Moving Company vs. DIY

Author: Alecia Pirulis


One of the major decisions you’ll face when moving is whether to hire movers or do it yourself. There are pros and cons to both – here’s what you need to consider before deciding which will work best for you:

1. Cost
2. Time
3. Convenience

First, the cost: Don’t assume that renting a truck and moving yourself is the least expensive way to move. Much depends on what size truck you will need, the distance you will be traveling, whether you will be returning the truck to the original location or using it one-way, and the fuel costs. A one-way move could increase the rental fee significantly. Also, before renting a truck, be sure to ask about any additional fees the rental company may add on.

When renting a truck, you don’t want one that is too large or too small. If it is too small, you will have to make several trips, increasing fuel costs. If it is too large, your items won’t be packed in tight enough to prevent shifting and sliding, which could result in a lot of broken furniture (which will end up costing you more money). If you live in a small apartment and don’t have a lot of stuff, a 10′ or 14′ truck will probably work just fine. If you live in a 4-bedroom house that is filled to the rafters, you’ll need the 26′ truck. Most rental agencies will have a guide that you can use to determine which size truck is best for you.

Once you have a good idea of what it will cost you to move yourself, start calling different moving companies so you can compare. Be very careful about moving companies who offer a very low rate without an on-site inspection or ask for a large amount of cash up-front. According to the US Department of Transportation, these are some of the “red flags” you need to be aware of to avoid a dishonest moving company. The moving company should also give you a pamphlet entitled, “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” Moving companies are required to provide this pamphlet by law.

Now that you have a good idea of what it will cost you, consider your time. Yes, it will take more time to pack up your whole house and move it yourself. A moving company will pack the house for you, freeing you up to deal with other things. There are a few things to take into consideration – do you mind having other people handle your stuff, or would you rather pack it up yourself? Taking the time to pack your things yourself is a great way to weed through your belongings and get rid of the stuff you don’t need or want – and you’ll appreciate that when you get to your new location. However, moving is a stressful process and sometimes having the “heavy lifting” (literally and figuratively) done for you is a welcome relief.

And finally, convenience: If you choose a moving company, keep in mind that you are on their schedule – they have many houses to move, not just yours. You may find having to get ready by a certain time or waiting for the moving truck to arrive inconvenient. If you’d rather take your time and pack at your leisure, and perhaps unload the truck at your leisure as well, then doing the move yourself may work better for you.

On the other hand, moving is time-consuming – especially if you don’t have a lot of friends and family who are willing to pitch in and help. Unless you have plenty of ready-and-willing hands to help, unloading the truck could prove to be a long, exhausting (and, depending on the size of your furniture, back-breaking) experience. Call your friends, family, and neighbors now and ask if they are willing to help on moving day – and if you are going a long distance, you’ll need to find help at both ends of your move.

Every moving situation is different, and the moving process will reflect that. A quick trip across town from your tiny one-bedroom apartment is much different than moving a family of four to another state. Decide which moving process is right for this move, no matter how you may have done it in the past.

If you’re in the midst of moving and in need of an apartment, check out the listings on Apartment Finder!