Moving Yourself vs. Hiring Professional Movers

Moving Yourself vs. Hiring Professional Movers

Moving is stressful and complicated. For even a local move, you have to coordinate with real estate agents, pack your belongings, and complete a whole host of other tasks. Because of this complexity, many homeowners hire moving companies to help take the load off. However, these moving companies cost a pretty penny and may not be the best option for every move. 

This guide will go over your moving options, including DIY moving, long-distance moving, and a hybrid of the two. We will also discuss the pros and cons of each, along with their respective costs and any factors that might play into your decision.

What Are Your Options for Moving? 

When looking at all the options for a move, you can quickly get choice paralysis. To simplify things, we’ll look at the three main types of moves you can choose: a full-service move, a DIY move, or a select service move. Each option has pros and cons, with some suiting certain moves over others. For example, full-service movers are not worthwhile for small, local moves but can be a better option for large-scale, long-distance moves.  

Full-Service Movers

Full-service moves are when a homeowner chooses a moving company to handle the entirety of a relocation. These are expensive but have the least hassle and are often the most convenient. These moving companies will come to your home, supply the packing materials, pack everything, load the boxes onto the moving truck, drive the truck to your new home, and unload everything. However, moving dates are limited to the availability of these companies, and during the busy season, you may be waiting quite some time before they can meet you. 

Pros and Cons of Full-Service Movers

Pros:

  • No packing 
  • No heavy lifting 
  • Least hassle 
  • Highly efficient
  • Stress-free 

Cons

  • Least flexible on moving dates
  • Expensive 
  • Potentially long wait times 

DIY Moving

A DIY move is when a homeowner handles the entire move on their own with no help from a moving company (with the exception of renting a moving truck.) DIY moves are easily the cheapest of the options but require the most work and coordination. These moves are great for small one or two-bedroom homes but can become overwhelming for larger residences or long-distance relocations. 

When undertaking a DIY move, the homeowner handles everything from packing their possessions to renting the truck, loading, unloading, and driving it. With these moves, a homeowner has complete control of the move’s dates, time, and pacing but has to manage all the elements a moving company would handle.

Pros and Cons of DIY Moving

Pros

  • Most flexible 
  • Complete control over the moving process
  • Cheapest 
  • Fewer risk of broken or miss packed items

Cons

  • Most work-intensive
  • Heavy lifting
  • Requires a large amount of coordination and planning 
  • Driving large moving trucks 

Hybrid Moving, or Select Moving Services 

And finally, select service moves, or hybrid moves, are when a homeowner purchases specific services from a moving company to help with a move. These can include packing, hoisting, furniture disassembly, or any other service a moving company offers. These moves allow homeowners to choose what they need help with while avoiding any additional costs associated with full-service moving. 

Additional services can be ideal for homeowners with difficulty managing heavy or bulky objects like refrigerators or couches. However, these services can vary wildly in price depending on the company you choose, the season, and the current market. They also add another thing to your move that needs to be managed and coordinated. 

Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Move

Pros

  • Only pay for what service you need 
  • Most convenient
  • Helpful for tasks some movers are unable to perform alone 
  • Huge variety of options 

Cons

  • Can be expensive 
  • Adds another factor to your move that needs managing 
  • Prices can be inconsistent 

How Do the Costs Line Up? 

When deciding what kind of move you want, you should consider the price you’re comfortable paying for convenience and service. Simply put, is the convenience of a full-service move worth its price for you, or would you put in the extra elbow grease of a DIY move for a lower price tag? To help you decide, let’s review the numbers and see how much each option costs and how much you can save with a DIY move. 

The Cost of Full-Service Movers 

Full-service moves can be challenging to calculate, but the two main factors to consider are how many rooms your home has and the distance to your arrival destination. The more rooms you have, and the longer your distance, the more your move will cost. If your move is out of state, it will become exponentially more expensive, as the moving company will have to deal with toll stations, gas stops, delays, etc. 

Most professional movers offer free moving quotes if you want a specific moving estimate. To get an idea of your potential costs, what follows is a quick breakdown of the average cost of full-service moving for local and long-distance relocations.

Local 

Number of Bedrooms  Total Cost 
1 or Studio  $600+
2 $1,100+
3 $1,700+
4 $2,000+
5+ $4,000+

Long-distance 

Number of Bedrooms, at a Distance of 1,000 Miles Total Cost 
1 or Studio  $3,500+
2 $8,500+
3 $10,000+

The Cost of DIY Moving

Calculating the average cost of a DIY move can get a little complicated. You first need to know how many rooms you need to pack. The number of rooms will determine your truck’s size and the amount of moving supplies (such as moving boxes and bubble wrap) you need to purchase. Then, you will need to determine how far you’re traveling. Your distance will determine the amount of time you will need to rent the truck and the amount of gas you will need to fuel the truck. You may also need to purchase other items like dollies or loading harnesses.

