To move or not to move—it’s not really a question sometimes, but a necessity. The question arises when considering how to move. Should you hire a moving company? Do it yourself? Enlist a strong friend or two? Each approach has pros and cons, so you’ll have to consider your own situation in order to make the choice that’s right for you.
The big pro of hiring movers is the ease—no truck rental to worry about, no heavy lifting to strain your back, and less responsibility on moving day. You’ll also save yourself a lot of sweating. Professional movers also have a lot of experience with loading, packing, and unloading items, which allows them to work faster and handle your items in a safer manner than you might be able to. Additionally, their drivers will be skilled at maneuvering large moving trucks, while you might be at a loss when it comes to backing your U-Haul up to your new home for unloading. Finally, moving companies will have boxes by the truckload (literally), saving you the hassle of finding them yourself.
A major downside of using a professional service is the cost—it can be quite expensive, depending on the company and the amount of stuff you own. You also need to consider whether you’re comfortable leaving all your worldly possessions in the hands of strangers, and you’ll need to do some research to make sure you’re using a reputable moving company. Hiring a service might also require you to work around the movers’ schedule when planning your transition, something that might be difficult to do at a point in your life when time is precious and you already have tons to do. Remember, too, that you’ll still have to pack most of your items—moving companies may be able to assist with some packing duties, but wrapping your precious china in newspaper isn’t really in the movers’ job description.
The bottom line
Hiring a moving company is probably a better option for people who own a lot of large items and don’t have the strength or space to move them independently. A rented U-Haul might seem big when you’re driving it, but when you find that only three pieces of your furniture (when you have a collection of 30-odd large items) fit in it, the idea of making a dozen trips across town (or selling half your possessions) won’t seem so appealing. Those with families may find that hiring movers takes a load off their mind and allows them to focus on other things, including watching (and transporting) the kids on moving day. A move across the country might also motivate you to hire a moving service, as their larger trucks will be able to hold more items than most any rented truck you’d want to drive, and the moving company’s experience will make them better equipped to handle a big move than you might be.
Note: If you do hire movers, make sure to get a signed contract detailing the responsibilities of the movers and the risks you’re assuming by hiring them. Include the moving schedule in the contract, and make sure you understand the contract completely before signing.
Doing It Yourself
A DIY move gives you more control over the moving process. You get to decide when and how all your possessions will be moved, and you get to plan the moving schedule around your needs. There’s no cause for worrying about strangers handling your possessions, and you’ll probably save a bit of money by just renting a truck (or borrowing a friend’s). If you enlist the help of others, moving day—or at least a post-moving celebration—can also be a time for bonding, and can give you a sense of accomplishment and independence as well.
Lifting, lifting, lifting. Moving companies hire super-buff individuals for a reason. Moving heavy items is difficult and potentially dangerous, especially if your move involves a lot of stair-climbing. Even if you’re a gym rat, you might tire out or injure yourself during the moving process. Asking friends or family to help with the heavy stuff is always an option, but it can also be a good way to strain a relationship. Make sure those who help you are truly willing, and offer to compensate them in some way—if not with money, with a nice dinner at your new place after you’ve moved in. Driving a rented truck can also be tough for those accustomed to cruising in compact cars, and the added stress of having everything you own inside the truck can be troublesome. You might end up wishing you’d just put the move in someone else’s hands.
The bottom line
If you’re ready for some heavy lifting and feel comfortable transporting your own items, a do-it-yourself move might be the way to go. Be sure to enlist the help of some strong friends who are willing to help you cart stuff around town. If you’re doing a more long-distance move, but are willing to get rid of some possessions, you might also be able to move yourself by cutting down on the items you bring with you.
Ultimately, the way you move is up to you, and it’s a decision you need to make on four main factors—where you’re moving, what you’re moving, what you can afford, and what makes you feel comfortable. You can throw caution to the wind, sell all your belongings on craigslist, and drive across the country in your sports car with only the price of gas to worry about. Or you can enlist the help of trusted movers who will ensure that all your belongings will arrive in one piece. Whatever your personal needs, there’s a way to move that will meet them.