DIY vs. Hiring Professional Movers—Which is Better?

Professional movers may seem expensive… until you start to add up the moving costs of a DIY move. Find out which option is best for you!

Should I hire movers or do my move myself?

It’s a question that’s occupied great minds for millennia.

Though the answer will be different for everyone, in this article we’ll delve into the conundrum in great detail.

We’ve previously established that moving can be tedious, stressful, and expensive.

Not to mention time-consuming as well as physically and emotionally draining.

Needless to say, the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly.

In fact, for those who’ve lived in the same home or apartment for decades, moving can be a daunting prospect.

Before choosing the option that’s best for you, you’ll want to look at the issue from every angle.

Once you’ve signed on the dotted line and handed over your credit card you’re probably locked into your choice… so getting it right the first time is imperative.

This article will help you do just that.

Why Hiring Professional Movers is a Good Idea

Time

Though you won’t find its value listed next to gold or pork belly futures on the internet, time is one of the world’s rarest commodities.

In most homes, both parents work full-time jobs, and their kids’ schedules are jam-packed with extra-curricular activities like violin lessons and little league that keep everyone busy from sunup to sundown.

It makes planning a move difficult—let alone renting a truck, finding willing labor, and actually packing, loading, driving, and unloading the contents of your home.

If you’d rather not spend your free time lifting book boxes and carrying dressers down three flights of stairs with your Uncle Ronnie, hiring professional movers is probably a wise choice.


Efficiency

The more you do something, the better you get.

It goes for golfing, cooking, and moving—and everything in between.

Moving companies often get a bad rap for poor customer service, unnecessary damage, and late deliveries, but compared to the average do-it-yourselfer they’re models of efficiency.

Most employ hard-working men and women with gobs of experience, and the reputable ones have a vested interest in completing your move on time and on budget.

Moving crews rely on tips to supplement their meager incomes, so they’ve got the incentive to handle your move quickly and efficiently.

After all, nobody writes good reviews or doles out generous tips for lousy service.


Equipment

After a professional moving company’s representative has done a walk-through of your home, they will provide an estimate that should include all the equipment necessary to handle your move.

Here we’re talking about things like walk-boards, dollies, and moving blankets.

They should also have special items like padded door protection and rug runners to protect your home from damage.

If you’re doing a DIY move you can rent similar equipment from your truck rental company, but they’ll usually charge a pretty penny for it.


Insurance

If you’ve done your homework, interviewed qualified movers, and picked a reputable company, you’ve likely learned a lot in the process.

And hopefully, you haven’t forgotten to ask about insurance.

Moving insurance can vary greatly from one company to the next, and the price and coverage depend on whether you’re moving locally or out of state.

Most companies offer a minimal level of free coverage but give customers the option of upgrading to better and more expensive plans.

The free option will typically only reimburse you pennies on the dollar if something gets damaged or lost.

Full-value replacement coverage will pay you what it will cost to buy a similar or identical item brand new.

The second option can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of your move, but it may be money well spent.

Insider’s Tip

Don’t settle for the old, “Don’t worry, we’re insured,” line.

It’s a big blow-off used by unscrupulous moving companies to trick potential customers into believing they’re fully covered when they’re not.


You Won’t Hurt Yourself (or your Friends and Family)

For small families and young newlyweds without kids, DIY moves are great ways to save money.

And they commonly end in fun post-move parties as family and friends gracious enough to help are treated to an afternoon or evening of pizza, beer, and funny moving stories.

On the other hand, heavy lifting like moving oak armoires, refrigerators, and filing cabinets can be an injury-inducing activity that’s best left to experienced professionals.

Hurting yourself is one thing, but imagine how you’d feel if a friend or family member was seriously hurt while helping you move.

We’ve all heard funny stories about DIY moves gone wrong, but each year thousands of people are hurt while moving, and many of their injuries are far more serious than just a scraped knee or a pinched finger.

Insider’s Tip:

DIY moves are best left to the young, fit, and fully insured.


They’re Cheaper than you Think

If you’re a recent college graduate who lives in a studio apartment and just moving across town, a DIY move might only take 2 or 3 hours.

A few friends and a rented van and you may have it knocked it out before lunch.

If on the other hand you and your family of 5 have been accumulating junk in a 3,000 square foot house for the last 15 years, it may be altogether unthinkable.

