When to Move It Yourself, and When to Hire Help

Moving ranks pretty high on most people’s “List of Things That Are Worse Than a Root Canal." The first step to making the whole experience less stressful is knowing when to do it yourself and when to hire a professional. 

You may be able to do some, if not all, of your moving by yourself, but there are times when only a professional mover can do the trick. One of those times is when your friends have helped you move at least once in the last two years and will probably hate you if you ask them to do it again. (A word about that, though: If you are going to get your friends to help you move, and you want to pay them with beer, pay them after the job is over.)

Consider these variables when you're trying to decide if you should call a moving company:

Is this a PCS move?

If you're in the military and you received a permanent change of station order, you might be eligible for core relocation reimbursement allowances to help cover the cost of the drive, pay for meals on the road, or cover miscellaneous expenses. Once you know you're covered for some of the expenses, it might change your mind about how you want to handle the move. 

The size of the load

Just how much stuff do you have to move? If you don’t have a lot (or you’re moving into a smaller place and downsizing), you might be able to fit it all in a trailer and tow it behind your car. But if you’re moving an entire family, you’ll probably have to rent a truck. And then you have to ask yourself...

How comfortable are you driving a truck?

Even if you’ve never done it before, you might feel confident driving on a deserted two-lane highway. But what about if you’re going over mountain roads. Have you ever seen the runaway truck lanes on those roads? Terrifying. 

Time of year

Most people buy new houses when the weather’s nice. But if you’re a deal hunter who bought off-season, snow and ice might complicate things. So think about it. If you grew up somewhere where three flakes of snow constituted a Code Red emergency, how comfortable you are driving a big truck through New England in the winter? If you answered, "Totally comfortable! No problem!" then you're wrong. You need someone to drive who's used to navigating icy roads in a truck or van.

Do you have help?

If your family and friends are happy to help you pack (and hopefully unpack), doing it yourself is going to be a lot easier. But if you’re going to be on your own at one end, you might need to hire a mover. Trust us, asking strangers to help you unpack isn’t the best  way to make friends in your new town. You might need start calling moving companies and getting quotes. Just thinking about unloading that solid oak table is making our backs hurt. 


When do you have to be in your new town? If you have a hard deadline, like starting a new job, you don’t want to get bogged down by trying to do it yourself. Pack your car with a week or two of essentials (and a good air mattress) and head on out to start your career. Hopefully, you took the job for a pay raise and some other benefits, so you can afford to hire the help you need to show up and do your best. 


If you’re just moving to the next town over, you can probably do it yourself. Even if it takes more than one trip. But if you’re moving across the country, moving becomes a little more of a science. You probably need to do it all at once, and skip the multiple trips. Unless yu have very little to move, or you're an experienced big rig driver, you need to hire a professional.


If you’re firmly in the “why pay for something you can do yourself?” camp, make sure you run all your numbers before you put your foot down. Moving yourself isn’t just renting the truck. Especially if it’s a multi-day trip. You have to think about gas, hotel stays, meals, and missed work days. Add up all those costs and see which option comes out on top. 

In the end, the best choice will probably be a combination of moving things yourself, and hiring a pro for the bigger items. And if you're paying movers by the hour, you'll want to be super organized when they arrive, to minimize the time they'll spend packing the truck.