Most expats are familiar with the many hassles of moving from one place to another. Moving an entire home is an costly proposition and it is important that you know how to hire the right moving company so as to avoid scams and get a fair price for moving your valuable possessions into or out of Hong Kong. From keeping tab of all your things to reviewing your moving insurance, here are some useful tips you can do to ensure that your move in Hong Kong is a smooth and convenient one.

Moving Tips

Be accurate in weight and number. So you finally found a fantastic new apartment in Hong Kong. Now you need to make sure that you choose the right team to move your belongings. One good indicator of a movers’ quality service is how they audit all your things and come up with an inventory that includes how much everything weighs prior to your move. Professionals need not need to be told to double-check each of your storage spaces and list down its contents for accuracy. A proper audit helps ensure an accurate and fair right price for your move based on weight.

Measure up. Your next step should be to measure every nook and cranny of your new apartment so you can determine if the furniture you plan to relocate fits the space. Your sofa may not fit in your new living room or your bed might take up more space and you do not want to find that out after you have paid to move your furniture to Hong Kong. Keep in mind, you can find high-quality home furnishings and appliances for sale at knock-down prices on the AsiaXPAT classifieds or you can sell unwanted items if you are moving out of Hong Kong and prefer not to ship everything.

Hire a good estimator. When hiring an estimator, make sure he reviews and itemizes all of your belongings and performs a visual inspection of your new home prior to your move. Sort your belongings beforehand to make things easier for him and let him know which ones you want to bring, and which ones you intend to sell or give away. The mark of a good estimator is if he asks you relevant questions about your belongings. This lets you know that he is as concerned about them as you are and that he wants to make sure you do not waste money shipping unnecessary items.

Don’t be afraid to ask. It’s only natural to inquire about a prospective moving company to know what reputation they have in the business. You can ask prospective moving companies to provide references from recent clients. Ideally, you should contact these customers and ask them details about their experience with the movers. This will make it easier for you to decide which moving company to hire. You can also check a company’s website or social media account as there might be some useful testimonials (or complaints) about them online as well.

Cut down on packing cost. As much as possible, pack your own things rather than relying on your movers. This reduces your cost for services and reduces the chances of damage done during packing. Make sure you tell your mover which items are fragile and make sure they are securely packed and placed inside the moving truck. You can also buy moving boxes and other packing materials yourself, which will further reduce your costs. Many expats sell packing materials on the AsiaXPAT classifieds for very low prices.

Get rid of clutter. Moving to a new place also gives you the chance to throw away clutter and unused things. It gives you a fresh start and you should realize that you really don’t have to take all of your old stuff with you. You can list your unwanted items via the AsiaXPAT classifieds, or store them if you’re not yet certain that you want to dispose of them.

Label your things. As you get rid of all the clutter, sort and label unwanted items indicating ‘for donation’; ‘for sale’; or ‘for disposal’. That way, the packers would know that they don’t have to haul unnecessary items onto the truck. Do the same when boxing the things you’ll be taking with you to your new place so that it will be easier to find items when you unpack them. A little organization will go a long way and it will spare you the trouble of fumbling around with a confusing mess of open boxes as you search for one single item when you unpack.

Secure your valuables. While on the subject of sorting, make sure that you also place your most valued possessions in a separate box away from the regular ones. Secure your passports, IDs, and official/medical documents first before you start packing and boxing everything else. Have a spare backpack you can always carry around and put all of your valuables there. It will be safer if you know where all your important things are during your move.

Ask about extra fees. Most movers charge for rendered labor, distance, and weight. Consider how much extra cost you’ll have to pay if you live on higher floors or farther than what is considered convenient as these could also increase your bill. If you live in a walk-up apartment factor in higher moving costs. Transferring your possessions from one truck to another also incurs extra fees so it is best to clarify these details with your moving company before you sign the moving contract.

Review documents. All the items you’ll be moving are important and therefore need to be accounted for at all times. Aside from an inventory of your things, sign a contract that clearly states the moving company’s estimated cost, additional fees, and your agreed schedule for the move. Read and understand all the provisions within the terms and conditions before you affix your sign off. Most belongings are lost during a move because owners neglect to review the items list before the actual move. If you don’t see an item on the list as you unpack your belongings, there’s no way you can trace it back even if you’re sure it was packed earlier.

Nothing is guaranteed unless it is in writing. You also have to take note that there are three types of written contracts associated with moving. You can be assured that you won’t have to pay more than ten percent of the original estimate if you sign a non-binding estimate. On the other hand, a non-binding to exceed estimate states that you won’t have to pay more than what your estimator stated in the contract as it is already considered the maximum. Lastly, a binding estimate should cover the overall price including additional fees and services, and should be paid within a month from delivery. Review your contracts thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask your service providers relevant questions so that you’ll know just how much you really need to pay them. If you are unclear on any clause in the moving contract, make sure to ask your mover.

Check for damages. In case you encounter some trouble with your movers such as damaged goods, late delivery, or any other problems, report the incidents at once and don’t wait until months have passed. Failing to report this within the contracted time-frame may cost you your right to file for any insurance claim. Right after you move, inspect all of your items and list any damaged items.

Study your movers’ liability. Even if movers are liable for the safety of your items that they will transport, you should first review the two types of levels for this service.

There are two levels of liability which are:

Full Value Protection

This ensures full protection of your items during your move. If there are any damages incurred by the mover or if an item is lost, they should either shoulder the cost of repair or replace it entirely. For repairs, you should accept the item in the same condition as it was prior to moving. List your belongings of extraordinary value (items worth USD100 or more per pound) on the shipping documents so that movers cannot limit their level of liability. These items will typically consist of jewellery, art paintings. silverware, electronics, and the like. Discuss this level of liability with your mover prior to your move so that you have a mutual understanding of your contract’s provisions.

Alternative Level of Liability

If you want to be more practical and don’t require a great deal of protection for your items, you may consider signing a contract with an Alternative Level of Liability. There will be no added fees but your mover will be liable for items with a value of only USD60 cents per pound or less. With most moving companies, this level of liability lets an item’s pound weight, multiplied by USD60 cents, determine the movers’ liabilities to be settled in the case of damage or loss. Say an item of yours that is worth USD100 and weighs ten pounds was damaged or was lost during your move. You check and find that it is on the inventory list. With this, your mover will only have to settle USD6. You will be asked to sign a bill of receipt stating your concurrence to this provision, which lets you know that you are not to pay extra fees. The downside is that you accept the risk of moving your belongings with minimal protection.

And finally, be sure to shop around and get quotations from at least two movers.

AsiaXPAT recommends the following Hong Kong Moving Companies.