Moving Truck

In addition to the information found in the article, “Choosing The Right Mover”, this article will help you better prepare for obtaining reliable moving estimates.

If you have decided to use, or are considering, a professional mover, you should obtain comprehensive written estimates from at least three different moving companies. These estimates will not only be an important factor in selecting the right moving company; they will also help you finalize a realistic moving budget.  See our Expense Tracker Tool to help you with your moving budget.

A bit of advance preparation on your part will go a long way in ensuring the most accurate estimate.  Below is some guidance on what you should ask the moving company and what you might expect to be asked by them.

Questions to ask the moving company:

Typically the exercise will begin by you speaking with a representative of the moving company by phone. This is a good opportunity to gather some basic company information.  Ask the following questions:

  • How long have they been in business?
  • Are they van-line affiliated, or independent? (if these words mean nothing to you, refer to our article “Choosing the Right Mover”).
  • What is their moving specialty – domestic, long distance, corporate, residential?
  • What are their payment terms?
  • What is included in their estimate? i.e., boxes, wardrobe containers, other materials, etc…
  • Is their estimate guaranteed? It is normal to ask for a firm price or a 10% guarantee. If not, how does the final price get adjusted.
  • When can they visit your home for the physical assessment?
  • Following the physical assessment, how long will it take to receive a firm price?
  • What is the expected transit time – the amount of time it will take to transport your belongings from your old home to the new?
  • What happens if they are delayed? Will they pay for your incidentals such as meals, hotel or basic necessities?
  • What insurance coverage are they able to offer you in the event of theft and/or damages? Are there any deductibles?
  • Does this insurance vary depending on whether you packed the belongings or them?
  • A list of recent references that you may contact directly.
  • Do not accept any commitment verbally.  Ask for everything in writing.

Each estimate should include:

1. For long distance moves

For moves that are being charged by weight, a copy of the detailed list of items that the salesperson completed when they visited your home so that they cannot say you shipped more than what was estimated and charge more, a written estimate that includes estimated price and guarantee, load and delivery dates, packing charges and the estimated number of cartons to be packed or provided, insurance cost with a total maximum coverage in event of total loss (this should be approximately 65% of the value of your home).

2. For moves within the same city

For moves that are being charged by the hour, a written estimate of time with a guarantee for a maximum number of hours, insurance cost with a total maximum coverage in event of total loss (this should be approximately 65% of the value of your home) and the estimated number of cartons to be provided/packed.

What you should expect to be asked by the moving company:

In a nutshell, an estimate is a snapshot of what your move will look like. While not an exhaustive list, the moving company will want to know the following information when preparing an estimate:

  • Moving dates
  • Old and new addresses
  • Is the move from house to house, apartment to apartment, or a variation of the two
  • Number of floors in your current location and number in your new location
  • Number of rooms
  • Who will provide the boxes
  • Who will pack the boxes – you, them, or both
  • Are there any assembly / disassembly requirements – i.e., beds or other furniture
  • Will storage facilities be required
  • Any other moving particulars – i.e., elevator reservation, restricted access areas, one way streets, alleys, etc…

On the day of the physical assessment for the estimate, a moving company representative will walk through your home room-by-room.

Transit or delivery times:

For long distance moves you will probably not be given a firm delivery date.  Instead you will be given a period of time in which you must be available for delivery.  Moving companies sometimes also need loading spread dates, but you should be able to negotiate a firm load date and estimated time of day.

Do’s and don’ts

  • Do prepare a moving planner and follow it religiously, don’t expect things to go smoothly on move day as they rarely do.
  • Do tell the estimator what you will do and what they need to do, don’t promise to pack and then expect the same price if they have to.
  • Do insist on a written estimate, don’t accept verbal promises.
  • Do be prepared on moving day and allow yourself time to be available for the entire move, don’t leave movers to decide where to place furniture and work without direction.
  • Do call references, don’t hire movers who have none or provide references that are too old.
  • Do look for value not lowest price, don’t choose lowest price if it varies too much from other estimates.


  • If you have not already done so, this is the time to decide what belongings are being given away or discarded.
  • Remember to ask for a guaranteed price or confirmation of the estimate plus 10%.

One last word!

Once the moving truck leaves your driveway, they will have all your possessions on board.  So choose your mover carefully because they hold your future in their hands for the next few hours, days or months.