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Are Movers Worth It?

Moving is stressful, but is paying professionals worth it? We discuss when you should hire movers and what services are available.

Author Icon By Shane Sentelle + 1 other Reviewer Icon Reviewed by Kent Sisneros Updated 01/10/2024

Moving your home or business is a life-changing event. Even a local move requires ample planning, let alone a cross-country, international, or long-distance move. Hiring professionals can make the moving process easier, but you may have a few concerns: Am I getting a fair deal? What happens if my belongings are damaged in transit? Is hiring a professional moving company worth the risk?

While there are important things for homeowners to look out for when hiring a moving company, many providers offer substantial value and can help make moving hassle- and stress-free. We at the This Old House Reviews Team explored the products and services offered by some of the nation’s top moving companies to compile this helpful guide on whether the cost of hiring movers is worth it.

Below are a few instances where you may want to hire professional movers rather than go the DIY route.

Moving long-distance is typically when hiring a moving company offers the most value. Most national moving companies specialize in long-distance and interstate moves, leaving local moves to rental truck companies or smaller outfits. Long-distance providers offer convenient services such as vehicle transportation, custom crating for fragile items, specialty movers for piano and fitness equipment, and assistance with other tasks you may not be able to arrange on your own.

Renting a moving truck may seem practical until you see the size of the vehicle required to move your queen-size bed, full-size sofa, large dresser, and other furniture. Many individuals without experience driving large trucks don’t feel safe behind the wheel, especially on the interstate. Even if you prefer to do most of the packing and loading yourself, you might benefit from a company that offers transportation of your belongings.

If you have a lot of heavy furniture or a collection of artwork, antiques, instruments, or other high-value items, hiring movers may be worth it. Disassembling, loading, unloading, and reassembling large or fragile items is better left to the professionals, as trying to do so on your own can cause harm to yourself and your belongings.

If you’re moving a large home, such as a house with three bedrooms or more, hiring movers will speed up the process of packing and transporting your items. Not only will it take much longer to do it yourself, but it will also require physical labor that you may not be able to perform as efficiently as professionals.

Some moves have a time limit. You may need to vacate your current home before the end of the month or be in a new city in time to start a new job. Hiring a moving company with a guaranteed pickup and delivery window can alleviate stress and give you time back to prepare for your relocation in other ways.

Moving to a new country comes with a separate set of challenges. Because of the logistics of moving and managing freight across international boundaries, a professional moving company with experience in international moves is almost a requirement.

When To Do a DIY Move

For some, hiring professional movers isn’t necessary. Hiring a self-service moving container company, renting a moving truck, or going totally DIY might make more sense in the following instances.

You’re Moving Locally

Most of the best national moving companies are designed with long-distance or interstate moves in mind. If you’re moving locally or intracity, a large moving company may not offer much value; in fact, it will often outsource your move to a local mover in its network if it holds broker authority. Renting a moving truck or using a mobile moving-and-storage company may be a better option.

You Have a Limited Budget

Hiring a full-service moving company can be expensive, and most services aren’t geared toward movers on a tight budget. If you don’t have the financial capacity to pay movers, it’s more practical to go the DIY route. As an alternative, some companies allow you to pick and choose which services you need to save money. For example, you can handle all the packing yourself and hire a company only to help with loading, transportation, and unloading.

You Have Free Help

If you have friends and family ready and willing to pitch in, hiring a moving company may not be necessary. The most physically demanding aspect of any move is loading and unloading your belongings into and out of a truck, trailer, or container. If you have enough willing participants to get the job done quickly and safely, it could be worth it to save money.

You Want Control Over Your Belongings

Hiring a moving company means entrusting strangers with your possessions for an extended period of time. It is nerve-racking for some people to leave their belongings in others’ hands that long, even if they are professionals. If you prefer to have complete control over your belongings and timeline, consider a DIY move.

You Have Time

Hiring movers usually means getting all of your belongings out of your old home in a single day. If your new home is close by and you have time to move your belongings over at your own pace, you may not need to hire a moving company. Moving your items bit by bit can save you the stress of moving everything all at once and the money of hiring professionals.

There are a few more things to keep in mind before making the call on whether movers are worth it in your situation. Consider the following before making your final decision.

Even if you’re physically able, moving heavy items such as large appliances, sofas, bed frames, and mattresses is extremely taxing and can cause injury if done improperly. In almost all cases, you need, at the very least, one or two people to help you lift and load heavy boxes, furniture, and other items. If you have limited physical capacity, hiring professionals may be more of a necessity than a luxury.

