Moving On a Budget
If you have moved in the past or have been doing research for some time, we're probably not telling you anything new when we say that moving on a small & fixed budget can be very difficult. Moving as a whole is not an exact science (with most companies providing rough-cost estimates or non-binding proposals) and gaps between supply and demand in the high / off season may cause prices to increase dramatically (during the high season, due to availability) or become unrealistically low (during the off season, due to increased competition between vendors).
While the process of trying to move with a good price but not a "too good to be true" price can seem overwhelming, even frustrating at times, there are a few things you can do (and things you can avoid) which will help get you a realistic price within your target budget.
Research – Cheap moving quotes can be one of the biggest expenses you ever come across. Not only due to the age old saying 'cheap isn't good and good isn't cheap', but an unfortunate aspect to the moving industry being a service industry is that each company prices their services differently, and it's important to check (though sometimes complicated to figure out) what is actually included within the prices you are being given (tip: this is usually the reason for the significant disparity between various quotes). Any suspiciously low quotes typically fall under the category of 'too good to be true' and have convoluted wording on the contract or hidden fees which will dramatically change what your real price will be. Feel free to contact us to learn more objective tips on how to make sure you're dealing with a good company and a solid contract.
Inventory – Make sure you make a list of your own which includes all of your household items with accurate dimensions (size is preferable to weight when working with a fixed budget) and all requested services (packing, etc.). This will ensure two main things which will help you save; firstly, the movers will have a final quote for you with no last-minute pop-up costs, and secondly you'll be able to later review that list for any items you could potentially give away and save on transporting or even sell and earn a few extra dollars to put towards your moving budget.
Packing – using your own packing materials and doing your own packing can save you up to 40% of the cost associated with moving.
A good place to start is by speaking to friends, neighbors or colleagues who have recently moved to find out if they may have left over packing materials you can perhaps take off their hands. Other places you may want to look are Liquor stores, Bookstores, restaurants, office supply stores, hardware stores and electronic stores. You can ask to speak to a manager and see when shipments are scheduled to be unloaded; chances are they will be more than happy to give away their boxes after they have unloaded merchandise. Last but not least, in the online message boards (like the free section in Craigslist or U-Haul forum) there are many people posting to give rather than throw away their old boxes, and you can always leave a message that you are looking for materials.
If you have 1 or 2 items that are difficult to pack on your own (like a curio cabinet or a huge flat screen TV) ask your relocation consultant whether it is possible to include packing those items as part of your quote, as a complimentary / discounted service. As a general rule, reputable moving companies are more inclined to provide preferred rates to customers who make inquiries and research far in advance. Regardless of which option you select, it is very important to remember that there is no point in saving a few dollars to spend hundreds and thousands later, so make sure that all fragile items are protected appropriately and don't skimp where it counts.
Scheduling – Generally speaking the cost of moving during the high season (spring-summer) is significantly higher than the low season (fall-winter), and moving during weekends and holidays may result in additional charges in comparison to a regular weekday.
If you need to move during the high season (hey, it's called that for a reason…), a weekend or holiday make sure to reserve as far in advance as possible. Deposits are generally refundable up until shortly before the move (make sure you confirm this with your representative…!) should your plans change, and you can secure a spot at a popular time of year at up to 30% of a lower cost, just for doing so in advance, before the schedule fills up.
Delivery – The standard ETA for long distance and cross-country moves typically spans between 1 to 21 business days. This time range is something that often deters many customers from reserving with a specific company, while the truth remains that this is the standard ETA used by all licensed long-distance carriers and it remains within the best interest of every successful and reputable moving company to deliver your goods as soon as possible, in order to both avail more space for new customers in the company storage facilities and minimize their own transportation costs.
When moving on a budget, it is recommended to stick with the standard delivery schedule rather than requesting a guaranteed date / expedited delivery, since the additional cost associated with this service spans from $600 to $12,000 (!) depending on the size of your shipment and its destination. Another great thing you can do is ask for the personal cell phone number of your crew manager / driver, and get in touch with him directly to confirm the expected arrival of your items. No matter what, your driver will be giving you a courtesy call 12-24 hours prior to delivery, so you shouldn't hesitate to make arrangements to stay up to a couple hours away from the actual destination.
Prior to your move we recommend you touch base with family or friends who live nearby to your destination (if applicable), whether you could stay with them for a few days. If you were planning on making a hotel / inn reservations it is recommended to look into the respective costs associated with booking a few extra days or a whole week in advance, see if they have any special deals going on, and what if any portion of the expense is refundable should your items arrive a little earlier than expected.
An additional low budget solution is to take with you all the basic items you would require for about a week (including air-mattresses) and 'camp out' in your new home until your items arrive.
Keep in mind that the higher end of the ETA is usually the worst case scenario and not the most common, so chances are you'll only have to spend a few days without your beloved items…