How to Find and Choose a Mover

I recently found a web site that has oodles of information that could help  you when you are ready to put your stuff in boxes and move to your dream home.

A quick check through Google and you will find many articles, checklists and insights that can help things go smoothly.

Here is an example of what you will find there:


Before you buy a car, you read reviews, take test drives, and bicker with the car salesman.

Before you buy a house, you look at many different styles and sizes before choosing the right one — and then you hire an inspector to look at it even more closely.

Heck, you probably even check out restaurant reviews before going out to dinner.

So when you move, why don’t you spend as much time — or even more time — choosing a moving company?

Most people don’t.

An Important, Complicated Decision

Choosing the best moving company isn’t easy. The moving industry’s complicated, and to ensure you get a quality moving company, you have to put in some legwork.

However, it’s something you MUST do, because there ARE rogue movers out there that will take advantage of the unsuspecting.

The good news: You can spot them. 

In fact, if done right, finding and hiring a moving company can be a smooth, painless exercise, so long as you follow a few basic steps and stay on your toes.

This article’s your first step.

It outlines the major parts of the process of finding and hiring a mover, with links to other resources to help you with more detailed information. It also comes with the Checklist – print it out and use it as a step by step guide to hiring the right mover.

So let’s get started.

1. Look for mover names. Ask for recommendations from family and friends, check out the phone book for local movers, and go to a Website that offers free quotes.

Don’t assume that a big van line is your only option; there are plenty of quality independently-owned movers that can offer you a great experience at a reasonable price. (See this article for a background on the moving industry and the major players.)

2. Start calling. Don’t get quotes over the phone; the only solid estimate is one that you get after you have a moving company representative in your home looking at your stuff.

However, use this initial phone call as a good screen to to see if you’re comfortable with the movers – ask about the number of moves they make, whether they own their own equipment or contract out; how long they’ve been in business; and whether they’re a member of the American Moving and Storage Association. None of their answers should disqualify movers, but they’re a good way to give you a glimpse into the type of company you’ll be working with.

After talking to a handful of companies, arrange for at least three in-home assessments so you can get accurate estimates of how much your move will cost. 

3. The in-home assessment Show the moving company EVERYTHING you plan to move. The more thorough you are in detailing what has to be moved, the more accurate the estimate will be.

Also, let the estimator know about any factors at your home – or the home you’re moving to – that could complicate the move, like stairs to climb, which might add to the costs.

Remember: Disclose everything so there are no surprises at the end.

The in-home assessment is a good time to get a feel about the company you’re thinking of hiring – a quality estimator probably represents a quality company.  You should also get a lot of information about the company, because this interview will form the backbone of your decision. (See this article for a full list of questions to ask your moving company.) There are several factors that determine not only the price you will pay for your move but the quality of service you receive. For example, some moving companies will negotiate for your business. (See this article for how to get the best deal for your move.)

Above all, beware the low-ball offer. If an estimate is way out of whack compared to the others, it’s probably too good to be true – and you more likely you are to get hit up for more costs later by an unscrupulous mover. (See this article for tips on finding a trustworthy mover.)

4. The estimate. Now that you have the estimate, be sure you understand it completely. The documents you get from the moving company should include the estimate, which could be a combined document that serves as your order for service and your bill of lading – be sure to clarify with your moving company. (See this story for everything to know about moving estimate.) 

For an interstate move (generally known as a long-distance move), make sure the estimate has a description of the type and quantity of goods you’re shipping, the distance of the move, delivery dates, as well as any additional services you’ve requested. (See this article for more on how your long-distance move estimate is set). 

A local move estimate (generally under 50 miles, but it varies state by state) won’t go by weight, but by hourly rate plus any additional costs you’ll be responsible for; an intrastate move over 50 miles will be based on weight. (This article describes more in depth how a intrastate or local move is conducted.)

During the estimate process, you’ll also be asked to consider valuation coverage to protect your goods. You are covered up to the certain predetermined amount – and your existing insurance policies could cover you as well, be sure to ask your agent – but it’s barebones, so you might want more. (This article describes more completely how much moving insurance you should buy)

5. The Final Check. You’ve narrowed down your list of your movers; now you should check them out with the secretary of state, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make sure the mover is licensed and doesn’t have any problems with unresolved complaints – it’s easy to do it, plus you’ve Moving housecome this far, so why not? (See here a complete final checklist to vet your moving company.)

6. Choose your mover!