Moving on a budget? No
sweat. Here are some money-saving tips:
Understand the estimating process.
If you're moving long distance,
you can and should get a flat fee. Get it in writing, or it will never have
happened. If you're moving locally, you may get a flat rate or an hourly rate.
Whenever possible, get a flat rate and well-defined extras, like cartons, packing
tape, and so forth. Understand that the lowest rate won't necessarily yield
the best price - it all depends on the skill of the movers, the number of hands,
etc. Factor references into your hiring decision.Buy your own packing supplies.
Packing supplies are expensive, often
adding hundreds of dollars to even a small move. Movers tend to mark them up
immensely, so it's well worth it to shop around - even if you plan to have the
movers pack for you. Of course, you can get free (but generally lousy) boxes
from supermarkets and liquor stores, but a better option is to scan local bulletin
boards or the "free stuff" section of www.craigslist.org,
where you can often
score boxes, bubble wrap, etc. from people who have just moved. You might even
try posting an ad or a flyer offering a little cash, or contact a box manufacturer
who - for a usually-reasonable minimum purchase - will be more than happy to ship
boxes, tape, and packing material right to your home.
. Bubble wrap is stunningly pricey, but newspaper can often
do the job too. Use your towels, t-shirts, pillows and linens to pad breakables.
You'll save on supplies and you'll have fewer boxes to move too.
Donate your castoffs to the Salvation Army or another charitable organization that will come and pick up your old, reasonably well-preserved goodies. It'll cut back on your labor costs, and you'll get a tidy tax write-off to boot. (Of course, like everyone else in New York, they're always booked solid weeks in advance, so call early.)
Remember that if you're paying by the hour, every minute
wasted is costing you. Make sure everything is ready for the movers. Group boxes
near the entrance. Have a game plan, and make sure to tell the foreman if they
can skip wrapping the couch or whatever. Offer to ride in the truck, or give
them your cell number and written directions to your new address.
There are also independent movers willing to work more informally than
some of the larger companies.
Using them could be risky, as they may not
be licensed or insured. If all goes well, you will have saved some money, but
if something gets broken or lost, or someone gets hurt, the costs can quickly
outweigh the benefits. So you're taking the safety of your possessions in your
own hands, but if you've got more futons than Faberge eggs, it might be worth
it to forego the protections of a formal arrangement, and get a flat rate from
an independent mover. You may want to check out their credentials though on
a consumer advocate Web site like www.movingadvocateteam.com
or through the
city's Department of Consumer Affairs. Certified movers can also be found on
the American Moving and Storage Association web site at www.craigslist.org.
(Check the "furniture/moving sales" section
to locate a thriving cottage industry.) Even if you're using a "real" company
to do the bulk of your move, some people find these independent operators very
useful if you have, say, a single armoire that needs to go to your Aunt Edna's
place across town.
In the end, it takes a bit more elbow grease to keep costs down, but it can be done. New York City's expensive enough as it is: it's nice to know you can move your shirt without losing it.