But My Estimate Said…

About Moving EstimatesMy cousin moved from Connecticut to Brooklyn this month. I had no idea she was moving until she called and invited me to her new apartment. As we were catching up, I asked her how her move went. Apparently, that question was enough to open the flood gates. One of her issues really stuck with me because I realized that a lot of people moving for the first time may come across the same question.

“Why was my estimate so much different than the actual cost of my move?!”

Now, keep in mind that some fluctuation can happen. A qualified mover, however, should be able to get pretty close – UNLESS you do what my cousin did. But, first let’s go over the basics.

When it comes to estimates, there are a few things you should know. First and foremost, a mover MUST perform a physical survey of your belongings before giving you the moving estimate. If this doesn’t happen, find a new mover. You don’t want to get caught in a scam.

Next, in addition to the physical survey, it may be helpful to provide your mover with an itemized list of everything being moved. Creating a home inventory isn’t hard and it definitely comes in handy before, during and after your move.

Now, setting the basics aside, here’s where things get a little dicey. Often, surveys and estimates are completed weeks before the actual move date. During those weeks people tend to do one of two things:

  1. De-clutter their home and get rid of things or
  2. Accommodate new items or decide to take items they were planning to leave behind

If you aren’t diligent about keeping your mover up to date about your home inventory, your estimate will not be updated accordingly and, consequently, it won’t be as accurate.

Naturally, if the cost is less than anticipated you enjoy a pleasant surprise. But, when the latter happens it can be quite a shock.

While there is no need to email your moving coordinator every time you buy a new blouse or action figure for your child, you should always let them know about big purchases or furniture items that you were planning to leave behind but now want to take. I know you’re questioning why someone would buy furniture before moving (why not wait, right?) but it happens more often than you would think. People get excited and they don’t want to miss out on a great furniture sale.

This is what happened with my cousin. She moved from her parent’s house to her own apartment. While she was planning on leaving most of the furniture from her room in their home, she got a little carried away with the neighbor’s tag sale and ended up with three large pieces of furniture and a TV that were unaccounted for in the moving estimate. The end result was a BIG difference in cost.

Another common pitfall is underestimating your closets, basement storage, garage, junk drawers, etc. If you tell the moving representative that you aren’t planning to take anything in X, Y, Z closet but then you realize that you do, in fact, want to keep those items, you need to let your moving coordinator know that you are adding more boxes to the move because it adds up quickly.

Ultimately, when you are moving from one state to another, the cost of your move is based on weight. There’s no way to get around the added pounds that furniture, or those tools (dishes, books, etc.) you now want to bring, adds to the final estimate. You cannot fool the scale.

Remember, a non-binding estimate is not necessarily the actual cost. A quality mover will be pretty close (as long as you don’t add or take away a ton of stuff) but don’t expect the cost to be 100% accurate. You can seek a binding estimate if you want to avoid any surprises, but keep in mind that you will be limited to only the things included in the initial estimate.

Do you have any other questions about a moving estimate? Share them in the comments below.