Chicago-based mover recommendations
September 22, 2014 4:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm doing a long-distance move from Chicago to California and I'm getting a lot of quotes. Most of the quotes are in the $3,000 range but their business practices, price models and Yelp reviews are less than re-assuring. One company's quote was in the $15,000 range but this company had a much more re-assuring model and pretty good reviews. I'd like more recommendations from companies like this one.

What I liked about this company (Two Guys and a Truck) was that:
1. It's actually driving the truck that your stuff is in from beginning to end - it doesn't just arrange for a bunch of other companies to hand your stuff off and then disappear into the ether.
2. It charges based on the distance to drive the truck; I don't have to show up at some truck weighing facility to see them weigh the truck (which is what one company told me) or have mysterious charges appear because I'm not really good at estimating.
3. Based in Chicago because I feel like this will be more reliable in terms of logistics. OR they are nationally recognized.
4. Actually does long distance moves. Most of the highest-reviewed Chicago-based moving companies don't do long distance. (Move-tastic, Windy City Movers)
5. I can get a move set up right away and don't have to wait until next week for someone to come to my apartment to do an estimate. (Pickens-Kane)
6. Won't hold our stuff hostage for more money because of mysterious logistics problems during delivery (which happened to my hubby).
7. Will pickup and deliver in a reasonable time frame.
8. Has a better than 3 star rating on Yelp. I know Yelp can be questionable in terms of their business model but people have some horror stories on there.

So I liked Two Guys and a Truck, but their quote will blow up my budget so I was wondering if anyone knew of any other comparable companies I could look into.
posted by bleep to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: On an interstate move your quotes should be so close that they're pennies within each other. You also want a carrier who does interstate moves frequently.

I've had good experiences with Mayflower and Bekins. Not the cheapest, but I've moved interstate with them and they were very, very good.

Splurge for the replacement value insurance and take lots of photos of everything before, during and after move. Let the movers wrap and pack electronics and artwork and breakables. Otherwise if damaged, they'll tell you it was packed wrong.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:33 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I used ABF when I moved from Chicago to the West Coast (1bdr), and it worked well?
posted by aramaic at 5:05 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When we were planning our interstate move we found the site very helpful.

The quotes we got weren't within pennies from each other, but they did not diverge quite as widely as the quotes you've been getting. Given our experience of moving from Michigan to North Carolina, a quote of $3,000 for a Chicago to California move sounds suspiciously low. On the other hand $15,000 sounds rather high. We ended up going with a moving company that was reviewed favorably on It wasn't the cheapest, but all our stuff arrived as scheduled, and nothing was missing or damaged.
posted by research monkey at 5:11 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are you looking for someone to do everything including packing? If so that will change the value of my answer. I just moved from Chicago to the Bay Area and used New City Moving to move my stuff to the Chicago ABF facility and then used local movers to move from the facility to my apartment. ABF was $2500 and the movers total on both sides were $1000. This seemed to be a relatively common and uncontroversial thing to have the movers do. ABF isn't likely to hold your stuff hostage and this way you don't have to get your own stuff out there.

Definitely take the extra insurance and see if your home owners offers moving insurance. The time frame I thought was quite reasonable. If you have a place to park a trailer on your street for a day in California, you could probably even do it cheaper than I did as I had to go to the actual ABF facility with the movers.

Good luck! You should absolutely be able to do it for lower than $15,000 even with three companies involved.
posted by Carillon at 5:19 PM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Carillon I am going to me-mail you.
posted by bleep at 5:24 PM on September 22, 2014

Best answer: I just moved from Minnesota to Texas with movers, and a couple of your business model points feel like too much to ask for. (FWIW, I couldn't figure out if Two Men and a Truck did long distance moves. I think the Chicago franchise might just randomly be in the long-distance business, which would explain (1) and the high quote.)

2. It charges based on the distance to drive the truck; I don't have to show up at some truck weighing facility to see them weigh the truck (which is what one company told me) or have mysterious charges appear because I'm not really good at estimating.

I live in a one bedroom apartment, so I had relatively little stuff (at least compared to a family in a house). I got estimates from United and Allied*, which both offered the standard weight-based charge and a container-based charge (essentially, your stuff goes in Pods-like containers, but from your perspective, it's like a regular move). The container-based quotes were for "up to X containers". The guys who came and did the estimates all ran the numbers both ways and quoted me whichever was cheaper (so I did get one weight-based estimate). I believe the tradeoff was that container moves took longer. My stuff arrived precisely when they said it would, but I spent a week on an air mattress eating frozen food.

Somewhere there's a fairly informative leaflet from the federal government (that interstate moving companies are required to give you--it's usually on the website, but I was either given it at the estimate appointment or it was emailed with the finished estimate). I'm writing this off the top of my head, so double check these things (especially since I wasn't charged by weight), but, basically, for weight-based moves, there are two kinds of estimates: binding and non-binding. I think binding estimates can't change based on the actual weight (i.e. they're binding) and non-binding estimates can/will change based on the actual weight. (I think mine were all non-binding, but the container move took most of the uncertainty out of it.)

5. I can get a move set up right away and don't have to wait until next week for someone to come to my apartment to do an estimate. (Pickens-Kane)

As I understand it, federal law requires an in-person estimate for interstate moves. I could get quotes online for ABF U-Pack and Pods, but that was it. (Maybe I could get a ballpark estimate from others, but I don't think so.)

I ended up with three estimates in all. Of the guys who came and did the estimating, two felt like they were working carefully, paying attention and not at all sleazy, so I picked the one that was lower (it was nearly a 25% difference, I think). This ended up working well, but, of course, I had little stuff and nothing I was too worried about being destroyed (but nothing was damaged).

*I actually got two Allied estimates from two different local agents. One was the agent the website assigned me and I got contact information for the other from a friend.
posted by hoyland at 4:51 AM on September 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: from a friend who just moved from Chicago to CA:
we used STI movers. unfortunate name, but, by far the best rate we found. most movers charge by the weight and we couldn't afford their $8000 estimates. STI charges by space, and since we weren't taking much furniture, we were only slightly above their minimum. The move was about $1,800 for us. We don't have too many complaints. On the day of pick up, we were given a 7am-9am window and the movers arrived at ten to 7. Drop off wasn't quite as smooth, as they had told me the day before between 2-4pm, but were held up and didn't arrive until about 9pm. But, I'm guessing this wasn't something they could avoid----the business is unpredictable, and honestly, I felt badly for them for working such a long day. We're still working on unpacking, we've unpacked about 75% of the boxes and so far we've only found one broken wine glass. I'm calling that a success. Everything else has been intact, although, I would say that some of the boxes were given to us a bit torn up/dented/etc. I'm guessing that's mostly the nature of the work though, and probably the case regardless of company used.
posted by garlic at 3:00 PM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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