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Get Quotes from Top Movers in San Diego, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Mover in San Diego

Given that 80 percent of complaints concerning relocations within the State of California involve bad movers, you should ensure that you hire a legitimate mover in San Diego when leaving the city or changing neighborhoods. To this end, endeavor to ask and get satisfactory answers to the following questions before finalizing hiring arrangements with any moving companies in the city:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Moving Company in San Diego?

Individuals and businesses that wish to transport household goods and other types of personal effects to or from any residence in San Diego are statutorily required to obtain a state-issued permit from the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services (BHGS). Interested parties that wish to obtain this permit may do so by properly completing and submitting an Application for Household Movers Permit Form to the bureau at:

Bureau of Household Goods and Services
4244 South Market Court
Suite D
Sacramento, CA 95834-1243

The bureau also provides applicants with the option of submitting the completed form via email. It should be noted that applicants will be required to meet certain conditions before being issued the requested permits. These include:

  • Paying a stipulated filing fee
  • Passing a written examination
  • Providing proof of insurance
  • Providing evidence that their moving vehicles are in optimal condition
  • Passing a background check
  • Submitting any additional documentation that the BHGS may request during the application process

Movers in San Diego that offer their services to residents of the city before obtaining a BHGS-issued Household Movers Permit can face several criminal and administrative penalties. These penalties include fines of up to $10,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or a combination of both. It is important to note that individuals that hire unpermitted movers can equally face separate penalties of up to $1,000 in fines, three months imprisonment, or a combination of both.

As such, it is important that you always verify that any mover you wish to hire in San Diego possesses a valid state-issued permit before you conclude any hiring arrangements with them. Doing this not only provides you a measure of confidence that they provide their services professionally but also ensures that you do not violate state laws, and spares you the penalties associated with these violations. You can verify that your intended mover has been duly permitted at the state level by utilizing the online License Search portal that the BHGS provides and maintains for this purpose.

If your reason for hiring a mover is to move to a location outside the State of California, then it is also a good idea to make sure that the mover has been registered with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration to perform interstate moves. Queries concerning permitting, registration, and other regulatory requirements for movers that operate in San Diego can be directed to the BHGS at (916) 999-2041.

Note that, while movers in San Diego typically obtain permits for their services at the state level, they also have to meet certain local obligations before they can legally conduct business within the city's jurisdiction. To this end, any mover that wishes to operate in San Diego must register for a city-issued Business Tax Certificate with the San Diego Office of the City Treasurer, either online or by filing a Business Tax Application Form in person at:

Civic Center Plaza
1200 Third Avenue,
Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92101

Alternatively, the completed application form can be mailed to the Office of the City Treasurer at:

Office of the City Treasurer
Business Tax Program
P.O. Box 122289
San Diego, CA 92112-2289

You can get additional information on the San Diego business tax filing and registration process, and also confirm that your intended mover has completed this process, by contacting the Office of the City Treasurer at (619) 615-1500 or via email.

How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Movers in San Diego?

Movers in San Diego typically calculate their charges using either hourly rates, distance-based rates, or a combination of both. When hiring any of these movers, the total amount of money that you will be expected to pay for their services is typically dependent on several factors, which include:

  • The time and date of your move
  • The volume of your items
  • Ease of access to your moving locations
  • The presence of impediments like narrow entryways, stairways, or long flights of stairs
  • The distance of the move
  • The inclusion of additional services, such as packing and unpacking, furniture assembly and disassembly, and other special requests

It is always a good idea to get and compare written cost estimates for your intended move from several movers in the city. When requesting these estimates, be as consistent as possible with each mover and make sure that they inspect the items that have to be moved before coming up with their estimates. Comparing estimates from multiple movers before making your hiring decision helps you get the best price for your move and also reduces your chances of hiring a fraudulent mover.

It should be noted that movers in the city are generally not allowed to exceed the maximum rates set by the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services when charging for their services. However, in situations where the specific nature of your moving activities may result in these rates being exceeded, the mover must inform you of this in writing at least three days before your move. They must also get your consent on the new rates that will be charged for the move.

Transportation and material moving workers in San Diego earn an average annual wage of $41,530. The list below compares the hourly average wages earned by these workers in the city against those of transportation and material moving workers in other parts of the State of California as well as several other major cities in the country:

San Diego Movers Hourly Average Wage
California Movers Hourly Average Wage
Los Angeles Movers Hourly Average Wage
Chicago Movers Hourly Average Wage
Philadelphia Movers Hourly Average Wage
New York City Movers Hourly Average Wage
Houston Movers Hourly Average Wage
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Will You Get a Moving Permit as Required by San Diego Regulations?

