Should I hire professional packing services for my local move?
July 9, 2016 10:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving from my current 1-bedroom apartment to a new 1-bedroom apartment under 10 miles away. While I was planning to pack myself and hire movers to handle the lifting and transporting, I'm now considering biting the bullet and springing for packing services as well. How much would something like this run me?

I have a relatively manageable amount of stuff - cabinets are full and there's random decor around, but I'm not busting at the seams. One extra closet and I could make my house look like a zen master's paradise, at least on the surface. It probably wouldn't be HORRIBLE to pack myself, but I've been very busy at work the last couple of weeks and I'm feeling tapped out. I had a job pack me up and move me to a new city once and it was divine - I'm remembering that experience with misty-eyed fondness. My only hesitation is cost. I could definitely afford throwing a few hundred bucks on top of the standard move cost at this problem, but would it cost more? I'm investigating different services but the only info I have is hourly rate. For actual estimates, I'm being asked to tell them how many boxes I need on top of the furniture I have and I have no idea! I'm terrible at geometry so I don't trust my instincts on the topic. One moving company is coming to give me a proper estimate next week, but I'm hoping to have a bit more to go on as I weigh what vendors and set up appointments.

Do you have any experience with professional packing? How much time did it take to pack you up? What's a reasonable rate? Anything else I should know?

Thanks all!
posted by amycup to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
In my experience, movers will have to come to your home to give you a real estimate.

I had movers pack for me a few years ago, and it was a few hundred dollars for a one-bedroom apartment.
posted by lunasol at 10:29 AM on July 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

For an in town move, what I would do is pay people to disassemble, move, and reassemble furniture. But I would pack myself. You can move your stuff in laundry baskets in probably a day or two. You don't actually need to pack it well. Dishes could be wrapped in t-shirts, for examples.
If you have enough of an overlap you could do 3-4 runs of stuff after work.

I'd pay movers to pack my stuff well for a longer distance move though.
posted by k8t at 10:41 AM on July 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had movers pack my kitchen and all my pictures and other breakables when I moved a 4,000 sq ft house. Best decision I ever made. The cost was not high relative to the time it would have taken me and the professional pack job was perfect. Nothing was broken or damaged in the move. The only thing I would ever pack myself is my clothes and some personal items.

I have no idea what it would cost you for a 1 bedroom.
posted by AugustWest at 10:43 AM on July 9, 2016

Including packing service added about 1/3 extra to the cost of my last move. It was worth it.
posted by lollusc at 11:08 AM on July 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

You'll have to get an estimate because it varies a lot city to city and time of year and month. I will say that paying for movers is one of my favorite "luxury items" I can afford as an adult, probably 2nd only to paying extra $$ for direct flights.
posted by MillMan at 11:26 AM on July 9, 2016

If you hire packers, I recommend going through and doing a "purge" first (which is something that naturally happens when packing yourself). You'd be surprised at how much you can get rid of!
posted by radioamy at 12:00 PM on July 9, 2016

We had professional packers when I was little because my dad's job paid for it. The packing crew arrived late because it was their second or third house of the day, so they were tired and rushed through it. Stuff ended up getting broken because it wasn't packed well. In one instance, they took a small trash can that had trash in it, put it into a box still with trash in it, and taped up the box. ...So my experience with packers wasn't great.

Were I to move today, I'd get my own boxes and pack stuff myself, doing it slowly over a couple weeks while purging stuff as I went. If you do pay for packers, I'd try to find some way to make sure they're a good crew (yelp? reviews?) so you don't have a repeat of my experience.
posted by bluecore at 12:10 PM on July 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you hire packers, I recommend going through and doing a "purge" first (which is something that naturally happens when packing yourself). You'd be surprised at how much you can get rid of!

This is a good point. When I had the movers pack for me, it was during a really busy time (fairly sudden move cross-country for a job) so I didn't do any purging ahead of time and wound up moving stuff across the country I really didn't need or want.

