6 Steps to Find and Book the Perfect Moving Services

Christa Baxter
Researcher & Writer
Read More
January 28, 2016
4 min read

Finding the right moving services can be tricky, and there are many pitfalls to avoid. The last thing you need during a time as stressful as a move is to be taken in by a moving scam, or to discover that what you thought you could do yourself needed a professional’s expertise.

This guide is not necessarily about answering every question, rather it will help you to ask a few questions about each step in the process. We want to help you be sure that you’re moving in the way that’s best for you and your family.

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1. Research prices and services, then decide on DIY or professional movers

Because moving is something most people do many times, a massive industry has grown up around it. The good news is this gives you plenty of options to customize your move. The bad news is that so many options can leave you wondering where to start in deciding how best to move. Answer the following questions and tally up the points to start deciding how to move:

Award a point to
How far are you movingSame city or nearbyDIY
How much are you moving?3 bedroom apartment or lessDIY
4 bedrooms or moreProfessional
What's your budget?Not a lot to spendDIY
Money to spend or a relocation packageProfessional (hidden costs)

Remember, the chart above is just a guide. Your situation may call for you to weight some of these categories more heavily than others, or to consider factors that we haven’t included here.

2. Decide on a company

Deciding on what type of move to make is only the first step. Once you’ve decided between a DIY or professional move, you’ll need to find the company you are most comfortable with.

What’s most important to you? Price? Reputation? Equipment? Budget often has the cheaper rental prices, while U-Haul stakes their reputation on trucks that are easier to load and more comfortable to drive. It’s all about priorities, and ultimately it will take a little bit of research on your part to determine which company to go with. Here are a few of the most common nationwide options for both DIY and professional moves:

3. Set a moving date and book your move

Now that you’ve decided on the right method and company for your move, the next step is relatively simple: Choose a date for your move and book it. If you’re doing a professional move, call your chosen company and begin the contract-signing process. DIY truck renters can simply book online or over the phone.

It’s relatively simple, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no need to put any thought into this step. Especially if you’re renting a truck for a long-distance move, think twice about reserving it for a weekend or (heaven forbid) a holiday. These are the busiest days for truck rentals, so prices sometimes go way up. If you’re flexible at all with your date, try experimenting with different dates in the online booking system, or just call and ask an agent to run the numbers for you.

Also for DIY movers: Once your date is set, be sure to notify friends and family who will be helping with the loading and unloading process so they can mark their calendars ahead of time.

4. Reserve storage at your destination

Depending on your situation and needs, this step and the next may not be necessary. But if you won’t be able to immediately move everything into your new home upon arrival, be sure to book a storage unit well in advance.

When choosing a storage unit, ask yourself if the unit works for the stuff you’re storing. For example, if you’re storing sensitive items like musical instruments, you may want to book a climate-controlled storage unit. Does the unit have raised floor or pallets and a drain, in case of flooding? The lesson here is just because a storage space is cheap doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.

5. Make arrangements to disassemble and move specialty items

Do you own a piano, a pool table, or antique furniture? If so, then DIY movers may want to consider hiring specialty movers just to get those few large, tricky items into and out of the moving truck. There are even companies that specialize in moving pianos across the country.

One drawback to professional movers is that they have no emotional attachment to your belongings, so they have somewhat less incentive to keep it safe from scratches and dents. If you opt to have a moving company or specialist move your piano, pool table, or antiques, grab the camera and thoroughly document its condition before the move.

Be sure to review the mover’s guarantee regarding the condition of your things upon arrival. You’ll also want to contact your homeowners or renters insurance agent to inquire about moving insurance for your valuables.

6. Be ready for the day of the move

As the move date approaches, be ready. If you’ve chosen a professional move, check the contract to be sure you have everything ready that they’ve asked of you for the day of the move. Pack up your car (or other form of transportation) with the stuff that the movers won’t carry, like chemicals, paints, or important documents. Be sure to have cash for tips: $15–20 per mover is about average.

If you’ve opted for a DIY move, have everything boxed up and ready to go to the truck. Family and friends who have volunteered are there to help with lifting and carrying, not packing. Be ready for them.

In either scenario, be sure to have plenty of snacks and water on hand at both sides of the move, to keep everyone happy and hydrated throughout loading or unloading.

Let us know in the comments below what moving services you decide to use and why, and any advice you have for other movers out there.

Christa Baxter
Written by
Christa Baxter
Christa Baxter has worked as an editor for more than eight years and specialized in moving content for the last three. She leads the Move.org content team in producing whip-smart moving tips and recs. After relocating four times in the last calendar year, she’s got strong opinions about moving best practices. (Just don’t ever pull a Marie Kondo and suggest she whittle down her personal library.) She earned a BA and MA in English with a minor in editing.