You already know that moving is stressful. One of the most crucial parts of the process is deciding on a moving company, and who you pick makes an enormous difference. Below are seven steps to take so you can choose a company that makes moving day as stress-free and affordable as possible.

1. Know your budget

Before you talk to movers, think through what you need and what your budget is going to look like. Like many other things in life, moving services can range from simple and low-priced to extravagant and expensive.

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At the low end of the spectrum is finding a service that will move just a handful of items, usually those that are larger. You can also hire help to move items you’ve boxed yourself or to do everything from packing to moving and providing storage.

2. Ask for references from people you know

As a second step, ask for references from people you know and trust. That can be friends, family members, neighbors, and professional colleagues. If these people have had a good experience, that goes a long way to reassuring you that a specific mover is a good choice.

3. Do your research

There are plenty of online sites that offer moving-company reviews. If you’ve got a shortlist of potential leads, looking at their online reviews will help narrow it down. Alternately, if you’re still searching for companies to work with, review sites can help a lot. Once you’ve looked online, aim to have a list of between three and five companies.

4. Interview potential movers

Though it adds an extra step in the process, making the effort to interview potential moving companies can save you time in the long run. As you call, you can get a sense of their customer service and response times. You can also start to understand the scope of what they do.

Questions you should ask include:

  • What is your cost for packing and moving?
  • What is your cost if the packing is already complete when movers arrive?
  • Do you provide boxes, packing tape, and other moving supplies? If so, how much extra does this cost?
  • What steps do you take to prevent breakage on delicate items?
  • Do you have storage services?
  • What are your overtime rates?
  • Are you bonded and insured?
  • Are there any additional fees that are added to your rates?
  • Are tips automatically added to the rates?
  • Do you have references from other satisfied customers?
  • Are there any discounts or incentives available?

5. Conduct a walkthrough, request formal bids

Once you have your final list of moving company candidates, you’re going to want to ask them for bids. This should include a thorough walkthrough process so that they can be completely clear on the size of the job.

Questions you should ask during a walkthrough include:

  • How much time will it take to completely move out items at the starting location?
  • How much time will it take to completely move items into the receiving location?
  • How much staff will you need to assign?
  • Will there be a foreman on the crew?
  • How can I contact the foreman during the move?
  • What variables will make the move take longer and cost more?
  • What are lunch break rules for the moving crew?

6. Be on the lookout for red flags

Throughout the process, there are several red flags to look out for. One of these is a request for significant amounts of deposit money upfront. Most movers won’t ask for this. Another red flag is a moving company that isn’t bonded and insured. You want to know that if something goes wrong, they’ll be able to cover damages they’re liable for.

Overall, as you’re talking to moving companies, be aware of any instinctive feelings you may have about them. You may find that they just don’t feel professional to you. Or something may seem off about the details they’re telling you. If this is the case, don’t disregard your impressions.

7. Check references and check with the Better Business Bureau

As the last step before choosing a moving company, be sure to check their standing at the Better Business Bureau. If there are any issues listed at all, compare them with your own impressions. If things don’t seem right, look elsewhere.

You’ll also want to be sure to talk with references the company provided. Ask references if movers arrived on time, if they acted professionally, and if there were any unexpected costs. Lastly, find out the reference’s overall impressions of the company and how the moving day went.

Remember, moving day can be positive

Sure, moving day can stressful. However, it can also be an exciting day that runs on time and with a minimum amount of stress. With the right moving company, your experience can be a day to remember rather than a time you’d rather forget. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your new location and unwinding with a paper-plate meal.