Like in most big cities, the stress of moving to a new home in Boston by yourself is not limited to packing and unpacking, reserving a parking spot, getting rid of the trash, and adhering to the city's speed limit of 25 mph. However, you can relieve yourself of this stress by hiring a mover upon a careful research. As part of your research, you can ask the following questions to determine the moving company is capable of handling your move successfully:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Moving Company in Boston?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Movers in Boston?
- Will You Get a Moving Permit as Required by the Boston Regulations?
- What Kind of Moving Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Provide Packing and Storage Services?
- What is an Appropriate Tip for Your Movers?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Movers in Boston?
- Can You Provide References or Recommendations in Boston?
Moving companies in Boston are required to obtain a carrier certificate from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) before they can operate. It is your responsibility as a resident of the city to find out whether the moving company you intend to use is licensed by the DPU. You can find a licensed moving company in your locality or confirm if your preferred mover is licensed by utilizing the online search portal provided by the DPU.
Movers in the city can obtain a carrier certificate by completing a household carrier application form online or mailing the completed form to the DPU. Applicants can fill and submit completed forms online, after which they can pay the application fees using the state's ncourt portal. To submit an online application, however, applicants must fill out the household carrier application form using either Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat, and submit the form using the red button at the bottom of the form.
Applicants who do not wish to complete their application online, can also do so by mailing the completed form to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities at:
- One South Station, 5th floor
- Boston, MA 02110
Along with the application, each applicant must present proof of business registration, the company's balance sheet, a certificate of insurance, and a copy of their tariff. The DPU will arrange a hearing with each applicant after receiving the application.
The date and time of the hearing will be sent to applicants through email. Note that the owner of the moving company must attend the hearing. A carrier certificate will be issued to successful applicants after the hearing. For more information concerning the process and requirements for obtaining a carrier certificate, call the state's Department of Public Utilities at (617) 305 - 3559.
While a state-issued carrier certificate is required for intrastate move, moving companies transporting household goods outside the State of Massachusetts are required to undergo additional registration with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration. Before you initiate this type of move, you should always confirm whether your preferred moving company has been registered to provide interstate relocation services using the online search portal provided by the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration.
In addition to obtaining a state-issued carrier certificate and registering with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration, movers in Boston will need to register their business with the city. If the owner of the moving company decides to use a name other than their legal name, such a person must file a "doing business as" certificate with the Office of the City Clerk. This certificate is renewable every four years.
Moving companies are also required to meet other business regulations such as complying with applicable tax responsibilities and insurance requirements. For more information concerning business requirements in the city contact the Office of the City Clerk at (617) 635-4601.
Moving companies in Massachusetts, including Boston are required to file their service rates with the state's Department of Public Utilities, and they can not charge more or less than the rates on file. As a result, you should always request a copy of the mover's rates on file with the DPU before finalizing any agreement with them.
You can do this by asking the mover for a copy of their service rates or by contacting the DPU at (617) 305 - 3559. Note that you can also ask your moving company how the rates will be applied to the specific circumstances of your move, if there are any other charges and how or why the final cost might differ from the estimate.
While it is important to discuss rates with your potential moving company, it is equally necessary to seek more than one opinion when it comes to moving your items. You should speak to at least three different moving companies and have each of them send a written estimate.
To get an accurate estimate, however, you must show the estimator everything you intend to move. Note that an estimate is not a contract and choosing the mover that submitted the lowest estimate is not always the right move. Therefore, you should always compare these estimates and find out which is more detailed and clear. This is particularly important because comparing estimates from different moving companies protects you from overcharges and other potential issues.
Regardless of any estimate provided, however, you must understand that the final amount you must pay for your move is determined by the hourly rate, the amount of packing completed, and any other additional services performed by the mover.
Transportation and material moving workers in Boston earn an average annual wage of $44,590. The list below compares the hourly average wages earned by these workers in the city against those of transportation and material moving workers in other parts of Massachusetts State as well as several other major cities in the country:Boston Movers Hourly Average Wage$ 21.44Massachusetts Movers Hourly Average Wage$21.06Los Angeles Movers Hourly Average Wage$21.09New York City Movers Hourly Average Wage$23.05Chicago Movers Hourly Average Wage$20.86Philadelphia Movers Hourly Average Wage$19.55Houston Movers Hourly Average Wage$20.53
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
While a moving permit is not legally required to operate a moving company in Boston, it is in the best interest of the moving company to get a moving truck permit in order to secure a parking spot on the day of the move. In Boston, a regular moving truck permit reserves two parking places for one day. On the day of the move, permit holders may use these parking spaces at any time between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Interested persons can obtain a moving truck permit online or in person. Please keep in mind that online applications are only accepted for movements occurring within two to four weeks of the application date. However, if the moving day is at least three days away, but no more than four weeks away, the moving company can send a representative to apply in person at the city's Office of the Parking Clerk located at:
- 1 City Hall Avenue
- Second Floor
- Boston, MA 02109
A one-day permit for a moving truck for two non-metered spaces costs $69 and includes two signs, whereas one-day permits for two metered spaces cost an additional $40. Online applicants can pay these fees with Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, or a debit card, while applicants that visit the Office of the Parking Clerk can pay cash.
