Although I've only experienced the joy of these services once, if you can swing it, hiring a moving company to relocate all of your stuff is simply awesome. You are only left with the packing up (which some also offer as an add-on service) and boxing of your items and the rest is left to them. In our case, they not only brought the items to the house, they would deliver each item (with our direction) to each room of the home. Obviously, marking the boxes ahead of time is a pretty important step.

If you decide to treat yourself to this luxury, I wanted to offer a few suggestions to keep yourself (and your stuff) safe from damage.

This advice really goes for any type of service work, but try to avoid paying too big of a deposit up front. Using the strategy of more carrot than stick, it would seem that the team working would be more motivated if they knew the payment was coming after the job was completed to your satisfaction. If you have not paid the majority of the fee up front, this also leaves you with bargaining power if items get damaged or any other part of the service is not what was promised.

Speaking of promises, do not hire anyone that does not provide a detailed contract. Nothing is more frustrating than being dissatisfied with a service and having nothing to base your argument on. If in-home delivery was not covered in the contract, you clearly can't be upset if they leave all of your items and boxes in the driveway. This also goes for the dollar amount of the fee and upon what it is based. If the total amount was not covered in writing up front, the proverbial door is open for there to be additional fees and charges.

"When it comes to the fees for moving services, I encourage all of my buyers and sellers to get a detailed proposal in writing," said Badger Realty agent Deirdre Lorway. "Being super-detailed about stairs, elevators, floors of the home and final location of boxes can save a lot of frustration on moving day," she continued.

Deirdre is right. Like with most service providers, the more detailed you are about your expectations and the associated costs, the happier both parties will be.

Just as with your local real estate professional, hair stylist, web developer and chiropractor, it is really important to get references. With almost everything I am looking to purchase these days, I always check to see if any of my friends or relatives have used the service or product already. There is no greater information than that of someone who has already used the product you are interested in. You don't necessarily need to take their advice, and you could always have a completely different experience, but starting out with a reference is a great place to begin your search.

Along with references, it is also important that the company has some experience. The Better Business Bureau is a good place to start for this research. If they keep changing their company name, that is almost always a sign of trouble. If they have been working in the same area for a few years and can show that they have experience moving (insert hard-to-move item here), chances are they are a safe bet. If they continued to do a terrible job, they would no longer be around.

I really don't have much of any great value, but what I do have I want to keep in great condition. Make sure the company you hire has insurance. This may seem painfully obvious, but if you don't ask the question, they may not provide the information. Ensure that the amount of insurance is more than the value of your "stuff". The insurance should cover the actual items they are moving as well as any damage they may do to your home or property. Those trucks are huge and can inflict some serious damage to a driveway or lawn.

Lastly, it would be really nice if they were licensed. New Hampshire does not require this currently. Aside from that, you certainly could verify that they carry workers' compensation for the people and licensing (and insurance) on the vehicles and equipment.

In general, all of these tips are focused on covering your butt. You want to have clear, itemized pricing up front, and you want to be sure that, if anything goes awry, the company has the appropriate coverage to repair whatever was damaged.

Hiring movers was one of the coolest services I have had the privilege to enjoy in the past few years. I would do it again in a second. Give it a shot if you are about to relocate to your new home. You will likely be thrilled at the moving process, instead of dreading it.

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