Moving Matters: Expert Advice from Olympia Moving & Storage

Spring is here and with that, comes lots of changes. The weather is getting warmer, the days are a little longer and for some of us, we are thinking about moving. You might be in the process of selling your home, buying your first home, or simply moving from one apartment to the next. Any way you slice it, moving is always a big transition and it’s always helpful to get the answers before you begin. While we can assist with getting you ready for your move and set up on the other side, the action of getting your and your belongings from one place to the next requires movers.

To get some of your most frequently asked questions answered, we has a great (and very helpful!) conversation with Olympia Moving & Storage’s Rachael Lyons. Located in several major areas (Boston, DC & Pittsburgh), they are experts and we learned a lot that we are excited to pass on to you! Without further ado, here we go!

Ditch the Clutter: When is the best time to move?

Rachael: November - March is the best time to move! The majority of families move in the summer due to the good weather, school break, and housing market. Moving in the off-season results in significant savings - all moving company prices increase in the summer due to demand. If you absolutely must move in the summer, you can still catch lower rates by moving in the middle of the week and by beating the rent turnover rush by moving in the middle of the month. Of course, if you’re moving in the Boston-area, avoid moving at the end of August and beginning of September at all costs!

Ditch the Clutter: Should I tip the crew?

Rachael: This is a very common question! Moving is a tough job, and if you have a great moving company (like Olympia Moving!), you’re going to be blown away by how hard your crew will work for you! Customers are never required to tip, but it’s the best way to show the crew appreciation if you think they did a great job. Consider the length of the move, difficulty of your move (did they move your 500 lb. antique china cabinet up 3 flights without a scratch?), and the skill and hard work of your crew when determining how much to tip. Providing water, snacks, or lunch are also really appreciated and can be part of your tip.

Ditch the Clutter: Do you recommend purchasing insurance?

Rachael:  The answer depends on how nice and valuable your furniture is. If you’re mainly moving IKEA furniture, then purchasing additional liability protection may not be worth it. Otherwise, we definitely recommend purchasing additional liability protection. Olympia Moving’s claims rate is extremely low, but it is the nature of moving that damage or loss can happen, no matter how skilled the crew is. The good moving companies will provide solutions to those mistakes and work hard to ensure the customer is happy with the resolution. Purchasing additional liability protection provides a lot of peace of mind on move day! Also, if your moving company doesn’t offer protection plans beyond the federally mandated 60 cents per pound plan, that’s a red flag, so be sure to do your homework.

Ditch the Clutter: Is there any common extra charge for certain items or weather conditions?

Rachael: I don’t know of a moving company that will charge extra for weather conditions. At Olympia Moving, working hard rain, shine, snow, ice, or heatwave is part of the job for movers, especially in New England. It is common to charge a small fee for items that require extra care. Pianos are the most common example, since those need special skills and equipment to be moved right. If an item is too large to move through a door, a moving company can hoist or crane the item through a window for extra charge. Olympia Moving also builds special crates to move high-value art. A moving consultant should be able to identify these special items on the front end and include all anticipated extra charges on the moving estimate. Good moving companies don’t like surprise charges on move day either!


Ditch the Clutter: What happens when items are lost or stolen during a move?

Rachael: In my many years of working for Olympia Moving I have never heard of a theft by a member of our crew. We do background checks on every crew member and we would never hire someone unless we were 100% comfortable sending them into our clients homes, the same is true for all good professional moving companies. In the rare instance of an item going missing, we do a thorough search of our trucks and warehouse, then we will reimburse the client for the full value of that item according to the liability protection plan they selected. Make sure you unpack every box before reporting loss! Most reports on lost items have to be updated months later because the family found it in the last box they unpacked!


Ditch the Clutter: Is it a good idea to an in-home estimate?

Rachael: Yes, absolutely! Olympia Moving does thorough phone estimates for apartment moves, but any single family home or residence larger than a two bedroom apartment, an in-home estimate is really necessary to provide an accurate estimate. Every move is unique, so we need to thoroughly understand the move plan to ensure we’re prepared with the right team, materials, and equipment to safely move all items, including bulky items, fragile items, and valuables. An in-home estimate is also the family’s opportunity to interview movers, meet the company, and decide who they’re the most comfortable with. Olympia Moving is also beginning to utilize mobile video estimates for busy families.


Ditch the Clutter: During a move, are there transfers to other trucks?

Rachael: For local moves, transfers to other trucks only occur if there are weeks or months of storage involved. Even if there are a few days between the load and delivery, we will keep the shipment safely locked on the same truck. For long distance interstate moves, there will only be a transfer to another truck if the home is not tractor trailer accessible, a common occurrence in the narrow downtown Boston streets. Then in those cases the shipment will be loaded onto a smaller truck that can access the residence, then immediately loaded onto the tractor trailer for transport across the country. That is the only instance where a transfer to another truck would be necessary.

