Planning and Preparing for the move

The three types of estimates that movers usually offer to clients are binding, non-binding, and guaranteed not-to-exceed estimates. The guidelines mentioned here are regulated and overseen by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.

In a binding estimate you pay the amount as quoted in the estimate, even if the weight of the shipment is more or less than what’s mentioned in the original written estimate. This type of estimate is binding to you and the mover.

Given below are some of the guidelines that a moving company must follow, while preparing binding estimates. Binding estimates should describe the shipment as well as all the services that will be provided by the moving company. If you need additional services then you must get a separate bill for it.

  • A binding estimate must be in writing. A copy of the estimate must be given to you before the moving process starts.
  • The mover must keep a copy of the binding estimate and attach it to the bill of lading.
  • Once you agree to the binding estimate, you must pay the amount due at the time of delivery. If you fail to pay the amount then the moving company can place your items in storage. The storage fees are your responsibility.
  • If the moving company finds out that you have additional belongings not stated in the estimate, they can refuse to move your belongings. It’s advisable to inform your mover about the additional items in advance. The mover should get ample time to prepare a fresh agreement before loading your household items.
  • Once the loading is done, no further changes can be made or additional costs added.
  • Non-binding estimates are not a binding bid or contract. It gives an estimated amount of the move. Usually, the final cost of the move is more than the estimated amount. The final cost should be in accordance with the mover’s tariffs.
  • Non-binding estimates must be in writing. It should accurately describe the shipment and the services provided by the company. The charges should be transferred to the service order and the bill of lading.
  • The estimate document must explain that the final charges will be based on the actual weight of the shipment and the services offered.
  • Do not sign the service order or bill of lading unless the mover provides you with the estimated amount.
  • If the mover finds that you have additional belongings not stated in the estimate, they may refuse to move your belongings. It is advisable to inform the mover about the additional items in advance. The mover should get enough time to prepare a fresh agreement, before loading the items.
  • If the mover thinks that additional services are required to complete the move then they must inform you beforehand. You should get ample time to decide whether you want to use their services or not.
  • If any additional services are provided after loading, you should be billed separately after the move.
  • It’s also important that you know about 110% rule. This rule only applies to non-binding estimates. As per this rule, the mover may demand for the total charges listed on the estimate plus 10%. If you pay this amount then the mover must deliver your belongings even if you owe a balance. The remaining balance is not waived; it must be paid upon receiving an invoice within 30 days of delivery.


With guaranteed not-to-exceed, the actual cost of the move never goes above the estimated price. If the total weight of the shipment is lower than the estimated amount, then the actual cost gets lowered. You will either have to pay the actual expense or the estimated cost, whichever is lower. While discussing the estimates, make sure that you ask about the available payment modes, so that you can be sure whether to pay by cash, card or via other formats.

You can read more about these estimates at

  • Begin taking down curtains from the windows, empty your shelves and drawers, and start packing these items for your move.
  • Clean your home.
  • Dismantle large power tools.
  • Drain water from garden hoses.
  • Begin packing suitcases.

Read the moving day checklist here

Moving can be a stressful time, but the key to lowering your stress is preparation and identifying tasks that should be accomplished prior to your move. This makes the moving process easier, and it also makes sure you aren’t forgetting any vital phases. Below are some of our tips for planning your calendar in the weeks before a big move.

  • Make a list of items you are planning to take with you to your new home. For things you do not want to bring, make a plan to donate, sell or dispose of these items.
  • Hire the help of a moving company. Get in touch with a few moving companies and know the services they provide, as well as how much they charge.
  • If you have children, gather information about schools and educational institutes in the new neighborhood.
  • Arrange your travel reservations for the trip
  • Inform your local post office and fill out a Change of Address form. Find out your new address/postal code. Notify creditors, magazines, and book/music clubs of your new address.
  • If you have and are moving any pets along with you, begin to look for pet crates for the move (if necessary).
  • If you borrowed any books or magazines from your library, return them before you move.
  • Start preparing your potted plants for the move.
  • Get all major appliances serviced before moving them into your new home.
  • Have a talk with your mover. If this company is providing you with packing services, ask them when they would like to start packing your items. If you have decided to pack your belongings by yourself, now is a good time to get started.
  • Take a look at the floor plan of your new home to determine where to place your furniture.
  • If you have any children, arrange for a babysitter for the moving day.
  • Transfer bank accounts.
  • Check your homeowner’s policy to see whether moving is covered by your insurer or not.
  • Transfer insurance to cover fire, theft and personal property at your new home.
  • Start planning to disconnect utilities.
  • Arrange all important documents you will be bringing in your vehicle. Plan to include any jewelry or money you may have in your home.
  • If your moving company is helping you pack, plan to mark your different belongings as fragile or invaluable if anything needs to be taken extra care of. On the packing day, let your packers know which items need extra care while packing.
  • Plan to defrost your fridge. It may take you a day or so to get your fridge fully defrosted and dry. Wipe it with a clean cloth. This will help you with packing and moving your refrigerator.
  • Arrange connection of utilities in your new home.

