Should You Do the Move Yourself?


Cost, cost, cost

Complete control over schedule flexibility on the details


Driving a large truck, especially over a long distance lifting

Finding helpers packing and unpacking

The shorter the move, the smaller the load, and the healthier the workers, the more sense do-it-yourself moving makes. Smaller loads are easier to pack, easier to manage, and will fit into smaller trucks that you’re likely to be more comfortable driving. Short distances mean that you won’t need to take a lot of time off work and that you won’t have to drive cross-country in a truck that is unfamiliar and perhaps rough-riding.

But there are other costs beside the truck and what it does to your bones. As you’re figuring out the costs, make sure you add in boxes and packing material. Add in the time and stress involved. And don’t forget that once you’re on the road, you’ll need to pay for gas, tolls, and food. If it’s a long move, you’ll need to pay for motel rooms.

Talk to two or three companies about the truck you plan to rent. A truck too small, one designed for something else, or one that isn’t there when you go to pick it up can turn a move into a disaster.

Begin by knowing how big a truck it will take. You’ll need roughly 150 cubic feet of truck space per furnished room. To translate from cubic feet to truck length takes some math (length in feet = volume in cubic feet divided by height x width of the truck box in feet). A 10-foot truck usually has about 400 cubic feet of space, enough to move an efficiency or studio apartment. If you have six rooms to move, you’ll need about 900 cubic feet, about the capacity of a 24-foot truck. The chart on page 58 gives you an idea of the truck

There is more than one way to get your household from here to there. Some ways involve more work than others; some involve more money than others. All of them do the trick, however, and settling on a method is a question of how much money you’re willing to trade off for a given amount of work. The options are listed briefly below. You’ll find more thorough explanations in the pages that follow.

You can rent a truck and do it yourself. This is the most labor-intensive choice, but the least costly one. You do all the packing, all the lifting, and all the driving. Depending on distance involved and the size of the truck, driving could well be the hardest part.

You can hire the pros and let them do all the packing. Packers arrive at your house a couple of days before the move and pack everything for you. On the day of the move, the movers load the van. When they arrive at your new home, they’ll unpack it and you can even have them put everything where you want it. Needless to say, this is the most expensive option.

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