Sales and customer service staff at moving companies hear it all the time.
Potential customers call and ask…
“I only need to move one item. Can you do it?”
After a nanosecond of quiet reflection, their answers generally run the gamut from probably, maybe, and it depends, to yes, no, and I’ll have to call you back.
Seems odd for such a simple request doesn’t it?
That’s because there are so many variables involved.
Thankfully we’re about to delve into the topic.
So warm-up that coffee and grab a pencil, because you may want to take notes.
Most common scenarios in which people want (or need) to move only one item:
—within their own home
—from one state to another
Now let’s take a closer look at the best options for each.
1. Full-service Moving Companies
For the elderly, the handicapped, and those who’d just rather not risk a serious injury moving something heavy on their own, professional moving companies are usually the best option.
If it’s a nightstand or a coffee table you’d like moved from one room to another, one man may be able to handle it in just a few minutes.
If it’s a hot tub or a piano going down stairs, however, it’ll require extra muscle—and maybe even special equipment.
Likewise, if you want to send an antique armoire to your Aunt Millie on Maple Street, you’ll probably be able to find a variety of movers more than willing to help.
In this instance, you’ll likely need a 2-man crew.
But the company’s willingness to provide such a low-dollar service will largely depend on the time of year, day of the week, and your overall flexibility.
It’s also important to note that most movers have minimum charges for small jobs.
And that goes for in-home, local movers, and interstate ones.
For the first two, you’ll probably be charged for 3 or 4 hours, even if your job only takes 30 minutes.
If you’re moving from one state to another, the cost of your move will largely be determined by the weight of your item and the distance between origin and destination.
But there’s a catch…
Most interstate movers will charge you based on a minimum weight.
In other words, if you move a dresser that weighs 150 pounds, you’ll be charged the same rate as customers who are moving anywhere from 1,000 and 2,100 pounds.
That means you’re paying a big premium that may make it economically unfeasible.
Movers are more likely to waive these requirements during the moving off-season when customers are scarcer.
So being flexible may save you a bundle.
2. On-Demand Movers
On-demand movers have been making big waves in the relocation business in recent years.
They’re generally smaller and have less overhead than their larger competitors, which tends to make them less expensive and more flexible.
They also specialize in last-minute shipments.
That’s great for those who prefer to skip the drawn-out planning associated with larger moves.
On-demand movers are typically better options for in-home and local moves, but some of them offer interstate service as well.
They’re also popular with customers who’ve purchased a bulky item from a discount furniture warehouse or thrift shop and have no way to get it home.
So go ahead and make that impulse buy!
3. Online Marketplaces
The internet is full of websites that help connect customers with independent contractors who specialize in moving small shipments.
The operators of these websites don’t own their own trucks but instead act as intermediaries or brokers.
All that competition can drive down prices.
But there are downsides too.
Since the actual movers aren’t employees, the potential for poor service and unexpected headaches is higher.
Many customers do have great experiences with these companies, but it’s important to do your research and check references carefully before scheduling a move.
That’s why we recommend uShip. They provide reviews and a verified vendor system, still though, be sure to pick a good vendor.
These services are more geared toward long-distance moves, but they may not be great options when moving fragile or high-value items.
4. Freight Companies
Whereas moving companies specialize in handling delicate household goods, freight companies haul pretty much everything else.
Here we’re talking about things like soda, toilet paper, lumber, and canned goods.
But in an attempt to keep their trucks full, some of them have added moving services in recent years.
Great news, right?
Maybe, but not always.
Freight moving companies are a far cry from full-service movers, and the options they offer usually require extra work on your part.
If you’re moving just one item, they’ll drop a small shipping container off at your home one day, then come back and load it onto a truck a day or two later.
It’s up to you to get your item into the container, protect it properly, and make sure it’s situated in such a way that it won’t shift during transit.
Then at the destination, they’ll repeat the process in reverse.
After you’ve scrounged up some cheap labor and unloaded your item, they’ll come back and pick up the container.
This may be a cost-effective option, but it’s usually one best left to the young, fit, and thrifty.
We recommend this option for cross-country moves.
It’s important to note that freight companies may not have special equipment like moving pads and air-ride trailers.
Cases of canned baked beans don’t need the smooth ride that air-ride vans provide. Hand trucks and dollies are typically available to rent.
But your dear grandmother’s glass-front hutch does, so weigh the pros and cons before going this route.
Ask about insurance too.
Chances are if something gets damaged, you’re on your own.
If you’ve got ample time, hearty muscles, and an adventurous spirit, you can always move a heavy item yourself.
But for some, that’s just not an option.
For others, however, renting an inexpensive moving truck for an hour or two is an easy and cost-effective way to get a small job done on the cheap.
It becomes less feasible, however, if your item needs to go a long way.
If a road-trip isn’t out of the question, the options include renting a van or a trailer you can tow behind your car or truck.
But be sure to consider what you’ll be moving before reserving your equipment.
An antique sideboard needs to be inside an enclosed, waterproof space during transit.
If you’re moving a motorcycle, a flatbed trailer and tarp may suffice.
Moving Labor Services
Day-laborers can be a good option for those in need of labor.
HireAHelper is a marketplace where you can hire movers to help you on an hourly basis.
Unless you choose to hire professional movers, you’re probably going to need some help either with packing or heavy lifting.
This is a great option to go with a cheaper option without having to take on a load of moving a large item yourself.
We especially recommend hiring moving labor services for in-home and local moves.