congested roads austin

As anyone who’s driven through Austin can attest, the stretch of I-35 that bisects central Austin is a driver’s nightmare. It’s so bad, the state built a super-fast tollway east of I-35 to lure through-traffic away from the interstate. Now a national study confirms it: the situation is as bad as we thought.

The latest analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the research arm of the American trucking industry, shows that the stretch of I-35 that bisects central Austin ranks as the 10th worst traffic intersection (out of 100 ranked) in the nation.

Why the researchers included that dreaded stretch of highway with 99 other intersections isn’t clear, but we get the point. Just to be correct, the formal name of the study is, “Congestion Impact Analysis of Freight-Significant Highway Locations – 2014.”

Drilling down into the specifics of the report, it shows that from about 1 pm to 8 pm, the average speed of traffic on that part of I-35 is 35 mph or less. During peak rush hour (4-6 pm), the average speed drops to 15 mph or less. And, that’s on a normal day.

Only The Begining

And with Austin’s population expected to grow to almost 885,000 in 2015 and to more than 965,000 by the end of the decade, the traffic congestion is only going to get worse.

At Elephant Moving and Storage, your Austin movers, we do our best to avoid traffic congestion, because time is money – your money. If you’re planning a move, be aware that travel time is a cost. Plan your move to avoid peak traffic routes and times. Be flexible, and let us work with you to schedule your move to minimize the traffic factor.

You can find more on the traffic study here and here.

hand held electronic device rulesHeads up to all the wireless device junkies out there: Austin’s new rules  became effective Jan. 1, 2015, which means using a hand-held electronic device while driving or cycling could cost you a hefty fine of up to $500. In short, hands-free is OK, hand-held is NOT.

Most drivers seem to understand that using hand-held electronic devices while driving is just asking for trouble, and also – with today’s technology – completely unnecessary. The new city ordinance drives home that point.

At Austin-based Elephant Moving and Storage we applaud and fully support the new ordinance. We’ve had these rules as company policy for a long time. Doing otherwise isn’t worth the risk. Our Austin movers strive to be the safest on the road.

An Oct. 24, 2014 press release from the Austin Police Department sums up the ordinance:

“August 28, 2014 the Austin City Council passed an ordinance that prohibits the use of portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle or bicycle (Ordinance No. 20140828-041). The new ordinance will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

“Unless using a hands-free system such as Bluetooth or headphones, or an affixed GPS system, use of portable devices while moving in a car or on a bike will be a citable offense.

“Portable electronic device means a hand-held, mobile telephone, personal digital assistant, MP3 or other hand-held music player, electronic reading device, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, GPS or navigation system, electronic gaming device or portable computing device.

“Hand held cell phone use is permitted in the event of an emergency such as calling 9-1-1 or 3-1-1 to report a crime or an accident. Even in an emergency situation, it is best to pull over and come to a complete stop before using or operating any mobile or hand held device.

“Violation of this ordinance will be a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, beginning in January 2015.”

So, Happy New Year! And welcome to the new rules of the road in Austin.


winter movingWinter is a great time to move!


The rates for winter moving are often cheaper and you will find that you have an easier time renting a moving truck or hiring movers – but you should be aware of potential moving issues so that you can avoid them before they occur. Although the weather in the Austin and Central Texas is typically mild, the occasional winter storm does blow through and can cause delays if you are moving on one of these rare days. If you are moving from Austin or Central TX to another state that generally experiences colder, more severe winter weather you should plan ahead to ensure your journey is a smooth one. Here are some suggestions for moving during the winter.

Get Your New Home Ready for Winter Moving

Before moving day check with your real estate agent or rental property manager to make sure the new place is ready for you on moving day.

  • Make sure you have heat and lights. Don’t forget this one! You need to be sure that your utilities are functional. If possible have the heat, water and electric turned on a couple of days prior to your arrival so that you can make sure everything is functioning and the house is warm when you arrive. While this is a good idea no matter when you move, in the winter it is even more important since the days are much colder and the sun sets earlier. Movers can work when it’s hot or cold, but without lights they won’t be able to get much done.
  • Clear ice/snow from walkways. Make sure your driveway and walkways are clear. If you move locally try to stop by your new home the day before your move so you can check that everything is clear and free of ice. If needed, salt or sand the area. If you are moving out of town and can’t visit your new home prior to the move-in date, have your agent or property manager check the area for you.
  • Check that parking area is clear. Regardless of what season you move you should always make sure there is parking available for your moving truck. This may mean negotiating with your new neighbors, or hiring someone (or doing it yourself) to clear the driveway  or alley of snow.

