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How do I find cheap apartment movers near me?

Chances are, if you are searching for an inexpensive mover for your local apartment move, you have already decided you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route, but you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on a moving company. How can you get the help you need without breaking the bank? Luckily, you can find a reputable local business to handle your move from one apartment to another, and it won’t exhaust your savings.

Local movers (more about what that means in a minute) usually charge by the hour, and how much they charge probably depends on where you are. Shopping around is a great idea, and it helps if you know what to look for, what it’s ok to save on, and where you definitely don’t want to cut corners.

What is a local apartment mover?

Moving is a big business. Thirty-one million people moved their home in the United States last year—that’s almost ten percent of Americans moving to a new home. Interestingly, the numbers have been dropping pretty steadily since the 1960s, and last year’s total was the smallest number of movers since the government started keeping track in the late 1940s. Not surprisingly, renters move more than homeowners, with an average of 20% of renters changing residences in recent years.

There are thousands of movers, mostly small businesses, managing all these moves, not counting the relocations that consumers take care of on their own, or with their friends and family’s help. Almost half of moving companies employ fewer than five people. Of course, the industry is more than just the moving companies. Think about truck rentals, storage facilities, even boxes, packing tape, and dolly rentals.

Local apartment moving companies typically charge an hourly rate for labor and a truck. Depending on area labor costs, two movers and a truck to move your apartment contents will cost between $50 and $100 an hour for 4-6 hours. In most states, you will also pay for the time the team spends driving from the old apartment to the new one and unloading into the new residence. If you have everything packed and ready to go, you will save money.

How do I know what it’s going to cost to move my apartment?

When you start planning the move, you will need to interview several moving companies. You can choose from the local independent businesses, agents of a national van company, or a franchise owner. No matter which business structure you prefer, it is essential that you talk to the local representatives and that someone comes to your home to see what you need to move. This step is key to the company’s ability to assess the move and provide an accurate estimate of the cost.

Some movers may tell you they don’t need to come and do a visual survey, and they will ask you to describe your shipment over the phone or by completing an online form. You should be wary of this suggested approach since it’s difficult for the mover to develop a clear understanding of the move parameters if they don’t see what the apartment looks like, how heavy the furniture is, how far they will have to carry your goods, and so forth. These factors are essential and will influence the cost of the job. Movers charge extra for “long carries,” which means that the truck is parked more than a specified distance from the residence. If the layout of your apartment complex doesn’t allow the moving truck to pull right up to your unit, you may incur a substantial charge for this service. It’s better to be aware of that in advance.

Similarly, if you have stairs, particularly narrow or winding stairs, you may incur an extra charge. Movers may add a fee for using an elevator unless you can reserve it for exclusive use on the move day. The mover’s tariff explains these fees, and each mover will supply the tariff to you along with the estimate of what your move will cost.

For a local move, the mover will give you an assessment of how much time the whole job should take, an hourly charge for labor, the number of movers and trucks. Since you are moving from one apartment to another, you will most likely have two movers and one truck. Talk to each mover about whether the price estimate is binding (in which case it is a commitment, and will not go up or down) or non-binding, in which case the final invoice will reflect the actual time spent on the move.

How do I protect myself from a shady moving company?

First, check the company’s reputation. If the company performs interstate moves, it will be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can check out their website for information on the mover’s safety record and complaint history. If the company specializes in local moves, it is likely regulated at the state level, probably by your department of consumer affairs, or possibly the department of motor vehicles. Another good source of information is the Better Business Bureau.

Once you have a moving company in mind to do business with, ask for references. It should be able to provide you with contact information for actual customers for whom it has recently completed moves. If it won’t, be suspicious. Also, check the address—it should not be a residence or a Post Office box, the company should have a physical presence, and you should be able to reach them when you call. Sometimes rogue operators set up fake websites and have call centers to answer phones for various scam businesses.

Never sign a blank or incomplete contract with a mover (or anyone else). Don’t agree if the mover says he will fill the rest in when he gets back to the office. Don’t agree to an estimate if it doesn’t have a full inventory of what the mover agrees to move for the price.

On the day of the move, be suspicious if the company tries to change the terms. If this happens,  insist that work stop until you agree to a new contract and both you and the company have signed it. Disreputable movers will load half of your goods and then tell you that you have more than they thought and demand more money. You may feel trapped, but the more they load on the truck, the more control they have.

Don’t pay a large deposit and don’t pay cash. It is customary for moving charges to be paid when the delivery is complete. If a company insists on a substantial deposit in advance, that might be a tip-off that your job isn’t going to get handled. Paying by credit card allows you to dispute the charges through your financial institution, while cash is gone once you have spent it.

Most moving companies are honest and hardworking. They want to help you accomplish your apartment move at a fair price. By being careful and following some common-sense guidelines, you can find a cheap but reliable mover for your move.

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