Hiring a Mover vs DIY

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You don’t ever fully realize how much stuff you have until it is time to move. Sure, having 40 pairs of shoes is great for your wardrobe, but you won’t ever realize how much space those shoes take up until it is time to move them across town. Here is a quick breakdown of whether to hire a mover or rent a truck and do it yourself. The results may surprise you.

What Do You Value Your (and your helpers’) Time At?

If you haven’t already gotten quotes from a mover, you should get a quote here. After that, it will make your choices easier to compare.

Absent a quote, we’ll assume the cost of a mover is a nice round number, let’s say $700, to move your 1 Bedroom Apartment across town.

If you’re able to move everything yourself, multiply the number of hours times the number of people necessary to get a man hour count.

For general moving labor, let’s say 3 people x 4 hours = 12 man hours.

Do You Have Friends/Family To Help?

This simply boils down to “are you willing to be that person” who asks for help moving. If you have physically able friends or family members who don’t mind the inconvenience of spending 4-8 hours helping you load and unload multiple boxes and unwieldy furniture. This is where you’ll find out who your true friends are and who is smart enough to make up an excuse.

Do You Have a Truck?

Chances are, you don’t. You may know someone with a truck, but all of your stuff won’t likely fit in said truck. If that is the case, you’ll need to rent a box truck from someplace like UHAUL or Penske, or a pickup truck from Home Depot (hourly rate). The rates for these will vary, with some companies offering unlimited mile rentals, while others charge a base rate plus a per mile fee.

Since it is an across town move, let’s assume that you can rent a box truck for the day for $200.

Supplies

Moving doesn’t entail anything special. Boxes are $1-2 each at any big box home store. One or two rolls of tape should suffice. You may need moving blankets to prevent scratches, or a tarp if it is raining.

Assume 10 boxes and miscellaneous supplies at $75.

How Much Stuff Do You Have?

The biggest question. If you have 3 pieces of furniture and clothes, moving probably isn’t that bad. If you’ve been featured on American Pickers or Hoarders, you’re probably not moving any time soon. For normal people, there’s a middle ground.

The easiest way to approximate how much stuff you have is go buy a large moving box, unfold the box and carry it around the house to different items you’d need to pack, using a sharpie to keep track of how many times you’d be able to fill the box. Take this number, multiply it by 1.25 and you’ll have an estimate of how many boxes you’ll need. From there, you can take the number of boxes you need (let’s say 10 boxes), and use that number to calculate how long it will take you to pack. Using the assumption of 20 minutes per box, that works out to 200 minutes, or just under 3.5 hours just to pack.

Moving simply entails moving packed boxes, and furniture, and other heavy stuff (down the stairs, up a ramp) onto the moving truck.

Total time for packing, 3.5 hours, done prior to the move date.

Adding It All Up

Actual cash spent $275 on rental truck and supplies.

Total man hours 15.5 on packing and moving boxes/furniture

This shows that with a 1 bedroom apartment, it is kind of a tossup whether to pay a mover or rent a truck and get friends/family to help you move. As you get to a 2 or 3 bedroom residence, the scale tips towards paying a mover.

Other Things to Consider

How heavy is your furniture? Sleeper couches, solid wood furniture and appliances are all heavy items that many people overlook.

Is your furniture fragile? If you have an expensive (and fragile) Howard Miller Curio Cabinet to display your Troll Doll collection, you may want to take special considerations for your move.

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