Though some brave souls do undertake major DIY moves, by the time the packing, loading, driving, unloading, and unpacking are factored in it could take days or even a week.

If you’re a well-paid professional, consider how much salary you’d lose if you requested time off to do the move yourself.

Then imagine if your spouse did the same.

Suddenly that professional mover’s estimate that seemed so outrageous in the beginning doesn’t sound so unreasonable.

In fact, compared to the wages you’d lose by doing the move yourself, it may a great deal.

Insider’s Tip:

Calculate how much your time is worth, and compare it to how much the movers are charging.


Liability

It’s a fact that well-meaning family and friends moonlighting as movers are much more likely to damage your home while helping you move.

Professional moving companies have insurance that covers you in the event that they damage your old or new home during the course of your move.

Their experience and equipment make it less likely that they’ll damage anything in the first place, but if they do knock a hole in the drywall or gouge your hardwood floor, their insurance should cover the cost of repairs.

On DIY moves, however, you’re on the hook for damage to the home or apartment you’re vacating, and rest assured the new owners or landlord won’t give you a moment’s peace until it’s taken care of.


Stress Reduction

There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve bitten off more than you can chew when it’s too late to do anything about it.

Moving is stressful whether you hire professionals or do it yourself, but on DIY moves improper planning can lead to nightmare scenarios.

Things can go from bad to worse quickly when it becomes apparent that the two days you set aside for your move won’t be nearly enough, and that your old home won’t be cleared before the new owners are set to move in.

It happens. A lot.

Add to that friends and family who committed to helping dropping out at the last minute, a child coming down with a nasty case of the flu, and having to drive a large rental van in snow and ice, and you could be in store for a world-class headache.

These factors are largely eliminated when you hire an experienced and reputable moving company.

Why a DIY Move May be the Right Choice

They’re Economical

For those with the time, manpower, patience, and know-how, DIY moves may be great options.

From a dollars and cents standpoint, there’s no denying that they’re less expensive than full-service moves.

The truck rental business is full of competition, which means there are lots of options and prices are relatively low.

It’s common to pay just $50 or $100 to rent a large moving van for an entire day.

If you’re moving locally, you may pay that much PER HOUR for a 2 or 3 man crew and a truck.

Keep in mind though, you’ll need to account for gas, truck insurance, and extra equipment like moving pads, straps, and dollies which usually aren’t included.


Control Freaks Rejoice!

The three keys to successful moves are planning, planning, and more planning.

When you hire a professional moving company they’ll usually have staff members dedicated to managing every detail of your move—they’re called move coordinators.

But if you just can’t bear the thought of relinquishing control you’ll need to assume that role yourself.

It’ll involve coordinating the moving truck rental, sourcing packing material like boxes, paper, and tape, closing on your new home, turning over your old home to the new owners, and lining up adequate labor to help with loading and unloading.

You’ll also need to establish a move timeline and stick to it to the best of your ability.

No big deal right?

Maybe, but big moves involve lots of little details, and when things start going wrong they can get out of hand quickly.


It can be Fun

Yes, you read that correctly.

OK, it may be a stretch, but what better way to celebrate your new home than by having good friends and family help you move in.

If your move will only take a few hours, plan on asking everyone to stick around for a short party afterward.

Other options

Moving doesn’t necessarily have to be a totally full-service or 100% DIY experience.

In fact, there are lots of options that fall in between the two, and for savvy consumers, they often offer the best mix of price and service.

For example, if you’ve determined that renting a truck and moving yourself is right for you, but you’re having trouble tracking down helpers, you may want to consider a company like HireAHelper that provides labor only.

If you’re moving out of state and don’t mind loading and unloading, but would rather not make the cross-country drive in a rental truck, there are lots of reliable moving container companies like U-Pack and PODS that provide shipping containers and transportation.

They’ll deliver containers to your home, then after you’ve loaded them they’ll pick them up and transport them to your new home.

After you’ve unloaded them, the company will haul them away—nice and easy.

It’s also important to note that during the summer, moving companies and truck rental business often book up weeks in advance.

To avoid being left out in the cold, reserve your truck or moving crewing well before your move date.

If you’re moving out of state, you’ll also experience longer than normal delivery schedules that may add additional expenses for things like lodging, meals, and lost wages.

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