When you are moving to a new home, it is important that you send proper notification about your new postal address to the following:

  • Banks
  • Loan Institutions
  • Auto finance companies
  • Credit card companies
  • Insurance agencies (health, home, life, auto, or other types of insurance service providers)
  • Air Miles Rewards Program managers
  • Pension Planners
  • Accountant(s)/Tax Consultant(s)
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Garbage
  • Water
  • Telephone / Mobile
  • Internet
  • Cable
  • Water Delivery /Treatment
  • Fuel
  • Pool Service providers
  • Lawn/Gardening service providers
  • Housecleaning service companies
  • Attorneys
  • Physicians/Veterinarians (if required)
  • Post Office
  • Income Tax offices/ IRS
  • Family support organizations
  • Social security offices
  • Veteran affairs offices
  • Unemployment insurance bodies
  • Vehicle registration offices
  • Driver’s license companies
  • Pension benefits funds
  • Newspapers and magazine publication houses
  • Mail order houses
  • Book and Music Clubs

Early indication of your new address to the above mentioned organizations/institutes/persons will ensure that you continue receiving all necessary products/services on time.

Ten things you can do to ensure you have a great moving experience, from timing the move to finding a professional and legitimate moving company.

  1. Time your move – It’s always better to move during the off-peak season as moving company rates tend to be lower during this time. Also, you’ll likely receive better service. So, if possible time your move between October and May. If you must move during peak season then schedule your move mid-month and mid-week.
  2. Organize your move – Plan your move well in advance so that your mover’s schedule fits yours. Make a to-do list of important tasks such as notifying utility companies, organizations, newspapers, friends and family of the change of address and closing your local library, gym memberships, etc. Sort out the items you will be taking with you and the ones you won’t. You can sell the items you’ve decided not to take at a garage sale or online. If you are registering kids in the new school then ensure that their records from the previous school are transferred.
  3. Find a good mover – If it’s an inter-state move then visit the American Moving & Storage Association’s (AMSA) consumer website at to see if the company is AMSA certified. For an interstate move, search for companies that are registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) — part of the U.S. Department of Transportation — at Also, check with agencies like Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  4. Get in-person estimates – Prepare a list of potential movers. Call at least three of them to your house or apartment to give you an estimate for the move. Never hire a moving company over the phone. Also, do not hire a company which gives you an estimate that’s much lower than the competitors.
  5. Spot the rogue movers – It’s not easy to spot a bad mover but there are a few tell-tale signs you should look for.
    • A mover who insists on giving you an estimate over the phone without checking the items to be moved.
    • The company’s website has no local address and no information about licensing or insurance.
    • The mover demands cash or a huge deposit before moving you.
    • The estimator who comes to your house doesn’t conduct a thorough inspection and quotes you a random amount. He doesn’t take note of exactly what you plan to move, he doesn’t ask you questions about the move and the arrangements you are planning to make – these are red flags to look for.
    • The mover claims all the items are covered by their insurance.
  6. Give the mover as much information as possible to avoid being charged more – When asking for an estimate give the mover exact address of your new residence. Tell the mover about obstacles like narrow streets, stairs or escalators that will require special navigation. So, the more details you give the better your chance of getting an accurate estimate.
  7. Review terms for coverage – Before you select a moving company check their terms for coverage – including liability for any property loss or damage.
  8. Prepare before the packers arrive – Arrange for the disposal of flammables like paints, turpentine, oily rags, matches and pressurized cans. If shipping a lawnmower, ensure the gas tank is empty, and the oil has been drained. Set aside important documents, jewelry, money and other valuable small items to carry with you. Also, keep essential items that you will require during the move like clothes, mobile phone charger, medicines and toiletries in a separate area of the house and inform the movers and packers the room is off-limits. Ensure that enough work spaces are available for the packers to do their job smoothly. Cleared tables and counter tops speed up the packing process.
  9. Review bill of lading or inventory list – Make sure all the items to be moved are on the list. Also, note the condition of the items. Before signing the bill of lading read it carefully (front as well as back) and understand what you are signing. The bill of lading is important in case you have to file insurance claims for broken or lost goods. Also, ensure that the bill of lading gives you the right to take a reasonable amount of time to check the goods for damages.
  10. Check your goods carefully – During unloading take out your inventory list and check the number of goods unloaded.


