Getting ready to move from Phoenix to Los Angeles is a big change. Moving from the dry, flat desert heat to Southern California’s mountains and beaches is something to get excited about. Moving may not be at the top of your bucket list, but there are advantages—you can finally get around to using those Marie Kondo decluttering techniques everyone swears by as you reduce the amount of stuff you need to pack.
Finding an affordable moving company is one of the critical tasks on your relocation to-do list. Over 3 million Americans move state to state every year, and the average cost of the interstate relocation is $4,300. That average covers the transportation of the contents of a two- to three-bedroom house for 1,250 miles. Phoenix to Los Angeles isn’t that far, but other factors can increase or decrease the price of your move. You may be looking for a full-service mover, or a more affordable option where you do the packing yourself and rely on the movers for the loading only. Your choice may depend on how much time you have, or how complicated your move logistics are. If you have some hard-to-move items, you may want to talk to the movers about how they would approach the preparation for specific pieces. Movers usually have experience in everything, from small moves to fragile furniture, pool tables, valuable artwork, even hot tubs, and saunas.
To find out how much your move rate will be, the best way to start is to get estimates from several moving companies. Out of state movers are regulated by FMCSA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You can check to ensure that any company you are considering is registered with FMCSA and take a look at its safety record and rating with consumers. Take a look at the publication called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move. It describes the rules that moving companies and brokers must follow and explains how consumers can choose a legitimate mover.
One of the rules for movers is that they must complete an in-person survey of the household goods that you want them to move before they provide you with an estimate of the cost. This step is essential for a valid quote, and you should be wary of a vendor that asks you to waive the requirement. It’s not possible for them to adequately measure the shipment’s weight unless they look at it. Not only is there a big difference between how much stuff different people collect, what is hiding in closets and garages, but even the same quantity of furniture can have very distinct weights depending on style. The mover needs to walk through the home, look at everything, ask questions about anything that is being left behind, and create an inventory. With that, they can provide a binding or nonbinding estimate for you.
A moving company can provide you with a binding or nonbinding estimate, or a binding not to exceed estimate. A nonbinding estimate is not a guaranteed price—the rate can go higher or lower if the weight forecast is inaccurate. Suppose that Mover A estimates the weight of your shipment at 7,000 pounds and gives you a nonbinding quote of $5,000 for the move. On the day of delivery, the service provider can charge up to 10% more than the estimate, or $5,500. But if the actual weight is 9,000 pounds, and the mover states that the final cost is $7,000, the company can bill you for the remaining balance after 30 days.
If you receive a binding estimate or a binding not to exceed estimate, the price can’t go up. If the mover underestimates the shipment’s weight, it can’t change the cost to accommodate the difference. It can only charge a higher price if you request additional services or add things to the load. The estimate must include an explanation of fees that the company may charge for something outside your control. These are often referred to as impracticable operations, and they happen at the destination. If the mover can’t park near enough to the house or apartment and must shuttle the load using another vehicle, that will result in a charge. Or if the destination residence has stairs or an elevator, there may be an extra cost for that. FMCSA also limits how much movers can compel you to pay for these services on moving day, to no more than 15% of the total move bill. As with the overage on the estimate, the company can send you another invoice for final costs 30 days after delivering your shipment.
It is vital that you choose a moving company that you trust with your goods. Unlike a local move, you are watching this mover pack up everything you own and take it on a long journey outside of your control. When you are getting the estimates, you have the opportunity to talk with the moving company representatives and develop a sense of whether they are reliable and dependable. They should be happy to answer your questions and give the feeling that they understand the moving business. In addition to checking their FMCSA standing, check with the Better Business Bureau, which compiles positive and negative reviews on all kinds of companies. Also, ask the top contenders for references. Call some of their recent customers and ask questions.
Moving from state to state is not cheap, and it may not be wise to choose the lowest priced vendor. But there are some ways to lower the cost of your move, whether it is a small move or not. One good way to save money is if you can complete the packing yourself. Movers are good at packing, but they charge an hourly fee, while you can do it independently. While you do the work, you can also sort through what you are packing and probably cut back on what you take with you, which results in a lower price as the weight decreases. You can discard or donate things that you don’t need anymore. You can also save money by collecting boxes for the packing instead of paying for new ones, and you can use linens and clothing for packing material rather than purchasing bubble wrap and packing paper.
One area that you don’t want to scrimp on is the moving insurance. This might seem like a good thing to save money by skipping, but you probably should think twice. Your mover will give you a couple of options for protecting your household goods. The basic choice offered at no additional charge provides very minimal reimbursement if anything in your shipment is lost or damaged. Most likely, it won’t be enough to replace or repair what was broken. The estimate will outline a Full Value option that you have to pay for, but which provides you with sufficient coverage to repair or replace your belongings if anything goes wrong. Accidents happen, and it is better to be protected when they do.