Things to Consider when Moving to or from Boston

In contrast to the suburbs such as Newton or Wellesley, moving in or out of Boston can be a logistical challenge.  Tight streets in the North End, Beacon Hill, Charlestown and the South End require special parking permits and are inaccessible to larger trucks.  It is imperative that you work with a company that is familiar with these areas in order to avoid unwanted surprises.  Plan ahead so that the necessary permits can be obtained well in advance of your move date.

Boston MovingStairs and tight spaces are a way of life in the Boston Metro Area; and Olympia earned its reputation by proving that we could efficiently and safely operate in these conditions.  When items will not fit, hand-hoisting and/or craning are the two available options.  Both of these require advanced planning and we suggest contacting your move coordinator if you feel this may be applicable to your move.

Given all of the colleges and universities in the immediate vicinity of Boston, and the many apartment moves happening in the first weekend of the month, timing is relevant.   If possible, we suggest avoiding moving at the end of August or beginning of September when all of the students are moving back to school. Boston effectively becomes a parking lot during this time which can result in unwanted delays.  If you MUST move during this timeframe, make sure that you schedule your relocation as early as possible.   Olympia operates on a first come first serve basis, and typically the end of August books out 4-6 weeks in advance.

Renting a Truck

So, you have decided to move yourself in order to save money. Provided that you are comfortable driving a truck through the city streets, and that you have plenty of pizza and beer to “pay” your friends, this can be a cost effective way to move. The following are a few tips and suggestions for “do-it-your-selfers.”

Courtesy of Phil! Gold, Flickr


  1. Before you decide you are going to move yourself, do the math and figure out whether you want to call in those favors from friends and make the commitment in terms of time and aggravation. Remember, this process always takes much longer than you think.
  2. Take the time to fully pack and prepare before the move. Having helped many friends and family members move over the years, I can tell you that nothing is more disheartening than to arrive and discover that nothing is ready.
  3. Don’t throw everything into garbage bags. They do not load into the truck very well and have a tendency to tear. We have some tips on  on how to pack electronics, clothing, and other common items.
  4. Figure out the parking situation for the truck in advance so that you do not have to walk a long distance at either the origin or destination location.
  5. Rent more pads than you think you will need to protect your furniture.
  6. Figure out a truck size that you will feel comfortable to drive (even if it means taking two trips).
  7. When driving a truck, always have someone in the truck with you (remember, there are lots of low bridges and no truck routes – so be careful).
  8. When backing up the truck, ask the person with you to get out and direct you in order to ensure that you do not inadvertently run over anything.
  9. A truck should be loaded in tiers. Heavy items on the bottom (bureaus), then boxes, then loose items.
  10. At the risk of the obvious, common courtesy would suggest that if your friends show up to help you move, you better be prepared when they call to ask you to do the same.

Are you a visual person? We have quite a few videos to help the visual folks learn how to pack some common items.

What is a Moving Broker?

A moving broker, as the name implies, accepts moving leads or booked shipments, and then brokers these shipments to other companies.  These companies are essentially sales organizations and the inherent problem is that they do not have the resources or infrastructure to always live up to their commitments.  Moving brokers have actually significantly damaged the reputation of the industry.  Although conceptually, brokering moves makes sense, the practical application can have disastrous consequences.

WHO IS A MOVING BROKER? A moving broker is anyone who will not actually do the moving for you directly or via their van line affiliation.  It is not always easy to spot a broker given that their names are often designed to confuse the prospect into thinking that they are a legitimate carrier.  In addition, these companies are often very good from a sales and marketing standpoint, and have a tendency to show up on the top of a Google search.  Make sure that you read the fine print, and if you have any doubts, ask whether the person that you received the estimate from is, in fact, a broker.  More useful information is available at the following government website:

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE BROKERS? Theoretically there are no problems, and this is a Moving Trucklegitimate business model.  The practical implication, however, has revealed unscrupulous selling practices and a slew of stranded customers.  These companies make their money by selling your moving services, taking a significant percentage, and then giving your move to a carrier.  Because the cost structure is so low and their reputation so bad, most legitimate movers have no interest in associating with brokers.

WHAT IS BEING DONE ABOUT THIS? The industry has been lobbying for legislation to curtail the activities of moving brokers and rogue moving companies.  In 2011 some legislation passed that will certainly hamper the ability of these companies to operate in the same questionable fashion that they have historically.


