Spending

Hire movers or move yourself? 3 renters discuss whether hiring professionals is worth the money

Twenty/20

Moving is expensive: The average cost to move the contents of a two-bedroom home is $1,250, according to Moving.com. It's also often a dreadful experience. Yet for many Americans it's inevitable. About 10% of the U.S. population moved in 2018.

Of those 32 million people, 47% moved themselves, 34% rented a truck and 19% hired movers.

I'm in the middle of a move right now to a new apartment two blocks away in my Brooklyn neighborhood, and though I decided to try to save money by moving myself, I'm wondering if I should have shelled out for professional movers. To discuss my decision, I chatted with Grow's graphics editor Kiersten Schmidt, who just moved from New Jersey to Queens, New York, and senior writer Sam Becker, who will soon be moving from New York City to Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

Below is a lightly edited and condensed transcript of our conversation about the pain and cost of moving, and when it's worth it to just hire movers.

The pros and cons of trying to move yourself

Aditi: I'm moving tomorrow, and I got a U-Haul because the amount of stuff I have doesn't call for movers and I'm only moving two blocks away. But now I'm also dreading moving. I kind of wish I had just spent the $250 and done it even though my "big stuff" is only a bed, a bookshelf, and a TV.

Kiersten: Was the $250 way more expensive than the price of renting a U-Haul?

Aditi: It's $247 total for movers and $40 to move myself. My share of the U-Haul will be $40 because my roommate and I are splitting it. I guess there is a two-hour minimum with movers, so you always have to pay for at least two hours of work.

Kiersten: I honestly feel like that would have been worth it.

The pros and cons of hiring professional movers

Kiersten: I am so done with moving myself. But that's coming from someone who just spent $1,400 for movers! That's how over it I am.

For my move, I got quotes from about five companies. The one I went with came highly recommended. Their time estimate was in line with other companies I spoke with, but it wound up going way over. They estimated 5 to 6 hours for the move and it ended up taking nine. So, while our quote was a little under $1,000, we paid $1,400 and change.

Aditi: I understand quotes being a bit off, but that seems wildly off.

Kiersten: It was from Jersey City to Queens, so about 15 miles. It doesn't even seem that far for a move! They did a great job, and I don't necessarily fault that company, but I'm wondering what happened that caused the estimates to be so off. The guys worked hard. I don't feel like they were slacking off or taking their time at all. For comparison, my friends moved from a one-bedroom, fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan to Connecticut, and paid $1,800. I don't see how our move (with an elevator) could have been just $400 less than that.

They estimated 5 to 6 hours for the move and it ended up taking nine. So while our quote was a little under $1,000, we paid $1,400 and change.
Kiersten Schmidt
Graphics Editor, Grow

Sam: I'm moving from the Upper East Side to Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, about 15 miles, in March. We're going to use movers and they said it'll be flat-rate of $550 or something.

Aditi: $550 is crazy low. A whole one-bedroom?

Sam: Well, we don't have much stuff. Most of it is in storage at my in-laws'. So it's really a bed, dresser, table, and a couple of chairs. I could do it myself but, like you, I knew I'd be bummed the day before and wouldn't want to do it. We'll see if I end up paying like $1,000, which I get is entirely possible. I'll probably have to get a U-Haul to get our other stuff that's in storage, so the whole thing will probably be more than $1,000 anyway.

Kiersten: One thing with the movers — and this was my first time actually hiring movers — is that they really are pros and do everything so much more quickly than we could do them on our own. If our move took nine hours with professionals, it probably would've taken us two days, even with help.

Sam: Yeah, it's always a way bigger undertaking than you think.

The pros and cons of moving with Uber or TaskRabbit

Aditi: I've moved with Uber twice, which I know isn't very nice, but I tipped well. And one move was just across the street so I just carried all my stuff.

Kiersten: How does moving with Uber work? Did you take individual rides, or have them go back and forth? How much stuff did you bring with you?

Aditi: Uh, no. I took three different drivers. Unsuspecting drivers. Then [my boyfriend] and I loaded their car with my stuff. But I wouldn't recommend that anyone do this.

Kiersten: An in-between option would be hiring someone off a site like TaskRabbit. We looked at that, too, but I haven't done it. A lot of them have trucks and stuff. Or you can rent the truck separately and just hire them to move your stuff.

Aditi: A rent-a-man situation. Do they say, "I'm strong and can carry things?"

Sam: We looked at that, too. They're like, gray-area guys who operate all incognito, without insurance or licenses right?

Kiersten: I did that when I moved up here after grad school. It was through a local service. I paid for two guys for one hour. They were insured. It was $100 and they moved all the big furniture out. It might be the best money I've ever spent. I will say that I sold a lot of stuff, so it was like a bed, mattress, and TV. But still, $100 per hour for that is really good, I think.

I paid for two guys for one hour. It was $100 and they moved all the big furniture out. It might be the best money I've ever spent.
Kiersten Schmidt
Graphics Editor, Grow

Aditi: Was your local service the one we were talking about? Like how they are all branded "hot men move you."

Sam: "Hunks who haul."

Kiersten: Haha. The one I used wasn't quite that, but it was basically football players from the college.

Aditi: Well, I would have been fine hiring a mover if there wasn't a minimum. Because it was $99 per hour, and then it was a minimum of two hours, plus 30 minutes driving time. Hence $247. Perhaps I should have looked on TaskRabbit.

Kiersten: Yeah, I think that's where people on TaskRabbit can fill in the gaps. Though I have no idea if there's insurance or anything, or if you have any recourse if they break your stuff. According to TaskRabbit's terms of service, "TaskRabbit is not liable for the acts or omissions of Users, nor does TaskRabbit provide insurance against any losses sustained by Users."

Aditi: For my move, which had few pieces and was a short distance, I decided against hiring pros: $250 was far too steep. But if the time cost of moving next time is significantly higher than it would be if I just hired movers, I'll consider it.

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