Have a Smooth Move with Smart Tactics

Physician's Money Digest, September15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 17

Even under the best circumstances,moving can be a stressful ordeal.Besides taxing you physically andmentally, relocating can be a financialstrain as well. And if you hire the servicesof a moving company, your money willdwindle even further.

New York Times

The reports that thelatest data from the American Moving andStorage Association, a Virginia-based tradegroup, show that the average cost of amove in 2000 was $2778, up from $2431 in1996. Fortunately, careful planning canmake a big difference.

Physicians on the move can take somesimple steps to control costs as well as toensure that the moving process goessmoothly. Visiting the trade association'sWeb site, www.moving.org, is a goodplace to begin. In addition to tips on planninga move, it includes advice on hiring amover. Two other Web site services—www.moving.com and www.getamover.com—can provide estimates based oninformation you submit to them online.

Find the Best Deal

One way to find the best deal is to getat least three bids in writing, preferablyfrom companies that are certified by theAmerican Moving and Storage Association.You can find a list of certifiedcompanies on the association's Web site.Also, check with the Better BusinessBureau (www.bbb.org) to see if any complaintshave been filed against the movingcompanies you are thinking of using.

Make sure that the quoted price onyour contract includes loading and unloadingfees. Some companies calculatethose services separately. Find out if themover charges extra for stairs or unusuallylong distances from the truck to thehouse. Companies also may charge extrafor packing and unpacking.

While moving rates are lowest duringthe off-peak months of October throughApril, you may be able to get a better dealin the summer if you move during the middleof the month. The key to getting agood deal is a willingness to be flexible. Ifyou're relocating overseas, keep in mindthat it might be cheaper to buy thingswhen you arrive than to ship extra belongings,says Peter Helgeson, vice presidentand general manager of Atlas Van LinesInternational. "Many countries imposetaxes and duties on cars and some householdgoods and appliances," he says.

Insure Your Move

The Moving and Storage Associationrecommends buying extra comprehensiveliability insurance, above and beyond theminimum coverage that is usually writteninto the contract at no extra cost. In manyinstances, you can obtain extra insurancethrough the moving company.

Caveat:

You can reduce your bill by doing some,or all, of your own packing. Theinsurance you buy through the mover maynot cover boxes you pack yourself. If that'sthe case, let the mover pack fragile orexpensive belongings. You may also findthat your homeowners' insurance coversitems that you pack.