Should You Hire Movers? Make Sure You Compare the “True” Costs

October 12, 2020

So,…you’re moving (in Arizona or elsewhere), and you’re debating whether or not to hire movers to pack and move your home. You may have friends and family telling you they’ll help and you don’t need movers. Or maybe you were planning to move yourself and now you’re about to start packing; worried you made the wrong decision. In this article, we’ll show you how to find the “true” cost of moving yourself so you can make the best decision for you and your family.

Step 1: Estimate the Hard Costs of Moving Yourself

Many people believe they will save money if they move themselves. While this may be true if you’re moving the contents of a dorm room, it’s often untrue if you’re moving anything more than that. Most people start by estimating the cost of moving boxes, bubble wrap, newspaper, moving blankets, plastic wrap, packing tape and a truck rental. You can estimate these numbers by doing some internet research, but be sure to add at least 50% more to the numbers because you WILL have to buy more of everything – possibly multiple times.

Step 2: Estimate the “Soft” Costs of Moving Yourself

So you’ve got all the “hard” costs of moving yourself penciled out and totaled. Your next step is to do something many people never even consider – the “soft” costs of moving yourself. These soft costs don’t all have a dollar value associated with them, but they are just as important to the decision as the financial costs. Soft costs of moving yourself include:

  • Your time
  • Opportunity costs
  • Stress and overwhelm

Packing and Moving Yourself Takes A Lot of Time

The first soft cost to consider is your time – packing and moving your home yourself will take up a LOT of time (much more than you think). Have you ever stopped to think about what an hour of your time is worth in dollars? You could estimate this number based on your professional income (if you feel you make what you’re worth), or you can just determine what you feel an hour of your time is worth. Once you have that figure, it’s time to estimate how many hours you’ll spend on every task associated with packing and moving:

  • Before Move (45-60 hours)
    • Research and purchase all moving materials
      • boxes, bubble wrap, newspaper, moving blankets, plastic wrap, packing tape
    • Research and reserve a rental truck
    • Assemble moving boxes with tape
    • Pack, label and stack boxes
    • Go out to get more packing supplies (this will repeat many times!)
    • Disassemble beds and other furniture
    • Wrap furniture and large breakables with moving blankets and secure with plastic
  • During Move (15-25 hours)
    • Pick up rental truck
    • Get boxes and furniture from house to truck and secure them
    • Drive truck to new home
    • Unload truck contents into new home
    • Make additional trips back and forth to load/drive/unload
    • Return the rental truck
    • Assemble beds and other furniture

Add rough estimates next to each of these items as we did (be sure to overestimate – everything is going to take FAR longer than you think it will). Now total it up and multiply the hours by the hourly value you came up with earlier. This number will likely surprise you, because even at just $10 value an hour you are at  $600-$850 worth of your time. Now add this dollar value to the hard cost total you calculate in Step One.

Packing and Moving Yourself Means Giving Up Other Things

Now that you’ve calculated a dollar amount associated with moving yourself, it’s time to look at opportunity costs – the cost(s) of giving up other possible alternatives in order to pack and move yourself. An example of an opportunity cost in this situation could be giving up going to your son’s weekend baseball tournaments in order to pack boxes. Another example might be giving up your free time/fun leisure activities after work and on weekends in order to pack and get ready to move. In this step you just list everything you will have to give up in order to pack and move yourself.

Packing and Moving Yourself Can Impact Your Happiness and Wellbeing

The last soft cost to consider is the emotional effect of spending weeks or months gathering supplies, carefully packing every item in your home, renting a truck and physically moving. Add to this that you still have to work, take care of your family, not to mention all of the administrative tasks associated with moving homes (like turning off and setting up cable, electric and internet). When you consider all of this, do you feel overwhelmed and a little anxious? Do you see yourself enjoying the process or do you think the process will cause you added stress? What will it be like to live amidst boxes and mess during the process? Do you think you will have help with the process or will you likely do most of it yourself? Be sure to consider all of these things and their impact on your emotional health.

Step 3: Making an Educated Decision

So now you have everything you need to really make an educated decision about your move. You have the hard costs of moving yourself as well as the soft costs – the dollar value of the time you will spend, the things you will have to give up and the emotional toll it could take on you. Now, sit back and consider what you will gain by hiring a professional moving company that will:

  • Pack everything for you on the day of the move (so you don’t have to live amidst packed boxes)
  • Disassemble beds and furniture on the day of the move
  • Carefully wrap every piece of heavy furniture with blankets and wrap
  • Carry everything out and load it onto a waiting truck
  • Drive to your new home and unload every item into the appropriate room
  • Reassemble beds and furniture

Think of the hours and hours of valuable time you will save, the fun activities you won’t have to give up, the overwhelm and stress you will not have to experience, the research and running around you will not have to do and the box-filled home you will not have to live in. Now, take all of this information and compare it to the moving quote you get,…and ask yourself if moving yourself makes any sense at all.

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