More things to consider

  • Unavoidable fixed costs—Before starting the moving process, think about the fixed costs of your old house. You can’t get rid of fixed expenses such as closing expenses or lease termination.
  • Prepare a moving budget template—It’s recommended to set up a moving budget in order to keep track of the cost of your move. Microsoft Word and Excel are the easiest ways of creating budget templates—especially with Excel providing a formula for easy calculations. If you prefer not to keep track of your budget digitally, you can pick up a bookkeeper’s record book. This provides you with the required expense tracking, and all you will need is a calculator.
  • Secure packing—Necessary materials are boxes, tape and bubble wrap. These will keep your personal things save for the move. To find these materials at low cost, check with your workplace (they may have unused boxes available), or check recycling—a great option for free boxes.
  • Hotels and meals—When moving longer distances, make sure to set money aside for food and potential overnight stays at hotels.
  • Expenses on hiring services from moving companies:
    • Insurance—Make sure to consider insurance costs—especially for valuable items. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Safety Administration, mover’s liability for your possessions is, at most, $0.60 per pound, per item.
    • Moving company charges—This will include fuel and labor charges. According to the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association), the moving company should provide you with a written note of all the charges.
    • Extra Services/Charges—These may include moving a piano, preparing appliances and accessorial charges, or long haul charges.
    • Cost for claims—To be on the safe side, it’s advisable to add in a 5% contingency rate which will be based on your total moving company fees.
  • Child and pet care expenses—There will be additional costs if you are moving with a child or a pet, as you will need what is necessary to keep them comfortable during the move. Don’t forget to take these expenses into consideration when planning your budget.
  • Additional expenses in moving on your own:
  • Truck Rental Fee—The rates will differ, as it will depend on whether you are moving two ways or not.
  • Incidental Costs—You may need to make frequent stops during your move, so it’s better to make a provision for all those extra costs.
  • Calculation of Mileage/Gas cost—Always be sure of the cost of fuel when you are moving long distances. One way to figure this out can be found Fuel Calculator, a service offered by AAA (American Automobile Association).
  • Get a new driver’s license—Check with the motor vehicle’s department to get a new driver’s license for the new area. This will most likely include the registration fees, new license fees, and the total cost may increase if more family members own a vehicle
  • Organize your house to make enough space for packing. Keep stairways, passages and walkways clear so that the packers can move and work comfortably.
  • You can use dining table or your bed as a work surface for packing. Keep the packing space as tidy as possible.
  • Hire the services of a babysitter who can take care of your children and animals when packing is going on.
  • Keep your pets inside a room which will not be used by the packers. This is to ensure that the pets do not get hurt while the packers are working.

Here are some things to consider when deciding which storage facility to use:

  • Figure out how much space you will need. Make an inventory of all the items that you are storing, as it will be useful in selecting the best storage unit for you.
  • The storage facility should know about your current and future needs so that it can provide the most suitable unit matching your budget.
  • Make sure whether the storage facility has adequate climate control or not. Extreme climate conditions like heat, cold, humidity, moisture and dust can ruin household items such as furniture and computers.Auto finance companies
  • Before choosing the storage facility, make sure that you inquire about the security measures. See to it that the storage facility is well-lit and has an alarm triggered by the main gate. Some storage facilities also install alarms on each individual storage unit. Investigate the neighborhood of the storage facility. It’s advisable to opt for a storage unit that is located in a low-crime neighborhood. Check to see if the facility provides locks and electricity. See to it that there is proper lighting and the facility completely fenced from inside. Make sure that the storage facility is controlled by a computerized entry system and has 24-hour surveillance cameras. See whether the motion detectors have been strategically installed or not.
  • Ask for pest-controlled and clean facilities
  • Pricing depends on size of the storage space and how long you will be leasing the unit for.
  • Once you have chosen two or three potential storage facilities, research them with the Better Business Bureau and see whether the companies have any unresolved complaints.
  • It’s always better to select a storage facility that rents trucks and loading carts. The site should also be able to accommodate large moving trucks so that you will be able to unload your belongings easily into the unit.
  • If you are planning to store high value items, insurance will be one of the most critical aspects to look for. Storage companies have their own insurance policies. The insurance offered to you should cover all the potential damages, and you should be aware of all the clauses.
  • Consider a facility that’s closer to your home. This will save time if you are making frequent visits.
  • You should also check whether the storage facility has its own commercial general liability insurance in case someone gets hurt on the premises.

