coverage that they offer for damages & personal injury !
Now for my personal packing system......
After you have selected a moving company and have all of your materials delivered, you will want to do the following.....
... Purchase a small notebook and some black and red permanent markers !
... In your notebook, you will make a list beginning with number 1. Your number on your list will coincide with the number that you mark on your box in black marker.
... Next to each number in your notebook, you will write everything that is being put in the matching box number. This way, if you need to refer back and need an item, you will know which box to go into.
...You will then put the name of the room that the box goes to in the red marker.... Living Room, Dining Room, Family Room , etc. When you get to the bedrooms, I like to write Master Bedroom for the main bedroom and then for the other rooms, you can put bedroom #1, bedroom #2, bedroom #3, etc. Then the day of the move when you get to your new house, you can take tape and write the bedroom numbers next to each bedroom door so that the movers know which bedroom each box goes into. If you put your family member's names, that may not help them as much. This will not only help the movers, but this will help you as well before the day of the move in case you need to grab something that was packed. You will know exactly which box to go to !
I hope that by sharing my experience, I will be able to help you to make the best decisions for yourselves and save you the headaches that I had to endure. Also, I really believe that if you ask my list of questions and follow my packing tips, you will have a much smoother transition into your new home. I have lots more packing tips that I will put in future blogs.
Good Luck and Happy Moving !