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Before You Move


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Additional Info


Evaluate Your Costs for "Self Haul" Movers

Professional movers provide a valuable service by moving thousands of people to new homes each year. While almost no move is ever completely stress-free, when you use a professional mover, all of the "heavy lifting" will be done for you. Movers will pack your possessions, load them into the truck, drive the truck to your destination and unload and unpack your shipment at your new home. Movers can also provide you with warehouse storage, move your piano up and down flights of stairs, transport your automobile, and service your appliances to insure their safe transportation.

If you are considering moving yourself, especially if you will be moving interstate, you should ask a lot of questions and compute the actual costs of self-moving before you sign an agreement with a truck rental company. The information in this part of the Consumer Guide will help you to calculate self-move costs and give you a basis of comparison when evaluating the price and value of professional moving.

Rental Charge. For an interstate move, you will need to provide the origin and destination cities and the date you plan to move to the truck rental company. Depending on equipment availability in certain locations, prices may vary. Peak season runs from the end of May until the end of September, so truck rental rates may be higher during that time of year. Most people move at the beginning of a month or the end of the month, so prices may be even higher during these times. The rental charge you are quoted includes a rental deposit that may be refunded depending on the condition of the vehicle upon its return, and a certain number of free miles (approximately 10% greater than the estimated actual mileage). The rental charge does not include state taxes or other equipment you may need to complete your move, such as cartons, boxes, pads and dollies. You'll need a day or two to pack and another to unpack, so be sure your quote includes these extra days plus the days you will need for driving.

Make sure you rent the right size truck! Remember, efficiently loading a truck is an art, not a science. After a long, hard day of loading all of your worldly possessions into the back of a rental truck, the last thing you need to discover is that you have run out of space but not out of furniture.

Automobiles. How many cars do you have? Are you going to drive or tow the vehicle(s)? A trailer package from a rental company can cost an additional $150, plus another $45 for the trailer hitch along with a $200 deposit depending on how many days you are renting the trailer. If you are driving your own vehicle, you'll need to factor in wear and tear on your vehicle (34.5 a mile is the current standard mileage rate according to the IRS).

Insurance Charges. It may cost an additional $20 a day or more for insurance during your move. Check the policies that are offered carefully. Most car insurance policies do not cover truck rentals, so you will need to purchase separate liability insurance and property damage insurance. Also, if you tow your car, you'll need separate insurance to cover any damage that occurs during the towing. Most of these additional policies do not cover you against theft; so if your goods are stolen (truck theft can be a problem if you are leaving the fully loaded vehicle unattended while you spend the night at a hotel) you may not have any protection.

Pads and Dollies. You'll need to rent pads so you do not scratch your furniture. Pads generally cost $10 a dozen; with a 26 foot truck (four bedroom house), you will need at least 3-dozen pads. You may need appliance dollies, utility dollies, or furniture dollies to help move heavy furniture and appliances. Each dolly will cost an additional $5 to $10 per rental.

Per Move Value of Time. Who is going to do the packing and unpacking? Who will pick-up, load, drive and unload the rental truck? Who will drive the automobile? If you are doing all of this yourself, it takes a lot of time. Figure out your average hourly wage and multiply it times the total number of hours you estimate it will take to pack, pick-up the truck, load, drive, unload, etc. for you and your spouse/family. This is your per move value of time.

Packing and Loading the Truck. You might be able to collect free boxes in anticipation of the move, but to minimize damages, especially for an interstate move, it is highly recommended that you purchase specialized boxes, like wardrobes, dish packs, and mattress containers. You'll need tape to secure the boxes and paper padding to secure the contents of the containers before they are loaded on the truck. The cost of packing materials may vary by state and state taxes will also apply.

Expect to pay about $200 for a 4-bedroom home, plus another $100 or so each for the kitchen and a home office, if you purchase your boxes from a truck rental company. If you need wardrobe boxes for hanging garments, expect to pay about $25 each. You'll also need tape and rope to secure your cartons properly.

Some truck rental companies also offer loading and unloading service to load your furniture and the boxes that you have packed yourself. This service can add several hundred dollars to the cost of your move; be sure to get an estimate before your sign-up for this service. Plus, the rental company's liability for any damage that occurs to your goods during the loading and unloading process will likely be minimal or even non-existent.

Mileage Charges. Mileage charges are usually included in the rental agreement but may be limited; an additional mileage charge may be assessed at an average cost per mile, usually around 40 cents a mile for each additional mile over the limit. Be sure to read your contract to see if there are extra mileage charges or fees for one-way rentals.

Fuel Charges. When you pick up your truck, the vehicle will be full of fuel. You must return the vehicle with a full tank or the rental company may charge a higher than average price per gallon to fill the vehicle. You'll need to calculate the cost of fuel used while driving the rental vehicle. A 26-foot truck that is fully loaded will average about 10 miles per gallon. If you travel approximately 1200 miles/10 miles a gallon, you will consume 120 gallons of fuel. At an average price of $1.35 cents a gallon x 120 gallons, your fuel cost will be $162.

Appliance Servicing. Refrigerators, grandfather clocks, washing machines, gas stoves, etc. all may require special preparation and handling to prevent them from being damaged when they are moved. You may need to hire several specialists to ensure proper handling of your possessions. These appliance service charges will increase the cost of your self-move.

Destination. Is your destination residence available for occupancy? If not, where will you store your possessions? You may need to secure a warehouse and unload all your household goods into storage. The most common storage facilities available for the self-mover are mini warehouse storage units. While functional, these units may provide less than adequate protection for your belongings. Security may be minimal, usually a manager sleeping on the premise, no insurance coverage, and no protection from fire or smoke damage.

When your new residence becomes available you will need to rent another truck, reload all your possessions from the warehouse, deliver your goods to the final destination, and unload everything one last time.

Other Additional Costs to consider are:

  1. Good friends and relatives that help you move will add additional expenses like food and beverages.
  2. Do you have children and are they too young to care for themselves? If you are doing everything yourself, you may have childcare expenses.
  3. Back injuries can occur when moving heavy articles like furniture. You may want to purchase a back brace to reduce lower back strain.
  4. Can you drive to the new destination in one day, or will you be required to spend one or more nights in a hotel? Who will watch the truck while you sleep? Security may also be a concern.
  5. Tolls for bridges and/or highways may also be applicable.

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American Moving and Storage Association
1611 Duke Street Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: (703) 683-7410 Fax: (703) 683-7527