The average cost to hire a full-service moving company to pack and transport your belongings is about $12,230, yet 35 million Americans relocate every year. With rates this high, it’s no wonder so many people choose the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach when it comes to moving. After all, it can seem a little scary to entrust complete strangers to transport all your things, especially when there’s a chance that they could damage or break something valuable. If you’re looking to relocate without hiring a professional, here are a few tips that will ensure your move is successful.
DIY Moving Tips
Stick to a Budget
Moving can still be expensive even if you don’t hire movers, so it’s a good idea to make a budget. Make sure you include moving supplies (e.g. packing tape and tie down straps), travel expenses (e.g. gas, food, and lodging), and a truck rental (if applicable).
Once you’ve crunched the numbers, transfer some funds into a savings account and reserve it until you move. Moreover, you may want to plan for an additional 10 percent over your budget in case of an emergency. If you’re short on cash, you might also consider having a garage sale—this is not only a good way to raise a few extra bucks, but it will also give you a chance to get rid of anything you don’t want before you move.
Use Your Resources
You shouldn’t have to spend a bunch of money on boxes. In fact, most grocery stores, coffee shops, and warehouses have a ton of this stuff on hand, especially after they receive a shipment, and it usually just gets recycled or thrown out. Talk to a store manager and ask if you can take a few for your move.
Also, it’s a good idea to assemble a “moving crew” to help you with the heavy lifting. These can be friends, family, or co-workers. If you’re having a hard time recruiting people, offer to pay them in pizza, refreshments, and other goodies.
This is also a good time to start thinking about transportation. Are you planning to rent a truck or do you know someone who can part with their vehicle for a while? It’s smart to have this in order before you start putting your things in boxes so you can pack accordingly.
Let’s face it—something will end up missing, broken, or damaged if you’re not careful when packing. That’s why it’s so important to stay organized. In the beginning, box items that you know you won’t need right away and pack everything else once you get closer to the actual move. For example, you might pack a guest bedroom before you start boxing things in the kitchen.
As you get further along, start packing by room and keep all your boxes together, labeling everything with a short description. If you’re not moving far, you might take some things to your new place so you have less to worry about on your moving day. And don’t forget to make a list of all your boxes. This will make it easier to know if something goes missing.
Plan Your Route
Before you hit the road, take some time to map out the quickest and safest driving route. For longer trips that span across multiple states, it might be best to have someone ride with you so you can take turns driving. And if it’s possible, take breaks during peak driving times so you can avoid rush hour traffic. This will help you save on gas.
When You Have to Hire a Professional
Some moves are impossible to do on your own. That grand piano in the living room, for example, is not going to fit in your minivan (even with the seats pulled down). So if you have to hire someone, make sure you do the following:
- Get a written estimate from the mover
- Confirm that they have insurance
- Validate they have U.S. DOT or Motor Carrier numbers
- Verify that that they’re registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
You can also search for moving companies by state or by company name to see if they have any formal complaints before you hire someone. And if you have a bad experience, you can file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
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