How to Choose a Moving Company in 9 Easy Steps

Each year millions of American families move to new homes and apartments. And despite the inherent risks, most relocations go off without a hitch.That means no claims, no hassles, and no exorbitant cost overruns.

In other words, chances are you’ll have a positive experience even if everything doesn’t go perfectly.

Are you interested in having a smooth move and keeping costs to a minimum?

If so, take a few minutes to consider the following moving tips.

Here’s a glimpse at what we’ll cover:

  • Hiring someone legit: Hiring a reliable moving company is pretty straightforward with our list of the best interstate movers of 2024.
  • Moving Broker vs. Moving Company: Moving company brokers aren’t the same as moving companies, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help.
  • Moving Costs: Taking advantage of our moving cost calculator is a great way to get started preparing a budget.

1. Set a Budget

Just remember, your actual moving expenses will vary based on the following factors –

  • Where you’re moving from and to
  • The weight of your household goods on long-distance moves
  • The time it’ll take the crew on local moves
  • The time of the year and day of the week you’ll be moving
  • Whether you’ll need help with packing, unpacking, and additional moving services like crating and appliance disconnects/reconnects

Also, think about how much you can afford to spend on your move, whether you’ll get relocation assistance from your company, and if you’ll be paying with cash or a credit card.

If you’re unsure how much you should expect to move, we’ve created a comprehensive moving checklist to help.

2. Ask for Referrals

Bar none, friends, family, and coworkers are your best resources for moving company referrals.

Without a doubt, using a moving company that is a referral from a previous customer is more likely to result in a positive experience.

Even if you’re moving for a new job or transfer but aren’t getting relocation assistance, the company should have a list of preferred vendors. They may offer special services and discounts not available to the general public, so ask your HR contact.

In addition, if you or someone you know has had a good experience with a commercial office mover at work, it’s worth calling and asking if they move homes and apartments too.

If they do, they’ll be more likely to provide “white glove” service since a corporate customer referred you.

3. Compile a List of Professional Movers

Though you may only end up getting three estimates, it’s a good idea to have at least five movers on your list of “prospects.”

If one is a no-show on appointment day or you get a bad vibe from one of the reps, you’ll have others to fall back on.

Hiring a reputable and reliable moving company is pretty straightforward with our roundup of the best 5 best interstate movers of 2024.

4. Vet Them Carefully

With all you’ve got on your plate, it may seem like a waste of time, but spending an hour or two doing background checks on prospective movers is imperative.

The following free resources will help you do just that –

It’s also worth making a few “shoutouts” on social media to see if your contacts (or your contact’s contacts) can give you additional information, and as always, check each company’s website and Facebook page.

Keep an eye out for these red flags –

  • Lack of a physical business address or phone number
  • Wild claims like “Voted World’s Best Moving Company in 1984!”
  • Misspelled words and other glaring errors
  • Pictures of cheesy moving trucks cut and pasted from other sites.

5. Consider the Services You’ll Need

During the pre-move planning and screening phases, it’s common to be unsure of which things you’ll do yourself and which services you’ll need the moving company to perform.

No problem – but if possible, have a general idea, or at the very least tell each moving company representative the same things so their estimates will be similar.

Depending on your needs and budget, proper full-service moving companies should do as much or as little as you need them.

Also, consider things like –

  • How much of the packing you’ll handle.
  • If you’d like the mover to pack breakable items like dishes, electronics, and mirrors
  • Whether you’ll need them (or a third-party company) to disconnect and move a refrigerator and other appliances
  • If you’ll disassemble beds and tables before the move (this will save money on local moves, but not on interstate moves)

6. Schedule In-Home Estimates

Unless you’re pressed for time, in-person moving estimates are always preferable to online quotes.

Though the latter may be OK if you’re moving the contents of a moderately furnished studio apartment, for larger apartments and homes, on-site walk-throughs (surveys) conducted by experienced estimators will always be more accurate.

Think of your moving company representative as a free resource.

After all, the more quality time they spend with you, the more likely they are to get your business, and if all goes well, make a nice commission.

To that end, they should take time to answer your questions, explain the intricacies of the moving business, and give you tips on how to save money.

Before they arrive, make a list of questions to ask, and don’t let them leave until you’ve gotten satisfactory answers.

7. Compare Your Estimates

Now that you have multiple estimates, you should have a decent idea of the timing, logistics, and costs associated with your move.

Next, set aside an hour or two to give each estimate a thorough review and compare them to one another.

It can be complicated to know what to look for on moving estimates. The legal terms in estimates and moving contracts can be confusing, so don’t hesitate to ask your rep to explain anything you don’t understand, and always know whether each is a binding, not-to-exceed, or non-binding estimate.

Also, verify that –

  • The estimated weights are similar on an out of state move
  • The crew size and estimated hours are similar if you’re moving locally
  • Each includes a similar number of boxes by size
  • Each includes the same insurance (valuation)

8. Get references

In my six years as a salesperson for two national van lines, I never once had a customer ask for a reference.

Ironically, nearly all of those hundreds of folks would’ve asked for references if I’d been estimating for a kitchen remodel or new deck.

For some reason, there’s a disconnect when it comes to moving companies, but there shouldn’t be.

Most moving companies are reputable businesses intent on providing quality service, but you guessed it, nefarious players abound too.

Though it may be awkward, you should always ask prospective movers for references from customers who’ve moved with them in the past six months, and if you get them, don’t hesitate to give them a call or shoot them an email.

9. Just Say “No” to Deposits

There are quite a few common moving scams that you should know about before your move, and deposits might be one of them. Commercial movers that do $200,000 office moves often get deposits upfront, but you should never be asked for one on a household goods move.

Movers that require deposits aren’t necessarily scammers, but if you need to cancel or postpone your move, it could be a hassle getting it back.

If only one company on your list asks for a deposit, ask yourself, or better yet, ask them – “why?”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it better to choose a mover from your origin or destination city or town?

It’s more convenient to choose a mover near the home or apartment where you currently live. This is because they will be available locally to answer any questions, do a walkthrough or provide an in-person estimate.

It also adds more comfort knowing that they are not driving long distances to get to you, which could cause delays in the moving process.

If you are moving long-distance, make sure you choose a mover in your area that specifies that they are established and able to make long-distance moves.

If you’re unsure how to find out if a company does long-distance movers, check out our list of the best interstate moving companies. These companies have branches all over the country, making it easy to work with them regardless of your origin.

What’s the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)?

The FMCSA is a department within the USDOT that regulates interstate and, in some cases, intrastate motor carriers like movers.

Can a local moving company do a long-distance move?

Some local movers not associated with national van lines also do long-distance interstate moves.

Do movers use a tariff to calculate pricing?

Yes, most movers publish tariffs to calculate the final price for their customers’ moves.

What’s the best way to schedule a free quote?

It’s usually best to call a reputable moving company to schedule an in-home estimate, but some companies allow you to book surveys online as well.

Final Thought…

The “right moving company” is rarely the cheapest.  But you can find a variety of ways to handle your move depending on your budget. Use our moving cost calculator to get a quote on your move and find you the best option that meets your budget.


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