**Moving from Cambridge, MA to Chicago -- reviews and a few questions

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lettezilla
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:53 pm
Location: London, UK

**Moving from Cambridge, MA to Chicago -- reviews and a few questions

Postby lettezilla » Sun May 16, 2010 8:57 am

Hi all,

First, I wanted to report back on our initial finds in case it's useful for anyone, and I also have a couple of questions. I've learned so much from this forum over the last few moves, and just want to say thank you to the people who take time out of their busy days to help strangers.

OK, so we're moving back to Chicago from the Boston area (Cambridge) mid-June. New job in Chicago has given us an amount that can be reimbursed for moving expenses, and also sent a list of 3 preferred movers. A week or so after contacting these initial three, I looked at reviews here and, I also contacted 2 local companies. All did in-home estimates. Because we had local agents doing the estimate for the Chicago movers, I'll mention both companies where possible. We need about 6 weeks of storage as we'll be traveling, and were hoping for an affordable full pack as my husband is on crutches and won't be as awesome as usual carrying stuff up and down stairs. Neither of these are covered by employer, so they are out of our pocket.

The first that came out was the local representative for Olsen Brothers, a Mayflower company. The guy was very nice and responded quickly.

The other four were stacked up over two afternoons. The first of the local movers was Rainbow, and the guy was great. Very patient, he clearly knew his stuff and was friendly. We liked him, liked the fact that we got an instant quote (which you don't get with the local reps for Chicago companies), and he went through it.

We had a Graebel's rep come in, who was here for under 5 minutes. He was friendly, but clearly in a hurry. The Stevens VanLine rep was nice, but had been given the wrong address and had to call to ask where we lived (not a good sign for a company that is supposed to be in charge of everything you own!).

Humboldt came last, and we were again very impressed at the difference between the local companies and the people who were basically just estimators without a real interest. He was very knowledgeable, was able to answer our few questions and gave us an estimate right away. He also suggested we check out movingscam.com for tips (we told him that's how we found him), and had only positive things to say about "the competition"

The Stevens company was unbelievably bad. They never replied to our initial email, and we had to phone to make an appointment ("oh, I guess I didn't see that email"), they then gave the guy our wrong address, and their estimate showed they are living on another planet. We are recommending to our employer that they be taken off the preferred list as it's just embarrassing (and a scam, I think).

Here are the basic numbers:
Graebel
4500lbs
Total cost- $6,423.55
Storage $550
Packing $850

Olsen Bros Mayflower
2,400 lbs
Total cost-- $3,155 (+$552 shuttle from storage at other end)
Storage- $190
Packing- $791

Rainbow
2,695lbs
Total cost $3,874
Storage- $611
Packing-- $612

Stevens
3,500 lbs
Total cost-- $4,354 (this is after supposed discount, was $12,672 before)
Storage-- didn't include in estimate even though requested twice
Packing-- as with storage

Humboldt
2,900 lbs
Total cost-- $3,880
Storage-- $400
Packing- $500

We ruled out Stevens as we didn't trust them to actually show up on moving day. Graebel was high in price and weight estimate (I wondered if national accounts estimate high as they know most people aren't paying themselves and so don't care). Olsen Bros was good and I would use them if we were in Chicago, but we started to see the benefits of having the agents nearby.

So it was down to Humboldt and Rainbow. Since both get great reviews here and we liked both companies, we did let price help us decide. Even though overall prices were very similar, our out of pocket for packing and storage will be about $900 with Humboldt, more like $1800 with Rainbow. This was a big enough gap that we went for it. Have signed the papers and still have been impressed with their responsiveness. Will report on the move in August when we get our stuff!

Sorry for the narrative, I felt like it was more than a numbers decision for us, so didn't just want to report the numbers here.

Here are my two questions, both around the full-pack experience. We have never had movers before, we've always done it ourselves through a number of means. So...

-- What do you *do* on moving day? We live in a small apartment, so can't "hide" anywhere the way we might with repair people. Would it actually make sense for me to go to work for some of the day assuming my husband will be able to run the show?

-- How much prep should we do? I know the basics like throwing out whatever we don't want moved and defrosting our freezer. But, for example, I have a few plastic tubs that I keep on the shelves for extra bathroom supplies, computer cables, etc. Will they just put those tubs into bigger boxes as is, or will they open them up and pack them properly so nothing breaks or spills? Basically, do I need to either get all of that out and repack properly into those tubs if I want them to come with us?

PaigeHolden
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed May 05, 2010 3:58 pm
Location: New Castle, DE / Hackensack, NJ

Re: Moving from Cambridge, MA to Chicago -- reviews and a few questions

Postby PaigeHolden » Mon May 17, 2010 9:21 am

Hello,

Humboldt is a great mover and they should be able to provide you with tips for moving day (either on their website or through your move coordinator). I've always hung around during the move because I like to make sure everything is labeled correctly. I don't think both of you need to be there though.

But, here are few tips that you mind find helpful:

1. Before your moving day, pack a survival kit. The survival kit is a box that you will make certain to load last on the moving van so that it is the first one unloaded. It may be better to take it with you if you are traveling by car. It should contain all the short-term necessities, paper towels, toilet paper, scissors, sheets, etc. that you might need right away.

