How to Handle an Emergency Move
Relocating During Stressful Times
Unfortunately, some companies take advantage of stressful times for others. Though planning for a move weeks or months in advance is wise, sometimes it’s just not possible. Relocating your home is typically disruptive and stressful, but emergency moves are often brought on by sudden life-changing events over which you have no control.
You may need movers at the last minute for any of these reasons or more:
- Rental trucks are sold out
- The moving company you hired cancels
- A death in the family
- A divorce or sudden break-up
- A job loss
- An elderly family member with medical problems needs assisted living
Some moving companies advertise themselves as “Emergency Moving Specialists” or “After Hours Movers.” However, there is no method that specializes in same-day moves. If you encounter one, be aware that scammers prey on uninformed customers caught between a rock and a hard place. If this is your situation, it’s best to hire pre-vetted movers you can trust.
First, check off these tasks.
1. Assess your situation
Your world has been turned upside down with an emergency move that came out of left field. But in many cases, your unavoidable last-minute move may be avoidable after all.
Once you’ve calmed down from the initial emotional surge, take a few moments to consider things from every angle.
Perhaps the situation can be avoided by:
- Negotiating with your landlord to stay in your apartment a few more days
- Asking the new homeowner if they can delay moving in
- Staying in a hotel or extended stay residence temporarily (storing your items)
- Moving in with a friend or family member until you secure a new residence
What’s important is to avoid making snap decisions.
2. Give Yourself as Much Breathing Room as Possible
Emergency moves will typically have plenty of bumps in the road. Not only are careful planning, vetting movers, and packing yourself impossible, but getting multiple in-home estimates is not possible. So, even a delay of a few days can help tremendously. Still, you may have a situation due to serious illness, eviction, or an abusive relationship making it impossible to delay.
3. Ask for help
A DIY move may be less expensive, but you may not have that option. Emergency moves give you very little wiggle room. Reach out to friends, family members, and coworkers, and be clear when describing your urgent situation. Just realize that most people will not be able to drop everything on a moment’s notice to help you.
4. Consider every option
If your emergency move occurs during the peak moving season between June and August, you may have difficulty booking a mover. If the movers you are calling are booked to capacity, try alternatives such as:
- Container moving company
- Rental truck
- Freight moving company
- Apps that connect you to workers such as Alliance
5. Be skeptical of unreasonable promises
Again, be wary of scammers who will try to take advantage of your situation. The moving industry is heavily regulated. Take a few moments to research what movers can and cannot do by law. Being educated is the best way to protect yourself against additional charges or other unpleasant issues.
If your mover (or broker) tells you they can have your items packed and loaded one day and delivered to another state the following day for $700, you can expect they are misleading you to get your household items into the truck. Then, the promises will evaporate.
6. Be cautious of the lowest estimate
They’re the number one tactic used by scammers intent on preying on unsuspecting customers in bad situations. But since in-home estimates usually aren’t possible on last-minute moves, you’ll be forced to settle for phone estimates. They can be notoriously inaccurate, but still, if you’ve got the time it’s a good idea to get two or three for comparison purposes. Since normal planning and vetting go out the window on emergency moves, you’re almost always better off hiring high-quality moving companies with verified customer reviews.
7. Don’t feel pressured into making unsound decisions
On an emergency move, you won’t have the luxury of taking your time before making a decision.
Keep in mind:
If a mover’s sales tactics make you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut:
- Scammers tend to be pushy
- Reputable movers are forthright
- Remember, unsound decisions made in haste usually make a bad situation worse