To Use a Moving Company or Not to Use a Moving Company?

Unless you’re moving across the country, or internationally, it may weigh on your mind whether to choose an actual moving company or just to enlist the help of your friends.

To help make the decision of whether you should hire movers or enlist friends, ask yourself the questions below and consider your answers to be food for thought.

1. Are you moving any valuables?

Moving companies are insured, but your friends usually are not in the case of a valuable breaking or disappearing.  If you have larger valuables that you can not keep on your person, you may want to consider an insured moving company. Movers Corp. recommends keeping smaller valuables with you in your own vehicle or suitcase while moving regardless of if you utilize a moving company or have help from your friends.

Maybe don’t pack EVERY valuable item, especially the living ones.

2.  Are there any items that may require special equipment to move?

Yahoo put together this handy dandy list of items that you should never attempt to move on your own, including pianos, billiards tables and large fish tanks.  Some reasons are due to the fragility of the items, and some reasons have more to due with your own personal liability.  Professional movers have special equipment to move super heavy or fragile items and insurance if one of them or the item is injured.  If a friend attempts to move one of these items, you may be liable should they injure themselves!

3.  What’s Your Budget?

Be realistic about your moving budget (if there is one).  Rates for movers start around $50 per hour, even for the smaller mom-and-pop guys on Craigslist, and may or may not include a truck.  When friends help you move, factor in costs for renting a truck, gas and, as good etiquette calls for,  drinks and snacks while they are helping you move and drinks and a meal for after they have helped you move!

4.  Are Your Friends Reliable?

This may sound like an insulting question, but take it from someone who has moved once a year for the last 11 years, you need to ask yourself this question.  Even if your friends are reliable, make sure you can have enough people lined up that it won’t matter if one or two of them have last minute issues getting there or flake.  This is very important so as not to end up in an awkward lurch come moving day!

When asking friends to help you move, be sure to ask no more then 3 weeks in advance and no less then 2 weeks in advance so that there isn’t enough time to forget and not too little time that they already have plans.

Even the President of the United States has to enlist a friend to help move sometimes.

5.  Are there any stairs/other obstacles for moving furniture in and out?

Regardless of if you are moving larger items, breakable items, or neither, consider in advance if there may be issues either moving items out of or into your new home.  There are various horror stories, and some of them I know of first hand, where beds had to be lifted in and out of second story windows due to narrow staircases and couches that had to be thrown away because they didn’t fit through doorways.

This may or may not end badly…

Measure the clearance of doorways and windows of where you are moving from and too and then measure any pieces of furniture whether they seem large or not.  This is the only way you can foresee any problems on moving day and be able to let your friends know (who may have no problem rigging ropes together and pulling furniture in or out of windows) or moving company know (who may have special equipment or may refuse the job all together, something you need to know in advance).  Be up front with friends or movers if there are stairs or elevators in your building.  Moving items in or out of a non-ground level home can take more time, require more equipment or manpower or be more expensive.

Regardless of whether you decide to hire movers or ask your friends for help, remember that you should always have your items packed and ready to go before they arrive.  Unless you are paying a moving company to pack up, movers and friends never appreciate showing up and having to help you assemble boxes and pack on top of helping you move.

Good luck!