Saturday, February 10, 2007

When it's time to move... are some things you need to know:
  • Find help on changing addresses, forwarding mail, etc. at the Postal Service's Moving page.
  • An alternative to the traditional two options for moving (full-service and rental trucks that you drive) has become a very popular option; they call it "self-service" moving.  The idea is that you pack your stuff onto a 60-ft trailer (as in, 18-wheel tractor-trailers), paying by the linear-foot of floor space you consume.  They load the rest with standard freight, so you share the cost with the freight shippers, and your trailer arrives at your new home in 2-3 days.  You don't have to drive a huge truck, but you save by not paying movers to load and unload.  The most popular and well-known company that does this is ABF; a number of my seminary friends used them with satisfaction.  One alternative is Help U Move; I'm sure there are a few others.
  • ULine Shipping Supply sells high-quality, affordable moving kits and supplies that are a great deal if you are packing yourself.
  • Check in with MoversWeb,,, JustMovers, 123Movers, My Moving Quote, and/or Movers Directory to get quotes about your move.  Some of them will contact you by phone or e-mail; depending on the type of move you're considering, some will do a free in-home examination and quote.
  • If you want to rent a truck and drive it yourself (or you can't afford to do more than this), the major rental companies are U-Haul, Budget, Penske, and Ryder.  If you're not moving very much stuff-- or if your move is local-- you might consider looking at Enterprise's truck rental for a cargo van or pickup truck.  (You may find ABF U-Pack's comparison/sales pitch about U-Pack vs. rental a helpful read.)  Mover Max has a helpful checklist about renting a truck.  I like U-Haul's low truck beds, which make loading and unloading a lot easier on the back; but there are lots of folks who would urge against U-Haul.
    • You may find it helpful to check up on consumer complaints, scams, and protection about moving and movers.  Some helpful pages to read are Moving, Consumer's Good Guys, Moving Companies, and the American Moving and Storage Association to find out about the service you are considering.
    • You can check with the Better Business Bureau to get a reliability report on companies, including moving companies.
  • You should check with your city or town hall to discover whether you will need a permit to park a truck, trailer, or pod in front of your house.  (Oddly enough, some cities won't let you park a 75-foot trailer just anywhere.)  If you cannot get a permit, it can cost you thousands of dollars to arrange a shuttle service through your moving company.  Be sure to ask about this when you are getting quotes; movers are supposed to disclose "hidden fees" like this, but if they don't you can be subject to full-price (as opposed to a discounted price at the time of the quote).
  • You should also ask about fee rates and when they are changing.  Movers' fees are based on tariffs, and these can change by several percentage points.  Ask when the next change will be, and how much-- and be sure to verify whether your quote will be good after that change.
  • If you are getting a quote from a moving company (such as North American or Allied), be sure to ask for a copy of the "Cube Sheet."  This is the document used to calculate the quote, and lists all of the estimated weights and quantities that the quote is based upon.  If you have a copy of this, you can compare it to other quotes' Cube Sheets.  You should ask about any significant variance in weight estimation-- they should all show about the same weight (give or take 300-500 pounds).
  • Quotes from moving companies or for self-service moving are based on two variables: how much stuff do you have, and how far do you need to take it.  Thus, you can begin gathering quotes before you have a firm ministry call, by using the location you might be that is furthest from where you are now.  If you are in Chicago and you're considering a church in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, just list the town in New Mexico as your destination.  Once the final location is known, they can run a new quote based on that location-- and since they will already have the estimated weight of your stuff, this will be a fast process (probably nothing more than entering a Zip Code into a field and clicking a button).
  • Ask your moving company for a discount.  Be sure to mention that you are in the ministry, and will be moving to serve a church or ministry.  They will be able to discount your fees significantly.  (One quoter told me that they had a discount for everyone, but he gave the highest discounts to the seminary families he worked with.  He gave me a 68% discount on our quote!)
  • Make sure that quotes you receive are "Not To Exceed" quotes.  This means that the amount quoted is the most you will spend, assuming the distance listed.  Once your stuff is loaded, the actual weight will be determined and the cost re-calculated (or in the case of a self-service move, the recalculation will be based on the actual number of feet or units required).  There are other quotes available, but they won't be as helpful in estimating the final costs of moving.
  • Inquire about the cost difference for packing yourself vs. having a moving service pack for you.  This can sometimes be several thousand dollars in difference, which is a compelling case for packing yourself.  (Most people would rather pack their own stuff, anyway; packing is a vulnerable thing to allow someone else to do.)
  • If you are packing yourself AND you are using a moving company, ask about whether you can get boxes through them.  Some will offer heavily discounted or even free boxes (although they may be used ones) to those using their services.  Marcie and I used the same boxes to move us four different times, then we gave them to someone else-- so used boxes can be a good deal.  (We're not talking about grocery and liquor store boxes either, but good-quality moving boxes.)
  • Clark Howard always has a lot of helpful things to say, and his advice about moving is helpful and valuable.
  • Finally, if you have a lot of books (and what pastor or seminary student doesn't?), you might consider shipping these bulk or media rate through UPS or the postal service.  In one of our quotes, I asked him to calculate what part of the total quote (which was just under $7000) was books.  Can you believe that $1000 of it was?  It would surely be less expensive to ship them than pack them in our moving truck-- unless, of course, we rent a truck or a U-Pack and have fixed rate, not based on weight.  Check into this and figure out if you could save a lot of money shipping your books.
That's all for now.  If I figure out more tips, I'll update this post.

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