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Know the Hidden Costs of Moving
What to Ask Before You Move
Unless your employer is covering the expenses of your move, there are only two options when it comes to packing up and relocating:
  • Doing it yourself
  • Hiring a moving company to do the job
Even though both of these options require a cash output, it’s possible to avoid paying more than you should by anticipating, and budgeting for, those “hidden” moving costs that can pop-up unexpectedly and bite you in the pocketbook. The key word here is ‘preparedness.’
Hiring professional movers to handle your move may seem like your least stressful option. Remember, however, that this option will also cost you more in transportation and labor charges. Recognize, up front, that movers paid by the hour might not work quite as fast as you’d prefer, while those paid by the job could rush the move to get to their next location -- a scenario that could, in the long run, cost you in mishandled, damaged property. The type of contract you choose should be decided upon only after consulting moving company representatives and/or former customers.
Do your homework
The cost structure of long-distance moves is federally regulated based on weight and distance traveled, however be prepared for fine-print charges, which can add up quickly. For example:
  • Additional charge if the movers have to walk more than 75 feet from door to truck or need to use stairs or an elevator.
  • Charges for moving heavy items such as riding lawnmowers, snowmobiles or that baby grand piano.
  • Additional charge for specialists brought in to disconnect gas mains or disassemble pianos and pool tables.
  • A transportation surcharge if the moving company compensates its movers for work performed in metropolitan areas where labor rates tend to be higher.
In the event that the moving van is too large to fit down your narrow street, or is thwarted by low hanging wires or branches, the movers may need to shuttle your furnishings out on a smaller truck first-- a situation which can become very costly. Always look for, and discuss, possible “hidden” costs with the moving company’s sales representative.
By doing the job yourself, the above pitfalls can be avoided, but self-moves come with their own set of hidden money traps. Never mind the stress and physical labor involved, there may be loss of income from time spent renting a truck, moving furnishings, driving the truck to a new location and unpacking again.
Here are several more considerations to look out for when going it alone:
  • How’s The Truck? A poorly maintained rental truck could break down in transit, forcing you to pay for repairs until the rental truck company can reimburse you. A breakdown could delay your move, throw off your schedule and cost you money. Never drive off the lot with a truck that looks too old, runs badly or seems poorly maintained.
  • Are you insured? Having an accident while driving a rented truck could put you at risk unless you’ve purchased truck insurance from the rental company. Chances are, your automobile policy does not cover commercial vehicles. Check with your insurance agent.
  • Do you have an Insurance Rider? Property damaged in transit may not be covered under your homeowner’s policy. You may have to purchase an insurance rider that covers contents. Again, check with your agent.
  • Damage Control. If you’ve damaged your home while moving out, the incoming family might want some of their investment returned. If you’ve damaged a rental property, the landlord might pocket your security deposit to cover the cost of repairs.
  • Bring Cash. Allow extra money for hotels, restaurants, gasoline and tolls. Have extra cash on hand for any contingencies.
Do your research and compare the moving costs of hiring professional movers versus going it alone.
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