Want a good move?

Know what you're getting.
As you review moving companies, you'll come across a lot of terminology that you'll have little familiarity with -- and your confusion might start even before you start looking.

The moving companies themselves are organized into different types and services that you should be aware of before you start looking.

Let's start with the biggie:
A van line is essentially a large, nationwide moving company that is represented in local communities by "agent" offices. These agents function like franchisees of the van line – they get to use the van lines name in their marketing, they get access to the van line's fleet of moving vans for state-to-state moving, and they get training from van lines.

It's much like a McDonald's franchisees stores around the country – the stores are individually owned, but they enjoy services from the franchisor.

The van lines agents themselves are generally marked by a long tenure in business, and ownership that's been passed down through the generations.

Some of the van lines are large, publicly owned companies. Names include United, Mayflower and North American.

Independent companies - These independents don't have a van lines affiliation, and there's been an explosion in their numbers over the years. There are more than 1,200 independent moving companies providing state to state moving services under their own licenses and more than 5,000 offering in-state service only.

Many independents might offer a more personal touch for moving. However, the lack of an affiliation with a van line comes with a higher degree of risk, so you might want to do a bit more research on these companies before choosing them.

Moving brokers - Moving brokers are licensed entities that help people find moving companies. You should generally be leery about working with them, because you might have no idea about the moving company they select for you. At the very least, you should know which moving company you'll use if you employ a broker.

Self-service moving companies -- Often called 'You Load, We Drive,' these companies provide professional trucks and drivers, but you pack, load and unload. It's only offered for state to state moving.