questions to ask when moving to a new city

14 Frequently Asked Questions About Moving

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The following moving questions and answers are adapted from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Household Goods Guide.

1. Are movers obligated to move my goods for the estimate they quote?

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Not if it’s a non-binding estimate. Make sure all estimates are in writing. The estimate must clearly state whether it is non-binding or binding. If it’s a binding agreement, they’re legally obligated to follow the estimate.

Remember, a mover is under no requirement to make an estimate to the shipper, so be sure to ask for a written estimate.

2. What do the following estimate terms mean?

Non-binding estimate: A non-binding estimate is one that can change, although these estimates should be reasonably accurate and provide you with a general idea of the moving cost. Typically, a mover will schedule an onsite visit and check out the goods for the estimate. If you add items or request additional services, the mover may void the estimate or revise it. The non-binding estimate must be in writing and state that it is non-binding.

110% rule: If the final cost exceeds the non-binding estimated amount, the mover must deliver the goods upon payment of the estimated amount plus 10% of that amount. The mover must then defer the balance due on the charges for 30 days.

Binding estimate: A binding estimate is a set price estimate. It is a legal agreement between you and the mover that the cost to move the goods will not exceed the price agreed upon. You still may add services, and the cost for those services is due at delivery. Binding agreements must be in writing.

3. What information and paperwork is the mover required to provide?

At the time of the estimate and/or prior to the execution of the order for service, the mover must supply the following:

  • A copy of its written non-binding or binding estimate
  • A copy of the U.S. Department Of Transportation (DOT) publication, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move”
  • Neutral dispute settlement/arbitration program information
  • Contact information for the mover for inquires and complaints

When the order for service has been executed, the mover must supply a copy of the order for service after it has been signed and dated by you and the mover.

At loading time at the time of pick-up, the mover must supply a copy of the bill of lading/freight bill (and scale weight tickets when freight bill has been paid).

At unloading time at the time of delivery, the mover must supply a copy of the completed bill of lading/freight bill (and scale weight tickets when freight bill has been paid).

4. What is an order for service?

This is the document authorizing the mover to ship your goods.

It isn’t a contract. It notes the estimated charge of the move and other special services asked for (like packing and storage)—as well as pickup and delivery dates or spread dates.

5. What is a bill of lading?

The bill of lading is the contract between you and the mover. It should be given to you before the mover loads your goods.

Like any contract, it’s your responsibility to read it before you sign it. Go over any discrepancies with your mover and don’t sign the bill of lading until you’re satisfied with it.

The bill of lading is an important document, so don’t lose it. Have it available until your shipment is delivered, all charges are paid, and any claims are settled.

6. What happens if the mover does not pick-up or deliver my goods according to the dates provided?

Movers are required to meet something called “reasonable dispatch” requirements.

This means the transportation must happen—within reason—during the scheduled dates, as shown on the order of service and bill of lading.

Some things beyond a mover’s control, like weather, may be acceptable reasons for delay.

7. Will I be compensated if my shipment is not delivered as promised?

Not necessarily. You may file an inconvenience or delay claim with the mover, however. Include receipts for lodging and food expenses for all days past the last day of the pick-up and/or delivery spread dates.

However, the mover is not obligated to compensate the shipper, so court action or arbitration may be required.

If the mover refuses to pay or otherwise disallows any part of the claim, you can pursue a civil action within a two-year timeframe of the dispute.

8. What types of insurance will I be offered?

Movers generally provide three types of protection for your goods in case they are lost or damaged.

Limited liability: This is the basic coverage required by law and doesn’t cost you anything. Under limited liability, the mover is responsible for 60 cents per pound per item for an interstate move.

Added valuation: This type allows you to collect the amount based on the current replacement value of the item, minus depreciation. The amount you pay for this coverage depends on how much you declare your goods are worth.

Full value: This insurance costs the most and covers the actual cost of an item’s replacement or repair, without any deduction for depreciation. Before purchasing coverage from the moving company, check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it will cover your goods during a move and compare plans.

9. If there is loss or damage to my goods, how much time do I have to file a claim?

You have nine months from the date of delivery to file a claim.

10. What if I’m not satisfied with the mover’s compensation for damaged or lost goods?

You will have to seek recourse through court or arbitration. If you choose court over arbitration, the suit must be brought within two years of the dispute.

11. If I do my own packing, is the mover still responsible if something is lost or broken?

Yes. The mover usually has a tariff provision that allows it to repack boxes or cartons if they feel they have been improperly packed—or if they will cause harm to the rest of the shipment.

The mover is also liable for any loss or damage caused during transit unless the sole cause for the loss or damage was due to any of these common law defenses:

  • An act of nature
  • An act of—or omission by—the shipper
  • An act of public enemy
  • An act of public authority
  • Inherent vice

Improper packing falls under an act or omission. Since the sole cause for the damage must be the act of the shipper, any contributory damage by the mover would void the common law defense—and the mover would be responsible.

In other words, pack carefully.

