How do I find the best cross country mover?
October 20, 2021 8:24 AM   Subscribe

I have approximately 20 bids from different companies to move the contents of my storage unit from LA to Boston. I have no idea how to judge who is good. Someone told me they are all franchises anyway so you have to find out if the local company they contract to is good...and I have no idea how to figure that out either. Any advice, besides picking the cheapest and hoping for the best? (More inside)

We don't need our stuff to get there fast. We do need movers to do the lifting and driving. Our storage facility does not allow pods to be placed outside, so pods are not an option. I would gladly just have someone show up, put it in the way back of their 18 wheeler and turn up at my new home a month later if that is more budget friendly.

I know similar questions have been asked before but they were all pre-COVID and I think things are different now.
posted by rednikki to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I follow some DIY bloggers who recently moved from Idaho to North Carolina and had a horrible experience with their movers and put together a post of what should've been red flags so that others can learn from their experience.
posted by shesbookish at 9:09 AM on October 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: When I moved cross country 20 years ago, I found out that each of the driver's has a rating. That rating is used by the company to determine who gets what job. For example if a company was going to move a high profile person, they would use a driver with the best rating. Depending on the size of your move, and a storage locker's worth of stuff does not sound like a lot comparatively speaking, they might adhere to your request for a top rated driver. The driver usually picks the people who load and unload on each end. I was using a full truck loaded with 2 cars and the household contents of a family of 5 getting reimbursed for the move so I was able to ask for and get a top rated driver.

If you are just taking a portion of a truck, I think you are at the mercy of the moving gods and if you get a good crew or a bum crew. I have not had time to read the link posted by shesbookish, but the site looks credible and the article looks credible.
posted by AugustWest at 9:12 AM on October 20, 2021

Best answer: It is absolutely true that you need to be looking into the local company more than the national brand, and at the end of the day it's the driver who makes the difference because they supervise (and often hire) the other workers who will be packing and loading. And the driver is the one who will be with your stuff from beginning to end.

I've had moving experiences ranging from mediocre to outstanding (never a disaster, thankfully). All of the outstanding experiences came when I was referred to a local company by someone who has done a lot of business with them, and they told me a specific driver to request. I strongly recommend trying to get referrals to a specific driver if you can.
posted by primethyme at 9:15 AM on October 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We moved the other direction, Boston to LA, this year.

A friend with experience moving and advising people on their moves said there were only two companies in this area that would take the household in a single truck all the way across the country (yes, with other people's loads). One of them was Isaacs in Stoughton, MA.

I don't know if they would pick up your belongings in LA for a move in the opposite direction but it may be worth talking to them if you haven't. Our stuff left Mass. in a (70-foot) moving truck that stopped in Las Vegas before us and was headed to San Francisco later that day and had been loaded accordingly. Two people driving and carrying (said they were Romanians) and everything arrived in good shape.

The stated arrival window is 5-21 days and there is a minimum fee based on weight.
posted by xaryts at 9:36 AM on October 20, 2021

Best answer: we personally used New World (paid for by my company) and they were very large and experienced and knew the boston area (which can be confusing for tricks)
posted by bbqturtle at 10:14 AM on October 20, 2021

There are so many horror stories, so I'd check with BBB and ask locally, like on nextdoor or a local fb group. My sister hired a cheapo low-bidder, moved, was asked for more $$ to get her stuff, never got 100% of it.
posted by theora55 at 11:32 AM on October 20, 2021

Best answer: There are only very few national moving companies. (Allied and United, are two)

I have used Allied twice, and while they have their own issues, they are not scammers. Large companies care about following the DoT regulations. They will give you a copy of your rights as a customer, and the actions you can take.

With Allied how it worked was they have a local franchise office that will come see your house and give you a guaranteed estimate (this is almost always an over estimate), and as long as you don't change the list of items, or destination you don't have to pay more than that.

We certainly felt like they were overestimating, so we signed the contract for the minimum weight (2500 lbs) and said we will pay extra (per 100 lbs) for anything over the limit. In both moves, our total weight was under 2500 lbs, while their guaranteed estimates were around 5000 lbs. If you want them to pack things into boxes that add another fee. If you pack boxes yourself, the content inside the boxes is not insured.

