Moving services can be expensive, but there is more than one way to measure the cost of something. If you have just found a new apartment or bought a house, congratulations! Among the dozens of decisions you face is whether to hire a full-service moving company or try a more do-it-yourself approach.
Here’s a look at a few options and their costs in terms of money, time, and stress.
What Are My Options for Moving Services?
The two biggest factors in this decision are: How much stuff do you have? How far do you have to move it? The amount of time you have to work with will weigh heavily in this equation, too.
1. Full-Service Moving Services
The most expensive option most likely will be a full-service mover, such as Allied Van Lines, United Van Lines, and Two Men and a Truck.
You can pay to have everything packed for you, including disassembling furniture. They will move it and place it in your new home right where you want it. They can handle specialty items, like pianos and fragile items. They offer automobile shipping. You can insure your possessions for a price.
Long-distance moves cost more because the company must factor in the cost of fuel, tolls, and possibly food and lodging if the trip requires overnight stays. However, for long-distance moves, you will have to cover these things one way or another.
A full-service mover will schedule your date ahead of time, and it might be a few days or even longer from move-out day until the day they move your possessions into your new home. You will have to move some items yourself, in that case, such as medications, baby supplies, clothing and toiletries, and vital documents.
2. Moving Container Company
A mid-price option most likely would be a moving container company, such as U-Pack and PODS. These outfits, also called storage container companies, deposit a storage container at your residence so you can load it with your possessions. They will transport it to your new residence, where you can unload it.
This option puts more work on your shoulders. However, the container company likely will offer to connect you to movers who can do that work for a fee.
(One note about movers. They expect to be tipped. Give a tip to each mover to make sure that he or she receives what you intend.)
These services also might offer specialty boxes, insurance, and moving tools such as dollies and furniture padding.
This option gives you more flexibility in the timing because you can rent the container for as much time as you like. Also, you can pay for only the size of the container you need.
Before going with this option, make sure your homeowner association, condo board, or apartment manager has restrictions on the placement of portable containers or rental trucks.
You also must make sure you have room in your driveway. Your municipality might have laws against keeping a container on the street or require a permit.
3. Move It Yourself
The least expensive option most likely will be moving your stuff yourself. Most people taking this route rent a moving truck from a company like U-Haul or Budget Rental.
In assessing the cost of this, amateur movers should consider all the extras. The rental companies will charge for mileage, so you must pay the cost of gasoline and do all the work. The rental company might have charges for extra mileage. It also will charge for insurance on the vehicle and insurance for your possessions.
You also should consider what it will cost to feed and perhaps give each of your volunteer movers some token of your appreciation.
As with the container companies, many truck rental services offer add-ons like boxes, moving tools such as dollies, padding, packing tape, and organization materials. Many of these companies also can connect you with professional movers to ease some of your burden.
Is It Cheaper to Move Yourself or Hire a Moving Company?
According to Forbes.com, the national average cost of a basic move is about $1,400, ranging from $800 to $2,150. Forbes based that on a two-person moving team completing a local move of fewer than 100 miles. For long-distance moves, the average cost of movers reaches $2,200 to $5,700.
When dealing with a full-service mover, insist on visual estimates, not online, and a binding or maximum estimate. You don’t want to allow for the possibility of costly surprise add-ons.
Renting a moving truck and doing your own work can cost from about $100 to a few thousand dollars, depending on the size of the truck and the distance of the move.
Is Moving Yourself Worth It?
Here are a few things to consider as you decide whether to hire a mover, rent a storage container or do it yourself:
- Do you have a bad back or aching knees? If you are in good health and decent shape, do you want to be sore for a few days from hauling boxes and furniture?
- How would you react if a friend or family member dropped and broke a valuable possession of yours or gouged a big, deep scrape in the wall of your new living room.
- Does your current home or new one have a lot of stairs?
- Do you have a lot of able-bodied friends and family members with time on their hands?
- Are any of your possessions extremely heavy or bulky, like a piano?
- Do you have small children or pets that must be cared for while you are doing mover’s work?
- Can you drive a 26-foot truck? Do you know where to go to gas up such a beast? These questions are more essential if you have a long-distance, multi-day drive.
- Are there rules or regulations regarding storage containers on or near your property?
- Which of your accounts has the best balance: money, time, or stress?
Do I Need a Professional Moving Service?
If you are moving a short distance, have good health and enough helpers, and don’t have a lot of stuff, move-it-yourself might be a no-brainer.
As the move becomes more complicated, renting a truck becomes less attractive. However, many truck rental companies have added services that make them competitive with moving container companies and even full-service movers.
This is just one more tricky question that home buyers must weigh, judging by the particulars of their case and to options available.