This past month has been a month of moving for me. After completing a local move with all that that entails of planning, packing and getting settled in a new place, I turned around and did the same thing about a week later across the planet in Sweden. The second move was far more disorganized and I came to notice some differences in how the business of moving is handled in different parts of the world. While moving is hard regardless of where you are, the way it is planned by you and executed by movers, makes a big difference. I learned some valuable lessons during my month of moving. Perhaps first and foremost: make sure to give your movers a heads up if you are moving to an apartment on the third floor without an elevator…
While my specific experiences only reflect what it’s like to move in two countries, what I learned in terms of asking questions and planning, should be applicable to most any move, anywhere.
When hiring movers, whether for an international or local move, one of the biggest questions you’ll have is cost. Basic research and comparison isn’t that hard to do with a simple internet search and a few phone calls. However, to get a full picture of the total tally, you have to be aware of how different moving companies calculate their hours. Are breaks charged, for example, what kind of insurance, if any, do they require and are there added taxes or service fees of any kind. What about the drive to and from the job — how is that calculated? Are you moving where tipping is expected? If so, how much should you give?
Something else to consider is what exactly the movers are going to help you with. Are they packing for you, are they bringing the materials or is that your responsibility, and what’s the impact on cost in either case? Will they take apart big pieces of furniture, and if so, who’s responsible for putting it all back together in the new place — you or the movers?
My Swedish movers were not keen on taking furniture apart, but in a couple of instances they had to. Perhaps my crew was not the most experienced bunch, or maybe it was just bad luck, but they made a couple of questionable decisions. In particular, they took apart a bed to its smallest parts (which was clearly not needed) and didn’t take note of how to put it back together again. At the end of the day, they were stuck trying to put together a bed they had disassembled to an unnecessary degree, and being completely lost as how to make it whole again.
A couple of things became clear at this point: my prep work should have included an inquiry about whether the movers would stay and finish what they started, even if they are running late. It turns out that my guys had another gig to go to and so left me with a bed in pieces strewn all over the floor, with a vague promise to return the next day to finish what they had started. I felt doubly cheated as they had spent more time than needed taking the bed apart, and then spent even more time trying to figure out how to put it together — all on my dime, as I was paying by the hour. The bed was eventually rebuilt, although not until I called the moving company the following day with a reminder.
How do you ensure the professionalism and experience of your particular crew? Short of relying on online reviews, references and, if you are lucky, word-of-mouth recommendations, there isn’t that much you can do.
About that third story apartment without an elevator — the Swedish crew were the unlucky ones. I had told the moving company about the situation, but it’s unclear that the message was ever relayed to the guys doing the heavy lifting. Regardless — they were not too happy about it. It didn’t help that it was an unusually warm day with temps reaching over 30°C.
Perhaps the third floor situation explains some of the questionable decisions made by the crew, and the mishap with the bed was the cause of sheer exhaustion at the end of a move that took longer than expected and was hotter than one could have ever imagined up there in the North. The inconvenience and added cost will have to serve as a good reminder to ask as many questions as possible and to always expect the unexpected.
By: Felicia Shermis