How it works is the movers will come and disassemble your furniture, and load everything to the truck. Then they go to the local warehouse, park the truck on a large scale to confirm the weight of your things. Your stuff would be unloaded into the warehouse, and they will be there until another large truck (for example going from Seattle to Miami) pick it up. Then this truck will deliver your goods to you. Since you are moving form coast to coast they might directly pickup your things on the same truck that is going to the east coast.

Always get the insurance. In both moves, things were damaged, but the claim process was smooth.
posted by WizKid at 11:36 AM on October 20, 2021

Like @theora55 mentioned above there are so many horror stories with low-budget movers. For the large national movers, they have it in their contact that they will not hold the good hostage. If there is a dispute it will be settled in courts.

and they will pay a daily penalty if your goods are not delivered by the deadline.
posted by WizKid at 11:39 AM on October 20, 2021

We are currently at the mercy of movers right now who have been storing our things since June and cannot give us a delivery date since we asked for the shipment a month ago.

Keep in mind that there is an element of supply chain here too - especially for easterly moves. Truck drivers and trucks are in high demands for shipments into west coast ports. We checked reviews for our movers in May and they had nothing but 5-star reviews. Now? It's awash with complaints about delays.

Plan what you bring with you in the car/keep out of the moving van. I had no long sleeve shirts until I went thrift shopping last weekend.
posted by SoundInhabitant at 2:12 PM on October 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Unfortunately, I'm still going through the process of dealing with a long-distance move scam. [See here.]

A very helpful Mefite recommended this site, including info on how to find reputable movers.

Best advise I can give - do your homework, you won't regret it. Good luck!
posted by Space Kitty at 2:57 PM on October 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

We used uPack to move cross country and hired local movers to load and unload. It was more work but cost less than the full service movers with their own trucks. And delivery was extremely smooth.
posted by jaden at 4:28 PM on October 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: uPack/Pods/uHaul Ubox ARE absolutely an option for you and have the least issues and MUCH cheaper. This is what you do, really two options. It's somewhat complicated but way we've moved half up the coasts.

1. All of these have local service centers (uHaul more than any).. You can get a local mover to move from your storage unit to their service center into these pods. You will need a couple pods but should be ok.
2. Some of these do "live loads" in cities, where the driver sits outside in their truck and you get a local mover to move it.

This requires getting local movers on each end (this should run you $1000-1500 total) but due to distance and number of ppl out there you can trust reviews/word of mouth
posted by sandmanwv at 5:36 PM on October 20, 2021

We had the same company move us across country (Quebec -> Ontario), and they did such a great job that we hired them again to move us across town when we bought a house a year later. The second move was a complete disaster. So seconding the "pot luck" aspect, unfortunately.

With the first, good move, we found the best moving company for our destination (asking for recommendations from Reddit, and the future place I was going to work) and paid them to come to Quebec and get our stuff -- it was a bit unusual for them, but they were relatively easy to deal with and it didn't cost much more than a "normal" national moving company.
posted by Shepherd at 3:10 AM on October 21, 2021

Best answer: I picked the highest quote (40% higher) out of three moving companies based on trusting them more than the others. Compared to past moving experiences, this one was a joy. Without seeming rushed, the movers quickly packed up and emptied rooms (intelligently discussing my books and artwork as they did so) like a cross between coordinated swarm of locusts and a ballet of gliding furniture. It was a pleasure to watch them work.

From my experience, you should not balk at paying a premium for good movers. I appreciate this does not directly answer your question but if you do find a mover you trust, I suggest you go with them regardless of price.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:13 AM on October 21, 2021

Response by poster: Because someone in the future may come across this thread, I wanted to add some notes:
- If you have a storage unit and are planning to move, check to see how large a moving truck the storage unit allows. (Ours only allows a 40 foot truck, which means any mover will have to move things out and then transfer the belongings to another truck, which increases cost.)
- Though your storage unit may not allow POD-type moving boxes to be parked outside your unit, both UHaul and Pods offer a service where they will bring a driver and movers to load and unload, which is a good way to get around this limitation.
- Whatever you do, don't put your phone number in at a random "get your moving quotes here!" site. You will then get calls from 20 or more moving services, and they won't stop calling and texting.
- Movers that say they can generate a quote without looking at photos of your storage unit or receiving the itemized list from the moving company that moved you in should not be trusted.
posted by rednikki at 6:01 AM on October 21, 2021

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