Transporting belongings from one home to another is a big task that's often fraught with anxiety, even when a move is efficiently planned and coordinated. Follow these tips from Trulia to make your next move as stress-free as possible:
Ask for the names of reputable and reliable moving companies from friends, co-workers and family. Inquire about their experiences, and note what worked and didn't work, as well as how much they paid. Seek out their advice on how to make your move a smooth one.
For movers you are considering, check whether each is a licensed member of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), a trade group.
AMSA has a ProMover service in which they've checked the credentials of all the movers registered with their program. You can search for movers by moving date and your to and from locations on the AMSA website.
Verify whether there have been any complaints filed against the moving company with the Better Business Bureau.
Get "not to exceed" estimates -- binding estimates that cap how much you'll be charged -- from movers. Ask for "in-home" estimates, as they are more accurate than ones conducted over the phone.
Watch for hidden fees. Know what you'll be expected to pay and what services will be covered -- some movers charge by weight and distance, while others charge by the number of man hours it'll take to transport your stuff.
The more you own, the more you most likely will be charged; if you ask that your belongings be boxed for you, that will come at an extra cost.
Take an inventory and dollar amount of the belongings you're moving and check what kind and how much liability coverage the mover provides.
Is it enough to cover the value of the belongings? Research the procedures for submitting a claim with each company in the event something happens.
Your homeowner's insurance may cover some of your belongings' value -- check your policy.
If you are being relocated by your employer, check with their moving policy to understand their rules and regulations and exactly what part of the bill will be footed by them.
Donate or sell as much stuff as you can -- it may lessen the cost of your move and will make packing and unpacking easier. Try hosting a garage sale, or selling your items online through websites like Ebay or Craigslist. The Vietnam Veterans of America offers a great pick-up service for donated items, and will come right to your door. Other charities offer similar services.
Book a mover six to eight weeks before your move. Plan which items will go where and pack by room. Color code the boxes and wrap fragile items in crumpled paper or bubble wrap before boxing, placing them on top. Mark "fragile" in bold letters on boxes with breakable items. Seal the boxes well -- so nothing may fall out while being transported and to protect the items should they be placed in professional storage -- or your basement.
Set aside essential items you'll need right away (toiletries, clothing, etc.) and move them yourself so they can be easily relocated the day of your move. It's also a good idea to move important documents (birth certificates, bank records, closing papers, etc.) and valuable jewelry yourself so you won't loose track of them.
Make a list of all those who need to know of your move -- friends, family, utilities, businesses and the United States Postal Service -- and give them your new contact information and the date that it will be in effect.