Before proceeding with an application for a moving truck permit, applicants should check if the space they want is available by utilizing the city's database of street occupancy permits. This will enable them to look for the nearest alternative if the initial space they wanted is no longer available. Queries concerning the process of obtaining a moving truck permit can be directed to the Office of the Parking Clerk at (617) 635-2560.
Even though obtaining a moving truck permit is not mandatory, ensuring that your mover has obtained this permit is another way to protect not only the vehicle but also the items being transported. Another way to safeguard your items as well as avoiding potential issues is by ensuring that your moving company is familiar with the city's parking restrictions. These restrictions include, but are not limited to:
- Not parking, loading, or unloading a moving truck in a "no standing zone"
- Not parking or making a drop off in a "no stopping zone"
- Not parking for more than three hours on streets that requires resident parking permit sticker
- Not parking on sidewalks, crosswalks, or blocked intersections
Failure to adhere to these packing restrictions may lead to fines and other statutory penalties. Moving companies can view the list of penalties for each type of parking offense on the parking ticket fines page. Call the Office of the Parking Clerk at (617) 635-4410 for more information concerning parking restrictions in Boston.
Furthermore, if the moving company will be moving your items out of Boston, and if they will be driving on state highways, then you should ensure that the driver has familiarized with the state's regulations of specific roadways and bridges. Movers can find out more about the state's regulations of specific roadways and bridges by downloading and carefully reading the States Traffic Rules and Parking Ordinances.
Moving companies in Boston offer a variety of services, including local, long-distance, and interstate moves. Local moving generally involves moves that take place within Boston, as well as those that are less than 100 miles away. Long-distance moves, on the other hand, are moves that usually exceed 100 miles, and moves to locations outside the city.
Interstate moves are usually to locations outside of Massachusetts, and occasionally outside of the United States. Regardless of where you are moving to, it is very crucial to confirm that your preferred mover specializes in providing the specific types of service you need.
In addition to these basic services, some moving companies in Boston offer specialized moving services that are tailored to meet the specific needs of their clients. Moving precious objects such as antiques, packaging your belongings, and storing them are examples of additional services. Before hiring a moving company in the city, you should always ask if they provide these types of services and how they are billed.
To understand how these services are billed, you should get a written estimate detailing all the services that will be offered and the cost of each of these services. Listed below are cost estimates for some common moving services offered by professional moving companies in Boston:Local/long-distance residential moving$126 - $146 per hour (includes cost of labor and moving truck)Piano moving$355- $397 (within Boston)Mobile home moving$3,000 - $3,700 (for single-wide trailer at a distance of no more than 50 miles)Moving out of studio apartment$285 - $380 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)Moving out of one-bedroom apartment$354 - $445 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)Moving out of two-bedroom apartment$423 - $570 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)Moving out of three or four-bedroom apartment$780 - $1,200 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)Storage services$8 per pallet
Hiring a moving company in Boston that provides both packing and unpacking services as well as storage space saves you time and hassle. These movers typically employ people that are trained and experienced to handle your items with care, while getting the job done fast.
Packing options typically offered by movers in Boston include:
- Partial packing and unpacking services
- Full packing and unpacking services
- Professional box handling and organization services
- Furniture assembly and disassembly services
- Used box pick-up and disposal services
While most household possessions require packing services before being moved, the circumstances surrounding a client's move may require them to request additional storage. Situations where clients in the city may require storage services include:
- They must relocate soon, and their belongings will not be safe at your previous address
- They need time to settle into their new home before moving their belongings in
- They know that the new apartment may not contain the items being moved
However, before agreeing to pay for packing or storage services, you should always confirm whether the moving company has the resources and equipment needed to properly perform the job. To be sure, you can visit the moving company's storage facilities beforehand. More so, you can ask how the packing materials will be sourced and how the materials and storage facilities will affect the cost of the move. Some moving companies allow customers to save money by providing their own packing materials, and it is wise to ask if your intended movers do this.
