Research, preparation minimize moving hardships

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published March 7, 2018

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METRO DETROIT — Moving to a new residence can be a real pain in the you-know-what, and it sometimes involves just offering your friends and family pizza and beer for their time and energy.

But like most things in life, preparation in advance will ease the reality of a move. The Better Business Bureau says that online users search for moving companies almost more than anything else, with 20,000-plus companies rated on the BBB’s website.

Both the bureau and the American Moving & Storage Association encourage a research-based outlook, complete with confirming the identities of moving companies to making sure that their facilities exist, with trucks and the like. And if you’re moving interstate, it’s important to know your rights and get information — such as licensing and insurance — from companies as required by law.

Michael Keaton, senior director of communications for the American Moving & Storage Association, said he recommends that people plan their moves about two months in advance. That includes getting estimates from three different companies, and if a company provides a quote over the phone and tries to seal the deal in that fashion, it may be a reason to look for someone else.

Local movers should tell homeowners what they charge per hour, how many hours the move is estimated to take, and whether they are legitimate in the first place. Estimates that come in too high or too low should also cause individuals to reconsider.

“Some (movers) will sort of lowball how much time it will take them to tack on the materials — especially for a local move, they’re charging by the hour,” Keaton said.

Michigan Movers Association Executive Manager Donnelly Eurich said there’s plenty to worry about when moving to a new home and location, and that the moving process itself should be one of the smaller issues. Some tips include eliminating unwanted items, packing weeks ahead of the move, considering whether to move irreplaceable items yourself so that they’re not damaged or broken by movers, and educating oneself to avoid scams in the industry.

“Sometimes unscrupulous individuals who have no connection with the moving industry will advertise on Craigslist or other internet media, offering cheap or discount moves,” Eurich said. “They are often not licensed, insured or legitimate. They may offer a low price, then hold your items, demanding a higher payment before unloading.”

Leah Essenmacher, a local attorney, recently moved to a home in Troy with her husband, John, and their young son. The couple’s first house was located in Grosse Pointe Woods. From there, they moved to a condo in Pittsfield Township, where they lived for about a year prior to purchasing their most recent abode.

During their first two moves, their family helped move all the belongings.

“It took way longer than we expected to, because we underestimated how much stuff we had and how long it was going to take to move everything,” Essenmacher said.

She said that for the move to Troy, she got estimates from two companies. One of those companies sent someone to her home for an estimate — which was lower in the long run — and the customer service helped her decide to choose that company.

Since the hourlong commute was more than 40 miles, state law required that the trucks leave from Pittsfield Township, weigh in in Dearborn, and then they could go to Troy. Essenmacher said that “hiring movers to actually move the stuff was a lesson learned,” lending itself to other points of emphasis, such as the granular labeling of boxes.

“Your kitchen can be, like, 50 boxes in itself, even in a small kitchen. … (It helps if) the guys know where to put things as much as they can, so you don’t have to direct every single thing that comes through the door,” she said.

The job was done in one day starting at 9:30 a.m. and concluding around 8:30 p.m. However, even though the couple started packing four to six weeks prior to the move, some things were an afterthought — such as items sitting in her in-laws’ basement, or not properly wrapping furniture and regretting it.

As Keaton noted, most people move only a handful of times in their lives, if that. That makes the entire moving industry almost one of mystery, if you’re not prepared.

“The further in advance you start putting this together, the better off you are,” he said.

Information and moving tips can be found at, and