TOP 10 Things to Think About When Moving (including what to tip movers!)

Moving can be a stressful time. But if you take steps to familiarize yourself with the way it is regulated and what rights and responsibilities you have, you'll likely have a much smoother move. Here are some things to think about as you prepare for your move.

1 Read reviews.

Check online and on the Park Slope Parents website for reviews. If there is a negative review, feel free to ask the company to fill you in on the story. All companies will have an occasional nightmare job; you just want to make sure that the company itself isn't a nightmare.

2 Check licenses

Make sure that the mover you choose is licensed. All licensed movers are required to give you a copy of the Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods at or before the time you get a quote. The New York State Department of Transportation can help you check licensing (and claims) when you're considering a mover.  All licensed movers are required to give you a copy of the Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods at or before the time you get a quote.

3 Buy REPLACEMENT or 3rd party insurance

Damage is unpredictable and it's really important to protect yourself in the event that something does go wrong by buying replacement insurance. Federal regulations (via the FMCSA) value things on price per pound so a $2,000 laptop that weighs under 6 pounds is valued under $4, regardless of its replacement cost. And watch out, regular insurance isn’t enough - so protect yourself!

4 Treat special items with kid gloves.

You cannot repair the damage done when sentimental items get broken. Either pack and ship things separately or move them in your own vehicle. If you have special items like a piano or delicate artwork, spend the extra money to make sure it's well taken care of.

5 If you can pick the time you move, do it. 

June, July and August are the busiest months so you'll be more likely to get inexperienced, overworked seasonal workers. Moving between the 5th – 13th and 18th - 25th are less busy than beginning, mid and end-of-month. Workers are better rested, less hurried, and able to give the sort of service you expect.

6 If you have to move during busy times, book your job as the first of the day.

That way movers aren't coming from a different site, haven't already been working for six hours when they show up to move you, and they can start fresh on your move. If a mover offers you a better rate to start in the afternoon, seriously consider the downside. The last thing you need is movers who are 2 hours late to your job with you completely stressed out because the late start means you'll be moving into your new apartment at 9 o'clock at night and your babysitter leaves at 6:30. You don't want to be juggling movers with tired, over stimulated, unsettled children who can't assimilate all the change at once.

7 Smaller moves beg different movers.

Residential moving is very heavily regulated, and if you choose a "moving company" you end up being low on the list of priorities unless you're willing to pay a premium for your service. Find someone who isn't trying to cultivate a larger operation. However, if you choose a man with a van or an unlicensed mover, be ready to assume responsibility for any damage--to your belongings, to your building, to the movers.

8 Moving requires a great deal of skill

Good balance, keen spatial reasoning skills, good judgment, the ability to create rapport your mover in the midst of a stressful transition will result in a successful and happy move. If you recognize that moving takes more than brute strength and a thick skull and you actively engage your foreman, the likelihood that your move will be exceptionally great will go way up.

9 What to Tip your Mover

We’ve asked a bunch of movers and business owners about tipping movers with little consensus on what’s the “right” tip. We've also been told that the industry standard is 18-20%. In our mind here’s what tipping depends on:    
--- size of move (1 bedroom apartment vs. brownstone, different tips) 
--- type of move (up a 4 floor walkup vs. garden apartment) 
--- how long it takes to do the moving 
--- are the workers packing as well as moving? 
--- extra heavy or bulky items? 
--- working conditions  (heat, cold, rain)    

As one parent writes, "I had 3 guys bring unpack on a day that was 106 with the heat index to a third floor walk-up. They worked about 5 hours in sweltering heat strapping boxes on their backs with a long flat strap. It was brutal.  They deserved much more than someone in an elevator building on a cool spring day. (We gave them each $60). What I’ve heard is that a very acceptable tip would be $10/hr per person. And I know that they also appreciate having bottles of water and if you want to be really nice go out and buy them lunch.     This question does come up all the time and I haven’t every found consistent responses—so I hope this helps a bit."

10 Give if forward by giving feedback to the movers and to groups like PSP when your move is over.

Most businesses will try to do right by their clients but they cannot address complaints unless they know about them. It's also disappointing for a business to find out someone was unhappy with their move for the first time through a bad review posted online.

Further Resources

New York State Department of Transportation’s Dos and Don’ts

US Department of Transportation’s Protect Your Move website

Read more moving advice from PSP HERE and get Tips & Recommendations from PSP Members HERE