It is common in the United States to tip a mover after they have completed their work, especially when they do so efficiently. Although tipping movers is not mandatory in Boston, many homeowners choose to do so as a way of showing appreciation for the services they have received. Nonetheless, despite the fact that tipping is clearly an act of goodwill, residents of the city have a tough time determining the appropriate amount to give as tip to their movers.
Many residents in the city offer their movers 5% to 10% of their total bill, or $3.50 to $15 per hour of work completed, as tips. However, depending on the nature and difficulty of the service rendered by the movers, a homeowner may choose to tip them more. Factors that may compel a homeowner to adjust the amount to offer as tip include:
- The mover's punctuality
- The quantity of items to be moved
- The weather condition on the day of the move
- How fast the job is done
- How many flights of stairs movers are required to travel to get your items
While it is normal to tip movers after they have done a good job, it is equally normal to notify your movers when you are not satisfied with their services.
With transportation and material moving workers accounting for 20% of all on-the-job accidents that necessitated time off in the United States in 2018, it is always in your best interest to ensure that your preferred mover is carrying the right insurance policies. This will cover you not only against on-the-job injuries, but also from property damage.
Every moving company registered with Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU), including movers in Boston, must purchase at least a cargo insurance. Nonetheless, movers in the state offer a base rate called a declared rate which is usually filled with the DPU. The base rate restricts your mover's ability to compensate you for damaged items to 60 cents times the actual weight of the item.
Some movers however offer to increase the declared value above 60 cents. As such, you should always verify if this option is available from your preferred mover. If you will be moving items of special value such as antiques, you must also inquire about additional coverage for these types of items. This is especially crucial because mover's cargo insurance does not cover items of extraordinary value. As a result, it is always good to request proof of insurance coverage from the company, and a list of articles not covered by the insurance. You should also check with the insurance provider responsible for these policies to see if they are still active. It is important to keep in mind that hiring an uninsured mover exposes you to the risk of sharing the cost of on-the-job accidents and loss of your belongings.
Before hiring a moving company in Boston, you should request references or letters of recommendation from satisfied past clients from the company. References and letters of recommendation are proof that that the company is a good fit for you. As such, you should avoid hiring a moving company that fails to provide references or letters of recommendation from previous clients. However, some unscrupulous people may produce bogus references or letters of recommendation. As a result, you should always double-check any reference you are given by contacting these previous clients and asking for a first-hand review.
According to the Better Business Bureau, moving scams are a major source of concern for anyone relocating throughout the United States, especially in Boston. Moving scams are common in Boston, and more people are impersonating professional moving businesses to defraud naive customers. For example, in October 2015, Louis Massaro, the owner of a South Florida moving company was tried in a United States District Court in Boston in connection with a scheme that defrauded 52 victims, including residents of Boston. Masarro pleaded guilty to conspiracy, money laundering, and failing to return household goods, according to the United States Department of Justice.
There have been multiple other instances of moving scams in the city, and as a resident, it is critical to be aware of red flags when selecting a moving company. These are some of the red flags:
- There is no local business address or phone number for the company
- The mover is offering a very low bid compared to the average market price for the service
- The moving company arrives in an unmarked truck
- The mover refuses to provide a proposal and written contract even when you insist on them
Other than identifying these red flags, you can also avoid falling victims to moving scams by taking the following precautionary steps:
- Ask for referrals and recommendations from family and friends
- Get estimates from at least three moving companies before choosing the best
- Ensure that your preferred mover is licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) for local moves, and registered with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration for interstate moves
- Always request a copy of the mover's rates on file with the DPU before finalizing any agreement with them. Call (617) 305 - 3559 to find out the procedure for getting your preferred mover's rate
- Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been made against the mover before
- Ensure that the moving company provides references or letters of recommendations from satisfied past clients and double check by calling the clients to confirm
- Always ensure that your preferred moving company is insured
- Insist on a well written moving service contract, and do not sign until you have read it
- Confirm and document the condition of your items before the move
If you have any complaint against your moving company, you can report it to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities via its Transportation Oversight Division. You can file a complaint with the Department by completing and submitting an online form. While filing a complaint with the Department helps resolve the issue between you and the moving company, it does not guarantee that you will receive monetary compensation from the moving company.
If you seek full monetary compensation from the moving company, you should consider filing a lawsuit against the company in an appropriate court. You can file disputes involving a total amount of $7,000 or less as small claims. However, if the claim involves property damage as a result of an automobile accident, you can file for more than $7,000. Small claims are filed in Boston Municipal Court located at:
- Edward W. Brooke Courthouse
- 24 New Chardon Street
- 6th Floor
- Boston, MA 02114
Note that it is important to consult your attorney before filing any lawsuit in court.