It is advisable to pack an instant aid box containing all essential items that you will need when you reach your new home. Here’s a list of the items that you should include in the instant aid box:

  • Detergent
  • Sponge
  • Scrubbing pad
  • Towel
  • Paper towel
  • Dishcloth
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Phenyl
  • Gloves
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Duster
  • Room fresheners
  • Dishwasher soaps
  • Glass cleaners
  • Leather cleaner
  • Bottle brush
  • Carpet and floor cleaners
  • Trash Cans
  • Paper plates
  • Spoons
  • Plastic glasses
  • Cups
  • Aluminum foil
  • Napkins
  • Small saucepan
  • Gas lighter or matchsticks
  • Knife
  • Spatula
  • Kettle
  • Saucepan
  • Small bowls
  • Mixing bowls
  • Mugs
  • Oven cleaner
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Tissue paper
  • Razor
  • Shaving oil/cream
  • Comb
  • Deodorant
  • Nail clippers
  • Mirror
  • Towels and face clothes
  • Facial tissue
  • Video games or other portable games
  • Puzzles
  • Coloring books
  • Reading books
  • A favorite toy
  • Chips
  • Instant make recipes
  • Sausage
  • Sandwich spreads
  • Instant drinks
  • Glucose
  • Biscuits and cookies
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Canned fish/sea food
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned meat
  • Pulses
  • Easy-open containers of pudding
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Screw driver
  • Scissors
  • Light bulbs
  • Trash bags

Conducting a sale prior to moving is a good idea. The sale will help you discard household items that you no longer need or use, and you can earn a little extra money that can go toward moving expenses.


1. Gather the items you want to sell

Make a list of the items you are planning to sell, and consult with family members about these items. Before placing them for sale, clean items properly, as people are more likely to buy things that are in clean condition than items which are dirty or dusty.

2. Pick a date

Plan one particular day or weekend for the moving sale. Use the time beforehand to organize for your sale. Generally, Saturdays are considered the best days for garage or yard sales. If everything does not sell on this day, sales can take place again on Sunday morning. Other popular days include Memorial Day weekend and summer holidays. If you are intent on getting rid of everything even if it does not sell, you can donate the rest to a local Goodwill.

3. Pick a time

Decide how many hours you’ll need to sell your items. If you have other members of your family or friends helping, set up shifts so everyone gets involved and can have a break, too.

4. Set up a selling location

Plan where you will be conducting the moving sale. Also, it’s important to check with your local authorities to see whether or not there are any restrictions on holding sales in your area.

5. Prepare and organize the items for the sale

Sort your items into categories such as sporting goods, toys, women’s wear, men’s wear, children’s clothing, books, kitchen appliances, etc.

6. Set up prices for your items

Have a conversation with your family members and decide on prices you will sell your items for. After you decide on the price, make sure to accurately tag your items.

7. Gather supplies

Gather things that you will need on the day of the sale: posters and markers (for making signs), bags for customers who buy many items, price tags, extra coat hangers, rods for hanging clothes, boxes for books, a calculator, trash cans, extension cords (if you are selling electronic items), a small cash box, etc. On the sales day, keep in mind that you have enough cash and coins to provide to your buyers with change during transactions.

8. Advertise well

Let your neighbors, friends and relatives know about the sale. Spread the news as much as possible whether through your local newspaper or through the Internet. Use flyers to inform people of the sale, and post them in places such as grocery stores, community centers, local colleges and universities, and Laundromats. These locations are especially helpful if your sale is happening in August or early September when students have returned to school and are looking for cheap finds. Always ask before you post. Some businesses have a central bulletin board which is a great place to advertise.

It is important to do a thorough research before you move to a new home. Below are some of the tips to follow:

Talk to your prospective neighbors, as well as the real estate agent who is in charge of the property. Conduct thorough research on the web as well
Interact with the watchmen and the other security personnel. Ask them about the maintenance and the safety features of the home
Ask a certified home inspector to take a look at the home. Visit the local police station to find out if there had been any reports against the previous owners.
Check how far from your home is the nearest grocery store, hospital, school and post office.
Check if there are bus stops nearby, whether the local train station close or far, and if frequent cabs are available from your place. The location of the airport should also be considered
The building and property prices depend on factors like location, architectural features, neighborhood, etc. Before selecting and buying a new home, research all of the details. After all, you will be the one paying for the home, and therefore deserve to get the best deal!

