Moving is expensive. It doesn’t matter if you do it yourself, hire a professional van company or a combination of the two it’s going to put a one off dent in your budget. If you’re considering a move and you think you can trade brawn for bucks by doing it yourself you want to be sure you take into account all of the costs…hard, soft and potential.
How far you’re moving and how much you’re moving are the two major factors in determining if it’s going to be a DIY project or you hire professionals.
If you’re talking about a two bedroom household relocating within 55 miles of your current residence (the legal definition of a local move in most states) then there is a strong possibility moving yourself will save you significant money.
And here’s why.
In most states local moves are charged by the hour and the hourly rate is set by the state. These rates will vary but generally fall into the $60.00 to $85.00 per man per hour range.
Let’s assume that you’ve done your homework and you’ve identified a reputable local mover. A two bedroom move going 20 miles probably won’t take a two mover team longer than 4 to 5 hours start to finish (assuming you do the packing and disassembly of furniture). Using a midrange rate of $70, your professional move will cost between $560.00 and $700.00.
If you decide to run down to your local Budget or U-Haul and rent a 16’ truck (recommended for up to 2 bedrooms) you might find a good midweek rate of $50 per day plus $0.85 per mile. You’ll also want to rent a hand truck and pads and that will tack on another $35.00. Estimated total cost is $142.50 plus tax.
Moving yourself is saving you 70% to 80% over the cost of a professional move.
The tradeoff for a low cash outlay is time, efficiency and exposure to liability. Don’t buy into the uninformed opinion that moving is just an exercise in muscle. Professional movers, particularly if they have worked as a team, are a sight to behold. Yes they’re strong but their real talent evolves from years of getting queen size box springs through tight turns, oversized sectionals through doors that are too narrow and china hutches down stairs from a second floor apartment.
And then there’s the loading. There’s no head scratching with these guys they know exactly what needs to be loaded in what order and where it needs to be positioned to balance the load and minimize shifting of cargo. You on the other hand, will study the three paragraphs of advice you get from the rental company and end up either constantly repositioning furniture or driving off with a load that is unbalanced.
Organizing, supervising and feeding the help.
We talked about a tradeoff in time and it’s not just your time…it’s the time of your friends or family that volunteer to help. Here’s a short list of the challenges and concerns you’re going to have to address when you move yourself.
- Schedules. If the professionals were going to send a 2 man team you’re going to need 3 or 4 to compensate for physical condition and experience. That means you’re going to have to find 2 or 3 friends whose schedules coincide and allow them to help you on M Day. If you can get a full day commitment that’s preferable otherwise you’ll need “on call” volunteers or work in shifts.
- Get the rental truck early. If the pros are estimating 4 to 5 hours count on it taking you 7 to 9. Get the equipment early and have it in place when your volunteers arrive. You want to ensure you start early enough so you are not unloading in the dark.
- If a helper gets hurt. Accidents happen. Check with your homeowners insurance to see if it will cover injuries associated with moving. If there is coverage it will probably be limited to accidents on the insured premises only. If you live in a condo or an apartment the insured premises ends at the threshold of your front door. If there’s a serious accident there’s going to be a problem. Friendship and family only go so far when big medical bills or a disability are involved. Check with your agent and see what insurance is available to cover this contingency.
- If a helper hurts your stuff. If Bob accidently drops his end of your 60” plasma TV and the screen shatters into a thousand pieces what are you going to do? We don’t have a pat answer for this other than to keep your crew rested. As the day drags on the odds of an accident occurring increases.
- Feed the help. Identify a fast food or take out restaurant near your new home before you move. If you’ve just asked your friends to sacrifice a day of hard labor the least you can do is feed them. Make sure you’ve got plenty of water available while the move is in progress so nobody keels over from dehydration. Moving and beer drinking may sound like a macho combination but all is does is make the help more accident prone.
Is it worth it?
If you toss in the hard cost of optional liability and collision insurance on the rental truck, insurance to cover helpers who get hurt (if available) and feeding and watering the crew your savings may be trimmed by as much as $200.00 or more. Throw in one very long day on your part and you have to ask the question “is it worth it?”
That’s really up to you. It’s your call. If your financial position can’t justify professionals then your decision is already made for you. But if you have a choice you may want to think long and hard about the effort involved and the potential exposure to liability and property loss that a self-move entails.