Moving Information

Moving Information

So, your home is on the market. You’re preparing for the next big phase of this experience. THE MOVE.

Many horror stories are abound. This entire section is designed to reduce the pitfalls of this endeavor and accentuate the experience to be a positive one.  

Choosing The Right Moving Company
When weeding through the maze of the thousands of name and lesser name moving companies to choose who will ultimately get the job of moving your precious belongings, follow these details. For starters, do not be afraid to get as many quotes as you can. Be aware that certain movers offer non-guaranteed estimates that are often time 'low-balled' and then hit you up for a huge bill when the move is complete. In order to avoid this predicament, always make sure that any estimates you receive from movers are either 'binding' or include a 'not to exceed' clause.

Here’s a checklist to follow when choosing and interviewing moving companies.

1.  License:  Check to see if the mover is licensed with your state's Department of Transportation. Simply ask for their mover's license certificate and call the DOT for verification. See complete DOT phone number list at bottom of page.  

2.  Estimates:  Estimating requires a series of unscientific variables factored into how long the move will take. Professional estimators use a variety of formulas for calculating the cost. These range from size and weight of each individual piece of furniture and combine that with an estimate of how many boxes, how much tape, packing material, etc., and then factor in how many trucks it will take, how many movers and the distance from point A to point B. Other companies eyeball everything and give you a quote based on past experience. Here are some estimating tips:

  • Inquire as to what type of estimating the moving company offers. (See below)
  • Present the estimator with everything you are taking with you. This includes all items found in the basement, attic, shed/barn, closets, in other storage facilities, etc.
  • Inquire as to how binding the estimate is. Low priced estimates are especially crucial. If the estimate is binding, make sure the contract indicates so.
  • Inquire about purchasing extra valuation/insurance. Movers provide basic insurance that may not cover the cost of replacement for very expensive items.

There are several kinds of estimating used in the industry. They include:

  1. Binding Estimate:  The mover offers a guaranteed price, within a small percentage of deviation, that is based on a complete list of items to be moved and the type of service performed.
  2. Non-binding or hourly rate:  Essentially, this is not even an estimate but rather, a protracted price list of costs based on experience of jobs similar to yours.
  3. Not to exceed:  This quote is binding only for the mover and states the final price for the move will not exceed the estimate figure. If the move however, arrives in under the estimated amount, you pay the lesser price.

Do not accept binding estimates over the telephone or the Internet! Accurate appraisals must be given in person after an estimator evaluates all your goods. To receive the most accurate estimate, follow these instructions:

  1. Be very clear as to which items you are packing.
  2. Be very clear as to which items the mover packs
  3. Be very clear which items need to be picked up from a storage facility.
  4. Be very clear what packing supplies you'll need (boxes, wrapping, tape, etc.).
  5. Be very clear as to the exact destination of the move.

Regardless of which kind you end up with make sure that the amount is written into the contract.

3. Customer satisfaction:  Check for dissatisfied customers. The moving industry is wrought with incidents. Some are justifiable, some or not. Beware of any mover who has received the same complaint from a number of customers, whether about price, the handling of household goods, or punctuality. Contact your local Better Business Bureau or click here for the national BBB Also check your state's DOT for more info on the movers you’re deciding on.

4.  Recommendations:  Ask those who you know who have moved before for their recommendations. Beware; this should not be a substitute for your own research. Ask each of your prospective movers for references from previous customers and for documents on their history of service.

5.  Local trade association membership:  Local trade associations maintain high standards and will give you detailed information about companies' business practices. In the case of a dispute, you will have a higher power with whom to air your grievances. One such trade organization is the American Movers Conference.

6.  Insurance:  Any reputable mover has insurance and will be glad to go over the coverage and transit protection options.

7.  Price/Rates:  Remember, moving is not always about getting the best price, it's about protecting your personals and having it arrive at your new home in one piece. Do not select a mover on price alone. Moving companies must carry insurance, provide trained personnel and maintain their trucks and equipment. These are costly expenses and are part of why large, very recognizable companies charge what they do. A cheap rate may serve as a red flag.

8.  Storage:  Inquire as to whether your mover provides a storage facility to store your belongings in case they cannot be moved in your new home right away. Inquire as to whether they own their own facility or if they store goods in a public facility used by other carriers.

9.  Watch them work:  Inquire if the mover is working with a local family. Pay that family a visit on the day of the move and observe for yourself how they conduct themselves.

10.  Visit the Mover:  If the mover is local, drive by and visit them in person. Look around the office. The yard. Make sure these are the type of people you want coming into your home, touching your belongings and moving them somewhere else.

11.  Check existing homeowner's or renter's policy:  To cover potential damage coverage as movers are limited by law regarding what they can give you for lost or damaged goods.

12.  Gratuities:  Inquire as to expected gratuities and write these into the contract.

13 Overrun Guarantees:  Have the contract include a guarantee of how many hours the job will take, allowing an overrun of no more than 10%.

You have two choices when it comes to packing.

  • Packing it yourself.
  • Letting the movers do everything.

Smart Packing
If you choose to do the majority of the packing yourself, you stand to save a lot of money. Study these tips to insure you do the best packing job possible.

