It’s time to make a move. Whether you’re heading across town or going cross-country, moving yourself or hiring movers, you want an organized, stress-free experience.

What’s the secret to a smooth move? Avoid these common moving mistakes.


Mistake #1: Choosing the wrong moving company

There are reputable companies, and there are ones that put out misleading information. There are even plenty of moving scams. Choosing a sketchy moving company not only won’t save you money but it could end up costing you plenty. Know the warning signs. Avoid moving companies that only give phone estimates and/or require large deposits. Skip the ones that only offer non-binding estimates (a quote based on estimated weight of your things). That means they could be planning a much higher bill at the end. Be suspicious of moving companies that have similar names to well-known national brands but are not them. Finally, avoid any mover without an address.

All moving companies that move across state lines must have a DOT number. Ask for it and then look it up in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration database. Make sure their information matches what they told you.


Mistake #2: Not getting an estimate in writing

It’s hard for a mover to give you an accurate estimate without seeing your belongings in person. That’s why a mover that only provides a phone estimate is probably not reputable. Insist on a mover who visits your home and gives an estimate in writing. It’s always best to get three estimates. Make sure to read the fine print, and think twice about choosing the lowest bid. If possible, choose a mover that offers a binding not-to-exceed estimate. That means you won’t be charged more than the estimate and may be charged less.


Mistake #3: Not giving yourself enough time to pack—and/or not packing boxes correctly

Packing is going to take more time than you think. If you leave it to the last minute, you will be tempted to throw things into boxes without organizing them, which could make unpacking difficult. According to, it takes 3-5 days full-time to pack a three-bedroom house. If you’re working around a job and other responsibilities, give yourself additional time.

Pack your boxes so they are filled to the top but not overfilled or underfilled. Underfilled boxes can collapse under the weight of others on top of them. You should be able to tape boxes closed so the top is flat. A standard moving box will have a weight limit printed on the bottom. But being able to lift the box is also a consideration. Limit the weight of your boxes to 50 lbs. and you should generally meet the box weight requirements and keep it manageable to lift.


Mistake #4: Moving unnecessary items

It may be tempting to bring everything to a new home, and sort it out there. However, moving is a great time to take stock of what you really use and what you don’t. Why spend the time and money moving things that you’ll just end up storing, giving away, or throwing out? Hold a yard sale or donate items before you start packing. This will help lighten the load. Keep track of your donations; you can expense them on your taxes.


Mistake #5: Not knowing the obstacles at your new location

Are there narrow roads or restricted access at your new home? Is there no parking for an 18-wheeler? If so, your moving company may need to get a smaller truck and shuttle your stuff—at an extra charge. Also, if your furniture doesn’t fit through the doorways or hallways of your new home, it may need to be disassembled. You’ll be charged for these extra services, so be aware. Note also that many cheap pieces of furniture are made from particleboard. It’s not meant to be moved and is easily broken.


Mistake #6: Not preparing for your pets

Your pets are part of the family, but moving day will be particularly stressful for them. After all, they won’t understand why strangers are taking their furniture. With all of the commotion, it’s also easy for a pet to get lost in the shuffle, or have a scared animal run away or hide. Consider having relatives or friends take care of your pets or board them in a kennel for moving day. Also, make sure that you have your pet’s records for easy access when you need them.


Mistake #7: Choosing to move your valuables with the moving company

You may not care much if you have to replace the IKEA artwork from your living room, but the picture painted by your grandfather is irreplaceable. Therefore, if it’s sentimental and it can’t be replaced with money, plan to move that valuable item yourself.


Mistake #8: Not having enough insurance

Who covers your valuables if your mover drops something and breaks it? Surprisingly, it may not be the moving company. Homeowner’s and renter’s policies cover your personal property while at your home and in storage—but not while they are being transported by movers.

Your moving company should offer insurance, as listed in your contract. Options include: full value protection, released value protection, and separate liability coverage. You’ll pay for full value but will also be reimbursed the full value if anything breaks. For released value protection, you’ll typically get just 60 cents on the dollar per pound (so a 30-lb. flat-screen TV would be an $18 reimbursement).

If you’re moving yourself, you can arrange for trip transit insurance, special perils contents coverage, or a floater for valuables with your insurance company. Protect your possessions so they make it safely to your new home.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


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