Comparing The Cost Of Moving – Do It Yourself Or Hire Movers?

So, in 10 days the movers are coming to take all of our stuff to New Mexico, leaving us with only some clothes, some food, an air mattress, 2 sleeping bags, 2 folding chairs, and one 14 year old cat to move ourselves. And once they are gone, we will be spending a night or 2 in our apartment and a few nights in our new house with only these items, until they show up at our new place. After having 2 moving companies bail out after giving me estimates, I finally secured a mover that I felt really comfortable with and offered about the same estimate as the other two companies did, so I have a feeling they are being reasonable with the pricing. When the other two companies backed out, I did start looking at renting a truck and doing it myself – but with the price of gasoline right now, it was not that attractive of an alternative. Add in the back-breaking work of moving all of our stuff (which I have done myself several times), and I really had no interest in doing everything on our own. Here is how the numbers broke down for us in comparing the do-it-yourself way versus hiring some movers:

Moving Everything Ourselves

Let’s first look at what it would have cost us to move ourselves with a rental truck. The truck alone would have cost about $1,100 just to rent, plus the gasoline. The truck gets 10 miles per gallon, and it is 900 miles to our new address, so it would require at least 90 gallons of fuel to get there. At the current price of a gallon of diesel fuel ($5.15) X the 90 gallons I would need, the fuel cost would be at least $463.50 if I got a solid 10 MPG, which I doubt I could get while climbing all those mountains. So far the price of the truck is now $1,563.50. But wait, there is more! We would need to rent a dolly or two ($20 each), blankets and padding ($50-$70), rolls of that saran wrap stuff ($20-$40), and then I would still have to hire professional local movers at each location to move the really heavy awkward stuff out of our apartment and into the new house, and that would cost about $60 per hour, per body. Adding in those additional costs would put an extra $300-$400 onto the truck fee, making the grand total $1,963.50 or so. Then, I would not have been able to drive straight through (it is a 12 hour drive at 80 MPH and barely any stops), so we would have to get a hotel for the night, adding another $100 or so. Without taking into account any other incidentals, renting a truck, doing most of the moving and all of the driving, would have cost us about $2,000, give or take. Without insurance. That sounds like an awful lot of money to be spending when you were going to do it yourself to save some cash!

Hiring Movers To Move For Us

And now let’s look at the other side of the equation – the hired movers that I secured. They are a national moving chain with good reviews, I liked the guy who gave me the estimate, and someone answers the phone when I call the customer service number – all good things in my book. The estimate came in at right around what the other two had given me, so I figured they were all pretty good at making the right estimations. The movers are included on both ends, the blankets and the dollies are included, the wardrobe boxes are included, and I can drive my own car at my own pace and get there when I get there, all in one day. Add to that fact that I don’t have to do the heavy lifting at either end, and I signed on the dotted line. Total estimate? $3,377, or only $1300 more than doing it ourselves. That price includes all the work, the truck, the materials, the gas, the driving, and $40,000 in insurance…all for $3,377. And all the estimators from the different companies said they were over-estimating, so we might even get some of that back when it is all said and done. I could not be happier, really.

Sometimes it is worth it to spend the extra money to have someone do something for you, and for us this is a perfect example. Saves me from breaking my back, damaging my stuff, damaging a truck that I have no idea how to drive, and allows my wife and I (and the cat, of course) to drive together and get our house ready for the movers to arrive a few days after we get there. Knowing what moving myself is like (and always hating it so much), I feel like this could be the best extra $1,000 I have spent in a long while!

Photo by Clav

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Comments (28)

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  1. Momma says:

    You’ve done a thorough job researching the pros and cons. I agree that hiring a mover is far less work than doing it yourself. You decided to get the insurance, that’s the best move you can make.

    Let me offer just one piece of advice to your readers. For those who haven’t moved with professionals before, if the truck driving your stuff from one state to another drives off a cliff and you lose everything, the moving company is only required to pay you $.60 per pound to replace your stuff unless you purchase the Full Value Protection insurance. For a standard 3 bedroom house, that’s approximately 12,000 pounds of goods. 12,000 pounds at $.60 per pound = $7,200 for your entire house full of belongings.

  2. NCN says:

    How did you calculate the $1100 cost of renting the truck? Would that be just a standard truck from U-Haul or Ryder? Or, would you need something bigger (or more than 1 truck)?

