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Most of us are not familiar with the moving process, so when it is time to move there are a lot of uncertainties that can lead to stress and confusion. It’s been said that moving is perhaps one of the most stressful endeavors you will deal with in your lifetime. Planning and preparation will lead to a successful and less stressful move, but first you need to decide how you are going to get to your final destination. This article should clarify the pros and cons of using a professional moving company, as compared to moving by yourself.

Hiring Professional Movers

Even if you hire a professional moving company, there is still a lot to consider. The average moving rates are controlled by the ICC (Interstate) or a state PUC (Intrastate), so it is wise to compare the integrity of a company. Where do you start when hiring a professional moving company? What qualities should you look for? The following checklist can help:

  • The more you plan for the move, the smoother it will go. Planning well in advance provides the opportunity to find a good company. It will also give you time to obtain multiple estimates, which will tell you how much the move will likely cost.
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations. You should ask questions like:
    • Were the movers on time?
    • Were they professional?
    • Did they have enough people and the right equipment for the job? Did they damage anything? If you would like more in depth information, contact your local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce for performance records on movers.
  • Take an objective look at your household goods, and decide how much time and energy you want to put towards your move. Knowing these important facts will help you get a cost estimate and decide what company is best for you.

Factors that influence the cost are:

  • Weight: In long distance moves, the more weight, the more cost. Distance: The number of miles you’re traveling between the origin and destination address. Some carriers only serve certain states.
  • Time: One factor is moving during peak times, such as the summer or holidays. This means that you’ll pay more for your move.
  • Local moves, which are within 100 miles of your destination, are charged by an hourly rate.
  • Household goods, planning, and efficiency of the moving company will all factor into the final cost.

When hiring a professional moving company, the final cost factor is deciding between a “self-service” and a “full-service” move. In a self-service move, the moving company transports your belongings from the old house to the new, but you have to pack and unpack your boxes at both ends. In a full-service move, the moving company will pack and unpack your boxes, as well as transport all of your household goods. People who hire professional movers usually choose full-service. While a self-service move will save you money, long distance moves with lots of heavy, valuable items are best left to the professionals.

It may not pay to move some things. Consider the value of a donation to Goodwill or the Salvation Army against the cost of moving something near the end of its life expectancy.

Pack, Load and Drive

You can do it all yourself, and if so here are some things you need to consider:

  • Do you have the physical strength?
  • Do you have access to moving vehicles?
  • Will you have friends and family assist you?
  • Are they capable of moving your heavy or precious belongings?
  • Insurance – What happens if someone or something gets hurt or damaged?
  • Are you prepared to make the long drive to the destination?
  • Have you calculated the cost of travel: gas, tolls, meals, lodging, possible medical expenses, and uninsured damaged goods?

The most important thing you can do is factor in all your costs (truck rental, insurance, gas, food, tolls, lodging) and then compare that to estimates from professional moving companies so you can make an educated decision.