Movers are not generally required to obtain any specific city-issued permits in San Diego. However, homeowners that reside in residential parking permit areas within the city are typically required to possess valid parking permits authorizing their movers to park their vehicles in front of their homes during certain hours. Residential parking permit areas in the city, and the hours during which restricted parking in these areas is enforced, currently include:

  • Area A - Hillcrest: restrictions are enforced from November 1 - October 31, 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
  • Area B - SDSU/College Area: restrictions are enforced from September 1 - August 31, 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
  • Area D - Logan Heights: restrictions are enforced from February 1 - January 31, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
  • Area E - Mesa College: restrictions are enforced from July 1 - June 30, 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
  • Area F - El Cortez/Downtown San Diego: restrictions are enforced from June 1 - May 31, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays

Parking permits are issued by the city's Parking Administration Department and applications for these permits can be made via an online permitting system. Note that first-time applicants will be required to register a user account on this system before they can submit their permit applications. Applicants are also typically required to provide proof of residency, tenancy, or property ownership, and pay a permitting fee. In situations where a permit application cannot be made online, applicants can request a copy of a paper application form by contacting the department via email.

Also, regardless of whether the intended move is to take place in a residential parking permit area or not, movers are generally required to obey the city's parking rules and regulations when providing their services. These rules include:

  • Not parking their vehicles continuously at any location on public roadways for more than 72 hours
  • Not parking within 15 feet of fire station driveways or fire hydrants
  • Ensuring that their vehicles are parked in a way that does not obstruct the free use of the street
  • Not parking in front of public or private driveways

Queries concerning San Diego parking permits as well as its parking rules and regulations can be directed to the city's Parking Administration Department via phone number (866) 470-1308.

What Kind of Moving Services Do You Offer?

Moving companies in San Diego typically offer several types of moving services and confirming that your preferred movers offer the specific types of services that you require is necessary for getting satisfactory service delivery. These moving services can be grouped into three main categories, namely:

  • Local moving services
  • Long-distance moving services
  • Interstate moving services

Local moving typically involves moves from one location to another within the city while long-distance moves involve moves to locations outside the city. Similarly, interstate moves involve moves to locations outside the State of California, and sometimes outside the United States. Some moving companies also offer specialized services, such as senior and military moving, which are tailored specifically for senior citizens and military personnel respectively. Other specialized moving services offered in the city include specialty moving for items like artwork, pianos, hot tubs, and packing, unpacking, and item storage services.

Therefore, you should always make sure that your preferred moving company is equipped to suitably handle the specific scope and nature of your moving activities before you reach any hiring arrangements with them. You should also get a written estimate of how much these services would cost you before your move begins. Listed below are cost estimates for some common moving services offered by professional moving companies in San Diego:

Local/long-distance residential moving
$124 - $142 per hour (includes cost of labor and moving truck)
Piano moving
$347 - $388 (within San Diego)
Mobile home moving
$2,965 - $3,675 (for single-wide trailer at a distance of no more than 50 miles)
Moving out of studio apartment
$280 - $370 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Moving out of one-bedroom apartment
$350 - $440 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Moving out of two-bedroom apartment
$420 - $560 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Moving out of three or four-bedroom apartment
$780 - $1,200 (includes cost of packing and unpacking items)
Storage services
$60 - $450 (for up to 30 days)

Do You Provide Packing and Storage Services?

It is common for homeowners that wish to move to a new residence to reduce the stress of their relocation activities by outsourcing the packing and unpacking of their items. Many moving companies in San Diego offer various types of packing and unpacking services to interested parties, and it is always a good idea to utilize the same company that is handling your move to also oversee the packing and unpacking of your items. Packing options typically offered by movers in the city include:

  • Full packing and unpacking services
  • Partial packing and unpacking services
  • Professional box handling and organization services
  • Furniture assembly and disassembly services
  • Used box pick-up and disposal services

Depending on the circumstances of your relocation, you may also require additional storage services. Situations where homeowners in the city typically require these types of services include:

  • They are moving to a smaller residence and thus do not have enough space to accommodate all their items
  • They need time to properly settle into their new residence before moving their items in
  • They need to move quickly and their items will not be safe at their former residence

Note that you should always confirm the types of packing and storage services that your intended moving company offers, and also get proper details on the nature of these services. This includes how your items will be packed, the conditions of the storage facility, your accessibility to this storage facility, and the costs of these services. Some moving companies also offer their customers the option of reducing costs by providing their packing materials, and it is a good idea to find out if your preferred movers do this.

What is an Appropriate Tip for Your Movers in San Diego?

Tipping movers that personally handle your relocation activities is not mandatory in San Diego. Nonetheless, many homeowners do this to show appreciation for the work done by these movers, especially in situations where they perform their duties professionally and efficiently. While there is no official standard for tipping movers in the city, many homeowners typically offer 5% - 10% of their total bill or $3.50 - $15 per hour of work done as tips to their movers. Alternatively, you can ask your moving company what they consider to be a fair tip for their movers before reaching a final hiring agreement with them.

Regardless of how you decide to calculate these tips, you should consider the following factors when determining how much to offer to your movers:

  • The difficulty of the move
  • The size and weight of items being moved
  • Weather conditions on the day of the move
  • The movers' punctuality
  • The movers' general demeanor
  • The number of breaks that the movers take during the job, especially if you are being charged by the hour for their services
  • The way the movers handle your items

If you feel unsatisfied with the work done by your movers, if they demand tips, or if they exhibit any other form of unprofessional behavior, you should always report the matter to your moving company as soon as possible.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Movers in San Diego?