2. Set aside valuables and important documentation - you don't want these items packed and loaded on the truck.

3. In regards to the tubs, they may be able to take them as is IF there are no flammable/hazardous items (including cleaning supplies and batteries) and/or breakables. You mentioned leaking, so I imagine you have some cleaning stuff in those tubs that needs to come out. If there are breakables in the tubs, it's really best to mitigate risk and have them packed separately. Humboldt will probably require that any breakables are packed separately anyway. Items like clothing, even in dresser drawers, usually don't need to be packed separately - unless you want them hung in a wardrobe box.

Hope that helps and good luck with your move!

Paige
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chrisatlas
Posts: 334
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 4:27 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Moving from Cambridge, MA to Chicago -- reviews and a few questions

Postby chrisatlas » Mon May 17, 2010 10:08 am

What do you *do* on moving day? We live in a small apartment, so can't "hide" anywhere the way we might with repair people. Would it actually make sense for me to go to work for some of the day assuming my husband will be able to run the show?

Make sure one of you is there for the packing and loading -if you need to run out make sure you let the crew chief know that and let him know when you will be back- if you are grabbing lunch or coffee usually not a problem- but if you leave for hours then they will pack/load/wrap most everything in site as they usually will have questions as to what will go and what wont..

-- How much prep should we do? I know the basics like throwing out whatever we don't want moved and defrosting our freezer. But, for example, I have a few plastic tubs that I keep on the shelves for extra bathroom supplies, computer cables, etc. Will they just put those tubs into bigger boxes as is, or will they open them up and pack them properly so nothing breaks or spills? Basically, do I need to either get all of that out and repack properly into those tubs if I want them to come with us?[/quote]

Tubs are fine to move as long as you have a top to them. Just dont overload them. No liquids, cleaning supplies etc as they have a tendacy to spill and even when the tubs you dont want that all over your stuff if it spills.
Hope that helps- you are moving to a GREAT city!

lettezilla
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:53 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: **Moving from Cambridge, MA to Chicago -- reviews and a few questions

Postby lettezilla » Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:00 pm

Ah, I'm so embarrassed, I only just noticed that I never posted my followup on our move last summer. :oops: Sorry about that! Guess it shows how smoothly that it all went, no need to go online to complain!

I have to say that Humboldt did a great job, and would recommend them to anyone. The crew came to pack up, I went to get them some energy drinks before I went to work, and they were gone by the time I got back from a half day. Super efficient! Our stuff went into storage for a month before we moved into our place in Chicago, and to be honest, we were prepared for the move-in to be stressful since we got in from an international flight at 9pm the night before the 9am move in.

However, the local team was awesome. I feel terrible because I can't find their company name on any of the documents I have filed, so it's an incomplete report. But they brought everything up in loads, and my husband was in charge of checking everything off the list as it came back into the apartment. I was able to start unpacking right away. Some of the things must have gotten put into a bigger crate or something, since they were just marked loose (like the swiffer and a bike wheel), but not damaged at all so no idea how they got from one place to another.

I don't think I mentioned it at the time, but my husband had a bad accident and had a broken leg/knee surgery 3 months before the move. Then I fell off my bike and broke my arm just over 3 weeks before the move. We might not have paid for packing if those things didn't happen, but wow I don't think I can ever turn back. They were so efficient, and expert at everything, so worth spending the little extra.

Oh, the one thing we hadn't thought of was moving open bottles of liquor. We have a lot as we make cocktails at home, and they can't be driven across state lines. So we ended up duct-taping them, boxing them up, and taking as excess baggage on a flight, which worked fine, but was quite bizarre.

Anyway, bottom line is thumbs up for Humboldt!

Diane
Posts: 15824
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Los Angeles

Re: **Moving from Cambridge, MA to Chicago -- reviews and a few questions

Postby Diane » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:32 pm

lettezilla wrote:Oh, the one thing we hadn't thought of was moving open bottles of liquor. We have a lot as we make cocktails at home, and they can't be driven across state lines. So we ended up duct-taping them, boxing them up, and taking as excess baggage on a flight, which worked fine, but was quite bizarre.

I'll say! And I never knew that you can't drive open bottles across state lines . . . not that I routinely do it . . . :D

Thanks for the great report on Humboldt!
Diane
Check out domestic companies on this thread. Click here for a detailed, authoritative article on international moving.

lettezilla
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:53 pm
Location: London, UK

Re: **Moving from Cambridge, MA to Chicago -- reviews and a few questions

Postby lettezilla » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:18 am

Diane wrote:I'll say! And I never knew that you can't drive open bottles across state lines . . . not that I routinely do it . . . :D


ha, from what I understand, it's not that big of a deal to do it personally if you do it right (like have the bottles in the trunk so there's no appearance of drinking and driving), but since they are technically open containers, the moving companies could just get in big trouble if it seemed like they are "smuggling" booze, or anything improper like that. Basically not worth the potential trouble, I think!

The airline couldn't care less, they asked what was in the boxes, I said open booze bottles that were properly sealed, and they just tagged them and put them on the plane.


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