Preparing for Moving Day on a Local Move

1. Deciding on How to do a Local Move

There are a few choices here, from terrible to great.

Worst choice - Ask your friend who owns a truck "What are you doing this weekend?" in a tone that sounds like you're throwing a party. When they reply "Nothing", then you swoop in with "Cool, so you can help me move this weekend". Nothing strengthens a friendship like deception and hard labor with pizza as a reward. Sure, you get a cheap move if everything goes well, but what if a heavy item is slammed into a vehicle window and gets cracked, an unsecured box falls off the back of the truck and causes damage or worst of all, someone gets hurt. The cost of your move can skyrocket to include hospital bills or to cover damages.

Bad choice - Rent a truck and use the same "What are you doing this weekend?" line to get free labor help. You'll quickly see that the costs of the rental truck add up to much more than you'd anticipated when you have to pay for the truck and all of the rental moving equipment (moving blankets, dollys, straps, etc.)

Mildly bad choice - Rent a truck and pay for the moving labor from a labor only source. You'll see that while you do save some money, it's not that great of a savings when you add up all of the costs.

Mildly bad choice to good choice - Rent a truck and do all of the moving and labor yourself. If you're young, in shape and don't have a lot of stuff, you can do OK with this route. If you're not up to the task, it will be a real rough day (and next day too) for you.

Good choice - You own a pickup truck, don't have much stuff and can do the move yourself - one bedroom apartment, good choice, 4 bedroom home, bad decision.

Best choice - Hire a licensed professional moving company who will supply the labor, truck, equipment and knowledge to get the job done right. This will cost more than other methods, but there's a lot less risk and worry.

Hiring Licensed or Unlicensed Movers


This can be the single biggest disaster you can bring upon yourself. There are a few types of unlicensed movers out there:
1. Startup company waiting to get their license. This is the one you hope to find if you're foolish enough to hire unlicensed movers. They care about their reputation and customers, as one day they hope to become a real moving company.
2. Companies that were licensed and lost thier license due to neglect (didn't pay state mandated fees or keep insurance premiums current) or criminal behaviour (decieved customers and got investigated, lost their moving license but still accept jobs as movers).
3. Total scam artists who cannot even think about getting licensed for legal reasons. These are the moving companies that will jack up the rates and might hold your items hostage while they demand more money to get them off of the truck.

Even if it's a best case unlicensed moving company, if something goes wrong and someone gets hurt on the job or other people's property gets damaged, you are assumed to be the employer at that point. Any expenses will have to be covered by you, so check your homeowners insurance policy to see what you're covered for before hiring an unlicensed moving company.

Choosing a Licensed Moving Companies

When a company has a valid license on file with the California PUC, it means they carry worker's comp insurance, cargo and vehicle insurance. If something should go wrong, there is recourse by making a complaint to the state.

Hiring a Licensed Moving Company
The standard thinking is to get three quotes for any type of job (moving companies, contractors, auto repairs, etc.) where you hire people, or to get a referral from a trusted source. Rich Nelson Moving Services gets a lot of referrals and repeat customers from real estate agents who recommend their customers to us when they are buying and selling homes.
If you get multiple quotes, look at the pricing. The cost of labor and overhead is fairly consistent throughout the moving industry. If 2 companies say your move will cost 1,000.00, and one company comes in at 500.00, then there's probably something wrong with the 500.00 quote. It can mean they are using unskilled laborers or day laborers, or that they have a business model where they start low and constantly add fees to inflate the bill. It might be your lucky day, and the owner needs a quick job to pay some bills and you got a deal, but that's not usually the case.
With Rich Nelson Moving Services, we have a policy of no hidden fees or extra costs. We quote you a price and honor that price for your move.
Another source is to check review sites and see what customers say about the moving company. The trick here is to "read between the lines" and see if the reviews are real or if the movers wrote about themselves. Look at the names and dates (some moving companies have reviews from the same person on the same day that moved in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles), look at the style of the writing, check the review scores. If you see similar patterns in the writing, use of the same wording or that every review is 5 stars and just glowing, it might mean something is wrong. Real reviews will have a different feel to each one, they were written by different people. When you're reading fake reviews it gets repetitive, it was one or two authors for 100 reviews.
Another source of reviews is to ask for references from a moving company. While you know these will be preselected customers, it gives you a feel for the people they moved. It also shows some integrity on the part of the company that they kept in contact with previous customers and asked for permission to give out their information for referrals.

