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Should I hire a moving company or just do it myself?

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Question: Should I hire a moving company or just do it myself?
Answer:

This is a question that plagues all people on the move. And like most decisions, the answer is different for everyone depending on numerous factors such as time, money, difficulty and complexity of the move. If you're moving across town, a self-move may make more sense than if you're moving across the country. Still, to ensure you're making the best decision, it's a good idea to weigh all options.

So, before we begin to ask ourselves some questions, decide first what your first priority is; money or time or a bit of both. Knowing what is the most important factor will help lead you to a satisfying answer.

Okay, let's begin:

  1. How much stuff do you have? For a general idea of what it will cost to move your household, use the guide most truck rental agencies use, and count the number of bedrooms. Here's a sample truck-size guide from U-Haul:

    • 26' will move 4+ bedrooms
    • 24' will move 3-4 bedrooms
    • 17' will move 2-3 bedrooms
    • 14' will move 1-2 bedrooms
    • 10' will move an apartment

  2. How far are you moving? Budget can provide rates on the cost to rent a truck to move from Point A to Point B and factors in the type of move (one-way or return). Remember when you're moving one-way the cost can increase by 50% or more.

    Okay, so that covers the fee to rent a truck, but what about gas costs and mileage? You'll have to factor both in when determining the cost of renting a truck vs hiring a moving company.

    Distance calculators can provide estimates on how far you'll be traveling and fuel calculators will give you an idea of how much you'll be paying to fill up the gas tank. Both costs need to be added to the truck rental fee, if mileage is not already included.

Once you've answered these two questions, call some moving companies and ask for a sample quote over the phone. Many will insist on coming out to your place for an estimate, which may or may not be something you want to do. You can also look for online quotes from companies such as Moving.com; however, keep in mind that these quotes are not always guaranteed and also make sure the moving company is reliable.

So, now you have a cost-comparison between hiring a company or moving it yourself. Now, if this is all you're concerned about, then you can pretty much stop right here and make your decision. But if time is important to you, then you can also weigh the various options in between; from hiring a company to pack, load and ship, unload and unpack your goods, to hiring a company just to load, ship and unload your household or to do it all yourself. Here are some final questions to ask:

  • How much time will it take to pack your things, load your things and drive it all to your new destination?
  • Do you have additional help? Friends, family, neighbors or colleagues that can lend a hand?
  • Do you have fragile or special items that will require special handling? Can you move these items yourself? If not, what will it cost to move them?
  • Will you need to rent additional equipment/supplies/hired-hands to move larger items such as appliances?
  • Are you confident that you can move your household goods safely?
  • Are you aware of hidden costs that can creep into your move, such as additional insurance or packing supplies?

And one last piece of advice: no matter what you decide to do, save all your receipts and make sure you claim your move (if possible) on your tax return.

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