DIY vs. Hiring Professional Movers—Which is Better?

Admit it; you’ve been wondering if you should hire movers or do it yourself. Here’s our take –

Hire professional movers if:

Do a DIY move if:

You detest physical labor or don’t have the time to do the packing and moving yourself You don’t have a big relocation budget
You value safety and peace of mind over saving a few bucks You’re physically able (and willing) to do the heavy lifting
You have lots of “stuff” You don’t have that much to move
You have bulky items like pianos, triple dressers, and pool tables You have enough help
You’re moving out of state or across the country You’re moving across town or in-state
You’d rather not drive a clunky moving van You’re comfortable driving a moving van

Takeaway – hiring professional movers makes sense for large, complex, long-distance moves, while DIY may be a better option for small local moves.

In this post, we’ll address the pros and cons of each, but first, check out these helpful resources:

  • Moving cost calculator – Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move and the magic algorithms will do the rest
  • Best interstate movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, it’s worth hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews
  • Best moving container companies – If you haven’t considered moving containers, you really should. It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks

Best truck rental companies

U-Haul, Penske, Budget, and Enterprise are the biggest names in the truck rental business.

That said, they’re not all the same.

If you’re planning a DIY move, check out this in-depth head-to-head comparison before renting a truck from one of these companies.

If you only want to load the truck but let the moving company drive it, consider a company like MovingYourself.

How much does it cost to hire a local mover?

  • $325+ – 1-bedroom apartment (no packing)
  • $3,100+ – moderately furnished 2 or 3-bedroom home with partial packing
  • $7,000+ – larger home with full packing and unpacking

How much do interstate movers cost?

  • $5,600+ – 2 or 3-bedroom home with partial packing moving less than 500 miles
  • $8,000+ – the same move going 1,000 miles
  • $20,000+ – the same move going from coast-to-coast

Please note that these are “ballpark” prices. Actual move costs vary based on multiple factors.

Other moving options worth considering

Moving containers

Moving containers are great options for hybrid DIY moves.

You can use most containers for local and long-distance moving and storage, and professionals handle the driving.

Freight trailers

Booking a 28-foot freight trailer with U-Pack makes sense on large, long-distance DIY moves.

Labor only companies

Whether you rent a truck or use a moving container or freight trailer, you’ll have the option of adding loading and unloading labor with a company like HireAHelper.

Professional movers – the pros

1. They save time

Hectic family schedules leave little time for packing, moving, and driving moving vans cross-country.

Hiring professional movers makes sense when time is in limited supply.

2. They’re experienced, efficient and well-equipped

Reputable moving companies have experienced crews and all the equipment necessary to move household goods quickly, safely, and efficiently.

3. You’re items will be covered in the event of loss or damage

Reputable movers offer multiple coverage options.

Released-value coverage is usually free. However, you’ll only be reimbursed a fraction of what you paid for each item in the event of loss or damage. You can purchase full-value replacement coverage with various deductible options if that’s not enough. 

Knowing your items are covered will decrease the stress associated with moving.

4. You’ll avoid injuries

Lifting oak armoires and lugging hide-a-beds down tight stairways can lead to accidents, injuries, and property damage.

When in doubt, let professionals assume the risk.

5. You can choose the services you want

Hiring movers isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition.

Doing some or all of the packing and letting the movers handle the heavy lifting is a great way to customize your move and save money.

6. They may be cheaper than you think

With rental trucks in short supply and fuel prices on the rise, hiring professional movers makes more sense than ever.

In some cases, you may find that U-Haul prices are higher than you expected. If so, consider packing yourself and hiring a full-service mover.

Whatever you do, reserve your rental truck or book your mover early if you’ll be moving during the peak season between May and September.

7. Less stress

If you’ve done your homework and hired a top-notch company, you’ll experience far less stress than you if you’d done the packing, moving, and driving yourself.

The cons

  • Professional movers aren’t cheap
  • Moving scams are on the rise
  • Having strangers in your home can be awkward and stressful
  • Rates increase significantly during the peak summer season
  • Delivery windows can be maddeningly long on cross-country moves

The best way to move into a small apartment

Traditional full-service movers may not be the best option when moving a small apartment.

Instead, you may save money and get better service with a small move specialist like Mini Moves.

Check out this post for more apartment moving options.

DIY moves – the pros

1. They’re usually cheaper

In-town truck rentals often cost less than $100. In many cities, that’s the hourly rate for a 3-man moving crew.

DIY moves are generally cheaper than hiring movers, but don’t forget to factor in packing material, fuel, insurance, and moving equipment like pads, straps, and dollies.

2. You’ll have more control

On DIY moves, you can pack, load, drive, and deliver on your schedule as opposed to a moving company’s schedule.

3. You won’t have to worry about getting scammed

There’s no better way to avoid shady movers than by doing your move yourself.

4. Road trips can be a blast

Cross-country road trips aren’t for everyone, but they can be memorable experiences for adventurous types.

5. Nothing beats pizza and beer after a long day of moving

Enough said.

The cons

Frequently asked questions (faqs)

Is it better to move yourself?

DIY moves make sense sometimes, but they’re physically demanding, time-consuming, and dangerous.

Is it OK not to tip movers?

Not tipping movers is perfectly OK if you’re short on funds or they haven’t lived up to your expectations. If they have, cold drinks and heartfelt thanks go a long way.

What items will movers not move?

Though it’s not a complete list, movers won’t generally move liquids, aerosols, propane tanks, explosives, poison, perishable food, plants, or live animals.

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