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You finally got the house you wanted, the papers are going to be signed, you've figured out how to pay for it, everything's done except for one little thing: the move.

Moving was one thing when it was just you and three roommates just out of college. The main thing you had to worry about was getting the futon in a truck and not forgetting your clock radio.

Now that you've got "stuff," and possibly a significant other with "stuff," as well as a back that's not as limber as it used to be, you've got to call in the movers.

Moving and storage companies run the gamut, and even include upscale operations that will lift every single item from the deepest, darkest drawer of your old place, shift it safely into the new home, unpack everything and, for a fee, will even fill your refrigerator so you can just walk right in and have a beer.

Of course, you'll pay for that privilege.

Some companies with experience moving everything from artwork to baseball-card collections charge $3,000 and up for a local move (less than 50 miles).

Traditional moving companies like the familiar Bekins or Global will provide boxes (they're extra), help you fill them (for a fee) and load them up in their trucks for the ride. They're the usual services that will be brought in if your new employer agrees to cover your relocation costs. Depending on the services you need and whether you're going cross country or cross town, a full-service moving firm will charge anywhere from $500 to get you out of your studio apartment to a two-bedroom down the street, to $12,000 to haul the contents of your four-bedroom home to the other coast.

But if you're moving on your own dime and all your extra dimes have gone into that down payment or are being set aside for a pool at the new house, there are ways to cut costs:


Shop around and you can usually find a deal on your own boxes. Get them in all sizes and remember that certain boxes are designed for certain purposes. Putting clothing in a flat-screen TV box is a waste of space, spring for the garment boxes.

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And don't make the mistake of thinking you can bring home and use boxes from work. They've already been stressed with something heavy. Do you really want to get them to the breaking point when you fill them with your dishware?

Staging Area

Moving guys are on the clock when they arrive and you sign the contract, so the easier you make it for them the faster they can be done. Use your garage or a central room as a staging area to store boxes that are full, labeled and ready to be loaded on the truck.

Sure About the Insurance?

You may be asked about whether you want to buy extra insurance to cover your items if they're damaged in the move.

Movers by law provide a basic "valuation" up to a predetermined limit. If you're asking them to move a couple of 42-inch LCDs, your home entertainment system and a grandfather clock made by your grandfather, it may be worth it to buy the extra coverage. If you're not moving anything too valuable, ask for the company's valuation limit and go from there.


Reduce the load the movers will have by hauling whatever boxes will fit into your car to the new digs after the closing and before the move date. Know what rooms you want the furniture to go ahead of time.

Try to plan ahead to reserve space for the mover's van at both destinations. If they have to walk too far to the front door, you're liable for the dreaded "long carry charge" which can add 5% to your bill.

Finally, don't forget the tip (though it isn't expected). It's within reason to give $20 to $30 per mover for a day's work -- more if they've been exceptional, less if you needed them for only four hours.

In some locales, it's customary for the customer to spring for lunch with all-day moves. Also, you should always provide the movers with beverages. They're working up a sweat for you, after all.