What You Should Know About Hiring Movers

Planning for a move can be daunting – whether your new place is mere blocks away in your current neighborhood or out of state. If you’re not going to do a DIY move with the help of friends, a U-Haul and pizza for all, then it’s a good idea to prep for what it takes to hire movers you can trust.

To help you plan, we’ve got a few tips so you’re all set on moving day.

Heavy lifting

It’s critical that you look for a mover with an established name and reputation. This is especially true if you want to avoid the headache of hiring a firm that’s less than reliable. Your goal should be to work with a company that’s up front and honest about what it takes to get your worldly possessions into your new digs at an agreed upon cost.

Since a catchy tagline on a moving truck is not enough to sway you, you’re ready to do your homework. Find out:

  • What services they offer
  • Whether the company has a good reputation
  • What it will cost to move and protect your favorite things

You have the right to know everything in full before you ever sign on the dotted line of a moving contract.

Transparency or bust

An absurdly low estimate is your first sign of pending trouble. If you’re given a low estimate without the mover ever seeing your stuff, it’s a reputation killer and an indication that this would-be mover is not necessarily on the up-and-up.

Once the moving company has your precious possessions on their truck, what could possibly go wrong? Well, for one thing, they could threaten to not unload until you pay upwards of hundreds of dollars (or more) compared to their original absurdly low quote. To avoid this from happening, be sure to get a copy of the Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration booklet that tells it like it is regarding your rights.


Getting quotes from multiple movers just makes good sense. It’s free and you’re under no obligation to hire someone just because they’ve provided a quote. Licensed and insured movers are likely to quote a range of price points, so you’ll need to wade through their services to see what works best for you.

Moving companies typically provide quotes based on a full day of work and many will also prorate for fewer hours on local moves.

To start, always ask for a detailed, written estimate. If the mover says no to that common request, check the company off the list immediately.

Factors that can influence the cost of a move include:

  • How far the mover will need to travel
  • Whether the move is local, within the state or out of state
  • The weight of your possessions
  • How many rooms of furnishings will be moved
  • How many specialty pieces will be moved, i.e., a piano, heavy or oversized furnishings and hanging chandeliers

Estimating the cost

person using an abacus

1. Binding quote

This type of estimate means that no matter what, the price you’ve been quoted is the price you pay – there are no surprises. This quote must be given to you before the move and it must be done so in writing.

To get the most accurate quote, it’s best for the mover to do a physical survey of what’s being moved. This should be automatically done if you’re located within a 50-mile radius of your mover’s office or the broker or agent’s office representing the moving company.

If, for whatever reason, you decide to not have the mover come and calculate an estimated cost in person, you’ll likely be asked to sign a waiver to that effect.

2. Non-binding quote

This means that the charges will be based on the actual weight of your household goods. There are weight estimators online that can serve as a guide, but the truck driver is required to show proof of a weight check with an official copy of the weight ticket formally signed by a weighmaster. This is especially relevant for long-distance travel.

3. Binding not-to-exceed quote

There’s a potential silver lining with this type of quote, which makes it preferred by many. If the weight of your household possessions adds up to more than the estimate, you’re only responsible to pay the quoted amount. If the weight turns out to be less than anticipated, you pay the lesser rate.

When a mover gives you an estimate on your possessions – if you need to add items into the mix – you should inform the moving company right away so they can revise the estimate and the contract prior to moving day.

4. Payment and tips

While there are no hard or fast rules, it’s pretty typical to tip $20 per mover for a day rate fee.

Standard practice is that you make payment upon delivery. You can do this by cash or certified check, money order or cashier’s check. If you’re unable to make payment in full, the moving company has the right to hold your possessions in storage until you pay what you owe.


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