friends

It’s one of the great debates of humankind: when you’re planning to move, should you rely on your friends to get you where you’re going, or do you need to call in professional movers?

The question isn’t an easy one. Some of the factors that come into play are your budget for a move, the distance of your move, how much you have to move, and how reliable your friends are. The value of your possessions and your own willingness to DIY something that can quickly become complicated and stressful will also be considered.

So here are our pro and con list of asking your friends to help you move.

Pro: Cost

Your friends are probably cheap. In many cases, pizza or a case of beer will secure their willingness to move heavy boxes and furniture for a day or two. If they really need cash, you can offer them a few dollars, but you’ll still spend a lot less than you would if you hired a professional moving company – or even a few college students looking for some day work.

Con: Insurance

One of the reasons that your friends are cheaper than the professionals is that they don’t carry any kind of insurance. If your friend screws up and drops the box that contains Grandma’s priceless china, there’s nothing you can do about it other than guilt them for the rest of their lives. Professional movers, however, will generally carry insurance that can help reimburse you for the cost of lost or damaged items.

Pro: Easy to Schedule

If your move happens at the last minute, hiring a professional moving company is likely to be expensive. Especially at busy times of year, like school start and end dates or the times of year when seniors tend to head north for summer and south for winter, moving crews and helpers can be incredibly busy. If they can even fit you into their schedule, you will likely be paying a premium for the opportunity.

Meanwhile, your friends are usually much more amenable to “Can you help me move this weekend?” Even if they have plans, they can often come over for at least a few hours to chip in.

Con: Inexperience

While professional movers do this every day, your friends probably help with a dozen moves throughout their lives. They don’t know the best ways to move heavy furniture, to use dollies, or to bubble wrap and blanket items to protect them from damage. They don’t know the best ways to arrange things in trucks, or how to secure items to avoid shifting and damage in transit.

Conclusion

Whether or not you ask your friends for help with your move often depends on how much you’re moving and how far. If you’re crossing town with a truck full of boxes and just a couple pieces of furniture, your friends are almost certainly the more economical choice for your moving assistance.

But if you’re moving state to state, or even a few cities away, it’s not likely your friends will be willing to make that drive to help you unload at the far end. Even if your friends can help you load up your truck or van before you leave, unpacking at your destination can be more work than you anticipated.

One reason that people want to have friends help with a bigger move is to get to spend some time with people they care about before they end up a good distance away. One way to get that social contact without worrying about the actual transportation of your belongings is to ask for help packing the house up.

Many movers charge more if they need to pack up the entire house; you can often save some money on your move by packing up what you can before the movers arrive. Clothing, books, DVDs, and basic dishware are easy opportunities to get things cleaned up and packed – and also to go through items and discard or donate things that are unwanted.

When you’re making a long move, or moving an established household, hiring professional movers is often the right call. They know how to protect your furniture, pack a truck properly, and get everything done efficiently. They carry insurance that will protect you from damages caused by the movers.

When you have a low budget for a move, remember to put a dollar value on your own time and frustration. Hiring a moving company can make the entire move easier on you, reducing your stress and letting you focus on other aspects of the move. Many times, those other aspects are much more important than figuring out how to wrap your kitchen table properly. Let movers take care of the parts they’re good at so you can worry about all the other details.

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