Think about the services you need. You’ll save a lot of money by doing some of the work yourself—particularly packing. Still, having a company pack saves you time and improves your basis for filing any damage claims. But plan to pack and move jewelry, framed art, and other especially valuable belongings yourself.

Choose a moving company that provides reliable pricing and other helpful information. You’ll also want it to take good care of your belongings and the homes you’re leaving and moving into. Plus, the outfit should get the job done on time. Our ratings of area moving companies will steer you to capable companies.

Our undercover shoppers collected prices for both local and long-distance moves and found dramatic company-to-company price differences. To get a good price, obtain written estimates from several moving companies that include the rates used to calculate the estimate—either per-hour rates or rates based on weight and mileage.

Be on the scene and attentive when your belongings are loaded and unloaded. Make sure the moving company prepares an inventory of your belongings. Carefully read the bill of lading (inventory) before you sign it. As your goods are unloaded, make sure each item is in good condition. Don’t sign the inventory or any other paper without first noting any damage that has occurred.