  1. Limit yourself to packing only non-fragile items such as books, linens, clothing and shoes; and replaceable items such as plates, dishes (not fine china), and small kitchen appliances. These items will be cheaper to replace in case of damage as opposed to hiring workers for the extra labor. For the large items, such as furniture, mattresses, and heavy appliances, let the mover pack these.
  2. Pack everything carefully. It is important for you to buffer and separate the fragile items that you pack with old newspaper, bubble wrap, sheets, blankets, pillows and towels. Wrap each fragile item separately. Fill in empty spaces to minimize movement during transit. Pack plates and glass objects vertically, rather than flat and stacked. Purchase strong tape adhesive based tape like duct tape or the plastic and strapping tape that professional movers use.
  3. Create an inventory list of all your goods and cross reference them to their assigned boxes which should all be numbered.
  4. Let your mover inspect your packed boxes - Point them out to your mover especially the fragile and valuable boxes. Movers do have the right to refuse to load any box they deem improperly packed. Any improperly packed boxes must be repacked either by you or the mover. All repacking services usually come at an additional cost. Professional moving companies use only sturdy and reinforced cartons. Although the boxes you can obtain from your neighborhood supermarket may be free, they are not nearly as strong or padded. They are more susceptible to causing damage to your valuables in transit. Keep in mind that movers are not liable for items they didn't pack.
  5. Appliances - To protect themselves, many movers will not disconnect your major appliances. Before the movers arrive to pack and load, unplug and prep your refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, washer and dryer.
  6. Computers - Do this yourself. Make sure you back-up your important files and take them with you.
  7. Plants/Pets - Movers will not transport plants or pets. If you do not wish to give them away, don't forget to prepare them for the move. They will need a 'plant/pet suitcase' of their own.
  8. Hazardous materials - Movers will not transport or allow you to pack hazardous materials. These items include: paint, thinners, solvents, oils, varnishes, firearms and ammunition, bottled gas, propane, lamp oil, anything flammable, explosive or corrosive, motor fuels and oils, nail polish remover, bleach and aerosol cans.

Preparing For The Move
There’s so much to do before you move. The list is almost endless. 

6 weeks before moving:

  1. Fill out change of address order form for post office.
  2. Prepare an inventory of everything you own. Divide this inventory into three separate categories:
    a. Items to be handled by the mover
    b. Items to be handled by you
    c. Items to be left behind.
  3. Pack stock certificates, wills and other one-of-a-kind items (jewelry, photos and home videos) that will be difficult or impossible to replace. Plan to carry them with you instead of packing them.
  4. Get rid of what you don’t need either through a garage sale, give a way to friends or charity or haul off to the dump.
  5. Contact your insurance agent to transfer property, fire, auto and medical insurance.
  6. Organize dental and medical records.  Include prescriptions, eyeglass specifications and vaccination records.
  7. Inquire about changes that you may occur in your auto licensing and insurance when moving.
  8. Notify your children's school(s). Make arrangement for records to be forwarded to the new school district.
  9. Contact any clubs or organizations you are associated with for information on transferring, selling, or ending your memberships.
  10. Get acclimated to your new community. Drive around and learn where the important destinations are, e.g. shopping districts, hospitals, police and fire departments.
  11. Contact the Chamber of Commerce or Visitor's Bureau to request information on schools, parks and recreation, community calendars and maps.
  12. If you plan to do any part of the packing, start collecting suitable containers and packing materials.
  13. Cancel local deliveries.
  14. If you have pets, call your new township to determine if there are any specific requirements for pet ownership. In addition, obtain and transfer veterinarian records.
  15. Register your children in their new schools.
  16. Fill out an IRS change of address form.
  17. Make arrangements with moving company or reserve a rental truck.
  18. Make travel arrangements, if necessary, with airlines, buses, car rental agencies and hotels.
  19. Transfer memberships in churches, clubs and civic organizations.
  20. Obtain medical and dental records, x-rays and prescription histories. Ask doctor and dentist for referrals and transfer prescriptions.
  21. Set up a checking account in your new city.
  22. Check into the laws and requirements of your new city regarding home-based businesses, professional tests, business licenses and any special laws that might be applicable to you.
  23. Take inventory of your belongings before they're packed, in the event you need to file an insurance claim later. If possible, take pictures or video tape your belongings. Record serial numbers of electronic equipment.
  24. Make arrangements for transporting pets:
    A. Cats and Dogs - Cats and dogs can be taken in your car. If so, remember to take along the following items:
         i. Food
         ii. Water
         iii. A leash for letting your pet out of the car
         iv. Newspaper or sheets to keep your car clean
         v. If you are moving a long distance away, check ahead to see if the hotels where you are staying allows pets. Depending on the animal's temperament and size, it might be better to have it shipped by air.
         vi.  Be sure to check if your destination has any local requirements or restrictions on animals.
    B. Shipping Pets by Air - To have your pet shipped by air, make sure someone can meet your pet at the destination airport and   take care of it until you arrive. A kennel can do this for you and keep your pet until you have completed your move, if necessary.
         i. If you are flying to your new destination, your cat or dog can ride in the baggage compartment. You may need the following items:
              a. Health certificate. Obtain this from your veterinarian. 
              b. Pet container. The airline might have a special container available or you can use your own as long as it complies with airline regulations. 
              c. Tranquilizers. Your vet can provide tranquilizers to be given to your pet immediately before going to the airport. 
              d. Your scent. Your pet can be comforted by having a piece of cloth with your scent on it.
    C. Smaller Animals - Hamsters, birds and other small animals can easily be transported in your car. To help keep the animals calm and quiet, cover cages with a cloth. Also, make sure they have food and water available.
         a. Fish - It can be very impractical and risky to move fish. Check with your local pet store for recommendations on moving your specific type of fish.
  25. Start using up food items, so that there is less left to pack and possibly spoil.

