It’s the week before your move, and the situation has gone DEFCON 3 in your house. And things are veering closer and closer to DEFCON 1. You’ve run out of boxes twice, full rolls of packing tape are a distant memory, and every drawer in your home feels like a vortex of packing misery.
In between frantically dragging your unwanted gear to the curb and trying to use socks as precious-items packing material, you realize you’ll never get all this stuff out of here in time on your own. You’re going to need help. But do you break down and call in the pros or beg your friends?
Before you decide (or curl up in a corner, assume a fetal position, and stare catatonically at the walls), try weighing these three factors:
If you’re moving to a new city or across state lines, a lot can go wrong. If the truck is packed incorrectly, for example, you’ll have several risky miles where your stuff could get damaged. That is, if you even get there.
“Rented trucks can break down, and that’s a hassle to deal with,” Reid says. “Moving companies have backup trucks that can come meet the broken-down truck without much time lost during the move.”
If you’re pressed for time, professionals might make more sense.
“A move that could take a professional moving company two hours could easily take nonprofessionals all day to accomplish,” Reed says.
If you have a full day—or ideally a full weekend—to move, you can save some money and ask your friends for help. Sure, there are going to be
arguments discussions about how to load the truck and your friends are probably going to take several breaks to complain chat, but in the end it might even be fun. (OK, at least cheaper.)
3. Skill sets
For example, if you don’t have much furniture (or much furniture you care about), you might not need a pro. But if you do own a lot of furniture or complicated-to-assemble pieces, your friends (especially the good-hearted but clumsy ones) might not be the best choice to get the job done.
“Anytime you are dismantling and mantling furniture, it’s good to have a professional that does that kind of thing every day,” Reid says.
Also consider logistics. Will your friends be able to get your stuff out of your old place and into your new one?
“Stairs make a move a lot more challenging,” Reid says. “And so does large furniture, because a lot of nonprofessionals run into trouble when they have to get large furniture through difficult doorways.”
When to compromise
If you’re on a tight budget but also worried your friends will break everything, there may be a compromise. Rather than pay for a full-service move, hire a professional for the worst, most grueling part.
“Loading is really most difficult and important part of the move,” Reid says.
And many pros are willing to come out and help you load a rental truck for a modest fee. Maybe you’ll still want to tap your friends for the unloading part. After all, they’re still your friends, right? At least for one more move.