Confused about how to find the best rated cross country moving companies?
Do you hate moving? Would you do anything to find a better way to ensure a quick, painless move?
How do you find the best rated cross country moving companies? How much will it cost? What happens if they break my things?
I feel your pain. There’s nothing I loathe more than the actual process of moving.
Perhaps it’s just the fact that I’ve lived in over 20 houses in 9 cities in 5 states over the course of my life. At any rate, inevitably we all have to move.
Finding the BEST moving company is the one thing that can mean the difference between a smooth move and a crazy, marriage-crushing horrible move.
Trust me; I’ve done both (and everything in between)
So if you’re moving within the same city, that’s obviously a lot easier. You can make multiple trips, move fragile things yourself in your car, etc. But whether you’re moving a mile, 500 miles or 3000 miles, there’s still a right way and a wrong way to go about finding the best rated cross country moving companies.
So in this post, we’re taking an in-depth look at all the steps you must take to find the best rated cross country moving companies. That way you can sleep a little easier knowing that dream of your next home doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Choosing the wrong moving company can:
- Cost you time (delays happen, trucks break down and if your mover is using your truck for multiple families all kinds of delays can happen)
- Cost you money (even if you buy insurance it typically goes by weight so for a lightweight valuable item the insurance is pretty well worthless)
- Cost you items (items break or can go missing)
How do we get started finding the best rated cross country moving companies?
After all, if you just Google best moving company, you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands of options.
You can use Yelp to perhaps narrow your options. However, since they are by city, you’ll only be seeing companies in your area. This can be good and bad.
For instance, a small local company may be great. But if you’re moving cross country they may not be ideal. After all, you’ll be paying them to get their folks and their truck back home again.
Whereas a nationwide mover can schedule them to pick up someone else’s stuff in your destination city and generally, the larger the mover the more efficient and (sometimes) more cost-effective they can be.
The most crucial steps you should take in finding the best rated cross country moving companies:
- Check out the “super list” on MovingScam.com‘s website (it’s a state by state list of movers; the good, the bad and the ugly – don’t, however, just blindly go with their endorsed movers as these are just paid affiliate links and have to be vetted using the steps below like everyone else)
- Find 8 movers that look like contenders
- Check those 8 on their local city’s Yelp page (and even Facebook & Google+ too) and eliminate anyone with under 4 stars
- Check the remaining ones on the Better Business Bureau’s page. With the BBB, while I would definitely eliminate anyone under a B rating, I look more at the number of complaints and specifically the type and whether they were resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. After all the BBB solicits these companies to become members (ie: paying the BBB) so it’s entirely possible to have a company with an A rating that has hundreds of complaints. Don’t like what you see? Cross ’em off the list!
- Take the remaining names and verify them with the Department of Transportation (click HERE). You can search for them by their name or their DOT number which they are required to display on paperwork, websites, etc. You can check for safety ratings and make sure their registration is up-to-date and that the number they show is genuine.
- Hopefully, you should at least have 3-5 folks remaining. If not, go back to step one and keep looking.
- Recommendations – It also doesn’t hurt to get names from friends and co-workers of who they used, but I would still follow the above steps on them too.
— Adam Levin (@Adam_K_Levin) September 20, 2016
Eliminating the terrible movers from your list:
Now that you have your best rated cross country moving companies narrowed down, we contact them and dig in a little.
I want you to ask them the following:
- Ask them to come to your house and do an in-home written estimate (if they won’t do that, scratch ’em off the list – there’s simply no way to get an accurate estimate simply by asking over the phone how many bedrooms you have)
- Get them to give you a “do not exceed” amount. That means no matter what happens, they can’t charge you more than this amount
- In that written estimate get both their “Full (Replacement)Value Protection” amount (higher) and the amount if you waive that extra coverage (we’ll get into that more below)
- Ask them if they use the same crew to load AND unload the truck (if at least one of the crew isn’t the same on both ends of the trip, I’d consider not using them; after all, its nice to have that rapport/contact with someone and they know you and your stuff and it will make the unloading go all that much faster and smoother). Also get a cell phone number for whoever is in charge of the truck so you can get updates or find out where they are.
- Insist that once your items are on a truck they stay there until unloaded at your new house (if they won’t agree – ditch them. Every time your stuff is moved the risk of damage is increased and you’d be amazed how many times companies change trucks and move loads).
- Ask if your items will be on a truck that is shared with other families. If your truck is shared, the risk of item mix up increases significantly. I would likely pass on any company that does this. Even if no mix-ups happen, to try and avoid confusion, some movers tag every item with a color-coded sticker. Guess what? They don’t peel them off at your new place (and yes I know many items will be in boxes, but stuff like furniture and TVs will generally just be wrapped).
- Get an exact date and slim time window (4 hours max) for when they will be there to load your truck and an exact date of when they will arrive to unload. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for hours for them to show up to load or waiting days while sleeping in an empty house waiting for them to show up at your new place.
Narrowing the best rated cross country moving companies down to the top 3
What’s next? At this point, I would simply make a decision based on:
- Price – who is cheapest (going off their “do not exceed” amount)
- Did they guarantee all of the above questions?
- Can they do it on the dates you need it to be done (bigger companies with hundreds of employees and dozens of trucks sometimes have greater flexibility than the little guys)
All things being equal, just go with the lowest price.
— Mary Braatz (@findyourhome) September 21, 2016
The painful truth about damage during a move
It doesn’t hurt to know your government protected rights. Make sure to have a copy on your mobile device (can’t look anything up on a packed away computer) of the Department of Transportation’s guide “Consumer Rights and Responsibilities“.