12. What should I know about the pick-up and delivery dates?

Make sure the mover gives you a specific date or spread of dates on your order for service and bill of lading. Do not allow the information regarding these dates or spread dates to remain blank. This may delay your shipment.

Make sure your order for service dates are transferred to your bill of lading unless you have made arrangements for another date or spread of days.

At pick-up: Be sure to receive a bill of landing (not just the inventory sheet) showing the name of the mover responsible for transporting your goods, along with the mover’s address, telephone number and “MC” number.

At delivery: You are responsible for accepting delivery of your goods from the first date to the last date of the delivery spread dates. Don’t depend on dates given to you by the driver. Refer to your order for service or bill of lading.

13. What should I know about the pick-up of my furniture?

Be present until your furniture is loaded.

Look at the mover’s description of your furniture on the inventory and ensure the mover denotes items that are chipped, marred, dented, scratched, etc.

Make certain the items’ conditions are listed on both the driver’s copy and your copy of the inventory sheet—but more importantly on the driver’s copy.

Make certain all goods to be moved are listed on the inventory sheet.

14. What should I know about the delivery of my goods?

It isn’t unusual for the driver to ask for, or expect payment of, transportation charges before the truck is unloaded—or before the van doors are opened. If a shipment is delivered on more than one truck, the mover can choose whether to collect charges for each portion of the shipment as delivered—or all at once.

At pickup, it is the driver’s responsibility to list the condition of your shipment on the inventory sheet. This is the time to agree or disagree with the mover’s description of the condition of your items.

At delivery, it is your responsibility to list the condition of your shipment. If there are items missing or damaged, make an indication on the driver’s copy and your copy of the inventory sheet. Put an “X” on the boxes (at pickup) that contain breakables so that at destination you can note the condition of the boxes.

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8 Questions to Ask Before Relocating:

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You just got offered a job in a new city or state that requires relocating, how do you know if this is worth the hassle of moving and relocating?  Here are some essential questions to ask yourself before making the big move.

   1.   How will this affect my relationship?

If you are single, this won’t matter as much.  You can do what you want and can travel across the country if you wanted to.  If you are in a relationship or married then you need to consider how this will affect your spouse or significant other.

  • Would long distance relationship be an option?
  • How do they feel about moving to this area?
  • Will they be happy?
  • Is a job available for them there?
  • What would they have to give up?
  • Will they consider it?

  2.     Where exactly will we live?

One thing to always consider is the exact location you will live. Will you be relocated to the suburbs or in the heart of the city? If you are used to a small house in the suburbs and they want you to move to a busy metro city, there will be some adjustments to be made.  How is traffic like there?  Is it noisy? Are you going to have to drive 30 – an hour to get to work? It’s good to check out the location and not to trust the brochures and commercials you will seearound, make sure you and your family will be happy and safe.

    3.    What school would your kids be going to?

It is important to keep in mind what school your kids or even future kids would be going to school at.  Make sure it is a solid school district that is close by and will give your kids a great experience and opportunity.  A few factors to check on, that your kids will be interacting with high-quality teachers, reputation of the school, and the safety of the school.  The school your kids go to is a crucial factor for their learning experience and future success.

    4.    What is there to do nearby?

You can always choose the option of watching TV all day, but if that isn’t enough make sure there are some attractions nearby, especially if you have kids.  This means to check if there are national parks close by, parks, clubs, and amusement parks.  It is great to check on any summer clubs close by to have your kids join to keep them busy.  Making sure there is entertainment for you family nearby will help for a great transition for you and your family.

    5.    Is it a safe neighborhood?

To make sure you and your family is safe, you can always check the local crime statistics and you can even check the registered sex offenders in the area. This is important and necessary to consider even though it may be difficult. Also consider if you would need to get an alarm system in the area.

6.    Is the cost of living different?

You may be offered a pay raise, but that is not always an upgrade, consider the cost of living. Will it be more expensive to buy a gallon of milk at the grocery store? Do you have to travel longer distances to get places? Is the rent more expensive? Consider all parts for the cost of living to make sure that you are actually getting an upgrade and don’t end up sacrificing things you are used to.

7.    What are we leaving behind?

One thing that is more difficult to address is what you are leaving behind, great day care? Nanny? Community events? Good schools? Close neighbors?  Family? Are you leaving behind a support system that will hurt your relationships?  If your mom is always there to watch your kids in emergencies or just if you need a night out, what will you do in your new location?  You can always make new friends, but will you be happy?  Family is very important, consider if you and your kids will still be able to get to know their grandma, uncles, cousins, etc. If you don’t visit as much as it is, then just visiting on the major holidays isn’t a big change.

8.    Is this a good change to make in the long run? 

In the long run once the adjustments are made and you can feel at home, is this a good move? If this is a big step in your career and it looks like once your family gets used to the adjustments they will be just as happy, if not more.  It’s crucial to consider your family’s happiness after the adjustment.  Will your kids be able to get involved with the things they love at the new location?  Is this job a life changer? Moving is not a short fix, but a big investment that requires much consideration. Pay attention to your neighborhood, schools, attractions, and safety.


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