DIY Or Hire A Moving Company?
It can be a hard decision to make, and one that depends on many different factors. How much time do you have to plan the move, and how far are you going? Do you have a big house full of stuff, or just a small apartment or desire to start from scratch? Are you physically fit with a cohort of strong friends willing to help? Even your emotional approach to saving and discarding possessions carries weight in this equation.
Generally speaking, fewer belongings times less distance equals a higher likelihood that a self-move can make sense. There are always individual preferences and variations. Just as some people would never consider “wasting money” on a new car, some believe buying used to be taking on someone else’s problems. Similarly, we all know people who move often and seem even to enjoy the challenge of wrestling that two-ton sofa up the steep stairwell as well as people who prefer to close their eyes until the nightmare is over.
A small, local move is one of the best candidates for a self-move. If you have a compact household and plenty of time to plan and execute, you should be able to move your belongings if you want to. You will most likely save money if you have a few friends who are willing to help in exchange for pizza and beer. Remember to factor in variables like narrow stairways and wide sofas when you make this decision, so you still have the same friends at the end of the day.
If you are thinking of moving yourself, make sure you consider the following:
- Ancillary costs such as insurance, gas, boxes and packing material, plus additional time off from work
- Personal labor (moving is hard work!)
- Potential for loss if something gets damaged by you or your amateur helpers
On the plus side, you have more control over the process and can determine your move’s precise timing. You don’t have to trust your cherished possessions to a stranger, and if something goes wrong, you have only yourself (and your friends) to blame. You will save money, especially if you are smart about packing, scrounging used boxes, and shopping for a truck rental.
For a local move, you should consider these elements of the price:
- Rental truck fee (base rate)
- Mileage fee
- Fuel costs
- Damage protection
- Environmental fee
- Add-on services (moving supplies, moving equipment, etc.)
For a one-way long-distance move, the pricing elements are similar but usually don’t have a per-mile fee, just a mileage cap.
What other fees are there when I rent a moving truck?
You can avoid some extra fees with planning. Ensure you have insurance coverage for any damage to the vehicle, or you may incur high expenses for repairs. Return the truck with an equal amount of fuel that it had when you picked it up, or the refueling charge may be high. Check ahead of time for the cost of accessories and supplies–just because they are in the truck doesn’t mean they are free. Ask about charges for additional or underage drivers, and make sure you return the rental on time, and if you need to cancel, do so promptly.
Also, look for (and ask for) discounts from the rental companies. You may be able to snag 10% off just by making your reservation online instead of in person or over the phone. Budget offers discounts to students, military personnel, members of automobile associations, first responders, retirees, and even attorneys. It never hurts to ask for a discount based on a college, credit union, or other affiliation.
What else should I consider when I decide whether to hire movers?
Physical challenge. Moving is tough work. Just getting your household goods ready to go, along with everything else you have going on, may be enough to handle. If you have time to sort and reduce the amount of possessions you are moving, that is a great way to save money and reduce the physical burden of the move. Do you want to take on the demands of packing, loading, and unloading not only the boxes but also the furniture? Realistically, are your friends going to be up for the task of disassembling your antique oak dining table and preparing it for safe travel? And do you want to trust them with your fragile collection of glassware? Timing and scheduling the helpers can be a significant challenge for all but the smallest moves, and if you are not moving locally, who will help you at the destination site?
Damage. Movers are professionals, and they know how to pack and load your belongings so that it doesn’t get damaged. They don’t want to have to replace valuable items, but if something does end up damaged (or missing), you have insurance to cover it. If you move on your own, you take on the responsibility for any damage or loss.
Liability. This is a big one. Those helpful friends, who are happy or at least willing to haul your massive desk down the stairs in exchange for a promise of beer and pizza—what happens when one of them slips and falls? There is no worker’s compensation plan to cover the injury or time lost from work, and again, you are the one with the liability. No matter how good a friend, it’s going to get awkward, at best.
Driving the big truck. Once you get the truck loaded up with all your worldly goods, now what? It can be very intimidating to climb behind the wheel of a 20 foot or larger vehicle and pull out of the driveway. The drive may seem a lot longer, and parking in the new location could be an issue. Consider these factors carefully before deciding.
What are the advantages of hiring professional movers?
While hiring a commercial moving company will cost more than doing the job on your own, you will benefit from a more relaxed move, less work, and most likely a more successful outcome. The bottom line is, movers are professionals at moving, and you are not. They would not be as good at doing your job as you are, and you can’t expect to perform their job as well as they do.
Movers will pack more efficiently, protect your possessions better, load the truck more effectively, and take less time doing all these things. Professional apartment movers have the skills, experience and tools they need to do a good job.
If you have belongings that you value, it makes sense to spend the money to have them securely relocated to their new home. Make sure that you aren’t moving things you don’t want or need, and that you consider discarding items that should be replaced before you move them, rather than after. Also, choose a moving company that you feel comfortable with, and take the time to research their reputation and references so you have the confidence in your selection. Finally, obtain insurance coverage that is sufficient to protect your valuables (never leave extraordinary valued items for the movers) so you don’t face unexpected losses during your move.