Definitely read reviews for any company you hire. Look for reviews by people who had the packing service. My experience was really, really great, but the company I went with had basically all 5-star reviews.
posted by lunasol at 12:18 PM on July 9, 2016

bluecore reminded me that yes, packers often totally blindly pack stuff without thinking, that's very common!
posted by radioamy at 12:20 PM on July 9, 2016

I've done it three ways and I think the best is the compromise method: the packers were willing to bring a crap ton of packing supplies (different types of boxes, tape, wrapping paper, etc) to my house a week before. Everything I packed, they didn't have to (at $X/hr) so I saved quite a bit of money doing the time-consuming fiddly little stuff and let them get the stuff I wanted professionally protected. The nice thing about having them do the rest is it didn't drag on over days and weeks because I'm lazy. If I didn't pack it, it was still going on D-day.

If you go this route, make sure you understand the agreement about self-packed stuff. Covered by warranty, or not? What's not allowed to be packed, because you will have to sign that you didn't before they will move the box.
posted by ctmf at 12:59 PM on July 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, you can schedule a day after you've UN-packed for them to come back and take away all the packing materials for you, which is nice not having to deal with.
posted by ctmf at 1:01 PM on July 9, 2016

+1 for doing a pre-move purge. If you're feeling beat now, you're only going to feel more so post-move. It's kind of disheartening to unpack and think, I don't even like this stuff. My husband and I moved to a bigger place a year ago so I didn't feel the need to purge but a year later, I feel like I don't know why I have a lot of this stuff, only now I have even less motivation to get rid of it. Bonus - doing a pre-move purge means less stuff for movers to move and pack (if you go that route), possibly making your move less expensive. Good luck!
posted by kat518 at 1:31 PM on July 9, 2016

Since it's close and you have time, do it yourself. You won't pay the packers and they won't lose or break your stuff.
posted by Bringer Tom at 3:13 PM on July 9, 2016

My one piece of advice would be to get multiple quotes. We hired movers recently, and the low quote was less than half of the cost of the highest, for exactly the same services, and the highest quote was from a company who had provided excellent prices on a previous move. Prices seem to vary with how busy a given company is, so you can't go off of what someone else paid a while back.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:10 PM on July 9, 2016

I hired a moving company to help move me down the street to a new apartment -- I had no means of moving the heavier furniture. Cost me $300. If you're in Chicago, MeFi Mail me.
posted by WCityMike at 5:41 PM on July 9, 2016

I think for a one-bedroom you could pack most of it yourself relatively easily, but it can be very daunting regardless of the amount of stuff involved. It really comes down to your individual circumstances.

We've been moved by packers and by ourselves and by a mix of hired helpers, friend helpers and nobody but us. What we learned:
- Something will get broken. The only way to avoid that is for you to pack your precious things very carefully, and even that doesn't always work.
- You'll have to have a box inventory anyway, and that's easier to do if you pack or at least organize packing the boxes.
- Help to move boxes and furniture is absolutely essential.
- The part where stuff is being physically moved should be as short as possible to limit how much chaos takes over your life, but it's surprisingly OK for packing and unpacking to take a while.
- There's 5 stages of packing (denial of how much stuff to move, anger at yourself for buying all this crap, bargaining to try and make it work, resignation and randomly tossing things into boxes, finally making a plan so that everything actually works) and if you're not careful emotionally driven decisions will cost you. Take care of yourself and do what works. Don't try for the Best Move Ever, the best move is one that doesn't drive you crazy.

Could you just pack a box or two a day? Start with things you don't use very much and take it at a pace you can manage. Also, do you have friends you could ask to help pack in exchange for a meal or something similar? That takes some load off of you but also won't cost as much as movers.
posted by Ahniya at 11:00 PM on July 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I guess it depends on what you mean when you say busy at work? If that means staying an extra hr a couple of times a week and that takes you from 40 to 42 hrs you can probably pack in your own time, box a day and get it done with relative ease.

If busy means you're working 65 hrs/wk and out of town a fair bit then pay for somebody to pack, get a quote for them to take away the stuff you purged as well and pay somebody to clean the old flat for handover, I.e. Throw money at every aspect of the move and outsource everything that can be outsourced.

But don't go purely by price. Look at customer reviews. You want somebody well reviewed/with personal recommendation who has a reputation for handling problems/breakages quickly and professionally. You do not want anybody who will give you a quote without seeing the flat and its contents to size the job. Ask me how I know.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:35 AM on July 10, 2016

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