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Choosing a Moving Company

Moving truck
The right moving company can make all the difference.

As a Realtor® I get asked all the time who I recommend as a moving company. I am reluctant to answer that question. The last time I moved was 5 years ago. I used movers several times the 4 years prior to that. We relocated to Charlotte, we moved out of our house for our floors to be redone, we moved out again when we had water damage and finally we relocated to our current home 5 years ago.

Of all of those experiences two were uneventful, which is a great move in my book, one was fair and one was absolutely the worst experience ever. It could be that the movers who worked for those companies are not even there anymore. So, would the great company still be great? Would the horrible company still be horrible?

Truly the only reviews or opinions that matter are the ones who had an experience with the movers that show up at your house. When I was a kid we experienced a relocation every couple of years. My dad was a fixer of sorts and we would be relocated somewhere for a couple of years, my dad would get things running smoothly in that office and we would be relocated again.

My mother had movers that she absolutely loved. Whitey was the crew manager. No matter where we were coming from or where we were going, my mother negotiated that Whitey and his crew would be the ones relocating us. That is how much she trusted them.

Trust is really what it comes down to. The crew will have, in their possession, most everything you have and drive away with it. They may even touch everything you have if packing is part of your relocation package. If you don’t have a good feeling about the crew, you are going to have a tough move.

When we lived in St. Louis, I had a young lady who worked for me whose husband was a Marine. Every few years, they would be relocated to a new base. The military would send a crew to pack them and move them. She has a collection of Christmas ornaments that mean the world to her and after a move cost her some of her collection, she had a bad feeling about movers in general. From that point forward, she always packed her own valuables. That one experience, out of the many that they had, is the one that shaped her thoughts about movers.

My husband and I had to move out of our home because the bottom floor had water damage. The insurance company sent a crew to pack and move our belongings to storage for the 2 weeks that it would take to rip out, replace, re-stain and finish our floors. We moved back in a day before we had to go to Florida. I mentioned that we had to get everything in place by a certain time because we had to catch a flight. When we returned home we had been robbed.

It was a very neat job. They took things that had been unpacked and put away by the movers just a few days earlier. The master bedroom window had been unlocked and the thieves had come in through there while we were away. It was the only window in the entire house that was unlocked. We never recovered any of our belongings. This was the only really horrible experience. I’ve had plenty of good experiences along the way.

The good moves that I have had are more numerous than the mediocre. I’ve had packers who used white gloves to handle my grandmother’s paintings. I’ve had movers who literally ran to get things into a house before it rained. I’ve had movers unpack boxes and help me get a house set up in a day or two. I’ve had some lovely people help me during stressful relocations. I’ve never had anything broken that couldn’t be fixed.

When choosing a moving company, have them come out and give you an estimate in person. Get 2-3 companies to do a walk through and tell you how they handle the move. Just know that the person who comes out will not be there the day of the move. They are generally a sales person who isn’t involved in the actual move, so base your decision on the information you receive, the process and the moving companies reputation.

There is a great article in consumer reports with information on how to check out a moving company. The one thing that I would add is that you should look at Yelp and Facebook. These have become great sources for company reviews. Be realistic, if there are a bunch of good reviews and a terrible review or two, that doesn’t mean that the company is a bad company. Actually read what happened and see if it is someone who is being unreasonable, picky or it is a legitimate complaint. See if they mention specific names in their review. Relocations are stressful and the movers should not be additional stress.

Want to know more about how to prepare before the movers show up? Print our handy checklist.

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