Tips and Tools:
If you’re in the military, or if you are part of a military family, you know what it is like to be always on the move. Finding an appropriate self-storage solution can take a lot of the pain and the cost out of moving. When you are facing a Permanent Change of Station (PSC), Temporary Duty (TDY) or Temporary Additional Duty (TAD), these strategies are designed to make your next move easier on yourself and your family.
Start by planning ahead. You often don’t have much time to plan your move, so use your time wisely. Before you do anything, get in touch with the Relocation Readiness Program (RRP) or your Family Center.
A manager can help you determine what relocation benefits and tax deductions are available to you. This is very important. Benefits will vary depending upon your specifics, and once you know what rules apply to you, your can make the best decisions. For example, if you are making an international move, you may be entitled for a tax deduction when you move your items to and from storage and for the storage itself, during the period of time that you are stationed out of the country. Knowing this will help you decide whether it is worth it to move items across the ocean or whether it is best to keep them in the U.S. A relocation manager can help you determine what is applicable to your situation.
Knowing what you can be reimbursed for makes all of your strategic planning easier. Do you need short term storage or long term storage? Do you want your storage facility to be in your new location or in the location that you are moving away from? Does it make most sense to store your car? Is it best to store furniture or to take it with you?
Decide What You Need
Once you know have a better idea of what you want to store and the length of time that you want to rent your unit, it is time to calculate space. Make a list of the items you plan to store, and use our online storage calculator to determine how much space you will need to rent. Using an online calculator can keep you from overestimating the amount of space you need and paying for a unit that is too large.
Your individual situation will determine what amenities you may require. For instance, if you are going to be out of the country, 24/7 access to your unit may not be important to you. However, excellent security may be more important than usual.
Inquire About Discounts
Many storage facilities offer discounts to members of the military. Make sure to ask about them. In addition, facilities often have prepayment discounts and long and short term specials that you will qualify for. Don’t limit yourself to military discounts, ask about all available discounts that can benefit you.
Explore Payment Options
Military moves are often logistically challenging. Making monthly payments can become burdensome. Ask about prepayment or automatic payment options. These options can save you money. Even more importantly they can save you time and frustration—especially if you are working in a remote location several time zones away.
Look Into Additional Services
Some facilities offer to deliver storage containers directly to your home. You load the container and it is picked up for storage. When you are ready to receive your belongings, they are shipped directly to your new location. Another frequently-offered service that benefits members of the military is inexpensive or cost-free truck rental. Factoring in free truck rental can decrease your total cost of storage. Packing supplies, like bubble wrap, boxes, and furniture covers are often sold in the facility office.
Finding a Moving Company
While many service members choose to save money by moving their own belongings, others choose to use a moving company. The decision is up to you and your family. If you choose to use a professional moving company, you have more recourse if an item is damaged and you won’t find yourself spending hour upon hour lifting heavy boxes.
On the other hand, you will also be spending a lot more money and working with people you don’t know. While there are many wonderful, professional moving companies out there, there are also companies that don’t do a good job. If you want your relocation to go smoothly, make sure to start by hiring a reputable company.
Ask the manager of your Family Center, coworkers or friends for moving company recommendations. They’ll probably have information to share. Once you build a list of movers that appeal to you, check their reputations on third-party sites, like 123movers.com and yelp.com. Do be aware that even on third-party sites, results can be manipulated. You always want to proceed with caution.
Once you narrow your list of moving companies down, it’s time to ask yourself, and the moving companies, some questions. Communicate properly before the contract is signed and do your homework. This will ensure that you don’t run into any ugly surprises during your move.
- When do you need to move? Moving companies busiest the first and last week of each month. For the best rates, try to move in the middle of the month.
- Know your neighborhood. If you live in an urban area, it may be best to move on the weekends, when delivery trucks are not parked on the streets. In suburban areas, you might find that your moving company has an easier time parking its truck on a weekday when people are at work and there are fewer cars parked on the street.
- Are you moving locally or long-distance? Different moving companies specialize in different types of moves. If you make a long distance move and only need part of the truck, your belongings may get to the new location more quickly if you choose a larger moving company that travels to your destination more frequently.
- Do you have special considerations, like stairs, pets, or narrow doorways? Some moving companies charge extra for these things. Make sure to get an estimate that takes all of your specific needs into consideration.
- Do you want help packing? If so, get an estimate. You will save a lot of money by packing most of your belongings yourself. If you opt to pack yourself, make sure to be fully packed by the time the movers arrive, otherwise you may find yourself paying for packing services you would have preferred not to be charged for.
- Consider having the moving company help you pack fragile or valuable items.
- Inquire about insurance. Does the mover’s insurance policy apply if you pack your belongings yourself? Does the insurance cover the replacement value of your items? Are there any items that are not covered? Once you understand the policy, take pictures of your valuables and estimate the replacement value of each item. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can make inventorying your items easier by downloading an app that helps you keep your inventory, photos, and notes together.
- Ask logistical questions. How long has the moving company been in business? Are they licensed and bonded? Do they own their own equipment? Are they a member of the American Moving and Storage Association?
- If you haven’t been referred to the moving company by a friend or colleague, make sure to ask the moving company if you can contact one of their references—and then do it.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to make sure that your moving company candidates haven’t had problems with other customers.
- Don’t go with the least expensive estimate. Instead, go with the most accurate estimate that makes the most sense to you. Get your final few candidates to provide an in-home estimate. During the estimate, make sure the movers know exactly what you intend to move. Don’t hide any problems. If you want an accurate quote, it is best to let the moving company know exactly what problems they might encounter.
Once you’ve selected your moving company, you will sign a contract. Make sure to read it carefully! If you have any questions, make sure to ask them and get the contract clarified. Do not be afraid to cross out clauses or items in the contract that you don’t agree with. Any changes should be agreed upon and initialed by both parties.
Call and confirm the move the week prior to moving. Then make sure you are ready when the truck comes. Make sure all of your packing is done before the drivers get to your home and start charging for their time. Do not leave during the packing process. If items are being weighed, confirm that the weight is listed correctly. Make sure all boxes are properly inventoried and placed on the truck. Ensure that all furniture is covered correctly so that it does not get damaged.
Make sure not to throw your inventory lists or paperwork away. Keep these documents safe. When your boxes are unloaded at the new destination, check them against your inventory list and make sure that all items arrive at your destination. If you are missing an item, tell the moving company immediately. Do not wait until the truck leaves to discover missing object.
If you follow these guidelines, you will set yourself up for a safe and successful move.
Even better? We have locations all over Illinois, so your belongings are never far from home.