Moving Expenses

Q.    We are moving in three-four weeks from New Mexico to Ohio with three kids, a dog, and two cats.  I have always used rental trucks and loaded and driven myself when we’ve moved in the past, but with gas prices what they are, I was thinking that by the time I pay for the truck and insurance and gas, I may spend about what movers cost.  Can anyone out there shed some light on movers?  I have no clue what to expect other than what Gary Foreman wrote on the link you gave.  I want to pack my own stuff, and supervise (at least) the loading and unloading to protect my stuff.

Also, to add a little extra challenge to an already overwhelming thing (to me), the local truck rental facility tells me they are unsure of exactly when they could promise me a truck because most are on location at fire clean up sites in the national forests.  I think its great, but I need to know when I’m moving.

A.  Just a thought about hiring movers – this isn’t to say that ALL people are dishonest but….when my mother in law moved a few years back, she decided to hire a moving co (granted they weren’t a big co like Atlas or something but they were a legit moving co) She decided rather than having all the kids (all adults) move her she would do the co. Anyway, she was moving only a few hours away. The truck left BEFORE us – we made the mistake of NOT following it….we arrived quite awhile BEFORE the truck (we never saw it on our way there) When her things were unpacked we found several items missing that we KNEW had been put on the truck – of course we couldn’t prove a thing and she was afraid since they knew where she was now living she didn’t want to contact the co. She felt it was over and done. I have to also admit, I work in a small town in Massachusetts – I had seen many times a big moving truck (like Atlas or some other big name co) in a field loading/unloading items – don’t think it should have been done. We have always moved ourselves. A lot of work but when you do it you KNOW your things are being delivered.

A.  Unfortunately one of the most stressful things in life is moving.  I know first hand from moving myself after 13 yrs. in the same house AND because I used to work for a moving company.  A couple of words of advice… if you pack yourself – the moving company will usually NOT take responsibility for anything that is in a box that gets broken.  Maybe have them pack just your kitchen jazz and any breakable valuables you have.  Also please know that summer is peak moving time and if you do not have enough belongings to fill an entire truck (its called LTL – less than a truck load), your stuff will be combined with one or more other "loads" going in that direction.  And you will be at the mercy of the "load" as to when your goods arrive.  (I have seen 1/2 a truck full take two weeks to get from one state to another.)  Things are probably really bad right now with gas prices being so high.  The problem is the drivers DO NOT drive empty trucks!!! An empty truck makes NO MONEY.  So he may sit in the same area for an extra day or so to pick up enough to fill his truck…. I know it is all very complicated but that’s the way it is.  Supervising the loading & unloading is not a bad idea but be prepared to encounter some hostility.  This is what these people do for a living and they usually don’t like the implication that they don’t KNOW what they are doing and that they are not going to take great care of your STUFF. Make friends with the driver as soon as you meet him.  Let him know your questions and how nervous you are etc… get him on your side so he thinks as much about your stuff as you do.  Let him know about Grandma’s antique dresser that came over on a covered wagon… or what ever your most cherished items are and ask (very nicely) if he would please take "EXTRA" care with it… and any thing else you have.. You know what to do — you get a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar, so lay it on thick and make him your new best friend.  If your loading takes all day – buy the driver & helper lunch…  this always makes brownie points… Keep in mind he came in an 18-wheeler and can’t exactly run to Micky D’s and get burgers… Another word of advice is to buy the moving insurance… It is not that expensive and if anything of value gets broken you are covered.  Also make sure you get "replacement value" coverage.  Your fridge may only be 2 years old but if you got a "frugal" deal on it you won’t be able to rush right out in your new town and get one. A couple of other points – pack an OPEN ME FIRST box… this needs to be the last loaded and the first unloaded when you get to your new home.  Put in it stuff you need for your first night – like the coffee pot for breakfast… sheets for all the beds… towels for showers … get the picture…?  There is no way you will unpack everything the first day but you need enough to get by.  Depending on the age of your kids you might include games or toys or whatever is age appropriate. And of course add pet food.  (Have you talked to your vet about the best way to get them across country… sometimes a mild tranquilizer is best.)  I hope this info helps you.  I know I don’t envy you at all.  When we moved, it was only 2 miles but we had been in our old house 13 years and had collected tons and tons of "STUFF".  After we were in and the last box had been unloaded… my husband looked at me and said – "I hope you love this house ’cause we will NEVER move again until one of us dies!!!" (And we are relatively young… so……) Good luck And God Bless You and Yours…

A.  I’ve moved twice and it can be very frustrating. My most satisfying move was with Graebel Van lines. They did a great job of packing, moving and unpacking. They were very punctual and worked with me in every way possible to make sure it was a pleasant experience. Trust me, moving is stressful enough so let them do the packing and you can still supervise. They pack very good and nothing was broken when we arrived at our new home. Good luck . Cindy

A.  When I was very poor I had to move all my belongings to another state. I looked into moving vans, but it turned out that UPS was cheaper, even for my many books! As you have an established household and probably have large furniture, you can’t send everything by mail, but you may be able to greatly reduce your costs by mailing everything you can and getting a smaller truck. You can even look to buy a used small bed trailer out of a trade paper, which you could sell on the other end.  The magic number for mailing is 108 inches. This is the maximum total of height, width, and depth which you can mail through the U.S. Post Office or U.P.S. without paying extra for large dimensions. Even fragile things can be mailed safely if they are packaged right. I use bubble wrap first, and then at least 2 inches on all sides of newspaper or peanuts. It’s simple and it works. Don’t use a box too small for fragile items or you’ll be sorry! If you use used boxes, make certain they do not already have weaknesses, like dented corners. Look for double thick reinforced boxes at grocery stores and restaurants (for canned goods), and computer stores.

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