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Moving Without Using a Service: Pros and Cons

young boy smiling carrying moving box

You’re ready to get a change of scene. You found the perfect place, offloaded your unwanted stuff, and are happily (right?) starting with the packing process. You’re daydreaming about your favorite new Saturday morning coffee spot and the quiet neighborhood cafe that you’ll have dinner at on the nights you just don’t feel like cooking. You’re practically there in your new house already.

There’s just one catch: you have to make the move.

couple carrying moving boxes

With all that awaits you on the other side, you’re likely feeling inspired. It can be tempting to tackle things all on your own. Pick up a truck, load up the boxes, unload them on the other side. How hard can it be? And your friends owe you one for the time you spent watching their dog while they were on their honeymoon. Time to call in that favor and get some help with the move.

But is moving without a service all it’s cracked up to be? Before you begin planning a DIY move, consider the pros and cons of doing the work yourself.


The allure of moving on your own typically comes down to money and a certain degree of freedom. The idea is that you’ll save money while being on your schedule, not having the pressure of movers ready to go while you’re still wrapping up the final touches.

Save Money

The most popular reason for DIY moves is a desire to save money. Hiring a mover can feel like a considerable expense and one you can cut by doing it yourself. With pre-planning, help from friends, and the right approach, you can potentially save money on your move.

When comparing DIY and hiring a moving company, add up your expenses. That includes truck rental, packing supplies, moving supplies such as blankets and straps to protect and secure your items, and equipment for shifting the things that require a lot of muscle. You’ll also need to add the cost of insurance and fuel into the equation.

Move on Your Own Time

Moving by yourself means you’ll also have the luxury of being on your own time. If you’re running a bit late, you can get started a bit later in the day. If unexpected elements come up, you’ll be able to adjust your schedule throughout the day. An impromptu lunch break is feasible with a DIY move, as you’ll be able to take time out to have a meal at your favorite local spot without leaving a moving company hanging.

couple eating takeout on moving boxes

If you have a big move, you can also spread the project out over a few days. That means you can move your furniture in and get it arranged before hauling boxes over. Or if you found the perfect sofa on Craigslist that looks like it was genuinely made for your new living room, you can use the truck to go scoop it up.

Don’t Stress About Your Packing

If you’re considering a full-service moving company, they’ll pack and unpack your boxes for you. Of course, there’s a benefit to that, as these experts know exactly what they’re doing to get your things packed and shifted safely.

But if you are either packing last minute or don’t have the time to pack methodically, maybe you just want to throw everything in boxes and tip them out on the other side. When you’re assuming all of the liability for getting your things to your new home safely, you can just do it all as you please.


There are also some downsides to DIY moves for all of the benefits. Often, these elements aren’t apparent until after you’ve made a move. Upon reflection, it’s clearer just what you signed up for by opting to take care of things yourself.

It’s Hard Work

Moving by yourself involves a lot of work. You’ve already spent time sorting, packing, cleaning, and preparing… Do you really want to handle all of the heavy lifting as well? You’ll need to disassemble furniture, load it carefully in the truck, anchor everything for the journey, and then do it all in reverse on the other side. Without experience and expertise – which professional movers bring – this can be a very cumbersome process. 

couple exhausted moving day boxes

Don’t underestimate the amount of effort you’ll need to put in to get all of your things out of your house (how about navigating doorways, hallways, stairs, or elevators?) and then into your new one. By the time you arrive, you’ll be pretty exhausted.

It’s Time Consuming

Another element that’s easy to forget is just how much time it will take you to get the job done. Movers make it look so easy. You see them come in and methodically move all of your things and begin to wonder if you couldn’t handle it all yourself. The reality, though, is that they’ve had a lot of practice. A lot.

Things take more time when you aren’t an expert. That’s a pretty guaranteed element of a DIY move. You may assume you can grab the truck when the company opens, head to your house, load the truck in a matter of an hour or two, and then just easily move everything into your new place. You’ll likely find that things aren’t as simple in practice.

It’s Stressful

woman zen in moving box

Organizing a move is a stressful experience. When opting for DIY you need to project manage the entire move. If something goes wrong or one of your helpers can’t show up, how will that affect the rest of your day? Many people find themselves scrambling for one reason or another and end up pretty stressed about the entire ordeal. That means tension often shows up between all of the people handling the move, and it can be easily avoided by hiring a moving service.

It’s Full of Surprises

The costs of a DIY move add up. When you hire a professional moving company, you receive and confirm a quote beforehand and know exactly what you’re getting into. While on the face of it moving on your own may seem like a less expensive option, you’ll likely find there are costs you didn’t account for. Consider costs like hiring a truck, hiring equipment such as trolleys, padding, and straps, fuel, taking time off work, and the emotional cost of owing a favor to the kind friends who help you out.

There is also a greater risk of damage to your things or injury to your body. Without experience, you may find that you could scratch or ding the walls of either of your homes, scratch your furniture, break your items, or even injure yourself along the way. All of these things can lead to unanticipated costs.

About the author

Unpakt Team