DIY vs. Professional Movers – How to Choose for Your Move

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Moving is one of the least fun experiences to think about, much less actually do. Preparation and packing takes weeks, the move is mentally and physically demanding, and there’s a lot of stress involved. You’ve probably done it and said “never again,” before doing so again a few years later.

The biggest decision you’ll make in your move is whether to do it yourself, or hire a mover. Either way can be successful: doing it yourself requires a lot more work and planning, but is often cheaper. Hiring someone makes your life much easier, but you’re paying for that privilege. Before you make your decision, here are some questions to help you figure out which approach is best for your upcoming move.

How Much Are You Moving?

At the risk of stating the obvious: the more you have to move, the more it makes sense to hire professionals. If you can fit everything you’re taking in the back of a pickup and make just one or two trips, then you’re probably better off doing it yourself—assuming you have a pickup, of course. If not, you may have to rent a pickup or a larger moving truck. Consider too the liability of driving a large vehicle you’re unfamiliar with, because moving trucks don’t handle like your sedan.

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These guys should have hired a professional. Image from Google

Got Friends?

Another DIY approach would be to try to lure as many friends or family members as possible into helping you. That may work, but coordinating everyone’s schedules is easier said than done, especially as we approach spring and summer, and people have more school sporting events and vacations on the weekends. If you can get friends to help, you’ll still have to oversee everything and keep them happy with food and drinks, as they’re doing you a favor.

Because friends aren’t professionals, you also don’t have much recourse if something goes wrong. Are you willing to ruin friendships over items that get broken, or just accept the loss of those items and move on? When you hire an expert mover, they’re responsible for making certain your belongings actually survive the move, and you have recourse in the event that damages occur.

How Far Are You Moving?

If you’re going any farther than across town, then it definitely makes sense to hire pros. Asking friends to help you move things more than an hour away is really asking a lot. If there are multiple trips involved, then it’s probably asking too much of people to spend the time and gas to help you out. You could offer to pay for gas, but then you may as well just hire a moving company in the first place.

The Cost Factor

Everyone has a budget, so for some, hiring a mover simply isn’t practical. Before you put yourself in that group, though, use a moving cost calculator to get a ballpark figure for how much hiring a professional actually costs. If it’s still more than you want to spend, then go DIY, but don’t forget to also look into DIY costs of boxes, bubble wrap, truck rental, etc.

What Is Your Time Worth?

This factor is one of the most significant in making your decision. For many people, it’s worth the price to not think about the logistics of moving: buying supplies, packing, renting a vehicle, buying more supplies, eating fast food for weeks because you don’t have time to cook, and seriously, how am I out of bubble wrap again? If you’re lucky, you can do all those things on weekends or after work, but if you have to take time off work for your move, then you also need to consider what those missed vacation days are worth to you. After all, moving is no vacation.

How’s Your Back?

If lifting heavy items is difficult for you, why are you even asking this question? Hire professionals. Let them do the heavy lifting, move it all, and place all your boxes exactly where you want them. Even if you DIY and everything goes well the first day, there’s a good chance you’ll wake up the next morning immediately regretting your decision.

Conclusions: Which is Right for You?

You’re most likely to have a successful DIY move if:

• You’re moving a relatively small amount of things.
• You’re not moving very far.
• You can rely on friends and family to lend a hand.
• You’re in good physical shape and can lift heavy items.
• You have the time to devote to proper planning.

If at least three or four of those factors aren’t in your favor, hiring a mover is probably in your best interests. Obviously, cost will always be a factor, but when determining your moving costs, be realistic about your DIY costs. It’ll still probably be cheaper than hiring a mover, but maybe not as much as you’d think. Decide whether the difference is enough for all the trouble it saves, and you’ll have your decision.

Featured image by Erich Ferdinand/Flickr

About the author

Jess once moved from Tennessee to Utah and about a dozen places in between. She loves reading, researching, and being outdoors with her husband and two silly puppies.

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