Moving in winterPrepare Your Old Home

  • Clear snow. Use salt or sand to ensure sidewalks, walkways and driveways are free of ice and snow. Parking area should also be cleared with ample room for movers to maneuver. Check the area on moving day in case it snowed or iced overnight.
  • Protect inside spaces. Use cardboard or plastic sheeting to protect high traffic areas from snow, dirt and water. Tape plastic sheets to the floor or use cardboard for carpeted areas. Experiment first before the movers arrive so that you are sure the coverings are secure and will not come loose and trip up the movers.
  • Keep sand or salt and shovels on hand. Stock up on winter supplies in case your vehicle or the moving truck becomes stuck or it starts to snow. Monitor conditions throughout the day so you can act on any changes as needed.
  • Have hot drinks on hand. Whether you’re moving yourself or hiring movers, make sure you have hot liquids available. Hot chocolate, tea and coffee will be most welcomed by everyone who’s helping with your move. Extra mittens and hats are a good idea, too.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. While this seems like common sense, on moving day you’ll be so wrapped up in the move that you may forget that conditions might change. Check the weather well in advance of moving day, then follow it closely right up until the movers arrive. If there’s a possibility of inclement weather, keep the radio on during the move to ensure you’re receiving the latest updates.

What If a Storm Blows In?

  • Have a back-up plan.If a winter storm is expected on your move date make sure you have a back-up plan in case you need to reschedule your move. If you’ve hired movers check with them to see what their policy is for inclement weather. Some movers are used to winter weather and may not be willing to postpone the move. If the movers do want to postpone, make sure you speak to your real estate agent or landlord to see if you can stay a few extra days. Typically, if you’re not able to move out, no one is able to move in, either. But arrange this ahead of time. If you can’t negotiate extra days, speak to the movers about your options. They may be able to still pick up your things, but not deliver them to your new home. If this is the case you will need short-term storage.
  • Plan your travel route carefully. Know your travel route and make sure you contact the local authorities to determine if highways are open and safe to travel on. Each state or province has a phone number and website to check with regular updates provided. You should also know the location of overnight accommodation in case you need to stop.
  • Get you car serviced and have all the necessary equipment with you. Make sure you have your car winterized, including all fluids topped up, and tires and brakes checked. It’s a good idea to carry chains (if allowed) and know how to put them on quickly. Practice in your garage before you leave. You should also carry a gas can, extra windshield fluid, and salt or kitty litter (works great if you get stuck). Have a good snow shovel, emergency blanket and membership to a roadside assistance service, too.
  • Have an emergency contact list with you. Make sure you have all the necessary phone numbers with you, including roadside assistance, highway patrol and a number for reports on highway conditions. You should also ensure that someone who isn’t moving with you has a copy of your travel plans. Make a call-in schedule with that person so they’ll know where you are and when you should be arriving.

Your uShip Questions Answered

We have received a number of inquiries lately about the shipping website uShip.com, which is an online marketplace for shipping services. Service providers bid against one another for customers’ shipments. While you might be able to get your items shipped for dirt cheap using uShip, you should be aware that uShip is simply an online marketplace for helping parties connect.

Licensed MoversThey provide a venue where a shipper and a service provider can agree on a price for service, but uShip is not actually involved in the transaction. Most importantly, you should be aware that uShip;

“does not prequalify or validate the claims of transportation service providers with respect to their license, insurance, or other operating authority.”

And this is the main problem with this website. Many of the service providers you find on uShip.com are not licensed, bonded and insured moving companies. They are either unlicensed moving companies operating illegally (the US Dept of Transportation has very strict regulations about licensing and insurance and any company performing moves without a USDOT operating authority is breaking the law) or they are just a guy or a couple of guys with a truck, trailer or van. Even if they say they are licensed they may not be, so be sure to do your homework just like you would when researching movers you find anywhere else. Check out the USDOT website (http://www.safersys.org/) to check the status of their license number.

Stay Informed

Read online reviews wherever you can find them to get an idea how other peoples’ experiences with them went. Make sure they provide a proposal in writing as well as a contract for service. Pay using a credit card or Paypal account. And of course, remember if the price seems to good to be true, it probably is.

We have heard horror stories from a couple of customers about hiring movers they found on uShip. And we have heard some positive experiences as well. It seems like a decent service that can save you money if you are shipping just one or a few items – most moving companies have minimum charges that even single item moves are subject to but uShip service providers may charge less. For larger shipments we have received some negative feedback, mostly due to the fact that the customer chose an unlicensed service provider and his insurance was not adequate.

If the mover you choose does not have a valid license (USDOT operating authority) then the mover is likely not insured and is not following all of the safety requirements and regulations that a licensed carrier must adhere to. Without the proper insurance policies you could be out of luck in the event of a major disaster on the road or even in case of relatively minor small damages. If the vehicle being used to transport your items is not properly registered then a state trooper could stop the driver and impound the vehicle, which is certainly a headache that no customer should have to handle.

