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Spend vs. Splurge: When to Hire Movers And When to Do It Yourself

All Relocation Articles

By Horace Black

There are lots of fun, exciting things to do in this world. Then there’s moving, something about 35 million of us do each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and we have the sore muscles to prove it (but hey, it’s great exercise!).

Okay, it’s not as bad as all that. But relocating you and your family, dealing with auto shipping and address changing, and moving all of your belongings does have its share of headaches. One way to make the task easier is to hire a professional moving company. But is the convenience worth the expense? Let’s take a look at both sides.

Reasons to Do it Yourself

Money Issues

In most cases handling the job yourself will let you keep more cash in your pocket. But don’t just assume this is the case; do the math first. Consider the costs of boxes, packaging, gas, truck rental, tolls and other fees. Sometimes these can be more than expected. For example, U-Haul and similar companies often advertise a low price for their trucks. But when you look at the fine print you find it doesn’t include fuel, insurance and other incidentals. There are sometimes hidden costs of moving yourself, so be realistic when adding up the cost of a self-move.

Taking Proper Care 

There are two ways to look at this. One way is to ask yourself who cares more about your belongings, yourself or a stranger. For example, say you have a precious vase that has been in your family for generations. Who is more likely to exercise loving care in handling it? Most people would point at themselves. On the other hand, many movers are highly conscientious and respectful of their customer’s property, so this might be an unfounded concern. The bottom line: if you go with a professional, check out what others say about their services. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect.

At Your Convenience

One thing is for sure: professionals are going to show up ready to get the job done right away. You, on the other hand, may prefer a more leisurely process, especially if your new home isn’t that far from your present one. If you have the option of taking things over a few at a time you might want to go at it alone. Then again, if you’re the “get it done now” type you might want to let other people take care of the job for you.

In summary, if you've done the math and you think you can save by moving yourself, that may be your best option. Moving yourself gives you the convenience of packing and moving at your own pace, and it allows you to properly care for each breakable or sentimental item.

Reasons to Hire Movers

The Ease of it All

If you’re like most Americans, then you own more stuff than you probably realize. Often it doesn’t become obvious how much you’ve got until you start loading it into a truck. And, when it comes to furniture and appliances, back pain may be one of the “hidden costs” of doing it yourself. So take a good, honest look at your level of fitness. If you have doubts that you can do the work, then it's probably best to get someone else to handle it for you.

Experience and Tools

Chances are, many of your possessions can be moved with ease. Others may require disassembly or other special treatment, though. Professionals are used to moving all sorts of items, including that wall-length bookshelf of yours that breaks down into two dozen pieces. Also, they have the tools and the muscle power to do the work properly. There are several reasons to hire movers, but a clear benefit of having a professional move your stuff is that they have the right experience and tools.

Insurance Assurance

Lastly, professionals are liable for damage to your property, and you can buy supplemental coverage to provide added assurance. On the other hand, if you damage or destroy something on your own, you are probably just out of luck.

To sum it up, if you have some flexibility in your budget and wish to save time and stress, hiring movers may make perfect sense. Professionals are fast at what they do and they show up at the same time, opposed to having to coordinate your families' and friends' schedules. Movers bring a truck, tools and experience, and they take care of the job so you don't have to.

Either Way, Planning Makes Perfect

No matter which option you choose, doing some research first always pays off. If you take the DIY route, MoneyCrashers offers valuable tips on doing it right. If you hire a company, check its online reviews and Better Business Bureau report, or ask friends for a recommendation. A little preparation will help ensure that your move goes smoothly, no matter who does the work.


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