Thousands of people move house every month all over South Africa - many of them piling their belongings onto bakkies and trailers with the help of friends. But even if you are employing professional movers, there are many ways to keep costs down.
Visit the Professional Movers Association website for a list of reputable companies. If you plan to move to a neighbouring country or overseas, consult the list of South African International Movers Association (SAIMA) members.
If possible, don’t plan your move for the end of a month - or during December or January.
The moving companies are not so busy in the second and third weeks of a month, so you will usually be offered a better rate. Winter months also tend to be less busy than summer. This is probably because most people avoid having their children switch schools in mid-year.
Ask for quotes from three different moving companies. Some movers will ask you to send an inventory so that they can quote. But it is preferable to have a representative visit your home to make more accurate estimates.
It will also enable them to judge accessibility and whether any items might present problems on moving day. For instance, they may need to dismantle an outsize bed or bookshelf to get it through the door. This is time-consuming, and if they only discover the problem on moving day, you could be faced with additional charges.
The more belongings you have, the more expensive it is to move them. So to cut costs, you should get rid of absolutely everything you don’t need to take to your new home.
Weight and bulk are significant factors in determining the price of a long-haul move. It’s pointless to pay to have someone transport something you never use, or that won't fit into your new home.
At least two months before the move, start going through your home room by room as well as the garage, tool shed, workshop and garden. Sell, donate or recycle everything possible.
Doing your own packing will save you plenty of money. Get lots of sturdy cardboard boxes and wrap and pack as many small items as possible. Some retailers will give you old boxes, but the best ones for moving are recycled boxes available from packaging firms.
You should also number and colour-code all boxes and items of furniture with special tape or labels that match coloured-coded rooms on a plan of your new home. Labelling the rooms to match the furniture and boxes will cut down on the time the movers take to unload your belongings.
Last but not least, you need to make sure that your possessions will be adequately insured while in transit. Bad roads and inclement weather conditions, hijackings, robberies, strikes and riots can affect even the most diligent moving companies.
The cheapest option is usually to ensure the move through your existing household insurance – often without additional charge.
If that isn’t possible, the moving company will usually offer you a goods-in-transit policy. But make sure it is compliant with the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Act.