Ditch the Clutter: Do you contract out your services?

Rachael: Olympia Moving & Storage does not. We use our own crews and drivers for local and interstate moves. Like many moving companies, to facilitate our interstate moves we are members of an interstate vanline (think Wheaton, Bekins, Mayflower, etc.). We are part of the Wheaton World Wide vanline. This ensures that we have qualified resources within our own vanline company that are held to the same standards, liability, and commitment to our clients when we need an extra hand unloading families in a location (like California) where Olympia Moving does not have an office. This allows us to avoid contracting labor from an unfamiliar moving company that we can’t hold accountable.


Ditch the Clutter: What items can’t be moved?

Rachael: Flammable items that endanger your belongings that are on the truck are not allowed. This includes gas or propane tanks, aerosol cans, paints and varnishes, bleach and household cleaning agents, ammunition, and any combustible products. We don’t recommend letting your movers transport plants or perishable food. For peace of mind, it’s best to move your important documents, laptops, and small valuables (like jewelry) in your car. Otherwise, we will move anything - including bikes, cars, statues, firearms, and appliances!


Ditch the Clutter: How should I pack my belongings?

Rachael: We have produced many blog posts and how-to videos on packing in moving resource center ( The basics are: heavy items (like books) go into small boxes, light items (like linens and clothes) go into large boxes. Use lots of packing paper (not newsprint - otherwise you’ll stain your belongings) and fill the box tightly to avoid shifting and damage. If packing is too overwhelming and stressful, ask the moving company to pack! Olympia Moving can pack absolutely everything so the client doesn’t have to lift a finger, or we can just pack the trickiest items that need professional help, like dishware and art. The last time I moved I had our crew do the full packing service and it was amazing, I didn’t have to interrupt my life at all to move and not a single item broke.

Ditch the Clutter: How long should I expect it to take to move?

Rachael: Every single move is different, factors are: how many items you have, what those items are, what the access at your homes are like, how far apart your homes are. That’s why we are so thorough when we provide our families with moving estimates. Some averages for local moves: small apartment moves usually take half a day (about 5 hours), most single family homes can be moved in one day (about 8-10 hours), if it’s a large home with decent distance between the locations we’ll load on one day and deliver the next. Local luxury home moves can take 6+ days to pack, load and deliver! For interstate moves, it is all about the transit time. The average for a move from Massachusetts to California is about two weeks.



Ditch the Clutter: How many people do you move per year?

Rachael: Olympia Moving & Storage moved almost 5,000 families to 49 states and 58 countries last year.

Ditch the Clutter: What are 3 tips every person moving should know?


  1. Start calling moving companies at least a month in advance to ensure you get your preferred moving date, even earlier if you’re planning a move during the most popular summer moving dates.

  2. Do your homework before you hire a moving company! Make sure the company is licensed, insured, has a good online reputation, good Better Business Bureau rating, and is an American Moving & Storage Associate ProMover. Most importantly, get a written moving estimate, and feel comfortable with the people you speak to at the company. Unfortunately there are lots of shady folks on CraigsList or just put together a website that don’t have the necessary licensing, skills, and professionalism, or worse are looking to scam families.

  3. Taking the time to communicate with your moving company is essential to a smooth move! Thoroughly planning the move with the company allows them to be prepared to service you correctly. Make sure you’re communicating any changes leading up to move day: if there’s lots of items that suddenly are or aren’t going, you need to add an extra stop, you didn’t pack as much as you’d thought, the closing changed. As long as the moving company is given plenty of notice, they can make a plan to get the move back on track! Nothing adds stress or cost to a move like surprises when the crew shows up, like nothing is packed or it turns out we do have to move all those items in the attic that the family thought they would sell. It happens more often than you would think!


Ditch the Clutter: Anything else you'd like to add regarding moving?

Rachael: Moving is stressful, emotional, and sometimes, no fun at all. Working with a great professional moving company that truly cares makes a world of difference - that’s what we hear every day from our clients! Do your homework on the company you hire, ask friends, family, and Realtors for a recommendation, get multiple estimates, and above all feel comfortable with the people you’re speaking with at the company. This company will handling everything you own, coming into your home, and working with you during an important transition in your life - so make sure you’re working with a company that will take care of you!


For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Olympia Moving & Storage at or by phone (617) 926-5555 (in MA). If you are working with Ditch the Clutter, we would be happy to put you in touch with a representative directly. These guys are awesome and they really do care about their client’s just as much as we do!

If you have already selected a mover and are in process, we have put together a handy one-sheet with guidelines to pass along to your movers. Find it here!