Moving Advice

Moving expert dispels 4 common moving advice myths

Warehouse with boxes

by Paul Lenkiewicz

So in the era of content marketing, quantity is quickly taking precedence over quality. You will have copywriters creating content for blogs all over the web, and repeating the same inaccurate or absolutely false advice particularly when it comes to the complicated world of relocation. Moving in NYC can be particularly different from the rest of the country, so beware of the source. There is obviously some value to some of this advice, but these four pieces of advice can be quite misguided.

1. The earlier you book your move, the more you will save

Particularly in New York, how often do you have a new apartment lined up with all of the details 3 months in advance? How often are you certain of your closing date more than 30 days in advance? The advice to “start researching and booking movers at least 2 months in advance” can scare people into booking too early. My answer revolved all around: what date are you targeting? Dates such as June 30th or August 31st, or for example, most weekends during the summer go quickly. Once movers are over 75% capacity, prices tend to start spiking. On the flip side, if you are looking to move in the middle of February, you may actually get the best deal booking only a few days in advance. If the moving company has several trucks still available they may book your move at a significant discount to keep their crews working during the slow season.

This trend is very evident on CityMove. Sometimes, jobs posted for the end of summer months only receive a handful of bids – and the quotes can be quite high. On the other hand, moves posted for very favorable dates tend to not only get a lot of bids, but we tend to see the same moving companies revise their moving quotes down multiple times. This is partially what makes CityMove such a great tool.

Long story short – booking more than approx. 3 weeks in advance is not possible for most people and that’s OK. You are probably not missing out on major savings. Once you are within the 20 day period, if you have no flexibility on the date, and it is end of the month or weekend, don’t waste time. Book a mover, prices are likely to go up. If you are flexible on your moving date, or are moving on a weekday in the middle of the month, prices may actually go down. Booking a mover can be very similar to booking flights. There are last-minute deals out there, particularly if you are a smart shopper.

2. “Your belongings are fully insured” or “Make sure you buy insurance from your mover”

Take this with a grain of salt. For the most part, movers have very limited liability while having your belongings in their possession (as low as $0.30/lb for local NYC hourly moves, or $0.60/lb for interstate moves). This means that the liability of the mover for your 40 LB 65″ curved HD smart TV is only $12 or $24. Many movers offer “replacement value” insurance, or “full value protection”, which costs money and has a deductible. On top of that, there are many exceptions even if you purchased this option. The mechanical condition of items can generally not be guaranteed. Items you packed into boxes on your own are another notable exception. Third-party moving insurance companies are crafty about avoiding a payout as well. When moving, so many little things can happen that moving insurance is a difficult topic, both from the movers’ and clients’ perspectives.

My advice? First of all, do your research on your home-owners/renters policy, ask the mover about what insurance options they offer and what they recommend. Different states and different companies have different policies and even if you shouldn’t expect the world, you should be familiar with what you are getting into. Second of all, be cautious with things you can control. Do not pack currency or fine jewelry into a box and hope for the best. Pack the most expensive small items into a backpack and keep it with you. Lastly, communicate clearly with your moving company. Like most people, you will care about a handful of items in your home the most. That antique desk you inherited from your grandmother that means the world to you? Tell the movers! Is your TV your most priced possession? Tell the movers! It makes a difference.

3. Keep a moving notebook, create 20 bullet TO-DO list, and other overkill organization tips

If you are the type of person who is capable of follow-through, then sure. Being more organized probably will not hurt. That being said, prioritize your time. For example, if you start packing and keep a detailed list of what is in each box, and you do this for the first 10, but then run out of time and do not even mark the last 10 boxes, are you winning? Definitely not. Be as descriptive as you can on the box using a sharpie, keeping a standalone list is fantastic but is extremely time-consuming. Organize everything into categories? That’s great, but maybe simple room by room organization works better for you. Hang up a calendar with tasks prior to move day? What are these tips, from the 90s? Odds are you Google assistant will pick up tasks from your Gmail and recommend to add to your calendar. Do what you are comfortable with. Moving can be stressful as it is, don’t let people convince you everything you do is not enough.

The point is this: you can make your moving process endlessly complicated, but be realistic. Use your time to DO. Start packing and purging early. Get those moving quotes. Make arrangements for someone to watch your kids and pets when the moving company shows up so you can be involved. “Planning” for the sake of planning can make your feel unnecessarily overwhelmed. Make absolutely certain you take care of the major stuff, like definitely plan to have a full day off from work. Don’t worry all that much about switching your credit card statement address… you can probably do that using an app in 30 seconds the day after the move and your world will not collapse. Side tip: banks are smart. After you switch over your ZIP code, both the old and new ZIP will work for online transactions for some period of time.

4. Get your friends involved in your move

If you are working on an extremely tight budget or own no furniture, this may work out. In most cases, it does not work out as intended. If you are hiring a company or have some heavy pieces of furniture, my advice is: don’t do this to yourself and your friends. By the time you account for all the perks for your friends, the favors you will have to return, and the sheer stress in case someone flakes just doesn’t make sense. If you are a do-it-yourself-er, get the truck and pack your own stuff, but hire a couple of movers to help you load and unload. You can post this type of job on CityMove and get quotes for labor only moves. If you prefer to hire a company, don’t muddle the deal by saying “my friends and I will be helping!”. This is difficult to quantify for a moving company. Let them take care of it, and instead concentrate on being hands-on on moving day and communicate with your moving crew, rather than entertaining your friend “helpers” and forgetting to tell the movers about the few items you have stored in the basement.

5. Be Wary of advice is a great website that has been shedding light on shady practices in the moving industry for almost 20 years. There is lots of great discussion and advice on there, however, take it with a grain of salt. Some of the discussions can be a bit dramatic – I have seen great moving companies dragged through the mud on movingscam simply because their quotes vary with seasonality, or based on one rude encounter on the phone.

Secondly, a lot of advice on there is quite old. The site is still quite popular, but their SUPERLIST of movers for NYC seems to be from 2006. As you can imagine, a lot can change in 13 years. The current marketplace of movers in NYC is very different from the list in 2006.

I noticed that in recent years, the website seems to have “heavy favorites” they recommend. These recommended companies aren’t necessarily movers that I would consider the best in the area. They are also really big on BBB ratings. Keep in mind BBB is a for-profit private company which charges businesses $500 a year for accreditation, and truth be told makes it relatively easy to maintain an A+ rating if you pay the annual fee. Granted, if a moving company has lots of unresolved complaints on BBB that’s a solid sign to stay away from them.