A DIY move to, from, or within New York City — while not impossible — can be quite the hassle. Especially if your new home happens to be a top five-story walk-up.

Fortunately, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of is all about options. And not just options, but options of the best variety! In other words, if you’re planning a move to, from, or within the Big Apple and need help, you have literally dozens of some of the best moving companies on the planet to choose from.

But navigating the countless professional NYC moving companies is no walk in the park either. So to help make your moving process as stress-free as possible, Oz Moving has compiled the following comprehensive guide on how to hire the right movers in NYC.

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4 Factors to Consider When Researching Moving Companies

Commercial moving in NYC is a big, multi-faceted business. The sheer number of NYC movers to choose from can be overwhelming. And if you’re not diligent about who you hire, even a relatively small, short-distance move can turn into a nightmare. So first off, here’s a quick checklist of things you want to look out for when doing your research.

1) Licensing

Be sure that the company is legally authorized to provide moving services in NYC’s five boroughs (i.e., Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and/or Staten Island). They should at the very least be certified by the New York State Department of Transportation. And for long-distance moves — well beyond. Depending on where you’re coming from, the legalities can get a bit complicated. Fortunately, trustworthy professionals will either list their credentials on their website or happily provide them upon request. Remember — while an unlicensed business may tempt you with lower costs, it’s never worth the risk.

2) Transparency

The company should be transparent in all other areas of their business too. Communication with the customer — i.e., you — is key. And it should be clear, quick, and easy. Ask questions, and make sure your movers are able to provide any relevant info you request. And that they do so in a timely manner (and without giving you the impression they have something to hide). You want to make sure everyone is on the same page and that there aren’t any unpleasant surprises at the last minute.

3) Services provided

Also, consider what kind of services are offered. These can range from just renting out a moving truck to providing packing materials (and basic packing and unpacking services) to full-service moving (i.e., handling of fragile items, furniture disassembly and reassembly, storage services, and so on). If you’re moving pianos, delicate artwork, or any other hefty and/or precious items, many companies will offer extras like white glove moving, custom crating, various storage options, and so on. The services you require will obviously depend on the nature of your particular move. But the bigger the company, the more options you generally have. And more often than not, the more options a company offers — the more established and reliable it is.

4) Moving Experience

And you want to be sure that your movers know what they’re doing. NYC is a magical town. But its 300 square miles are also all sorts of crazy, hectic, and unpredictable. And navigating its five boroughs efficiently requires a certain level of can-do and know-how. Of course, since the moving services industry is growing, there are plenty of high-quality, relatively new professionals nationwide that can help you out. But local NYC movers will often be more suited for the task at hand. Especially when it comes to local moving — because they know the terrain. And if they also happen to have years of experience in the NYC-moving game, chances are that — like most seasoned New Yorkers — they’ve seen it all.

Begin Your Search

With the internet, there are plenty of ways to research moving companies almost anywhere in the world. And the capital of the world is definitely no exception. Resources like the Federal Moving Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are good places to start. Check also reviews and ratings on major platforms such as Google, Yelp, Angi, and Facebook. Reading reviews from previous customers can give you a better understanding of what to expect from different NYC movers

And remember that when it comes to NYC, word-of-mouth goes a very long way too. The city that never sleeps is one of the most popular destinations on the planet, as well as the most populous city in the U.S. But it’s also the most expensive. Moreover, rent prices and the cost of living are constantly on the rise — which means people are coming and going all the time. So ask around among friends, family, co-workers, landlords, neighbors, and so on. If you already know a local or two — current or former — chances are that they’ve hired an NYC moving company before. And based on their experience, they can help you with some of the dos and don’ts.

And, of course, be sure to reach out to the company itself with any doubts and/or questions you might have.

How to Choose Movers

When it comes to choosing movers in NYC, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Compare Quotes: One factor to consider when choosing movers in NYC is the cost. Contact several moving companies and request a quote for your move. Be sure to provide accurate information about the size of your move, the distance you're moving, and other requirements you may have. Comparing quotes from multiple moving companies will give you a better idea of what a fair price for your move should be.

  • Compare Reputation: Reputation is another important factor to consider when choosing a moving company. Look for companies with a solid reputation. Read reviews and ratings from previous customers on major platforms like Google, Yelp, Angi, and Facebook to get a sense of the company's track record. Consider both positive and negative reviews, and how the company replied to negative feedback.

  • Check Credentials: It’s also important to check the moving company's credentials before hiring them. Make sure they are licensed and insured, and that their license is valid with the New York State Department of Transportation. Checking these will give you peace of mind knowing that you're working with a legitimate moving company.

If you pay attention to these factors, chances are high that you'll find a moving company in NYC that you can trust, that will help you move at a fair price.

a) Comparing Quotes

Moving quotes will vary greatly based on countless factors. Fortunately, most professional NYC and nationwide moving companies will offer you a free quote upon request. You can also usually reach out to the company via their phone number, website, social media page, or in person. Furthermore, the internet has a number of moving cost calculators that can help you save some time too.

Also, think about whether you want to pay by the hour or a flat rate. This will usually depend on the size of the job and how far you’re going. So shop around, take notes, and compare a few different moving estimates with what your budget allows. And whenever possible, try to have the movers do an in-home (or virtual) inspection before agreeing on a final price.

b) Strategies to Negotiate

The human factor can definitely play a major role when it comes to determining costs. And strong negotiation skills — plus a certain level of charm and charisma — definitely go a long way in the Big Apple. But since the city is constantly on the move (and in a rush), the demand for movers in NYC stays fairly high year-round.

