Moving from the left coast to the Big Apple is a significant change. Just thinking about giving up that laid-back California lifestyle for the hustle and bustle of New York can raise your blood pressure a few points. Don’t let the move process add to your worries. Find the right moving company and get ready to start your takeover of the Empire State.
A big, cross-country move like this takes planning and support. Choose a professional with the resources to handle your relocation, including packing if you want it, storage information, and even moving your office if that’s part of the deal. Your full-service moving company can do everything, or you can manage some aspects yourself if that’s your style. Movers provide a menu of options, and you pick the ones you want.
The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the Department of Transportation) regulates interstate moving companies. It’s their job to protect consumers from scams or provide you with information to help you protect yourself. FMCSA requires all interstate movers to register with them, and they maintain a database with details on safety history and complaint records. This is a great place to start when you are researching moving companies.
Make a move plan. The FMCSA publishes a checklist they call Ready to Move? It helps you create a plan for choosing your moving company and preparing for the move itself. Some of the critical steps in selecting a mover include the following:
Compare estimates. You may want to compare estimates of at least three movers. This action not only gives you three prices to consider, but it allows you to acquaint yourself with three potential partners. You are going to trust this company to load all your essential and sentimental belongings into a truck and drive across the country—and you are going to pay them a lot of money to do it.
Estimates can be confusing, so it helps if you know what to expect. Expect each moving company to visit your home and do a walkthrough to look at everything that you want to move. They do this to accurately assess what the shipment will weigh, which is the basis for the move’s cost. Even the most experienced mover can’t visualize your furniture from a phone conversation, and besides, federal regulations require it. Show the representative everything that you want to move, and then check to see it reflected on the inventory they create.
There is more than one kind of estimate, so ask which one you are getting. A binding estimate is a guaranteed price. If the moving company sets the weight of your shipment at 6,000 pounds, based on their walkthrough, but the delivery is actually 8,000 pounds, you will not pay extra for the additional weight—as long as you did not add anything to the shipment that was not in the inventory used to create the estimate. Other services and unforeseen problems are exceptions, but the weight charges will not increase. Non-binding estimates are more common, and more practical for the moving company because they leave the risk with the consumer. If the mover is inaccurate in determining the shipment’s weight, then the price will increase to reflect the actual weight.
If you have chosen a mover you trust, you won’t have to worry so much about the estimate’s accuracy, but it is still better to be protected than to regret it later. Some of the red flags that rogue operators show will fly during the estimating process. If a company representative wants you to waive the requirement for a physical survey of the shipment, you should be wary of its intentions. If a mover asks you to sign a blank document that it will fill in later, refuse, and do not consider doing business with them. Suppose you have trouble contacting a mover during this period. In that case, it could be a sign that it is a shady operator, and you may have even more difficulty reaching them during the crucial time when they are transporting your goods outside of your span of control.
With the moving estimate, which will clearly state the weight, any services such as packing, flight charges, long carries, storage or additional stops, and so on, the mover will provide you with a copy of their tariff, which outlines all fees that it may charge you. The tariff will include the mover’s definition of impracticable operations, which are conditions at the destination, making it impossible for it to complete delivery without the use of additional labor or equipment. This might include parking restrictions, unexpected stairs, narrow hallways, or steep driveways.
The estimate must also include the choice of valuation options. The default option for valuation (similar to insurance but typically self-funded by the moving company) is Full Replacement Value. This choice provides replacement or repair (at the mover’s discretion) of goods that sustain damage or are lost. There are exceptions if the shipper packed an item, or an expensive object (over $100 per pound) was not noted and accepted by the vendor. Full Replacement Valuation is not included in the move’s price, and the charge for this choice will be stated in the estimate. You can waive it, and substitute the lower value of $0.60 per pound, at no additional charge. This choice may be tempting, but consider it carefully. If the mover drops your 20-pound flat-screen television, the company will reimburse you $12.00. That loss is going to put a damper on the start of your new life in NYC.
Yes, it does. When you make a significant interstate move like California to NY, summer is the most expensive time to go. That is when demand is highest, so movers charge more. If you can move in winter or after summer is over, movers have extra capacity and may offer you a more attractive price.