It’s time to move out of your rental, which probably means testing the extent of your planning skills in a way you’ve never known before. As you sort through closets of things you never knew you had you might be wondering if you should save money by moving on your own or if you might need the help of professional movers. If you’re on the fence about when you should hire a moving company, consider taking these steps to figure it out:

1. Know how to estimate moving costs

If you’re thinking about hiring a moving company, start by estimating your moving expenses. Estimate your moving costs by tallying up move-related expenses, including expenses for transportation and packing material. Then consider where you’re going. The average cost of moving yourself can be as high as $5,630 for a long-distance move, compared to $12,000 for a full-service move from a professional moving company.
If you’re going a short distance, it’s much more cost effective to rent a truck locally. That way, you can take multiple trips with a crew of friends you’ve recruited and are paying for in pizza. Plus you don’t have to worry about the hourly rates of both movers AND transportation. This scenario is totally dependant on how much help you have (and how much large furniture you have), so keep that in mind.
The time of year can impact costs, too. For instance, a winter move can cost less than a summer move since more people move during the summer. When it costs you more to move on your own than it would if you hire a professional mover, consider getting extra help. However, professional movers usually charge by the hour. Thus, costs can add up if you don’t organize your move.

2. Think about time constraints

Decide which moving option is better for you by comparing the different aspect of your move. First, the amount of time it can take you to pack and when your move in/move out dates are. If you need to be out of your current place on the last day of the month and into your new rental by the first day, be warned that it’s going to be tough to do all that by yourself in a day.
Next, think about your space. Common sense dictates that it takes longer to pack and move multiple rooms in your apartment and it can mean the difference between a few hours of packing up a studio apartment for a same-building move versus weeks that it could take to move a three-bedroom apartment across state lines.
If you have limited time, but a larger budget for moving then a professional moving company is the way to go. Professional movers have experience coordinating moves, including packing and knowing the fastest routes to for long-distance moves.

3. Find the right moving company

If you’ve determined you need to use a moving company, check the Better Business Bureau and consumer review sites like Yelp for complaints. You should compare at least three or four moving companies and have them provide an in-home estimate so you have a more accurate idea of your moving costs. Verify that the moving company has a valid license and sufficient insurance coverage.
Also, ask the company about the moving process and the workers they use to move your belongings. Some moving companies use contractors to move your items. So, it’s important to know the workers they employ and the moving company’s process for vetting movers.
If you’re making a long-distance move, also make sure the moving company you hire is qualified to move your belongings across state lines. Verify that the moving company has a valid license with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) by using the FMCSA’s Mover Registration Search tool. You can search by the moving company’s name or U.S. DOT number.

In conclusion…

Making a decision on moving on your own versus hiring professional movers is easier when you have a plan, broken down into steps. it helps to pack one portion of your place and see how long it takes vs. how long your total packing/moving time is. Then, compare and assess the bids of qualified professional movers and determine if hiring a moving company helps you save time and money on your move compared to doing it yourself.
Amanda Mears
Amanda has worked as a journalist, an SEO copywriter, and a social media specialist. Her aim as a Four Walls contributor is to provide something worth reading and create a community for people who lease and love it. She’s also a real person, not just a mysterious internet writer, who loves silversmithing, podcast-binging, and trying to figure out how to fix her rented apartment’s bad linoleum floor (see, just like you!)