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Self Service, Is it worthwhile?

Self service moving is an option that is often considered by people who are on a tight budget. In this process, instead of hiring a full-service moving company to do everything, the person opts to do the transport DIY-style. This means that you pack your own things, pay for a rental truck and drive it yourself. At first glance, it seems liberating and economical right? But before you start wrapping your television, let’s find out if self service moving is really a good option.

Some Factors to Consider

Here are some of the other expenses and factors that you need to factor in when doing a self-move:

Cost of the rental

Getting a rental truck costs money. The price depends on what size you’ll be renting and how long you want to use it.

Let’s say that you’re moving from your home in New York City to a new address in Washington DC. Here are some of your rental truck options and their corresponding prices:

  • Cargo Van, can fit a the contents of a dorm or small studio = ­$312
  • 10” Truck, can fit a regular studio or 1 bedroom apartment = $328
  • 14” Truck, can fit an apartment with 2 bedrooms = $343
  • 17” Truck, can fit a regular-sized home with 2 bedrooms = $357
  • 20” Truck, can fit a home with 3 bedrooms = $446
  • 26” Truck, can fit a home with 4 bedrooms = $518

The prices listed above are only for 2 day-rentals. If you want to rent it for an extended period of time, or bring it to a further location, you’ll definitely have to pay more.

Let’s say that now you want to move from New York City to Los Angeles, California. That’s basically a cross-country move that will take about 9 days.

  • 10”truck for one studio or apartment is now = $2,970
  • 20”truck for a home with 3 bedrooms is now = $3,715

Cost of toll, gas and mileage

If you’re getting a truck rental and driving it yourself, of course you have to consider toll fees, gas and mileage. The road trip will be especially expensive if you are going to drive a long distance. 

Let’s say that a gallon of gas costs $5. If you’re using a truck that can go 10 miles per gallon, travelling 426 miles to Washington DC from New York City would incur a total gas cost of ($5 x 426) $2,130.

This price doesn’t even involve toll fees yet which we can approximate at around $40 to $50.

Driving of the truck

Getting a truck rental means that you or a friend of yours will have to drive the truck for you. Consider the time and effort that this will cost. Instead of spending your day doing productive and profitable work, you’ll spend it on the road, inside an uncomfortable truck. 

But for the sake of computation, let’s say that for a day trip with meals, you’ll spend about $100 (and that’s on a tight budget).

Professional wrapping

Professional moving quotes will include the price for wrapping and packing services. There is a correct way to wrap furniture and appliances in order to prevent damages. If you don’t know how to do this, the long travel can ruin your things...and the fault is all on you. There is also an option for you to hire professional packing services especially if you own a lot of appliances and breakable items (mirrors, framed artwork, etc.). Packing services can either be:

  • Full Pack – A comprehensive packing service of everything from attic to basement.
  • Partial Pack – If you only want them to handle the difficult items in your possession.
  • Unpacking – You just need someone to do immediate and fast unpacking in case you’re too busy upon arrival at your new home.

Take note that professional packing services will compute the charges depending on the actual weight of your load. They will often give you a fixed-rate binding price as well. 

Loading and unloading

Loading and unloading your things is a tedious job that takes time and effort. You need to lift things and carry them from your home to the truck and then repeat the process once you unload to the new location. But if something slips or you break your back? That can result in hundreds or even thousands in medical bills.

Moving supplies and paraphernalia

Do you have all of the paraphernalia needed to pack, load and transport your furniture? This requires dollies, crates, boxes, tapes, rope and many other things. If you don’t have these at home, say hello to additional cost. 

You can order a complete set of boxes online or at specialty stores. Here are some packages:

  • Supplies for a 1-2 bedroom apartment = $123
    Includes: 10 small boxes, 20 medium boxes, 10 large boxes, 10 extra large boxes, 4 wardrobe boxes, 4 rolls of box/packaging paper tape (55 yards per roll), and 1 box marker with knife
  • Supplies for a 4-bedroom home = $382
    Includes:  45 small boxes, 30 medium boxes, 30 large boxes, 15 extra large boxes, 4 dish barrel boxes, 4 cell kits, 4 wardrobe boxes, packing paper, 2- 100’x12” bubble wrap, 8 cushion foams, 8 rolls of box/packaging paper tape (55 yards per roll), and 4 box markers with knife

The prices given above don’t include the cost of renting/buying/ or borrowing dollies, moving pads, rope and so on.

Disassembling and reassembling back furniture

Modular furniture has to be disassembled before you pack them and then put back together, afterwards. This is not an easy task and if you make a mistake, your furniture will be ruined. 

If you damage your furniture then you may need to spend anywhere between $70 to $400 in repairs.

But if you do choose to hire professional services for assembling or disassembling furniture here are some examples:

  • Assembly of a standard bed or bedside cabinet = $51
  • Assembly of a 2-door wardrobe = $71
  • Assembly of a chest of drawers = $89

Insurance for your furniture and appliances

Full service companies offer moving quotes that include insurance for your furniture and appliances. This provides assurance should anything go wrong during transport. Self service moving puts all the pressure and responsibility on YOU. So when doing a self-move and you want to have your items insured, you’ll need to contact a 3rd party insurance provider which will again be in the hundreds or thousands depending on how many items you have.

Now is the time to reassess your plan. While it is true that full service moving quotes will cost you an initially huge amount money, self service moving can actually cost you MORE. Don’t be blinded by the idea of saving a few bucks (only in the beginning) and doing everything yourself. Considering everything, an amount of say, $3000 for comprehensive service is nothing when compared to the combined cost of truck rental toll gas packaging supplies possible furniture and appliance damage. 

And to top it all off, convenience and peace of mind are priceless.

Written By

Expert Moving Advisor

Ariane is a proficient moving advisor. She has experience in corporate, individual and special relocations, and is well-versed in coordinating moves, packing tips and shipment estimations.
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