We think it is always better to go with a licensed and insured professional moving services company for an interstate move. There are so many moving companies out there that offer wonderful service while managing to follow all DOT regulations and requirements. There’s no reason to risk your worldly possessions to save a few dollars by going with an unlicensed company or some guy with a truck. There’s a reason the moving industry is heavily regulated; going outside that regulated zone is not a risk worth taking when it comes to relocating your entire life.

Save money on movesThe # 1 Question – How To Save Money On Moves

A lot of customers have asked how they can save money on moves between Austin and Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. The quotes our sales staff give when they receive a request for moving in Texas between these cities is a price based on an exclusive truck, meaning the movers will arrive at your pickup location on the day you request, load everything you want to move into the truck, drive directly to your delivery address and unload it all when they get there. This is an efficient and convenient way to move between cities on your chosen day without having to wait for your belongings.

In order to save money on a move between Texas cities, you can also look into the option of a shared load. The availability for moving will depend on the schedule and when we will have trucks traveling between the cities you are moving from and to. The cost of a shared load will depend on the size of your shipment, but in general, you can save at least $100-$300 off the quoted price for an exclusive truck, depending on the cities you are moving between. This is a great option for anyone looking to get their move at the cheapest price and who also has some flexibility with the days their shipment can be picked up and delivered. It’s also a great money saving option if you need to move just one (or only a few) item(s) such as a piano.

We Are Flexible

We will do whatever we can to get you the best move at the most economical price! If you are interested in a shared load option when moving between cities in Texas be sure to let your salesperson know so she can check the schedule and let you know what days are available for your desired city. If the ability to schedule your move on a specific date is the most important factor to you then a standard exclusive truck move is your best bet, but if you can be flexible then the shared load option will definitely save you money on your move!

 

Know Your Options

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is working on a campaign to help educate consumers on the dangers of using unlicensed moving labor. Consumers have many choices when it comes to choosing a licensed mover or an unlicensed moving company. There are countless websites that offer listings, reviews, and ads for moving services. But if your mover isn’t licensed to conduct moves in Texas then you are risking a lot to save a few dollars.

You are trusting your mover with your home full of possessions, which may include family heirlooms and other items of personal and irreplaceable value. If your mover is unlicensed then you may not have any recourse in the case of loss or damage.

licensed moversIt is illegal for a household goods mover to operate without a license to conduct moves.

You can check that your mover is licensed in Texas by checking the TXDMV database. If the certificate status is listed as “Active” that means the mover is properly licensed and insured. If any other status shows next to their name, such as “Revoked” or “Inactive“, then your prospective mover has a problem with their licensing and insurance. If you can’t find a moving company in the database by name you should ask the mover to provide their TXDMV Registration Certificate number and check that information in the database (sometimes the legal name of the company is listed differently, but the number will be the same no matter what – if the number they provide shows any status other than “Active”, or you cannot find the number you were given then the mover is not licensed to perform moves).

A TXDMV certificate number allows a mover to legally perform intrastate moves within Texas only. If you are moving out of state then you should make sure your mover has a valid USDOT certificate for interstate moving using the FMCSA Safer Database. Because all licensed movers in TX must also maintain a valid USDOT certificate be sure to note whether their operation is listed as interstate or intrastate only on the Safer website.

Prices and services offered vary from mover to mover, so you should shop around before hiring a licensed mover to find the best deal that suits your needs.

  • Keep in mind that the lowest price may not be the best deal.
  • Be sure to take into account what is included in the price, such as disassembly/reassembly of furniture, disconnection/reconnection of appliances, wrapping of items, packing or materials, fuel, insurance, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure you get everything in writing. Licensed movers are insured and will provide you with the proper documents for your move.
  • Read all documents before you sign your name to make sure you understand what you are getting for the price you are paying.

Even though most movers are legitimate and reputable, unwary consumers may fall prey to dishonest moving companies and could lose more than just what they paid to have their items moved. TXDMV wants you to “Move SMART by choosing a licensed mover. Move SAFE by hiring a licensed mover. Move TEXAS by only using a licensed mover.”

Elephant Moving and Storage is licensed, bonded and insured for your protection.

Our TXDMV certificate number (for intrastate moves) is 000613531B and our USDOT certificate number (for interstate moves) is 1710619. We carry cargo insurance, vehicle insurance, general liability insurance, warehouse insurance and we are bonded; a copy of our certificate of insurance is available upon request. All of our employees are regular, trained employees, not subcontractors or day labor.

We want to make sure your move goes as smoothly as possible and that we are providing you with the highest quality service for your move. Please always feel free to ask questions if you do not understand your paperwork or are unclear on any aspect of your move and what is included for your rate.

