Relocation – Looking for The Right Moving Company


Photo by nickd

Since we decided to move to Guatemala and after crunching the numbers over and over again, we’ve concluded that even though our furniture or interior decorating style isn’t going to land us cover stories with the top Home and Garden magazines, it is really good quality. Meaning, it will definitely be cheaper to send it over in a truck than to start from scratch.

How do you find a good and reputable moving company:
1. Ask everyone expat you know
2. Call your embassy (this has been harder to do lately because if they give one recommendation, another company gets pissed off.
3. Get out the handy-dandy yellow pages. Costa Rica‘s yellow pages – Telefonica Amarilla

I did ask my friends who had all their stuff shipped to Costa Rica, and funnily enough they all recommended the same guy. So immediately I phoned him once, twice, on the third time when he didn’t bother to return my calls I figured he was not worth the trouble.

The embassy turned out fruitless, they were too worried about some buffed up mover guy ripping their heads off for not recommending them, so they took the ‘We really can’t say’ tactic.

So, I was left with option 3!

I called every moving company in the yellow pages that said International Movers, whoever answered the phones were invited over to evaluate and estimate my things.

I had success with 4 companies that move stuff from Costa Rica to Guatemala:

* WinMovers

They were the first to arrive on the scene. So after he did a thorough nosing around my place, writing down every pencil and dish that is going to be transferred from Costa Rica to my new home in Guatemala, I asked the dreaded question: “How much?”

At this point, I had no idea what the ballpark was! I mean, are we talking $1000 or $4000?

He said it will be around $2500, but that didn’t include Guatemalan border tax, which could be anywhere from $300-$800, and insurance.

* Inter-Moves SG Global, S.A.

Now I’m an old pro, and new exactly where to direct the guy and ask all the right questions.
His reply to my “How much?” was $4000, not including Guatemalan border tax nor insurance. Where he came up with that figure is beyond me!

* Crown Relocations

This company sent over THREE representatives, each with their own folder, business card and equipped with the same exact questions that I had to answer THREE times. Aside from having a small party in my house, they were super efficient, with a booklet on everything you can possibly imagine when it comes to moving and living abroad.

They didn’t have an answer to my “how much?” question, because they first had to return to their office and compare notes on my dishes and books and furniture that is going to go north.

* Mudanzas y Transportes

By the time this guy arrived to my house, I knew it all!!! I decided to call a smaller company, just to get an idea of the major differences I was up against with the bigger guys. Well, there is a reason people go with the bigger guys.

On the phone it sounded like they do a weekly run to Guatemala as though everyone from Costa Rica is either moving or has moved to Guatemala with them. So you can imagine my surprise when he arrived to my house and WAS ASKING ME QUESTIONS ABOUT CROSSING BORDERS AND TAXES!

Yeah, like that’s going to happen!

After a few days, Crown Relocations sent me their figure – $3300 for door-to-door service, not including Guatemalan border tax and insurance which is usually 4%.

The problem is, I have a really small house, I’m not a big business and my stuff doesn’t fit in an entire container. So there are two ways to get my stuff over to Guatemala. The more expansive route which is a private small truck from door to door.

Or, the cheaper route, consolidated. This means I have to wait around for other people who want to move to Guatemala to share the container. This can be from one week to two months. As low as the cost can be, you’ll be spending more money waiting for your stuff to arrive.

This is what happened!

By meeting with the four different companies I learned that it’s cheaper if you use all recyclable materials for packing your stuff. Why would you kill good trees to wrap your furniture? Plus, for the stuff to be insured by them they have to do the packing. Another reason to drop a few bucks is if you get people to help you unload the truck at your new location. In this case I have an in since my husband is Guatemalan and he can call on his buddies to help move our stuff out. So if you don’t know many people in your new place, it’s really not that much of a discount.

Armed with this knowledge, I took a ballsy step and called all the companies that came over telling them that the others had given me a figure of $2900. This included door-to-door service, I’ll unload everything at the location, plus insurance up to $3000. (Another trick, if you really don’t have to put higher price tags on your stuff for insurance sake, you’re better off because the tax will be less at the borders.)

My preference was Crown Relocations. I don’t know why, but something about them seemed very professional, they might be crap for all I know and my stuff might arrive 2 years later broken up into miniscule peices, but for the moment I wanted to go with them. So when I called one of the thirty agents that arrived to my house and told her how much I loved their company and really wanted to go with them, but the others have given me this price, I said I’ll give them the business if they agree and pay 50% upfront. Besides, I mentioned, with the economic crisis going on they couldn’t possibly be getting a ton of work.

They took the bait and the rest isn’t history but yet to be lived out so Stay Tuned!

Relocation Series Posts

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About Marina Kuperman Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 10+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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