And keep in mind that New Yorkers are no strangers to haggling either. So while there are ways you can talk a moving company into giving you a slightly lower price, don’t expect too much of a discount. Ultimately, your best bet is to shop around, be prepared with some numbers of your own, and reach out to a few different companies. And as you bargain, be as transparent as possible — and just see what they say.

PRO TIP: However, if you are on a tight budget, a good way to also get ahead of the game is to do as much prep on your own (packing, etc.) — and then properly time your move. Because as Oz’s own general manager Nancy Zafrani told the New York Times, “timing can be a major factor.” For example, September through May tends to be the low season for most moving companies (because no one likes moving during an NYC winter).

Ms. Zafrani also points out that “there is a higher demand when leases are expiring” — that is, at the beginning or end of the month. Moving in the middle of the month can, therefore, be a lot cheaper. “Off-peak discounts are common,” Ms. Zafrani adds, saying “We offer more incentives and deals during the slower days and show more flexibility with pricing.” And weekdays are generally less busy for movers than weekends too. So Ms. Zafrani also suggests asking for quotes for a few different days/times of day — as these two factors can “affect a moving company’s willingness to negotiate rates.”

c) Check Reviews and Ratings

Online reviews and ratings of companies can be tricky — as it all depends on the source of information. As mentioned above, the FMCSA and the Better Business Bureau are great starting points for general ratings. But you can also check out customer reviews on common go-tos like Yelp, Foursquare, Angi (formerly ‘Angie’s List’), and just by generally Googling around. Just make sure that you hear from more than one source. And ask around offline too. The more you know what people are saying, the more it will help you make a conscious and well-informed decision.

Moving Insurance Options

And remember that — no matter how well-reviewed, legal, experienced, and professional a company may be — accidents still happen. And no NYC move is guaranteed to be 100% breakage-free. So you also want to be sure your movers are insured. An insured moving company is one that has moving insurance included in the cost of moving — meaning that your belongings are at least partially protected against loss and damages.

In New York, insurance liability is a minimum of $.30 per pound (per article). But keep in mind that this insurance is generally calculated by weight and not value. So if you have some particularly delicate stuff, ask around about other insurance options for more coverage.

Furthermore, by law, all professional moving companies in NYC are required to have a Certificate of Insurance (aka a COI). And many NYC landlords and buildings will require that your moving company presents a COI before you move in. So, along with the proper licensing, you want your moving company to have the proper insurance paperwork too — both for your stuff and for your old and new homes. The good news is that many professional NYC moving companies will also gladly provide you with a COI form upon request.

Watch Out for Red Flags & Scams

Unfortunately, moving scams in NYC are not uncommon either. Be extra diligent about who you do your business with. If something sounds too good to be true, it most definitely is. So, before you agree to anything, make sure you’re confident about all the factors above — i.e., licensing, transparency, reviews, insurance, and so on.

Do your homework and shop around. Make sure you meet and talk with your potential movers face-to-face before committing to anything. If you’re not in NYC, this can be done via a video call, or a phone call at the very least. You want to get a feel for the company — both from its representatives and outside parties, Ask questions, get things in writing, and if something feels off — trust your instincts.

The FMCSA also has a comprehensive list of “red flags” to look out for when dealing with moving companies. There are plenty of honest and hard-working moving pros in the city that never sleeps. And being both properly prepared and independently informed should help you choose a reputable and trustworthy NYC company with relative ease.

Moving Expenses - What to Expect for Cost

Moving costs in NYC reflect the city’s overall cost of living, which — along with Singapore — is one of the highest in the world. That said, how much your particular move will cost may vary greatly. What you ultimately pay will depend on the square footage, the amount (and weight) of stuff you have, how far you’re going, your moving date, whether you’re paying a flat rate or by the hour, and so on.

Here are a few examples of moving costs you might encounter in NYC:

  • Studio - $420 -$700
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment - $700 TO $1100
  • 2 Bedroom Apartment - $1100 - $1500
  • 3 Bedroom Apartment - $1500 AND UP 

In general, local NYC movers cost anywhere from $40-$150 per mover per hour. (Price varies depending on reputation, being insured, professionalism, etc.)

On top of the estimated costs for the move itself, it's important to consider any additional services that may not be included in the moving quote, such as packing, specialty item handling, and storage. These services can add up quickly and may cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the size and complexity of your move. 

For example, packing services for a two-bedroom apartment might cost an additional $500 to $1,000, while handling large or fragile items like a piano or artwork could add several hundred dollars to the cost of your move.

So do some research, shop around, and follow the guidelines above. They will help you find the best possible option for your capital-of-the-world move in no time.

Final Advice

To sum up, moving to, from, or within New York City can be a stressful experience, but with careful research and planning, it doesn't have to be. When looking for a reputable moving company, make sure to consider factors such as licensing, transparency, services provided, and experience

Use resources such as the Better Business Bureau and online reviews to research potential movers. 

Lastly, compare quotes from several companies to find the best value for your move. By taking these steps, you can hire the right movers in NYC and ensure a smooth and stress-free moving experience

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