Student MovesSummer is here! School is out until the fall. And what is a student to do with all that dorm room stuff? Turn to us for all your summer storage needs. 

We offer long term and short term storage options for a little or a lot! Our storage warehouse is a great place to stash your things for the summer or a semester abroad. Hassle free and worry free! Our crews of experienced professional movers will pick up your things when you need them out and deliver them to wherever you need them, whenever you need them – same room as last year, one a few blocks away, your mom’s house in Houston or a new place in Nashville once you get that post graduation first job!

Our most popular service for students:

  • pickup
  • short term storage for a few days or weeks
  • delivery once you move back in time for fall classes

Our skilled Austin movers wrap all furniture in quilted blankets and prepare a detailed inventory of the items they take.

Once everything is loaded up, you’re done! No need to bother with a trip to a self storage, no locks, no keys to lose!

Our crews will unload shipments into our storage warehouse and package each shipment separately on pallets with shrink wrap. Accidentally packed your favorite shoes? No problem. You can access your storage items anytime you need. Simply let our office know when you want to come by and our warehouse moving staff will make sure your items are accessible so that you can find what you need.

Everything stored in our secure warehouse facility is always insured at our basic level of $.60 per pound. If you need additional insurance you can get up to full replacement value for as little as one item up to the whole shipment. Elephant Moving & Storage is licensed, bonded and insured. Our crews of well trained movers will make your summer storage stint a breeze!

Need a quote?

Get your moving and storage estimate now!

Place an order for moving boxes and packing materials now!

Place an order for earth friendly packing crate rental!

New Storage Facility Our bigger, better new storage facility

We have upgraded to a larger new storage facility in order to accommodate the growing demand from our customers! If your things were already in storage with us then they have been seamlessly relocated to our new location a couple of miles from our old location. If you need to access your storage items or visit our office to make a payment or purchase packing supplies please come to

Elephant Moving & Storage
440 E. Saint Elmo Rd. Building B
Austin, TX 78745

Questions? Give us a call – our telephone number has not changed: 512.442.6622

And you can always visit us on the web at www.elephantmovingandstorage.com to  get an estimate, learn more about us and the services we offer, or read helpful information (such as this!) and get useful hints and tips on our moving blog.

packing cratesGet Packing Crates!

We are very happy to announce that our packing crate rental program has reached 10,000 rentals of our earth friendly packing crates!

10,000 packing crates are equal to almost 20,000 standard moving industry book boxes that would have been thrown into the garbage upon completion of moves. 20,000 cardboard boxes equals nearly 36,000 pounds of waste – that’s 36,000 pounds less waste that went to Austin area landfills last year thanks to all of our customers who chose the reusable packing crates to pack and move their homes.

Easiest Way To Pack Your Home

Our super durable packing crates are the easiest way to pack your home – no need to spend time building boxes and getting tangled in tape! They are:

  • Waterproof
  • Crush-proof
  • Incredibly sturdy – no need for excessive use of packing paper and bubble wrap to ensure items are protected (and reducing the amount of padding materials needed cuts down even more on the waste produced by packing and moving).
  • Stackable and easy to move

When  you are done unpacking we pick ’em up and get ’em out of your way! Elephant Moving and Storage offers free crate delivery and pickup in the Austin metro area.

In order to help keep Austin free of waste and to encourage our customers to pack their homes using our green alternative to traditional boxes, Elephant Moving and Storage is offering FREE CRATE RENTAL with every move in the Austin and surrounding area until the end of February!

Click here to learn more about our plastic crate rental program!

Click here to get an estimate for your upcoming local or interstate move!

moving tipsSome more moving tips to help make your move a smooth one

  • Use up all your food, so you don’t have to move it.
    • Plan for fridge/freezer items
  • Defrost freezer/refrigerator.
    • Place charcoal to dispel odors.
  • Have appliances serviced for moving.
  • Clean area rugs and have them wrapped for moving.
  • Plan for the special needs of children, pets, and plants
  • If using a moving company, check:
    • Insurance coverage
    • packing and unpacking labor
    • arrival day plans
    • paperwork
    • method and time of expected payment
  • Ask about regulations for pets including:
    • licenses
    • vaccinations
    • tags
    • leash laws, etc.

On Moving Day:

  • Carry traveler’s checks for quick available funds.
  • Carry currency, jewelry and important documents yourself, or use registered mail.
  • Double check closets, drawers, shelves; assure they’re empty.
  • Leave all keys needed by the new owner.
  • Let close friends or relatives know the route and schedule you will travel including overnight stops

Get your local or cross country Austin moving quote now!

Place an order for moving boxes and packing materials now!

Place an order for earth friendly packing crate rental!