Moving within New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide

August 31, 2018 no comments

New Zealand

Moving house is always a stressful experience, whether over a short distance within the same town, or further afield, and maybe even to or from the North or South Island. There are a lot of considerations to be taken into account and a number of important decisions to be made. This guide is intended to help with that decision-making process and provide you with a one-stop reference to all the factors you need at your fingertips..

Wherever you’re moving to, one of the first (and most onerous) tasks is to declutter! If you’ve been in your current home for some time you will be amazed at how much stuff you have! Now is the time to be ruthless! Do you really need all those glasses and crockery – especially the chipped ones, or the ones stashed away at the back of the cupboards, covered in dust and never seeing the light of day?!  And what about the pantry – full of tins and packets of food with years out of date use- by dates?! And you haven’t even looked at your wardrobes, packed tight with clothes you might (but never will) wear again. Get rid of them! Just be careful not to jam your fingers taking them out!

Whether you’re moving locally or long distance, large move or small, start preparing early. This way you’ll avoid the added pressure you’ll be under if you leave this important process to the last minute. It also means you’ll have greater flexibility with your moving date or time. Remember also that December and January are the two busiest months in a mover’s calendar, so it pays to book early to avoid narrowing your choices of company or moving date.

Choosing the right removal company for your move is a challenge in itself. If you look at any of their websites you’ll find they are all perfect! So, you need some other yardsticks to make comparisons and final choice. Even reviews on the internet can be misleading – just look at hotel reviews as an example – you’ll regularly see diametrically opposed comments for the same hotels. The same applies to removal companies – remember it’s not an exact science moving furniture which is really designed to stay in one place in your home – this is difficult enough in itself, without taking into account the subjective stress you, the transferee is under! So, ask around. Try and check company reputations. And read the fine print and stated inclusions/exclusions in the quotations. And one more thing – don’t be ruled solely by price – after all, this isn’t something you’re likely to be doing again anytime soon, and the difference of even a few hundred dollars on a big move can be insignificant in the long run.

Let’s start with the local move. There could be myriad reasons for your move – down-sizing;  upgrading; transitioning from a house to an apartment; or simply moving to a preferred area. First decision – are you going to do the move yourself, with a few roped-in friends (who will hopefully remain that way following the move!), or are you going to use a removal company to undertake part, or all, of the job?

Before you start leaning towards DIY, think again! Unless you’ve only got a few items to move, or you’re on the bones of your backside, and/or you’ve got a mate with a van and another mate, (or you’re doing a midnight flit!) is it really worth the aggro? Lugging furniture is no fun, and there’s an art to stowing it in the truck so that it doesn’t get more bruised than it may be already. And it needn’t be expensive to call on the services of a removal company – there are a lot of companies offering very cheap hourly rates for a “truck and two” (truck plus two men), and if you get hold of some cartons, paper and tape, and pack the “smalls” yourselves, you’ll be surprised at how cheap the move ends up.

A cautionary note regarding insurance – make sure the removal company you’re using has disaster cover (fire, collision and overturning), and that you are included under that cover, so that in the unlikely event of a major accident you’ll get some compensation. (Worth also checking with your own insurance company, as they may be prepared to cover you under your household contents policy).

If you’ve got a large house, large furniture and large budget (!), then it’s time to call in the heavies! In this instance you’re probably better to get fixed quotes, rather than hourly rates, because that way the costs are known, and unpleasant surprises are avoided (at least as far as the price is concerned!). There are several well known and generally reliable removal companies to choose from and it is recommended you get two or three comparative quotes for consideration. You can still make savings, by doing some or all of the packing yourselves and you should be able to purchase materials from your chosen provider (some companies may even lend you cartons if they can get them back following the move). Just be sure when looking at the quotes you’re comparing like with like. This normally shouldn’t be a problem on a local move, though you should be aware of any provisos, such as “bad access” or “long carry” or “not above first floor”, and make sure the company has checked the access at both residences and therefore has no need to add such riders.