How to be a Great Customer

The practical reality of the moving industry is that, unless you opt for a full-service relocation, you are making a commitment to being fully packed and prepared; at the same time that the moving company is making a commitment to delivering your goods in a safe and timely fashion.  Because there is typically a reciprocal obligation, I thought I would take this opportunity to spell out what it takes to be a great (and ultimately satisfied) Olympia client.

PLANNING: Take this time to plan your approach to your upcoming move.  We understand that you have closings and a host of Olympia Moving Checklistother issues to contend with, but waiting until the last minute leads to unwanted surprises on move day.  Effective planning also saves time.

PREPARATION: Use the resources at your disposal, including the literature, website, and Olympia personnel to help understand what it means to be fully prepared for moving day.  The concept of being “fully prepared” is a somewhat nebulous one, but here are some basic suggestions:

  • Eliminate unwanted items before move day
  • If you are doing your own packing, get a free delivery of packing supplies well in advance of your move
  • Make sure that all boxes are labeled and fully sealed
  • Stack boxes one tier deep against the walls so that the movers can access all items in a given room
  • Set aside items that you will need in a separate area that is clearly marked (keys, passports, documents) to ensure that they do not get packed
  • Set aside cleaning items that will be needed after the moving crew has departed
  • Identify where furniture will be placed at the new locations so as to avoid delays during the delivery
  • Additional preparation tips are available HEREOlympia Moving Boxes

PACKING: Label carefully and consistently.  Do not wait until the last minute and, if you think you are going to need some additional help, contact your Olympia move coordinator as soon as possible so that we can schedule a packing crew.  If there are items that you are not comfortable packing (lamps, lamp shades, stemware, paintings), make sure that you also notify your coordinator so that the crew has the requisite materials and equipment with them on the day of your move.

COMMUNICATION: Our best customers are those who understand the importance of details and of communicating those details.  You need to keep us abreast of any new developments, not make any assumptions, and be available to the crew throughout the process.  It is imperative that you are physically present during both the loading and unloading of your items.

PARTICIPATE IN THE PROCESS: The movers work incredibly hard on a daily basis and are there to help you relocate to your new home.  They are not your adversaries and should be treated with respect.

REVIEW: We spend countless hours on training and process-related issues.  We work hard to ensure that your experience is a positive one, and would hope that you would take the time to provide feedback and offer suggestions.  Ultimately it is these suggestions that provide the foundation for our ongoing training and allow us to improve.

TIPPING: Tipping is really at your discretion and there are no minimum requirements.  If you choose to tip the movers, take the time to explain what they did to deserve the tip and/or any suggestions that you might have.  You can also demonstrate your appreciation by providing drinks or making water available.  These small signs of encouragement recognize how hard the crew is working and, while not mandatory, are indicative of a great customer.


What Makes a Great Moving Crew?

It is ultimately the movers themselves who largely dictate the client experience.  Finding a great moving crew capable of delivering on our service commitment is a constant challenge.  Regardless of the training we provide, there are some inherent characteristics that we try to identify as part of our hiring process.

  • Listening: A moving crew chief needs to be able to quickly synthesize information emanating from his team and the client.  It is imperative that they listen, comprehend, and then act.
  • Endurance: Physical strength is obviously one facet of the position, but Olympia Moving Crewendurance and mental toughness are much more important.  Running up and down stairs for 8 straight hours is about willpower; and the best movers are not necessarily the strongest.
  • Communication: A crew chief needs to be able to maintain control of a very dynamic environment and ensure that everyone is on task and that the job is on estimate.  They need to quickly and efficiently communicate with their client, moving crew, and dispatcher in order to ensure a smooth move.
  • Understanding: Despite the pressure to complete the job on-time and on-estimate, it is also important that a crew chief is capable of understanding client concerns and, as necessary, modifying his approach in order to adequately address these concerns.  Keeping the client abreast of progress also helps to alleviate any unnecessary stress.
  • Accountability: We need people who are accountable for their actions.  Ultimately the crew chief is in charge, and anything that happens over the course of the move is a reflection on his performance.
  • Ambition: Taking charge of a moving crew requires leadership and quick decision making.  We look for crew chiefs that seek out challenges and want to be held responsible.
  • Leadership: A good crew chief may be managing up to 25 people on a commercial job.  They need to load the truck, but also control the process and the team.  All of this while simultaneously setting and managing client expectations.

We are always looking for great people.  If you, a friend, or colleague might be interestesd in learning what it takes to become a crew chief at Olympia, please contact Josh Croteau, Head of Recruiting, at: [email protected].  For more information, click here.