  1. Ask recommendations from friends and family members. Check the phonebook thoroughly, and list the names of the moving companies that are available in your area. You can also research online.
  2. Once you get a list of moving companies, get in touch with them and obtain estimates. Compare the rates and choose the moving company that meets with your budget and requirements. Before choosing a mover, verify if it is properly registered and also check the mover’s complaint history. If you are moving from one state to another, choose a company that has a valid inter-state operational license. To verify the license, visit If you are moving within a state, check with your state or local consumer affairs agency. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau at
  3. Given below are some of the important questions that you should ask the moving company while interacting with them for the first time
    • How long have they been in the business
    • Is the company licensed for state and/or inter-state moves
    • What pricing options or types of estimates do they offer
    • Do they delegate their contract to any third party
    • Do they have their own storage facility
    • Do they provide convenient packing supplies
    • What types of trucks and equipment do they use
    • Does the company charge via items to be moved or by the hour?
    • Do they carry Worker’s Compensation insurance on their movers and drivers
    • Are items insured during the move
    • Are the movers and drivers trained?
  4. Ask for a representative of the moving company to visit your house for an assessment of the household items that need to be moved. Inform the representative about all the belongings that you want to move to your new house. Try to give him/her a detailed, holistic picture of what has to be moved. This will help the representative in providing you an accurate moving estimate.
  5. Household movers are supposed to give you a written proposal. This can either be a binding proposal which states the exact price of the move, or a not-to-exceed proposal which states the maximum cost of the move but allows the mover to charge less from you. The proposal should also indicate the mode of payment accepted, such as cash, check or credit. Avoid those moving companies which do not provide their customers a written proposal.
  • Size 17 x 123/8 x 123/8: These boxes are ideal for packing items like books, CDs or canned goods.
  • Size 24 x 16 x 13: These boxes are ideal for packing files and folders.
  • Size 101/8 x 18 x 16: These boxes are ideal for packing moderately heavy but non-fragile items, such as bed sheets, folded clothes, toys, and so on.
  • Size 18 x 18 x 24 or a 23 x 23 x 20: These boxes are perfect for packing large and bulky items like pillows, lamp shades, etc.
  • Size 18 x 18 x 28 or a 5.2: These boxes are ideal for packing fragile items like dishes, vases or glass items. These boxes have double extra thick walls, separators or individual compartments.
  • Mirror picture box: These narrow boxes are specifically designed for packing different sized mirrors, paintings, and other flat or fragile items.
  • Wardrobe box with metal bar: This kind of box is ideal for packing clothes.
  • Mattress box: This is the right type of box for packing mattresses.
  • PVC tapes: Used for sealing cartons and boxes.
  • Newsprint (unprinted newspaper): Used for providing cushioning inside the box. You can use them for wrapping as well. You can purchase newsprint from local stores or office supply stores.
  • Tissue papers: Used for wrapping delicate and fragile items.
  • Bubble wrap: Used for cushioning a packing box as well as wrapping purposes.
  • Styrofoam peanuts: Used for protecting fragile items. These packing supplies are lightweight, clean, safe, lint-free as well as dust-free.
  • Ziploc bags: Used for packing small items.
  • Markers: Used for labeling the boxes.
  • Tape dispenser
  • Scissors
  • Box cutters

Before moving, take a look around your home to see if there are items that may be useless to move along with you to your new home. If you find anything, consider whether to dispose of them, sell them or to donate them to charity. Here are some suggestions that may help you decide where to dispose of or donate your used items before moving:

  • Sell old books and magazines: Look for second-hand book shops where they buy old books and magazines. Take a look at your book shelf and make a list of books that you don’t want to read anymore.
  • Donate your old clothes: If your wardrobe is packed with clothes that don’t fit you anymore but are still in good condition, donate those to places such as orphanages, foster care, Red Cross or Goodwill.
  • Share your gifts: If you have gifts that have not yet been opened or used, pass the gift on to a loved one or those who would make good use of them.
  • Give away non- expired excess food items: While packing your kitchen, pantry or fridge, look for leftover packed food items that haven’t expired and donate them to your local food pantry.
  • Find a new home for old electronics: If you have been using a computer for years and are not planning to carry it to your new home, find a thrift store to sell or donate it to. There may be nonprofit shops in your area which will accept these items if they are in working condition in exchange for cash. Before selling your computer, make sure to erase all of your information from your hard drive. You can also sell or donate other old electronics such as your TV, music systems, and DVD players. You can include these in a garage or yard sale if you plan to have one.
  • Getting rid of old furniture: While planning to pack your household items, you may find old furniture that you would rather dispose of than bring to your new home. For these items, some options include donating them to a charity or nonprofit organization, or you can contact your local trash hauling services to take this furniture and making your moving process a little easier