Again, be aware of the need for protection against unforeseen circumstances and make sure you have adequate insurance cover for the move. You may of course decide to carry the risk yourselves, on the basis that it’s relatively minimal, or you don’t have anything that is of significant value, but do at least get “disaster” cover, which shouldn’t cost much, and will give you some peace of mind. Just remember that accidents do happen, and it only takes one of the removals crew to slip while carrying the new TV still on hire-purchase, to add needless heartache and headache to your already stressed state. All risks insurance cover for a local move shouldn’t be all that expensive and it should be carefully considered, remembering that the alternative is signing an “owner’s risk” contract, as specified in the NZ Carriage of Goods Act which means that recompense is highly unlikely (note also that the Carriage of Goods Act takes precedence over the Consumer Guarantees Act, so you will almost certainly have no recourse to that latter legislation).

A final observation if you’re moving locally – the actual day of the move. If you look at removals websites quoting hourly rates, you’ll see the rate is usually cheaper in the earlier part of the week (Monday to Wednesday), with higher rates for the rest of the week. Know why? It’s all about demand! So, if you can get yourself organised to move at the beginning of the week, you’ll save some money. What’s more, you’re likely to get better service, as the movers won’t be rushing to get to another job, or finding they haven’t got enough men for your move. And another thing; try to avoid moving on settlement date, either on your present home or your your new one. And definitely try to avoid a Friday move. Remember, you’re going to be depending on lawyers to finalise settlement and Friday can translate to Slowday in legal parlance, so it can often happen that keys aren’t available for the house you’ve just purchased, and you’ll be paying for the crew and removal truck waiting outside the residence, cooling their heels and wheels!

OK, you’re moving out of town – a bit trickier than just around the corner. Depending on how far and from where to where, there are a few options which may be open to you – road, rail, or sea. The latter option is obviously applicable if you’re moving inter-island from and to cities serviced by a coastal shipping service – eg Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin. This mode of transport definitely has its attractions, especially if there’s no urgency involved (for instance, if you need storage while house hunting). Reckon on about a week, maybe more, end to end. Typically, the removal crew will pack your possessions in your home, then load a container on site, and deliver to the local port for shipment. At the destination end, the container will be uplifted and delivered to your new residence, or to the receiving company’s storage facility awaiting final delivery. Coastal freight costs are generally cheaper than either rail or road, so if this mode of transport is appropriate to your needs you should definitely look at it.

Another popular transportation option, favoured by some removal companies, is using rail. Generally, this will still be cheaper than by road, though there are some factors which need to be taken into account. As with the sea option, your effects will be packed at residence, loaded into a container and delivered to a receiving depot, then railed to the destination town, where it will be uplifted either by the removal company truck, or delivered to your new residence by a rail contractor, where the removal company will take over for unloading and unpacking. Downsides? (a) It may be that the crew loading the container will be less than careful, as they won’t be facing you (and the music!) if the out-turn is less than satisfactory. (b) Rail can be a bit unreliable at times, particularly during peak times when commercial freight may take precedence. (The Kaikoura earthquake had a huge effect on rail services between Christchurch and Blenheim, which did not apply to road transport). (c) Rail transport generally provides a harsher ride compared to modern road vehicles with air-ride suspension.

Road can be considered the traditional mode of transport for household removals, and for short to medium distances is the preferable and logical option. If your move is a long distance one and/or inter-island, it is possible a company offering a road mode will be more expensive, however they should not be discounted outright, as there are some advantages such a company can offer, not least being the fact that usually the driver loading the truck will be the one unloading at destination and will therefore take more ownership of the move and the way it’s loaded and handled.

And finally, on the subject of loading and handling (and packing), it is highly advisable to take comprehensive insurance cover for the move. Regardless of the removal company’s reputation, accidents can happen, fragile things can get broken, furniture and white-ware can get marked. It’s just not worth taking the risk. Moving house can be expensive, but it’s not something you do (or would want to do!) often – it’s disruptive, it’s stressful, and it’s unsettling. Don’t add to that by taking a gamble. Choose your removal company carefully, take time out to be on hand during the process – and be kind to the people doing the job – scones or biscuits liberally provided will motivate them to do the best job possible for you – and isn’t that the desired outcome?!

Good luck. And enjoy your new surroundings!