If you’ve ever asked yourself whether professional packing services were right for you, the answer may be a resounding “yes.”
Professional packers can be expensive and tough of moving budgets, but they reduce stress, save the time it would take to pack yourself, and give you peace of mind that your breakable items won’t get damaged during transit – and packing can usually be done in a day.
If you’re busy balancing a job and a family, professional packers may be a great option, but you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons carefully first.
Let’s see how.
Professional packing isn’t always prohibitively expensive, so don’t rule it out until you’ve had in-home estimates from reputable moving companies.
Before beginning the walkthrough, each surveyor should sit down and go over how professional packing works, and what the options are.
Afterward, you can show them around your home so they can give you an accurate idea of how much it’ll cost to pack and move everything.
Remember, estimates should be itemized so you know the specific costs associated with everything from packing and moving, to crating, storage, and insurance.
Estimates that provide numbers only should be viewed with skepticism.
Insider’s Tip: Making a list of questions, concerns, and items that need special attention is a great way to ensure you don’t forget anything, and that each consultant includes the same services in their estimate.
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Packing is typically done the day before the actual move, and packing crews usually only handle items you want them to pack.
It’s a common misconception that they do everything from rolling carpets and disassembling beds, to wrapping furniture in moving blankets and covering sofas with shrinkwrap, but these jobs are largely the responsibility of the movers.
Instead, full-service packers generally –
- Remove and pack items from cabinets, cupboards, dressers, and closets
- Remove dresser mirrors and pictures from the walls
- Pack items from the same room together
- Label boxes to show what’s inside and which room they came from
- Stack boxes against a wall out of the way
- Note existing damage on items they pack
- Inventory each box and list its contents
- Note serial numbers for electronics and other relevant information for high-value items
Before signing a contract, make sure you have a clear understanding of exactly what the packers will and will not do – it’ll help avoid confusion and conflict on move day.
If you’re just having a few boxes of breakables packed, packing can cost less than $100.
On the other hand, to have the contents of a large home packed it can be many thousands, and on the largest moves more than $10,000.
Depending on whether you’re moving from one state to another or across town, your company may charge you for packing in a few different ways.
1. Flat-rate – With flat-rate packing customers are charged a set price for packing material and labor based on carton size.
For example, you may be charged $35 per dish carton (including material and labor), $5 per book box, and $17 per wardrobe regardless of how long it takes to pack each.
This is almost always how charges are calculated on interstate moves.
2. Hourly – On most local moves, companies charge their customers a price per carton in addition to an hourly rate for each member of the crew.
When packing is charged this way, the cost for each box is cheaper than with the flat-rate method, but when labor is added cost is usually about the same.
On the downside, some workers have a tendency to work slowly when they’re getting paid by the hour.
Packing costs can vary based on a number of factors, including –
- Season – packing may be more expensive during the summer months and on holidays
- Day of the week – weekdays may be significantly cheaper than weekends
- Size of the crew – especially on local moves, more workers = higher cost
- How many boxes of each size are used
- Additional charges for items like travel time and fuel
Professional Packing Saves Time
For many families time is the number one factor when deciding whether or not to hire professional packers.
Packing on your own can take weeks, especially if you’re limited to working on weekends and after the kids are asleep.
And that’s not factoring in the time and cost associated with finding or buying everything from boxes and tape, to paper and bubble wrap.
In short, doing it all yourself may not be worth the hassle and expense.
Professional Packing is a Good Value
When you hire professional packers they’ll bring everything needed to do the job efficiently.
In addition, most packers are trained pros with tons of experience, which means they’ll work quickly while minimizing damage.
All this adds up to white glove service for a reasonable price.
Professional Packing Reduces Stress
Watching trained professionals work from the comfort of your couch is a surefire way to reduce stress.
You’ll need to make yourself available to answer questions, but hiring packers saves time and energy which will allow you to focus on work, family, and other aspects of your move.
Likewise, packing can be physically demanding, so throwing your back out lifting a heavy dish carton won’t be an issue if you hire professionals.
Professional Packing Shifts Liability
When a moving company packs and moves boxes it’s generally liable for damage caused to items inside.
On the other hand, if you pack a box yourself and discover that something is damaged after your move, the company will usually only accept responsibility if there’s visible damage to the outside of the carton, and you can prove they caused it.
Things like water stains, crushed corners and punctures may be dead giveaways, unless they noted them on the inventory before the move.
Insider’s Tip: In most cases professional packers are trained and experienced, so rest assured that they’ll pack your items carefully and correctly.
Professional Packing May be Your Only Option
Doing your own packing may not be an option if you’re elderly or handicapped, or need to move last-minute due to a traumatic event like a death in the family or a sudden job loss.
Depending on what time of year you need their services, packers may be available the next day, though there could be a much longer wait during the peak season between May and September.
When confronted with the cost of professional packing services, many customers decide to do it themselves.
In fact, for families living from paycheck to paycheck the price for packing can be prohibitive.
But though professional packers love packing the contents of an entire home, they’re usually happy to pack breakable items only.
This option keeps prices low while putting the burden of handling fragile and expensive items like crystal, china, electronics and artwork squarely on their shoulders.
On the other hand, if you do have the time, doing the packing yourself is a great way to keep more money in your own pocket.
It’s Strange and Invasive
For some people, having strangers route through their most personal items is just too much to bear.
If this sounds like you, it’s easily avoidable by designating an “off-limits” area like a closet or kid’s room.
When the packers arrive, politely tell them that there’s nothing in this area that they need to pack, and that there’s no reason for them to go inside.
If possible, keep the restricted area locked and tape a sign to the door to avoid mix-ups.
Insider’s Tip: Most packers and movers are honest, hard-working men and women, but like in every profession, there are those who wouldn’t think twice about swiping a gold ring or a few dollars, so vetting the companies you’re considering is imperative. Take advantage of recommendations from friends, family, and coworkers, online reviews, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and the American Moving & Storage Association (AMSA).
You’ll Lose Some Control
Regardless of how thorough you are giving the packers their pre-move instructions, they’ll inevitably pack things they shouldn’t, forget things they should, and mix items that shouldn’t go together.
Though these missteps are usually no big deal, for task-oriented sticklers (control freaks) it can be a frustrating experience, especially if you have a crew of 4 or 5 spread across a multi-bedroom home.
If you do opt for professional packing, just remember, having a few hall closet items mixed in with kitchenware isn’t the end of the world, and the packers may just have been trying to utilize carton space efficiently and save you a few bucks.
Though there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, packing is often a great value for busy families on the move.
Full packing service is nice, but in most cases having professional packers handle your breakables only is more feasible.
And remember that for some items like chandeliers, priceless artwork, and marble tabletops, custom crating may be necessary.