By Jeff Walker
Moving yourself can save a lot of money and stress, but it can also be a really frustrating experience to those who’ve never been through the process before. It takes a lot of planning and preparation, and a willingness to dig in and do everything from the ground up. What we will embark on is a series of articles meant to help walk you through your DIY (Do-It-Yourself) move. Some of these tips are aimed specifically at the DIY move. Others can be applied to full service moves, or anything in between.
The first stage is planning. The sooner you make the decision to move, the more smoothly your move will go. The busiest time of year in the moving industry is the summer months. This is largely due to the fact that most people wait until school gets out to move, but other contributing factors may be involved, such as weather and job requirements. If you are planning on moving in the summer months, book your move early. This will be true whether you are planning a DIY move, or hiring a full service mover. There are a limited number of people and equipment in the moving industry, and there is not enough for everyone to move at once. To add to the problem, the moving industry has had to tighten its belt since the recession of 2008, and many people were laid off, or moved to different industries altogether. As the economy has picked up, and people are starting to move again, the industry has had a difficult time keeping up with the demand after the loss of manpower and equipment during this lean time in our economy. What this boils down to, is that if you are planning a move during the busy season, reserve your truck or move well in advance, perhaps as early as one or two months in order to make sure you’ll be willing to move when you want or need to move.
Next, you’ll need to decide if a DIY move is right for you. Do you have any disabilities that might keep you from lifting heavy weight or performing manual labor for an extended amount of time? Is age a factor in your ability to perform the work? Do you have family, friends or neighbors that can help you in loading your truck? Do you feel comfortable driving a large vehicle over hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles? Is there anyone at your destination that can help you unload the truck? Only you can answer these questions yourself, but if you find yourself unable to perform the move yourself, perhaps it’s time to look towards a full-service moving company. Make sure you take the time to research the companies you’ve chosen (get no less than three quotes) and if you have any questions about your move, be sure to visit our message boards where volunteers can assist you with any questions you may have. They can also help you narrow down your short list to a mover that you are comfortable in using.
Now that you’ve made the reservation for your move, stop and take a look around your home. You’ll need to make a lot of decisions regarding what to take and what not to take. Only so many items will fit on a 15 or 24 foot truck, so you’ll need to pack efficiently, and perhaps make a few sacrifices and leave that armchair and sofa behind. Other items, like that pressed board desk you purchase for your computer may not weather the move well, and it may be more prudent to sell or pitch it and buy new at the other end.
In performing my research for this article, I noticed that many people have made the choice to have a “move” sale. This could be in the form of a garage sale, selling items on eBay or simply inviting friends and family into your home to look at “tagged” items for sale. Anything that you feel you can part with will mean less items to pack, and less items to transport. In the case of a full-service move, this will directly translate into a less-costly move. If you’re in the middle of a DIY move, these are fewer items you’ll have to put on and off the truck.
Of the most common items to get rid of is furniture. Often times your new home means new décor, and your old furniture may not match that new “look” you want in your new home anyway. This is a great time to find someone who would be willing to purchase your current furniture, and use that money to buy new at your destination. If you’re able to get rid of enough items, you may even find yourself renting a smaller truck for your move, saving you even more time and money. Smaller trucks and fewer items require less fuel, and less time to load and unload, again increasing the savings to you.
The next thing to consider, is when you can move into your new home. Whether you’ve decided to purchase or rent, your new home may not be ready for you when you get there. If this is the case, you may want to look into storage for your belongings. This basically comes down to two choices, you can rent a self-storage unit, or contact a moving and storage company in your area to hold your items until your new home is ready. The upside of the self-storage unit is that they are generally less-expensive, and you can get to the unit whenever you want. The downside is that some units are subject to the environment in which they sit, meaning if your unit is sitting in Mississippi, where the humidity skyrockets during the summer, all of your items in that unit will be subject to the same humidity and temperature that you would feel standing outside. While this isn’t true in all areas, and some larger cities do have climate controlled units, you should check with your self-storage manager, before making this decision.
On the other hand, while more expensive, professional storage facilities, while they can cost considerably more, are generally climate controlled and will protect your items from the wear and tear of the environment, as well as a staffed operation that will look after your items. Additionally, if you are considering storing your items, contact the company you plan on using well in advance of your arrival.
Planning is a critical step in your move. Whether you’re performing a DIY move or you’re determined to hire a professional moving company, it pays to plan ahead in terms of time, money and worry. While there are more things to consider during a DIY move, we’ll get to those in future articles as we address those topics. In the meantime, feel free to address your questions and concerns with our volunteers on the forums, or start looking for a moving company to get you started with your move.