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7 Tips to Protect Your Items When Moving

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Whether you are moving across town or across the world, packing up your belongings and moving to another location can be an exciting and stressful time. I know – as a military veteran I have moved quite a few times.

Tips for protecting your belongings when moving:

  1. Research the moving company before hiring them. There are some moving companies out there that are less than honest. Common problems people have with some moving companies include theft, damaged items, and price gouging – holding your items hostage for a larger payout once everything is packed and moved. For more information about what to look out for, check out these sites: Moving Scams, and how to choose a moving company.
  2. Buy insurance! Full value replacement insurance is the best way to go. Even if the moving company “promises” full value replacement for anything they break or damage, get your own insurance. Inevitably, something will break and you will be glad you did!
  3. Moving BoxInventory your items. Before moving, take pictures of your belongings and write a detailed description of them to include make, model, and serial number. Ensure this list gets incorporated into your bill of lading or inventory. You can even have the movers sign a copy of it. Make sure you keep a physical copy with you when you move.
  4. Use manufacturer shipping boxes. I have kept the original boxes that many of my electronics items came in. Each time I move I put the item back in it’s original box. The boxes were designed for that particular item and have form fitting Styrofoam so you know your item is well protected. This can also help save on shipping costs!
  5. Keep an eye on the movers. Sometimes the movers greatest concern is getting out of your house as quickly as possible. Make sure they are doing a good job and taking good care of your belongings. If they aren’t, tell them so in a nice way.
  6. Prevent sticky fingers from ripping you off. Once your items are out of your hands, you don’t know what will happen to them, and some movers feel obliged to help themselves to your belongings. It’s very easy for them too – the bill of lading clearly states the contents of each box, so they know which box contain valuables. The last time I moved, a group of movers stole over 50 of my DVDs. They cut open the box, removed the DVDs from the cases, replaced the DVD cases, and resealed the box. I didn’t know until well after the movers were gone that my movies were gone too. How do you prevent this? Take a Sharpie or other permanent marker and scribble or write over the tape across the length of the box. If anyone opens the box, you will know immediately.
  7. Transport your most valuable items yourself. Your most valuable items are thos that cannot be replaced. There is no way I would let any movers take possession of my bank records, computer with personal information, family photos, jewelry, or several other items that have intrinsic or personal value that cannot be replaced. Of course, this might not work for large antique furniture, but the other things I mentioned can and should be moved by yourself.

Bonus Tip: Be nice to the movers. They are people, and the nicer you are, the nicer they will treat your belongings. Offer to provide them with drinks, or let them know if they take care of your belongings you will take care of them (i.e. tip them well). I have even bought pizza for movers before. They did a nice job of protecting my goods. ;)

Moving is stressful, so anything you can do to make the process easier and protect your belongings will make you feel better about the entire process.

Photo Credit: CBIdesign.


Published or updated October 23, 2009.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brip Blap

Good tips, and unfortunately your tips about making an inventory and keeping an eye on the movers are key. I think the biggest problems I’ve had have been due to laziness or carelessness, not theft, but still it’s irritating. There’s nothing as annoying as paying someone to move, say, a microwave and then having a broken microwave at the end of the move. You just paid someone to move a piece of junk. Plan on a bit of breakage, but make sure you’re ready to hammer the moving company with claims!

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2 Ryan

Brip Blap,

To be honest, I would rather have something break by accident than to know something was stolen. When people steal it becomes personal (and much harder to prove unless you had proof you had the item to begin with). It is much easier to file a claim for damaged goods.

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3 dimes

When we moved three years ago, someone stole our microwave. We filed a claim and got reimbursed, and last week I found the receipt with that microwave on it, but I don’t know why we still have it. I hope whoever stole it enjoyed it! It didn’t have its turntable, because that got packed with our glassware. Sometimes I hope the microwave shorted out and burned their house to the ground.

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4 Ryan

Wow, Dimes! Harsh words, eh? Burn their house down!

Maybe the punishment should fit the crime – more like, “I hope the microwave shorted out and burned a hole in their countertop!” ;)

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5 dimes

Meh, I don’t agree. Without absolutely ridiculous consequences, their behavior would only continue. I wonder how much other stuff those movers stole. They probably completely furnished wherever they lived with ill-gotten gains, in which case, yeah, burning down their house would be the only appropriate punishment.
I’m not vindictive or anything.

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6 Ryan

LOL. I guess I didn’t think about that – the other things they may have stolen.

Well, then. Let’s at least hope no one gets hurt, and the fire doesn’t burn down any adjacent buildings! ;)

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