Cassidy's Moving and Storage
The Hidden Costs of DIY Moving
Some of us rely on our own time and energy when it comes to packing and moving into a new home. After all, it does cost less to do it yourself.
You should be aware, however, that do-it-yourself moving looks cheaper than it actually is. When deciding whether to go DIY or go pro (or somewhere in between), you should factor these things in.
1. Your Time and Energy
You’re already spending time making financial and logistical arrangements – everything from updating your address on bills to getting a new health card to figuring out where your kids will go to school. Our ultimate moving checklist shows you how much there is to do.
If you’re trying to collect boxes and pack everything yourself on top of that, that’s time you could be spending relaxing or making improvements in your life. Or even doing some overtime at work so you can pay for your new home!
Let’s say you’re a family of 4 packing an average 3-bedroom home. Getting the supplies, organizing and packing, moving, and finally unpacking can really add up. Let’s see how much time it really takes.
In this scenario we’ll assume you really want to save money so you’re getting second hand boxes, not buying new. We’re also showing time in person-hours: it will go faster if both grownups help, and even faster if the kids are old enough to help too.
Collecting boxes and supplies from grocery and liquor stores: 7 hours
(Most places will only let you take a few at a time, and you have to drive around or make repeat visits.)
Packing kitchenware, dishes and food: 6 hours
(We’ll assume you like your glasses and want them to arrive in one piece.)
Dismantling and packing electronics: 4 hours
(One TV, one stereo, one computer – this includes wrapping cables and storing them with remotes, etc..)
Packing clothes: 4 hours
(We’re assuming you’re just throwing them in a box, but there are 4 people, remember.)
Packing books, BluRays, CDs or any other entertainment media: 5 hours
(We’re assuming you have an average collection.)
Packing toys: 3 hours
Preparing and packing appliances: 2 hours
(Mostly you’re cleaning food out of the fridge, defrosting the freezer, and wrapping cords.)
Packing sports and exercise equipment: 3 hours
Packing financial statements and other random papers: 2 hours
Miscellaneous furniture disassembling and wrapping, like mattresses, tables and chairs: 3 hours
Packing decorative artwork and objects: 6 hours (We’ll assume you like your wall art and knick knacks.)
Bathroom supplies and linens: 2 hours.
Off-season coats and boots, and other miscellaneous stuff: 2 hours
That all adds up to 49 person-hours, or a little more than a week. These people gave answers that aligned with our estimates. And that’s just the packing.
This is a conservative estimate in our experience, and it assumes the DIY packers are pretty organized once they have everything. Depending on how careful you are and how much stuff you have, you can spend even longer. Most of us actually have more belongings than we think we do. Movers can do it faster because we’ve had a lot of practice using good technique.
Once you include shifting boxes to the front door, loading the truck, unloading the truck and unpacking, you can see how much time a DIY move really takes.
2. The Good Will of Friends and Family
Lots of people make the work go faster by getting friends to help. That, of course, will cost most of us the price of some pizzas and beer. Most people don’t enjoy helping other people move, but they do it to be nice. So it costs you some good will.
In exchange, however, you’re now on the hook to help them move too when they need help. Or possibly you’ll need to help them with other manual labour projects.
This assumes everything goes well: it’s a lot of hard work and sore muscles, but overall the move is a success.
3. Renting a Truck
You see them all over town, and they look so cheap – sometimes $19.95 a day. But there are additional costs once you sign on: gas mileage and insurance. For moving within the Ottawa area, you’re more likely to spend $100 or more, depending on distance.
4. Risks of DIY Moving
When you’re moving everything yourself, you’re taking on a lot of additional risks as well.
Risk of Injury
We all know to pack smaller boxes and lift with our knees. How many of us actually do it, however, especially when we get tired? As we’ve shown above, moving is a lot of work, and the longer we do something the more likely it is we’ll be injured.
The bad news is that heavy lifting damage can add up to contribute to health issues in later life, like osteoarthritis.
Risk of Damaging Your Belongings – or Your House
If you’re in a hurry and are packing with poor technique, or are loading the van too quickly, you can potentially damage your things. Moving awkward furniture can result in marks or holes in walls, doors and other surfaces.
5. “Free” Labour Risks
Your friends may cancel on you at the last minute. If they’re reliable and show up, they can run the risk of being injured, or may be less careful than you’d like with your belongings.
Risks of Renting a Truck
There’s also the risk of renting the wrong size truck, or damaging your belongings by cramming things in, or having to make multiple trips. Also, if you get into an accident and damage the truck you’re on the hook for the insurance deductible.
Even though they have automatic transmission, driving a large truck is stressful. They’re much larger than the car you drive, and you can’t see directly behind you. They also have a much larger turning radius, and you have to watch the overhang too.
There are Plenty of Options With Professional Movers
When it comes to hiring professional movers, there are many ways to make the workload fit your budget. While some people go for the full service, in which the movers do everything including unpacking your things, there are other options too.
For example, you can pack everything yourself, or even go for a partial packing. It’s all up to you!
If you've never used a fully bonded moving company before, you may be unsure of how much it costs to move. Here are some real prices for average moves - but please get us to give you a real quote to be sure.
Rogue movers will quote you a super low price over the phone, only to start loading on the surprise extra fees on moving day. Learn how to recognize and steer clear of this menace with the tips in our infographic.