Your reason for moving can impact your decision to hire professionals. If you’re relocating for a job, you may have a moving stipend from your new employer that you can use to pay for movers. If you’re moving to start fresh in a new city and have sold, donated, or tossed most of your belongings, you may not need to hire assistance.

Further, if you have, for any reason, a set window of time in which you must complete your move, or if your move is unplanned or otherwise unexpected, movers can help by quickly packing, loading, and transporting your items for you.

Moving even a small home or apartment to a new location comes with aggravations, and some people simply can’t deal with the stress. Hiring a moving company can remove much of the anxiety of organizing your relocation if you have a demanding job, young children, or another obligation that requires most of your time and attention.

Types of Movers

Deciding to hire movers is only the first step. When researching moving providers, you’ll come across several options. Besides choosing between a moving broker and a carrier, you’ll also have to determine the level of service you require. We break down the different types of movers below.

Brokers vs. Carriers

Moving companies are divided into two main types: brokers and carriers. A broker acts as an intermediary between you and a third-party mover. A broker does not have in-house staff or its own fleet of moving trucks; rather, the company will contract out your move to a moving carrier in its network.

Conversely, a carrier handles moves directly. A company registered as a moving carrier has its own fleet of trucks and handles all moving services with its own employees. Some companies act as both brokers and carriers, providing in-house moves in some areas and contracting out moves to partner carriers when necessary.

Whether you should hire a broker or carrier for your move depends on your preferences, moving budget, and type of move. A broker may offer more services and will be able to hunt for the best price, but customer service and support may suffer when you work with a third-party carrier. A carrier with its own fleet and dedicated customer support personnel will offer better service; however, with limited staff and trucks available, you may have to schedule your move early or miss out on a few desired services.

Full Service vs. Self-Service

When moving, you can choose from self-service, partial-service, and full-service movers. Your decision may depend on your budget, the size and distance of your move, the number of bulky items you have, whether you can enlist friends and family members to help, and other considerations. Here’s a breakdown:

Full-service movers will handle all aspects of your move from door to door. Services include packing and unpacking, loading and unloading, furniture disassembly and reassembly, specialty item moving (for an additional cost), vehicle transport, and more. Many companies also offer packing materials, such as moving boxes and bubble wrap.
Many full-service companies offer partial-service moves. Movers will load and unload your heavy boxes but will leave the preparation and packing to you. Partial-service movers cost less than full-service, so if you don’t need packing services or other extras, this can be a practical option.
Self-service movers handle the transport of your belongings and not much more. Moving-and-storage container companies, including PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT, fall into this category. These companies leave the preparation, packing, and loading to you, then transport your belongings to your new location, where you can unload them. This is typically the most budget-friendly and flexible option.

Our Conclusion

Hiring a professional moving company makes a lot of sense for some individuals; for others, it’s not essential. Moving companies have the skills and logistics needed to get your move done quickly and safely, but they can be expensive, and you’ll have little control over your belongings during the process.

If you’re moving a large home or business with many heavy furnishings over a long distance, hiring movers may be necessary. If you’re moving a small dwelling across town, you likely won’t get the same value. One cost-effective alternative is to hire a mobile moving-and-storage container that will handle transportation but leave packing and loading to you.

If you decide movers are worth it, read customer reviews and ask friends and family for recommendations. Then, get quotes from at least three companies before making your decision.

FAQ About If Movers Are Worth It

What are the benefits of using a moving company?

There are many benefits of using a moving company, including the following:

  • Stress reduction
  • More time to prepare for your relocation
  • Lower risk of injury to yourself
  • Lower risk of damage to your belongings
  • Professional packing of fragile or high-value items

What should you do if you’re moving by yourself?

If you’re moving by yourself, give yourself enough time to sort through your belongings properly. Pack only what you need to bring and toss, donate, or sell the rest. Rent a moving truck or borrow a truck or van from a friend. Enlist the help of friends and family. To avoid injury, don’t push your body too far, and take frequent breaks when loading or unloading.

What can I do to help a mover?

Most movers will not request or require you to help them move your belongings. However, you can help make their jobs easier by offering water or other refreshments, keeping children and pets clear of the working area, being fully packed if you’re self-packing before moving day, and staying out of the way.

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