The direct medical costs of road crashes in the United States are estimated to cost Americans at least $380 million every year, with the economic and societal impact of these crashes costing as much as $871 billion annually. These figures serve to underscore the importance of hiring a moving company that is properly insured, as failing to do so can cost you thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses if an accident or injury occurs during your move.

To this end, the California Bureau of Households Goods and Services (BHGS) provides mandatory insurance requirements that must be met by moving companies that wish to operate in San Diego. These insurance requirements include:

  • Carrying minimum liability insurance of $250,000 for any bodily injury or death that occurs to one person, or minimum liability insurance of $500,000 for any bodily injury or death that occurs to more than one person
  • Carrying minimum liability insurance of $100,000 for property damage or destruction
  • Carrying a minimum combined single limit liability insurance of no less than $600,000 for bodily injury, death, and property damage or destruction
  • Carrying a minimum cargo insurance coverage of $20,000 per shipment
  • Carrying statutorily-mandated workers' compensation insurance for all their employees

You can confirm that your intended mover possesses proper insurance coverage by requesting copies of their insurance certificates and contacting the appropriate insurance providers to validate the details of these documents. Note that any active homeowners' or renters' insurance policy that you may currently possess will not cover damages that may occur to your property during your move. As such, it is advisable to also find out the scope of your mover's insurance policy and whether it will be adequate to cover the items that are to be moved. You can also contact the BHGS, either by calling (916) 999-2041 or via email, to get additional information or direct queries concerning the insurance requirements for moving companies that operate in San Diego.

Can You Provide References or Recommendations in San Diego?

You should always request references from any moving company that you intend to hire in San Diego before reaching any final agreements with them. Professional moving companies in the city do not hesitate to provide potential customers with this information, as it lends credence to their reputation and reliability.

Therefore, you should consider it a massive red flag if your intended moving company cannot provide you with verifiable references, as this is generally an indication that they are not a service-oriented company. It is also a good idea to look up reviews on the company online via third-party websites like the Better Business Bureau and Google Review.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Moving Company in San Diego

While many legitimate and professional moving companies operate in San Diego, there are also fraudulent and unscrupulous companies that prey on unsuspecting homeowners with the sole intention of deceptively obtaining money from them. Some common red flags that indicate that you may be dealing with a fraudulent mover in the city include:

  • The mover insists that verbal estimates are okay and does not want to provide a written estimate for the job
  • The mover provides an estimate for the job without inspecting the items that require moving
  • The mover is hesitant to, or cannot provide you with verifiable references or recommendations from past clients
  • The mover demands full payment before the job
  • The mover does not have verifiable local contact information
  • The mover uses vehicles that do not company logos on them

To avoid falling victim to a fraudulent mover in San Diego when looking to undertake relocation activities in the city, you should strongly consider the following tips:

  • Take your time to properly research moving companies in the city. You can ask friends and relatives for referrals to reputable and reliable movers in the city, or you can utilize resources like the Better Business Bureau and the California Moving and Storage Association to get referrals to movers
  • Always confirm that the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services has duly authorized your intended mover to provide moving services in San Diego via the bureau's online License Search portal. It is also a good idea to make sure that the moving company can legally conduct business in the city by contacting the San Diego Office of the City Treasurer at (619) 615-1500 or by making use of the Uhire online license search platform
  • Always get written estimates of your move from at least three different moving companies and make sure that these estimates are provided after the items that require moving have been duly inspected by the companies in question
  • Be wary of movers that request full payment upfront
  • Make sure that your preferred moving company is properly insured. It is also a good idea to find out their basic liability and transit protection options and ask them to explain these options to you
  • Take a proper inventory of your items before the move. It is advisable to take this inventory via photographs or by videotaping them, as this gives you a better idea of the condition that they were in before the move
  • Make sure that you are given a written contract for the job. This contract should be provided before any of your items are placed in the company's moving truck, and it should include a "Not to Exceed" price. This is the maximum amount that the mover can charge you for the job unless you specifically request additional services. If you do request these additional services, make sure that they are properly detailed in a œChange Order for Moving Services form
  • Always read and understand any documents that you are asked to sign before doing so
  • Request copies of any documents that you sign and make sure that you are given these copies before the move

Complaints concerning any aspect of your relocation activities that involve your hired moving company can be filed with the California Bureau of Household Goods and Services by contacting the bureau via phone number (916) 999-2041. Complaints can also be filed with this agency by completing a consumer complaint form and submitting the completed form, along with any necessary supporting documents, to:

Bureau of Household Goods and Services
4244 South Market Court
Suite D
Sacramento, CA 95834

The completed form and supporting documents can also be submitted to the bureau via email.

Matters concerning the fraudulent or deceptive actions of San Diego moving companies can also be filed with the California Attorney General's Office online. Note that, if the matter in question involves an interstate move, then it falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Complaints concerning interstate moves can be filed directly with this office by calling 1-888-368-7238 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., from Mondays to Fridays, or by utilizing its online complaint portal.