  3. Annie Jones says:

    I think you may be making the right move, since you are moving across the country. But for those who are moving across town, across the county or perhaps even to a neighboring state, doing it themselves may very well make more sense. I’ve moved many times in my life and it has never made sense to hire someone to make the move for me. But I’ve never moved the distance you are moving now, nor had the additional stress and responsibilities that might go along with a move of that distance.

    BTW, unless you are renting a semi-truck of some sort, rental vans such as U-Haul are no different than driving anything else. Most even have automatic transmissions these days.

    Best of luck with the move!

  4. Probably worth the extra money to save yourself the trouble!

    Did you look into those companies like PODS or something along those lines where you fill up the truck/pod and they take it to your eventual location? I think my wife and I eventually will have a cross country move from the looks of things and we may need to do something similar. That is a ton of money but there is nothing else you can really do.

  5. reidjh says:

    I’ve used professional movers four times (Mayflower twice, Allied once, and Bekins once). While I’ve always ended up with all of my stuff on the other end, every single move was different. You’ll want to find out who your primary contact is going to be while your stuff is on the truck. My best experiences were when my main contact was the driver of the truck. My worst experiences (one in particular) were when I could only contact corporate offices and I really had no idea who had my stuff and where they were at any given time. The one thing that’s true about every move is that the arrival date is usually a little later than you’d like it to be, especially if your stuff is only part of the stuff that’s on the truck (which it must be given how low your estimates were). I had a terrible experience with my Bekins move. They were weeks later than their original estimate in getting my stuff to me (this was a move from the Bay Area in California to Denver). The good news is that they ended up refunding the entire cost of the move, so all in all I can’t speak too poorly of Bekins.

  6. David says:

    Absolutely Momma, I should have mentioned that. Always get full-value insurance.

    NCN – By going to the truck websites and putting in our to and from zip codes, that is the base number they gave us.

    Annie – Driving a full-size rental truck (not a van) is much different than driving a car. I drove one from VA to MA back after college, and it was much different!

    Luke- The PODS don’t hold too much stuff, and if you have a whole house full, you would need so many of them. I saw one parked on my street last week and it didn’t even look like my couch could fit inside it!

  7. Mrs. Micah says:

    After our move down here, Micah said a) “We’re not moving for at least 2 years.” and b) “When we’re rich, we’re always hiring people to move our stuff for us.”

    I have to agree with him on both points. My hope is that by the time we move next, we’ll be in a better financial situation (he’ll have a full-time teaching position where we’re moving…or I’ll have a good job). Or that we’ll be on our way and it can be our last DIY move. But if he does get an offer from out-of-state, I’m definitely asking about what they do for relocating costs. Seems like colleges should be used to handling that kind of thing.

  8. One of the times I moved in college, my dad and two guy friends and I did it on the front end, and my dad and boyfriend and I unloaded on the back end. It was such a slow, tedious, unbearable process, especially because of stairs. By the end of the day our bodies were strained and exhausted, and we had spent the entire day loading and unloading things. This was after we’d already done it a few other times (I moved to a new dorm or apartment every year of college, and then once again after graduation due to different roommate situations and location needs).

    After that one time, my dad said, “Never again. Next time, we are hiring professional movers.” Sure enough, during the move from that apartment to the next, I called around for quotes and got some really great movers for $80 an hour. Because this is their full-time job, they are experts at working efficiently and quickly, and in 2-3 hours, everything was done on BOTH ends! I was shocked at how fast and easy it was, and felt like the money was so well spent. My whole day wasn’t wasted and my body wasn’t strained and achy. I used that same company again for my next move and had an equally pleasant experience, and I never plan to do a move myself again. I just have too many heavy things — it’s not worth it to me to try to save the money by doing something all day that takes professionals a few hours (plus I don’t want to throw out my back!). I have heard horror stories from people about terrible movers, so maybe I just lucked out, but after having done both multiple times, I can say I never want to do a move myself ever again.

  9. photoTristan says:

    Anyone have any hints for finding a reputable moving company for a long distance move?

    I’ve heard some horror stories about moving companies holding all your belongings hostage and stuff like that.