You also need to know that before a single box is moved that, as mentioned briefly above, moving companies have 2 different insurance options in the case of damage.
The first is called Full (Replacement) Value Protection and generally will provide about $6.00 per pound (for the total weight of everything moved or insured) of coverage.
This guarantees that they have to repair, replace or give you the cash to replace items that are damaged (up to the total amount using the $6.00 formula). For example, if you have a 3 bedroom house you could conceivably have 5000 pounds of stuff (or more).
Getting this full coverage gives you $30,000 in coverage (minus whatever deductible you select).
Sounds great, right? It does until you consider the cost it adds to your move. The other option is to waive this coverage in which case they pay you 60¢ per pound for the item damaged. Basically next to nothing for lightweight items that have a high value.
Before you go thinking or assuming that your current renters or homeowners insurance policy might cover damage in moving, think again. In most cases, it does not cover damage from work done “for hire”.
I recommend passing on the full coverage the best rated cross country moving companies offer and finding a reputable 3rd party company to ensure your move.
Your own insurance may offer better coverage
If you have renters or homeowners insurance currently and you like (or at least haven’t had any problems with them) I would start with those companies/agents and ask about buying this coverage.
In just Googling for it, I would check any company’s reviews on the BBB site just like you did with movers.
Expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $200-$1000 for full coverage on your items. Also know too, that like most other insurance, there will be a deductible (meaning the amount the damage has to exceed before you get anything) and generally the higher the deductible the lower the cost to you.
Lastly, especially for any vintage, rare, collectible or antique items find out how they go about determining the value. You don’t want to find out after your Great Grandmothers priceless Tiffany lamp is destroyed that they require receipts for the original purchase (which you likely don’t have).
Too broke to hire the best rated cross country moving companies?
I’ve done the following for 2 of my moves.
We didn’t have the cash to spend thousands on a professional moving company. Thus we rented a truck from U-Haul or Budget. Through them, you can find local people on both ends to help. You pay them by the hour to load and unload and you drive the truck yourself.
U-Haul refers to this helpers program as Moving Help and Budget calls it Moving Staffers. Aside from the ease and convenience of booking it online, you also quickly and easily see customer reviews on all of the choices as well as what their rates are.
Depending on how far you’re going, this can end up being well under $1,000 between truck, gas, and helpers. A local move where you return the truck to the same rental place is cheaper still.
Want to save even more? Since you’re paying the helpers by the hour, the more you help, the faster it goes!
Yup, that’s me below driving the truck and towing one of our cars!
Need help in budgeting for your moving company or move?
I have a copy of my Budgeting Spreadsheet available at no charge.
This is a customizable Excel spreadsheet which you can download. Set up your household to make every dollar count!
So What Are My . . .
15 Vital Steps to Find the Best Rated Cross Country Moving Companies?
- Go to movingscam.com’s “superlist” and look for movers
- Find 8 companies that look like good prospects
- Dig deep on those remaining with the BBB, Yelp, Facebook & Google+ to eliminate the stinkers
- Have them come out to your house and give a written estimate
- Get a “do not exceed” quote so you know the absolute max it will cost you
- Make absolutely sure your items will stay on the truck once loaded until arriving at your new place
- Verify the minimum number of people on the loading AND unloading crews. The smaller the number the longer everything will take. 3 or 4 would be ideal for a large house
- Ideally, ensure that at least one of the loading crew will supervise the unloading
- Make sure you get a cell phone number for the crew chief or supervisor on your move – you don’t want to only have an office phone number which isn’t answered evenings and weekends when they don’t show up when they were supposed to
- Ensure that your truck is just for your stuff and not mixed up with other families’ stuff – you don’t want to end up with their old 1973 UHF TV instead of your brand new 50″ flat-screen!
- Don’t buy their expensive insurance. Instead, see if your existing insurance company can add-on inexpensive moving coverage
- Understand that even with insurance, between deductibles and coverage by the pound, you aren’t likely to be 100% covered – expect to be out of pocket a little on any damage
- Also understand that even with expert packing and moving, chances are there will be at least a little damage anytime you move
- Get a guaranteed delivery date so you aren’t waiting for days in an empty house
- Expect to pay a deposit to guarantee the movers will be there on your EXACT date, but don’t pay in full until everything is in your new place and you are happy
Lastly, even with the best moving company on the planet & amazing movers, there are so many moving pieces that it’s entirely possible something will go wrong.
Also, make your move go as smooth as possible with my 11 Smart Things to do Before Moving.
This is where it pays to be a little flexible & a little relaxed. Understand that sometimes (most of the time) life is not 100% in our control!
Did you get great service from your moving company?
It’s always great to tip them individually in cash AFTER everything is in your new place to your satisfaction. I recommend tipping about $40 each for a 1-day move. Or maybe up to $100 each for a multi-day move. If they were outstanding you could even pay more!
Know some best rated cross country moving companies not covered here?
In this post, we looked at all the aspects of moving; the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We explored tips, tactics and expert advice to make your next move go smoothly and talked about whether moving insurance is worth it and how much to tip your movers.
Specifically, though, we talked about the crucial steps you must take to find the best rated cross country moving companies for your next move. There are a lot of bad movers out there and these steps (the same ones I’ve used on dozens of moves) will help you steer clear of them.
Have a moving nightmare? Know of an excellent mover?
Let me know by commenting below! As always, thanks for being here!