Now That You've Decided on How to do a Local Move -

Do an Honest Analysis of Your Situation

This is the time and money part of the moving equation. Everyone likes to save money on moving day. If you can do something else and make more money, then hire the moving company to do everything for you, packing, moving and unpacking.
If money is more important than time, then read our » MONEY SAVING TIPS » . You can do a lot of little things that will add up to greater savings on moving day.
When it comes down to "crunch time" and you realize you can't get the job done, hire a crew to help finish the packing. When you pack your own items, you will probably look at them and reminisce about some items. A crew of professional packers looks at them as items that need to be packed and protected, not as memories, so they can finish the job much quicker. Better to spend some money and get the job done, than to pay fees for not moving out on time.

Sort Things Out

The most common thing we hear in the moving industry is "I don't have that much stuff". That's great to hear, but it doesn't mean that it's true. While you might think your collection of 1,000 Beanie Babies is not that much stuff, we beg to differ. Local moves are based on time, so if you can thin down some things that are not needed, the move will go quicker. This step is not as critical for a local move as compared to a long distance move. Before moving to a new home or apartment, it's a good time to really see what you want to keep and what's you're just keeping around.

1. Make 3 categories:
Keep - Put it in a box and label the boxes for the room, closet, garage or area they will go to in the new home.
Donate - If it's still usable, but you haven't used it in a year (the standard time frame for whether it's really necessary to keep) then bring it to a local donation center.
Trash - C'mon, admit it, almost all of us have some amount of stuff that's just worthless, but for some reason we hang on to it "Because I might need it someday". Get rid of the clutter at the current place so the move will go quicker and the unpacking at the new place won't be as much of a chore.

Packing Boxes

Professional packers and movers use the right box and materials for the job.
1. Do not load boxes over 50 pounds. If it's towels and linens, use a big box and pack it full. If it's books, use a small box and then you can pack it full. You don't want to lug around a 150 pound box of books and the movers aren't going to be thrilled with it either.
2. Use the right boxes and materials for the situation. Along with sizing, there are different styles of boxes. For kitchen and fragile items there are "dish pack" boxes that are double wall cardboard and provide greater protection for breakable items. Standard boxes are a single layer of cardboard, and work great for everything else. Unprinted newsprint paper is the preferred choice, it is light, provides good protection and it doesn't get ink on your hands and the items being packed like newspaper can. Bubble wrap is OK for some fragile items, but if you use bubble wrap for everything, you'll end up needing a lot more boxes than if you'd used paper.

On Moving Day

The movers will show up and have you sign paperwork and review the move. Even at this point, there are still things you can do to make everything go better (which means quicker and saves money).
1. Keep children and pets out of the way. Little kids especially are enthralled by all of the commotion, and will usually end up getting in the way. The ramp of a moving truck is the highest risk area on the jobsite, and the kids are usually drawn to the ramp like a moth to light. It can get very scary when kids treat the ramp as a play area. This will slow the moving process down considerably, as the movers have to constantly be on guard for the children.
2. Have plenty of liquids available. The movers will appreciate it if you have cold drinks, or even just a pitcher of ice water and glasses available for them.
3. Food is an option, some customers buy it, some don't. It's not expected for the moving customer to provide food, but it is a nice perk.
Good tip here - Almost everyone orders pizza, some movers just get tired of it. Ask if the movers want pizza, sandwiches or something else, again, not necessary, but definitely appreciated.

Long Distance Moving Preperation

The biggest difference between local and long distance moving is the pricing structure. Local moves are based on time, long distance moves are based on weight and distance.
While most of the preperation is the same, here are the major differences:

Is it Really Worth it to Move Your Items a Long Distance?

Moving a 1 bedroom apartment across town will cost hundreds of dollars, moving that same apartment across the country will cost thousands of dollars.
Look at what you have, what it's worth and see if you should plan on selling everything you can, donate the rest and move with a few boxes and suitcases. If your apartment is filled with family heirlooms, antiques and high dollar items, move it. If it's decorated in the "Early American Salvation Army" school of design, sell it. Most of the time on a small move you can sell your stuff, move light, buy used furniture at the new location and have more money in your pocket at the end of the move.

Really Analyze the Value of Your Items

This is where the keep, donate and trash moving decisions become crucial. The starting point on a long distance move is around fifty cents ($0.50) a pound, so items that make total sense to move locally become economically unfeasible to move long distances. A basic refrigerator, books or a weight set is a classic example, if it's not worth fifty cents a pound, sell it. A nearly new stainless steel refrigerator is worth moving, a basic white one that's older is not.