DIY Moving vs Hiring a Local Mover

Have a big event (or a new house) just across town? Which is better, DIYing the move or hiring a local mover? This post will help you choose.

Are you

  • planning a huge event for your local school, house of worship, or volunteer organization?
  • dealing with the aftermath of an unexpected homeowner’s claim?
  • about to move cross-town?
  • looking at buying or inheriting a new-to-you, gently-loved piano for your budding musician??

These are all situations when you might be tempted to go it alone rather than hiring a local mover, thinking you’ll save a bundle over hiring the pros. But is that the best way to go?

I’ve been in all the situations above, more than once in my life. And I can assure you that while there is a time and a place for DIY moving, sometimes hiring a local mover just makes more sense.

Ready to find out whether moving trucks are right for you? Then read on!


 This is a collaboration post. However, please know I stand behind everything written here, and only include links to products/services/resources I’m willing to recommend personally.


This is a collaboration post. However, please know I stand behind everything written here, and only include links to products/services/resources I’m willing to recommend personally.

Hiring a Local Mover vs. DIY-ing Short-Haul Moving Projects:

1. You’re in charge of a big event

  • You’re the PTO president in charge of the annual funfest – and all the district’s supplies, including the district-owned bouncy house that makes its rounds of all the schools, are stored off-site.
  • You’re the owner or manager of a small business. Say, a pop-up children’s resale event that happens several times a year in your local area. And those clothing racks aren’t magically gonna walk themselves from your barn to the sales floor.Have a big event (or a new house) just across town? Which is better, DIYing the move or hiring a local mover? This post will help you choose.
  • Your church’s annual bazaar, rummage sale, craft fair, whatever is coming up. The event at which you regularly clear over 5 digits’ worth of profit. Only all your supplies are generously stored off-site by one of your members in the back of her business’s warehouse. And you need to get them over to the fellowship hall in one afternoon.

Especially with the first and the third scenario, you might be tempted to try to make do with volunteers and the use of their private vehicles.

But unless you have a member who owns a small van, you might be better off hiring a local mover to do the schlepping for you. Not only will they get it done in one fell swoop (and quickly!), but you’ll save your volunteers for work that you really can’t outsource.

(Because I don’t know about YOUR organization, but the ones I belong to seem to find it harder and harder to get all their volunteer slots filled, as all our lives become collectively busier as our kids get older and involved in more activities.)

2. You’re short on time and/or humanpower

If you’re moving across town over the course of several months, you can afford to do things one carload at a time, just renting a van for the bigger furniture at the end. But if you’re closing on your old house hours before you close on the new one, having movers pack up and move everything for you is the far more time-effective option.

Hiring the pros also forces you to deal with things faster. When our basement flooded last year. It was an inch of water at most, and only affected a small area of carpet. The insurance settlement would have covered hiring movers to empty our basement and move everything to storage short-term.


Have a big event (or a new house) just across town? Which is better, DIYing the move or hiring a local mover? This post will help you choose.


But because we wanted to get a little extra work done at the same time by the insurance money, we opted to pack and move things to our garage by ourselves [thus saving that money for other projects.] Yes, I know what’s in each and every box, and where each box is. But fifteen months later, half of them are still in our garage, waiting for me to schlep them back down to the basement.

And as for the Girl Scout cookies:

This is the math of being a Troop Cookie Mama:

Each case has 12 boxes. A minivan with the seats removed holds about 150 cases. As it was, our troop’s top seller last year sold over 50 cases in the initial selling period, and we had to have her parents help us by collecting her cookies directly from the distribution site in their family’s pickup truck. This was the only way we could collect our troop’s entire order in the single 10-minute slot that each troop gets at the distribution hub.


Have a big event (or a new house) just across town? Which is better, DIYing the move or hiring a local mover? This post will help you choose.
For reference, this is about 208 cases – or just shy of 2500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Now imagine FILLING this garage with cases of cookies.

So you do the math: If you have a kiddo who sells thousands of boxes, you’re gonna need at least a small moving van to pick them up. The more your troop sells, the more money the Council gives you back per box. Thus it may well be worth the time and effort to hire a local moving company to do your pickup from the distribution site, and have your volunteer sorting team waiting on the other end to receive the shipment there.

3. You don’t have the right equipment to do the job safely

But what if

  • you’re inheriting a piano from your parents as they downsize?
  • you’re getting a new-to-you refrigerator, or washer/dryer set, from a local reseller or a neighbor across town?
  • you’re getting brand-new appliances and want to donate your old ones to a local homeless shelter?

For any of these scenarios, I’m willing to bet you don’t have the right equipment to do the job safely.