  10. David says:

    For every “good” story, you will hear at least one “bad” story about the same moving company. Although the names on the sides of the big name trucks are the same, they are all individual contractors. Bekins, United, Allied, Mayflower, etc – huge companies that basically have franchises in your area, so it is hard to know what you will get. But that being said, I would definitely stick to a “name” brand for sure, just so you might have some kind of recourse over “Bobby’s Moving” or whatever. 🙂 Check out sites like yelp.com for real life reviews, and avoid most moving sites as they are moderated and run by insiders, as far as I can tell.

  11. Christina says:

    I think you made the right decision. The last time we moved, I was eight months pregnant… we actually hired movers to do the packing, too! It was awesome! They packed our entire house and garage in eight hours, then moved it to the new one the next day. It was such a blessing. I could never have helped my husband do the moving, and I felt it was too much to ask of our friends. Yes, it was expensive, but totally worth it!

  12. David says:

    Christina, at this point I wish we had hired them to pack us as well!

  13. […] as the other two companies did, so I have a feeling they are being reasonable with the pricing. [Read original] Tags: Air Mattress, Apartment, Clothes, Cost Of Moving, Folding Chairs, Movers, Moving Companies, […]

  14. I go with pack everything myself and then hire movers. Part of this is that we are just one couple and can’t lift things everything ourselves. I also hate to rope in friends. Reminds me of the Dunkin’ Donuts commercial… “reluctantly helping my friend move…”

  15. […] Comparing The Cost Of Moving – Do It Yourself Or Hire Movers? from My Two Dollars […]

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  17. AnswerGuru says:

    We actually had a great experience moving with a pod service : Door to Door. They were very reasonable, very professional, and I you get to put your own lock on the unit before it leaves town. They can actually fit quite a bit of stuff in them, more than you would think at first glance. We ordered 3, but only ended up using two of them to move everything from a 2 BR apartment.

    The quotes had no funny business and were very straightforward and insurance could be purchased directly through them.

  18. David says:

    Thanks for the tip!

  19. Lynda says:

    Um… I don’t think you factored the cost of your own time in the DIY option.

    I’m in the “get somebody else” school of moving every time. Saves on chiropractor and relationship counselling bills.

  20. […] David is moving from southern CA to New Mexico and asks, “is it better to hire movers or move yourself?” […]

  21. david says:

    True…but even without taking that into account, I still am willing to pay them!

  22. […] of My Two Dollars compares the cost of hiring movers or doing it yourself. Doing it yourself may be cheaper, but sanity does come with a […]

  23. […] Comparing The Cost Of Moving – Do It Yourself Or Hire Movers? at My Two Dollars walks you through the pros and cons – We’re in the “hire a mover camp” too! […]

  24. […] of My Two Dollars compares the cost of hiring movers or doing it yourself.  One advantage of not having much stuff is that you don’t need to hire movers.  All my […]

  25. Merry Foxworth says:

    I used PODS to move from Boston to Knoxville and it worked out well. It cost about $2500 (in late 2005) for the container and to have it shipped. There is no weight charge. The advantage is that you pack it yourself and put your own lock on it so you don’t have to worry about movers breaking or stealing things. Then you also don’t have to worry about driving a big truck.

    When I got here I stayed with my daughter for a few months, and the container was able to be stored at the PODS warehouse. There is a monthly fee for that, but you don’t have to move your stuff again from the container into a storage compartment if you need to store your stuff temporarily like me. I had access to the container during this time; I just had to let them know a day ahead of time and they would take it down with a forklift and you can get into it. So when you pack it, make sure you put the things you might need first at the very back end.

    They were good to deal with. I would recommend it. However, make sure they have a warehouse near your destination if you want them to keep it in storage temporarily (it is better than others; another one I checked did not have one in Knoxville.)

  26. I used 2-3 movers in Austin for my Local Move within last 2 years.If compare between them,I support Vosco Moving.They provide perfect Quotes and Service.They show such a professionalism while moving.

  27. Eric Bosloor says:

    Although it is cost efficient to do the moving yourself, but it is also time efficient to engage movers especially if you are engaging a self storage facility for some furniture and fixture items that you need temporary storage while you are rearranging and fixing your home. Engaging movers would also ensure that your things are moved carefully from point A to point B, as they are far more experienced than you are. Thus, consider carefully what you really need when engaging movers.