Moving can be expensive, especially when you add up all the little costs. One big expense that many people try to reduce is the cost of hauling their stuff. But before you start a do-it-yourself move, ask yourself these questions.
What’s the most precious thing I own? If your most prized possessions are your laptop and a ring you have never take off, then a DIY move is fairly low-risk.
But if you have heirloom furniture, fine china or a television that’s worth more than your first car, professional movers may be worth the investment. If something breaks, a moving company is insured. If a friend drops your grandmother’s precious glass vase it can get awkward.
How hard is it to pack? You and your friends or family volunteers should be able to pack clothes, books and most household items without much difficulty. Some items where professional movers have the edge: large furniture that needs to be disassembled to get through a doorway or stairway, and items that need special packing like pool tables, flat screen TVs, aquariums and fragile glassware. The last thing you want is to find yourself at your new home, exhausted and trying to figure out how to put your bed frame back together.
How far am I going? Professional moving services charge by the pound and the mile, so you’ll save more by hauling your own belongings for a long move – but remember that you still have to pay for truck rental and gas. If you’re moving within the same town, you can save by hiring movers for your furniture and large items only, then transporting smaller items through multiple trips in your own car.
What’s my time worth? When you hire movers, you’re essentially buying back your own time. Only you can decide if it’s a fair price. If moving your own belongings means taking time off from work, hiring a babysitter, boarding your pets or buying special equipment, take those costs into account.
What’s my budget? Get quotes from movers online or in person. For a local move, look for a licensed and insured mover with lots of positive reviews. For a longer move, request estimates from a few of the major interstate moving companies. A professional mover will come to your house and estimate the weight of your belongings, but you can also get a rough estimate online based on the size of your house and a general description of your furniture and appliances.
What’s worth the trip? Moving is a great time to streamline your possessions. Some things can’t be moved for safety reasons, so bid farewell to the propane tank and that perfume you’ve had since junior high. Avoid paying to move broken appliances, knick-knacks you don’t like or clothes you never wear. Donate items to charity and keep the receipts for a possible tax deduction. If you’re too busy packing to keep an itemized donation list, snap photos with your smartphone. Consider selling bulky appliances like refrigerators and washing machines to your home’s new owners – chances are, you’ll want to find something that fits your new space anyway.
How flexible is my timeline? Professional movers are the busiest – and most expensive – during summer months and at the end of a month. If you can schedule your move at an off-peak time, you may be able to negotiate a better rate.
How much do my friends like me? Some friends are more agreeable than others, but not everyone is up for helping others move. A friend-powered move is most likely to work if it’s the norm in your social circle and if you can make it fun and rewarding. Offer food and beverages, and always be ready to return the favor.
Learn more about other costs that could come along with home ownership.