Smooth Move Moving Minus the Hassles

On the surface, moving sounds like a no-brainer: Put stuff in boxes. Move boxes from A to B. Unpack boxes. What's the big deal? But as anyone who's ever moved can tell you, it's never that simple. In fact, it's often a nightmare that leaves a trail of dead plants, abandoned toaster ovens and frayed nerves in its wake"¦ but it doesn't have to be like that. Read on and we'll tell you everything you need to know to make your move go as smoothly as possible. Moving may not be an exact science, but smart planning - and patience - can take some of the angst out of the endeavor.

Movers and Shakedowns

The first step to avoiding troubles is to choose your moving company wisely. There are dozens of companies in New York to pick from, ranging from one-man, one-truck operations to giant corporations with their own storage facilities and their own brands of packing supplies. Whatever your needs, there should be a company that's right for you - but do your homework. Ask friends for references. Get a few different bids and check out bidders with the New York City Department of Transportation at

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/home.html, the Department of Consumer Affairs at http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/dca/html and the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.com to see what kind of standing they have. According to Alex Seidon, owner of Chelsea Moving & Storage in Manhattan, "Only someone with a DOT license is a legit mover, but often people don't know the difference between real movers and some guy with a truck. Not that all unlicensed guys are bad - some of them do a great job - but you're taking a chance. Where's the insurance? What if something goes wrong? Who will you complain to?"

Seidon warns that there are also a number of all-out shysters working the moving racket, and rip-off horror stories abound. "They used to just posted flyers, but now they've gotten very fancy with nifty-looking Web sites and such." Seidon recommends checking out the Better Business Bureau and consumer advocate Web sites like www.movingadvocateteam.com before you sign anything. Movingadvocateteam.com in particular publishes a "blacklist" of moving companies allegedly involved in unethical business practices.

Beware that good movers in New York City are in high demand, so start your search early and reserve your moving date as far ahead as you can. Dana Bitton, who co-owns Arthur Werner Moving & Storage, Inc., has this advice: "Try to avoid moving at the end of the month when everyone is really booked. If you have a choice, Mondays are good because movers often have Sunday off, so they're fresh. Midweek is good too because any problems have usually been ironed out by then. Fridays are the worst because of traffic."

Getting a Head Start

Once you've picked a company and nailed down a date, the real work begins. The best way to avoid moving problems is to start your preparations early. As Seidon puts it: "People lose their minds when they move - all their common sense goes out the window. They're tired; they're stressed out. They're running around doing things that make no sense. If you start getting ready early, you're less likely to panic and go off the deep end."

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