Have a big event (or a new house) just across town? Which is better, DIYing the move or hiring a local mover? This post will help you choose.
Yes, you probably have a step stool to get into your rental van. But do you have an industrial-strength dolly?


Which is less expensive in the long run – hiring a local mover with the right dollies and straps for a job like this, or trying to DIY and ending up in the emergency room with a crushed foot? (That then requires months of surgery and rehab before you can use it again?)

And even if you do have the right dollies, let’s suppose your unit (or the destination) is up or down a flight of stairs. Still confident you can do this without hurting yourself or putting a hole in the wall?

Large furniture is difficult to move in part because of its size and bulk, of course. But also keep in mind that pianos are remarkably delicate instruments. When some friends of my parents went overseas to teach English for several years, we got to take care of their piano. And pianos don’t fare well being moved from point A to point B unless the pros do the job; mishandling a piano in a move can do a huge amount of expensive damage to its inner workings.

Fortunately, as we also learned, local moving companies are often experts at moving pianos safely for this very reason.

The bottom line:

In the end, it all boils down to your hourly rate and your expertise/equipment. I’m a firm believer that everyone should know their hourly rate when trying to decide what it makes sense to do themselves vs. hiring out to someone else. If you have to take unpaid time off from work to do a job, ask yourself which leaves you more money in your pocket: hiring someone else, or DIYing and losing out on that chunk of your paycheck.

Hiring professional movers to help you will cost you more, but it could save you time and ensure that no items are damaged during transit. And depending on how much your time is literally worth, there are plenty of situations in which it’s definitely the way to go.

Have you ever been in one of these situations? Did you decide to DIY or hire a local mover? Let us know how you made out in the comments!

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Have a big event (or a new house) just across town? Which is better, DIYing the move or hiring a local mover? This post will help you choose.


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18 thoughts on “DIY Moving vs Hiring a Local Mover”

  1. Hey Flossie! Your arguments are so logical, I totally agree with you on the way to calculate this. I also apply the same logic for other things in general, comparing “income loss” against costs! I’ve moved 3 times in my life. First time, I moved from another continent, but brought only a suitcase with me! LOL
    The other two times we got professional movers, mostly because we always moved in extremely difficult circumstances, once while my mother in law was dying in hospital and the other time, I was 8 and a half months pregnant… with no help from family or friends. Joys of Expat life!

    1. Yup, definitely expat life joys for sure. I am impressed you did the cross-ocean one with just a suitcase! I have several friends who’ve moved from North America to South America (or the other way around) with only suitcases, and it amazes me. My friends who moved across the ocean, though, always did so for work, so always had a shipping container paid for by their employer. (!)

  2. Melanie williams

    We did it ourselves and found the move not too stressful, as we got organised, pre-pared and this helped things go smooth x

    1. The more organized you can get, and the earlier you start planning for the move, the easier it always is! (especially but not only when you DIY…)

  3. I’ve moved A LOT with both wonderful experiences and nightmares. My best moves have always been with a reputable local movers.

  4. I’ve moved several times and have done both a Dity and hired professionals. Both have their place but I have learned it’s less stressful to just let professional movers do it.

  5. In Japan, movers here will pack boxers for you. It sounds like a lazy thing on my part but the movers do a great job! Movers are expensive here (especially during certain times of the years) but they move and pack everything.

    1. Oh, the movers here will pack boxes, too. But it will cost you – both in terms of their final bill, and in terms of not knowing what’s where on the other end. Which, if you’ve already Marie Kondo’d your life, is not so bad. But if you don’t quite get to pare everything down BEFORE the move, can be pure hell.

  6. I haven’t ever hired movers. We thought about it when we moved halfway across the country, but it still ended up being more worth it to use a moving truck ourselves. I didn’t think about holidays being harder to get help, though, since we’ve almost always moved during the summer.

    1. LOL the worst part is not so much the holidays, as it is the snowstorms and ice and slush of moving during northern winters! I’ve done two moves in the dead of winter during brutal winter weather in northern climes!

    1. LOL that was totally me the last time we moved! We were lucky that it was only 2 miles, though, and my hubby’s coworkers already had a long tradition of helping each other move – we’d helped many of them move a few miles from one house to the next, so they were all quite happy to pay us back! 🙂

  7. We’ve moved 3 times in the last 10 years and we’ve done it ourselves. We had family and friends who helped us but it was hard work. I think for next time, we will hire professional movers for sure.

    1. For us, it’s always come down to whether we have reimbursement from employers to help with the move. Yes = hire movers; no = DIY 🙂

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