The table below demonstrates the average cost of a 500-mile move for different-sized homes. Keep in mind that you can safely drive about eight hours in one day, which covers about 500 miles in most moving trucks. We use a three-day rental for the trucks in the table, assuming that the homeowners require two additional days for loading and unloading.

Number of Rooms Size of Truck Average Truck Cost for Three Days Average Gas Price for 500 Miles Packing Material Cost Total 
1 10-12 foot $60.00 About $260 About $210  $530
2 14-17 foot $120.00 About $330  About $420 $870
3 14-17 foot  $120.00 About $330  About $625 $1,075
4 20-26 foot  $210.00 About $460 About $750 $1,420
5+ 20-26 foot $210.00 About $460 About $870 $1,540

The Cost of Select Services for a Hybrid Move 

Hybrid moving costs are calculated the same way as a DIY move, combined with the added cost of the specific services you want for convenience. What follows are breakdowns of the three most commonly purchased services homeowners utilize during DIY moves. 

Packing Services 

Packing or unpacking services are when loaders from a moving company come to your home on moving day and load your moving truck. Alternatively, you can hire a company to come to your arrival destination and unload the truck. Companies either charge by the hour per mover or offer packages priced per room. On average, the national cost for packing services ranges from $300 to $1,500, depending on the size of the home. 

Special Item Moving

If you have a refrigerator, couch, pool table, or piano you need to move, you might use a special item moving service. The cost of these services varies depending on what needs moving, the number of stairs in your home, and if you need a hoisting service – hoisting services are when large items are lowered from a window or balcony. On average, it will cost you around $200 to $1,200 to move a specialty item a short distance or $300 to $1,500 for long-distance. 

Furniture Disassembly

You may need the assistance of professionals if you have heavy items or large pieces of furniture that you can’t fit down a flight of stairs. In these situations, furniture disassembly can be a perfect solution. Professional movers will come into your home and carefully disassemble your furniture with the proper tools needed to do so carefully. On average, furniture disassembly costs around $30 to $50 per hour. 

What Factors Should You Consider Before Choosing? 

Moving is a huge endeavor, taking months to plan, costing thousands of dollars to finance, and is considered one of the five most stressful events people can go through. When choosing your ideal moving plan, you should consider the following factors before making your final decision: 

  • Moving budget: Your budget will determine the kind of moving company you can go with and what kind of additional services you can choose. While most homeowners would prefer to have professional movers handle their entire relocation, this isn’t an option for everyone. If you’re on a tight budget, a DIY move with no services might be your best option. If you have large or bulky furniture that you can’t handle on your own, you can either have a few friends help you move it down the stairs or hire a furniture disassembly crew for less than $100. 
  • Time frame: Another major factor is how long you have to vacate, move, and arrive at your new home. These situations can be challenging for homeowners who have to move due to a change of work or a family emergency. If you have to move last minute, professional movers or full-service moving companies are your best bet, as a trained team will always be quicker to pack and load your belongings. 
  • Home size: Home size goes hand in hand with budgeting. The larger your home, the more expensive the move will be. This price increase is expected for all types of moves but is even more pronounced with full-service movers. If you have a five-bedroom home, you can be looking at thousands of dollars for a full-service relocation, even if the move is local. 
  • Move distance: How far you’re moving is another primary cost determiner alongside the size of your home. Long-distance moves can be costly, even for smaller homes. When you have more than three bedrooms and are moving out of state with a professional moving company, you are looking at a price tag of $5,000 to $9,000. For the same distance, if you decide to go with a full-service mover, that price will jump up to over $10,000. If you are on a budget and have to move out of state, you want to go DIY. 
  • Planning and mental bandwidth: Relocating your family takes a massive toll. You have no shortage of responsibilities essential to your move’s success. Having movers come in and manage the logistics and labor of transporting your cargo can be a weight off of your shoulders, literally. While expensive, depending on the other stressors of your move, professional moving services may be worth the peace of mind. 
  • Experience operating large vehicles: If you choose a DIY move, you will have to operate a moving truck. These vehicles can be bulky and difficult to maneuver, and parking can be challenging. So if you are uncomfortable with this, or it’s your first time moving, you may wish to go with a mover. 
  • Physical shape: If you’re not strong enough to lift a large amount of weight, moving large or bulky objects may be impossible. Moving bulky items can be a challenge for even those in top shape if they don’t have the help of friends or family members. In these cases, hiring loaders, specialty item movers, or a full-service mover may be your best option. 

Final Thoughts 

When deciding whether to use a moving service, the bottom line is your capabilities and where you can afford to compromise. Moving services might be costly, but they can help take a load off your busy schedule. However, if you are tight on funds or are more than capable of handling the hard work of a move, you can do it yourself and save tons of money. 

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