2 Weeks Before Moving

  1. Switch utility services to new address. Inform electric, disposal, water, newspaper, magazine subscription, telephone and cable companies of your move.
  2. Arrange for help on moving day.
  3. Confirm travel reservations.
  4. Reserve elevator if moving from an apartment.
  5. Have appliances serviced for moving.
  6. Clean rugs and clothing and have them wrapped for moving.
  7. Plan ahead for special needs of infants.
  8. Close bank accounts and have your funds wired to your new bank. Before closing, be sure there are no outstanding checks or automatic payments that haven't been processed.
  9. Collect valuables from safe-deposit box. Make copies of any important documents before mailing or hand carry them to your new address.
  10. Check with your insurance agent to ensure you'll be covered through your homeowner's or renter's policy during the move.
  11. Defrost freezer and refrigerator. Place deodorizer inside to control odors.
  12. Give a close friend or relative your travel route and schedule so you may be reached if needed.

On Moving Day

  1. Double check closets, drawers, shelves, attic and garage to be sure they are empty.
  2. Pack important documents, currency and jewelry yourself, or use registered mail.
  3. Carry traveler's checks for quick, available funds. Strip your beds, and make sure the bedding goes into a 'Load Last' box.
  4. Make sure to be on hand when the movers arrive.
  5. Confirm the delivery date and time at your new address. Write directions to your new home for the driver. Provide the new phone number, and include phone numbers where you can be reached in transit (cell phone). Make sure to take along the driver’s name, address and telephone number.
  6. Spend as much time with the mover as possible. If you have special instructions, like what to load first and last make sure it is explained to your mover. Communicate well with the movers. If you choose to have your mover handle your valuables or other fragile goods, tell the mover in advance.
  7. Review all details and paperwork with driver. Accompany the driver as he or she inspects and tags each piece of furniture with an identifying number. These numbers, along with a detailed description of your goods and their condition at the time of loading, will appear on the inventory.
  8. Make sure all of your goods are loaded.
  9. Perform a final inspection of the premises. 

After Arriving At New Home

  1. Renew your driver's license, auto registration and tags.
  2. Shop around for new insurance policies, especially auto coverage.
  3. Revise your will and other legal papers to avoid longer probate and higher legal fees.
  4. Have all utilities turned on. (Phone, gas, electricity, Internet, cable TV)
  5. Locate the hospitals, police stations, veterinarian and fire stations near your home.
  6. Be at the premises when the movers arrive. Remain on the premises while your belongings are being unloaded. If you cannot be there personally, be sure to authorize an adult to be your representative to accept delivery and pay the charges for you. Inform the destination agent of your chosen representative's name.
  7. Have payment on hand for your moving charges. Unless other billing arrangements were made in advance, payment is required upon delivery in cash, traveler's checks, money order or cashier's check. Most of the time Personal checks are not accepted.
  8. Confine your pets to an out-of-the-way room to help keep them from running away or becoming agitated by all of the activity.
  9. Review your floor plan so you can tell the movers where to place your furniture, appliances, beds, and boxes.
  10. Be available to direct them as they unload. To prevent possible damage, televisions, stereos, computers, other electronic equipment and major appliances should not be used for 24 hours after delivery, allowing them time to adjust to room temperature.

Department of Transportation (DOT) by state:


(334) 223-7370


(907) 278-1779


(602) 255-7011


(501) 569-2000


(916) 654-5266


(303) 894-2000


(860) 594-2000

DC Washington

(202) 358-7000


(302) 760-2080 or


(850) 488-7920


(404) 656-5206


(808) 587-2160


(208) 332-1817


(312) 793-3456


(317) 232-5533


(515) 239-1111


(785) 296-3585


(502) 564-4890


(225) 379-1100


(207) 287-2841


(617) 494-2416


(517) 373-2114


(651) 296-3000


(573) 751-2551


(406) 444-6200

New Jersey

(609) 530-2000

New Mexico

(505) 827-5100

New York



(702) 888-7000

North Carolina

(919) 733-2520


(419) 422-3035




(717) 787-2838

Rhode Island


South Carolina

(803) 737-1302

South Dakota

(605) 773-3265


(615) 741-2331




(801) 965-4559


(802) 828-2641


(804) 367-0538



West Virginia

(304) 558-2723


(608) 266-1113


(307) 777-4375