Making an interstate relocation is an exciting but potentially stressful time. You have a lot to think about, and a never-ending to-do list. One of the things at the top of the list is finding the right moving company to handle your move. After all, it is a long way from Florida to Pennsylvania, and you want to ensure that your cherished possessions get to their new home safely.
Moving isn’t brain surgery, as the saying goes, but of course, you want to find a trustworthy, professional, and reliable Florida moving company. You wouldn’t let just anyone load your stuff into a truck and take off up the interstate highway. But if you haven’t moved since college, you may be wondering how to get started, and how much work this will end up being.
Get started by creating a move plan, investigating the available services, and then choosing the best company for your circumstances. A move plan means thinking about when and how you want to move. Your move from Florida to Pennsylvania is about 1,200 miles, right on target for the average interstate move in the United States. Three million people move from one state to another in this country every year, at a cost averaging around $4,100. That cost varies according to distance, how much their shipment weighs, and the services they have the movers perform for them besides the necessary loading and driving.
The services you need depends on your move plan. Do you want to pack your household goods into boxes and get everything ready for the moving company to load up, or would you prefer to have the movers come in and take care of everything while you disappear to the spa? There is a broad spectrum between those two extremes, but you decide what you want to do, and what you want to pay the movers to do for you.
Moving can be an excellent opportunity to organize and sort out your belongings. Do you really need to move the textbooks you have been hauling around since college? If you haven’t read “Crime and Punishment” by now, chances are you never will. And if you haven’t worn an item of clothing in six months, the Marie Kondo rule says it must go. If you are doing the packing, you can consider each item’s fate as you go along—move, donate, trash. If you have the time and temperament to carefully cull out things you no longer want, you can avoid moving excess and simultaneously reduce your shipment’s weight, which will save money. The movers are going to pack everything without discrimination.
On the other hand, movers are fast and efficient, and they don’t mind wrapping a seemingly endless number of wine glasses in bubble wrap so that they will do a great job. If the movers pack the box, they will pack it properly, and balance the load without overpacking. Plus, they have those great wardrobe boxes that make moving the contents of the closet so simple.
This is a perfect moment to consider your furniture as well. Are you moving to a larger or smaller house? Will the beach-chic that looks so perfect in your Florida bungalow strike a discordant note in your Pennsylvania brownstone? It usually makes sense to move good-quality furniture, but not if you will replace it once you reach the new destination.
Whether you plan to pack or have the movers handle that part, you need to have at least three companies come in and do a walkthrough with you, to provide you with a moving estimate. This part of the process is key to finding out how much your move will cost, based on the predicted weight of your household goods. The average contents of a 3-bedroom home weigh 9000 pounds, but the average move cost noted above is based on a load of around 7,500 pounds, and of course, we all collect different amounts. Some people are minimalists, while others like to save everything.
That’s why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires movers to conduct a visual inspection of the goods being moved as part of the process to provide an estimate. It’s to protect the consumer and ensure the accuracy of the quote. Beware of movers who claim they don’t need to see what you are moving and ask you to waive the requirement.
Moving estimates are essential, which is one reason why you should get several. The other purpose is that it gives you a chance to interact with the company and decide if it is an organization you trust to move your household goods. The estimate is based on an inventory, which the mover will create as the representative walks through the house, usually with you. The inventory is a list of everything that is moving—furniture, appliances, and the number of boxes based on what the mover sees looking in the closets, cupboards, garage, attic, etc. You should review the inventory carefully to verify that it is comprehensive. If you have several estimates and they are not close to each other on weight, ask the vendors to help figure out why. Did one of them include something the others did not? Is that item going or staying behind? Ensure that the comparison is fair between companies.
Also, the estimates should be the same type. There are binding and non-binding estimates, as well as binding not-to-exceed. A binding estimate means that the price is firm, even if the company has misjudged the weight. The price will not increase if the weight of the shipment is higher. If the estimate is non-binding, the weight assessment provided by the mover is more critical since the price you pay will be higher if the weight is higher. And with a binding not-to-exceed, the price can’t increase but can decrease if the weight is lower than anticipated.
The estimate should also include a description of the prices the mover will charge for other services. This includes an hourly fee for packing, plus the cost of materials it will provide. Other functions involve crating of artwork, moving of large and bulky items like pianos and pool tables, and charges for “stair carries” and “long carries.” These are explained in the movers tariff and agreed to in advance. Sometimes there are services added at the destination for conditions that are not anticipated. These are known as impracticable operations and can be charged to you if necessary, to complete the delivery. These services are not standard, and there are limits to how a mover can charge for them. Examples of these unforeseen conditions impeding standard delivery would include a steep, winding driveway, or a prohibition on parking in front of an apartment building, either of which might require shuttling the load.
Among other key requirements for moving companies, they must provide information about their dispute resolution and arbitration programs and describe the choices for insurance protection of your shipment. While most moves go smoothly, accidents do happen, and it is best to prepare. It would help if you understood the difference between the two types of coverage available to you before the move starts, so you will have the peace of mind you need.