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You’ve landed that new job in another city, you’re retiring out-of-state, your family’s growing and it’s time to upgrade. All these are great signs that life is going well. Keep it going well by choosing the right mover to get you where you’re going.

Tips on choosing a mover

— Choose the kind of mover you need, such as a relocation service, interstate moving company, local mover, pack-and-stack service, household shipper or trucking service.

— Ask your friends or neighbors who have moved recently for recommendations. A word-of-mouth referral is the best way to be assured the movers will do a good job.

— Ask prospective movers for references, and call them to see how satisfied their customers are.

— Get written estimates from at least three movers before deciding.

— To minimize the hourly charges for a short move, try to do as much of the work yourself as possible.

— Consider whether or not you would like the mover to pack and what other additional services you may require.

— Know the difference between binding and non-binding estimates. With a binding estimate you know in advance what your move will cost. However, it also means you can’t add anything extra that you might have left off during the estimate. With a more open-ended non-binding estimate, there is no limit on what you can ship. Final charges could be higher or lower than the estimated cost, depending on the actual weight of the shipment.

— Inform the mover of any possible unusual situations, such as access or parking problems, on either end so your estimate can be more accurate. If the mover does not know about possible problems in advance, additional charges will likely apply.

— Verify that the mover is licensed and regulated. You can inquire from state agencies that regulate transportation services, or look in the phone book under a Public Utility Commission (PUC) or Department of Transportation (DOT).

— Spend some time talking with each moving company. If they take the time to understand your moving needs, it’s a good sign that they will provide excellent service. If the company representatives aren’t friendly and helpful, call someone else.

Things to avoid in choosing a mover

— Do not accept estimates over the phone. Moving is a complicated business with many variables, and it’s impossible to give an accurate quote without seeing the property and the items to move.

— Do not take everything with you to get rid of at the other end. This will add costs to your move that are avoidable. It’s recommended to dispose of unwanted items before you move so you don’t have to find room for them later.

— If you are looking for movers on the Internet, make sure you do not use a broker. Once a broker has your business, he sells the job to the highest bidder and is no longer responsible to you. With a broker, you’ll never know who is going to show up on moving day and they will usually charge you more than the broker led you to expect.

— Don’t let a moving company bait you with low hourly rates. You’re paying for your belongings to be shipped professionally, not for the cheapest option. Remember—you get what you pay for.

Questions to ask potential movers

Be sure you get the answers to these questions before you choose your mover.

• Are there extra charges if the movers have to go up an extra flight of stairs even if I did not know about it when booking?

• What is the estimated delivery time and how will the driver notify me?

• If I pack myself what type of packing material is acceptable?

• How and when do I pay? Cash, credit card, check personal or certified?

• Will the movers disassemble everything and will they reassemble all items at the destination?

• Following the initial weigh in, will there be an additional weigh in to determine actual cost?

• If I have purchased liability insurance and I need to make a claim, what is the process?

• How long has your company been in business? How much experience do your packers and drivers have? Do you offer storage and, if necessary, are you licensed for interstate transport?

Be assertive when asking questions. You have the right to be confident about your choice in movers.

Important documents for your move

Be sure these documents are provided by the mover before your move.

— A certificate of insurance showing all required insurance liabilities.

— A written estimate.

— Proof of workers compensation coverage, which will protect you from liability in the event someone is hurt.

— A bill of lading—the legal contract between you and the mover that defines the services the carrier agrees to provide.

— An inventory of your items. The driver will present the inventory to you for your signature after the van is loaded and again when the shipment reaches your new home.

Moving can be a stressful time, but remember, many millions of people have moved before you. Take advantage of the wisdom gained by following these steps to have the smoothest move possible.