Moving a loved one, whether across town or cross country, can cost a small fortune. Or not. The price depends on how — how much, how far, how many hours and how many friends and family helpers you can rustle up. The hows depend on your loved one and the budget. If your loved one is anxious or confused about the move, it may be worth spending extra to streamline the process. If money is tight and help is plentiful, it may be best to form a family moving brigade and leave cash in the coffer for your loved one’s future expenses.
You may not be able to do it all, but everything you can do, from packing up the old place to setting up the new one, is money saved.
One upside to downsizing is that there is a limited amount of stuff to move. A willing family, a rental truck, a dolly, packing materials and strong people may be all you need to complete the job — and save hundreds of dollars.
After culling the possessions of a lifetime, trusting the things that you love best to a mover you don’t know is a big ask. And not an unreasonable one.
- Fraudulent moving companies scam thousands of people every year. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have issued scam advisories, and the U.S. Department of Justice has announced a crackdown. But the scammers continue, changing names frequently — often to a name similar to a legitimate company — and finding a building on Google Maps to claim as their corporate headquarters.
To find a reliable mover:
- If you are working with a Senior Move Manager (SSM), they can recommend licensed, bonded movers. The SSM will get bids and oversee the move.
- Email friends and neighbors asking if they have had a good experience with a mover. Post your request on your neighborhood email list.
- If your loved one is moving into a care residence, ask the staff for names of reliable companies.
- Look for ratings on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and Google Plus. Check out the companies that have many high ratings.
- Check with the American Moving & Storage Association for suggestions on how to find out if the mover you’re considering is trustworthy.
Get Estimates, Not Guesstimates
Round up your recommended movers. Call and book three to five companies for in-home estimates. Decline an over-the-phone estimate. On-site is the only way they can assess the job.
After each company prices the job:
- Get an explanation of how it calculates charges, and ask for a written, concrete estimate.
- Ask if there are any add-on charges that could be tacked on later, including payment for extra help, materials or travel time. Most movers have a printed sheet with that information.
- Ask for a written explanation of what the company covers if its employees break or damage anything.
- Ask for references.
- Ask for the company’s brick-and-mortar location.
- If one of the companies’ estimate is much lower than the others, consider that a red flag.
- If you are able to do the packing and have everything ready to go when the movers arrive on moving day, you will save them time — which in this case, equals your money.
- A weekday move is usually less expensive that a weekend move.
- If it’s a short move and you have a strong family, you can save hundreds of dollars by renting a truck and doing the job yourself.
- The more you bring, the more it costs. Do not bring more than you need.
Take Inventory Before, During and After the Move
- Long before the professional movers come, you or your family member should gather passports, wills, birth certificates, legal documents, tax records, Social Security info, bank accounts, checkbooks, credit cards, bills, jewelry, heirlooms, family photos and anything else your loved one finds irreplaceable. These items should be packed and moved only by you, your loved ones or other family members.
- Important paperwork should be put in your loved one’s safe-deposit box. If moving out of town, a new safe-deposit box should be established.
- Snap pictures of lamps, furniture, mirrors, art and other large items that the company will be moving. Take photos of all sides of furniture so that you will have proof if it is scratched or damaged in transit.
- Mark each box legibly with its contents and where they should go in the new place.
- Count all boxes, pieces of furniture, etc., before anything is moved onto the truck and again as things come off the truck. The moving company should also take inventory when items go in and come out of the truck.
Good Transition From Old Home to New
To ease the transition into the new home or care facility:
- Make sure the TV, Wi-Fi and utilities are set up before the move.
- Bring books or magazines your loved one may be reading.
- Arrange for a friend to take your loved one to lunch and for an afternoon activity on moving day.
- Ensure that your loved one’s new space is ready upon return. Set up the rooms as similarly as possible to the old residence.
- Unpack toiletries, towels, bath mats, medication and toilet paper. Make sure pajamas, robe and clothing for the next day are accessible.
- Put plates, bowls, forks, knives, napkins, paper towels, dish soap, coffee maker and coffee in the kitchen.
- Put up family pictures.
- Fill the fridge with necessities.
- Stick to your loved one’s usual routine the first night — as much as possible.
See Also: Downsizing? Ready, Set, Sell