How Moving Has Changed

Better Help, Less Scary: How Moving in America Has Changed

“I love moving,” said no one ever. There are rooms to organize. Boxes to pack. Back-breaking objects to move. House cleaning. Transporting. Not breaking stuff. Not losing stuff. Unpacking. Reorganizing. The list goes on.

In short, moving residences is about as easy as moving a tree. Both require significant uprooting, care, and consideration.

But moving to a new home, city, or state looks a lot different today than it did just 20 years ago. Similar to how YouTube and Netflix disrupted the TV industry, a growing field of startups are revolutionizing the way people plan, pack, and complete their moves in increasingly worry-free ways.

The South by West Migration

Over the last 35 years, Americans are moving less than they did before. In 1980, for instance, 17% of households moved. Today, that number hovers around 11% annually.

Over the same period, interstate moves are up, according to multiple reports. Although total annual moves have decreased, longer-distance moves have increased, especially to western and southern states. This is due to job migration, primarily from weakened manufacturing economies in the Northeast and Midwest to growing technological economies in the South and Mountain West.

In fact, of the 36 million Americans who moved last year, 61% did so to another state. The other 39% moved locally, within the same state or city. (On average, local moves still outnumber interstate ones, but the latter has gained on the former for the aforementioned reason.) Popular inbound states include Florida, Texas, Washington, North Carolina, Colorado, and Oregon, while New York, Illinois, and New Jersey lead the exodus states (as they have for many years).

So there you have it. Total moves are down 6%, while interstate moves have grown and even spiked recently. With greater distances comes more worry. What’s a mover to do?

Better Moves through Technology

It’s unclear exactly when and how the moving industry was first disrupted. The popular PODS company’s shipping containers, which let you pack for all the time you need, then ship when ready, were one of the first new moving products on the market in decades, although their recent performance rates a dismal one out of five stars, according to Consumer Affairs.

Since then—especially with the rise of web and mobile—hundreds of startups, apps, boxing options, and Uber-like “move-sharing” services have launched. In fact, there are over 100 new investor-backed moving companies, according to AngelList. In other words, there’s a lot of opportunity for potential and disruption.

Here are several promising services that hope to make moving an easier and less-stressful experience, whether you’re making a local or interstate move:

Dolly: Although not intended for full residential moves, Dolly is a popular iPhone and Android app that helps users move furniture, apartments, and purchased items or donated goods. It can also facilitate office moves, storage transfers, and labor-only help. With the free app, movers can request a background-checked Helper, get a quote, and then pay through the app once the move is complete.

HireAHelper: This website lets you solicit and compare quotes from local movers, arguably the hardest task of moving. According to their website, you can rent your own truck, hire loaders and unloaders at “a fraction of the cost” of traditional moving companies, and save your back (and friendships) in the process.

Ghostruck: Similar to HireAHelper, Ghostruck aims “to make moving scary simple.” Unlike HireAHelper, this service actually transports the goods for you, in addition to loading and unloading. But you’ll need to upload photos of the things you intend to move first—not only to get a fixed price quote from licensed movers, but to guarantee their pick-up and delivery. About the only thing they don’t do is packing and assembly.

Updater: Packing, moving, and unloading your stuff aren’t the only headaches about changing homes. The amount of time contacting utility companies, updating contacts, and relocating subscriptions poses other challenges. Enter Updater, an invite-only service (for now) that helps help residents save hours on moving-related tasks such as mail forwarding, account changes, and more.

Brute Box: “We rent plastic reusable moving boxes, moving dollies and hand trucks, and sell packing supplies including packing paper and bubble wrap.” That’s the promise behind this San Francisco-based upstart serving 60 cities. No more cardboard boxes. The company prices 25 boxes for one-week use at $70 or 100 boxes for $240. BungoBox is another similar service in Texas.

Teleport: This website offers a free directory of resources for inter-city moves and a free checklist for greater peace of mind. (See also: 5 moving tips for people with lots of stuff.)

Looking Forward

Whatever the service, the real story here is that local, interstate, and even out-of-country movers have more options than ever before. This goes for do-it-yourselfers as well as people who prefer full-service. And thanks to online pricing and more transparent user reviews, movers are more empowered than ever before to make more informed choices.

While the age-old moving scam (quoting with a low price, then not delivering goods until you pay up to five times more for hidden surcharges) may not be completely abolished, it’s less a possibility than it was before the Internet and the new breed of mobile moving apps.

The good news is moving in America is a lot less scary than it used to be, thanks to a lot more helping hands. And with so much investment and potential, it should only get better with time.

Source: Dwayne Hogan, www.move.org

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