Do it yourself and save
Feeling energetic? Want to save money? You could take
on the monumental task of packing up all of your possessions, loading
them on a truck, driving the truck to your new home, unloading and
unpacking everything. You'll probably vow to never do it again,
but you'll have saved quite a chunk of change.
The traditional way to go about a do-it-yourself
move is to rent a U-Haul, Budget or similar truck or trailer and
do the whole thing, start to finish, on your own. But there is an
alternative that's become quite popular in the past few years --
you load and unload a trailer, but the moving company handles the
drive and delivers the load to your new home. We'll look at both
options and compare the savings between a "self-haul" and hiring
a full-service moving company.
Economizing to the max
The rental truck companies such as U-Haul
and Budget, which operates Budget Truck Rental and Ryder
TRS have a variety of trucks and, in U-Haul's case, trailers.
If you're looking to economize to the max, this is the way to go.
Cost may depend on size of the truck, length of time you'll need
it, mileage and demand for the equipment. You'll also want to buy
insurance to protect you from liability in case anything happens
to the vehicle. And, you'll need to rent furniture dollies, pads,
On the plus side, some of these outfits provide free
storage for a limited amount of time. In addition, if you want to tow a car, you'll
only need to rent the hitch equipment.
A big positive for a
lot of people who use this method to move is the control factor.
of the advantage is you're in control when you arrive," says John Taylor of Phoenix-based
U-Haul. "You ensure your goods arrive at your destination and on time."
Hantman of Budget Truck Group headquartered in Lisle, Ill., agrees.
retain possession of your goods through the entire process," he says. "Anyone
who's moved has had tough experiences with belongings not being moved the way
The drive intimidates
The thing that puts off many people about a "do-it-yourself" move
is the drive. They worry about the truck breaking down and they worry about driving
a vehicle bigger than anything they've ever driven.
into the business because I rented a 20-foot truck one day and in about five miles
I almost mowed down 20 people," says Howard Grad, owner of MoveAmerica
based in McLean, Va. "I realized I had no business driving a truck."
idea behind the "you load, we drive" industry is that a 28-foot trailer is dropped
off in front of your home. You get a day or two to load the trailer. It's then
picked up and driven to your new home where you have the pleasure of unloading
it. The prospect of back-wrenching work apparently is not deterring many people.
is phenomenal," says Keith Murray of Help-U-Move
in Jupiter, Fla. "The public is real receptive to this, especially in long-distance
'You load, we drive' cuts costs
One of the benefits in this type of move is customers only pay for the space they
use. Most of these businesses allow a customer to take as little as 3 feet of
space, which is about one room's worth of furniture.
people we're like a pizza place with one size pizza. We can sell it to you by
the slice or you can have the whole pie," says Murray.
trailer should hold all the furniture in a four-bedroom home. If two trailers
are needed they can usually be hitched together.
Cost is based
on various factors, but it's often some combination of space used, mileage or
the number of days you'll need the trailer. All three companies we talked with
that do the driving for you say they save customers 50 percent or more over the
cost of full-service movers and often meet or beat truck rental firms such as
U-Haul or Ryder.
You may not save 50 percent, but the amount
will still be sizable.
Murray of Help-U-Move did a quick estimate for us of what
it would cost to move a six-room home from New York to Los Angeles. He estimated
1,000 pounds per room for a total of 6,000 pounds, which equals 1,008 cubic feet.
Total cost: $3,200. That compares with $5,226.63 for a full-service move estimated
by the American
Moving and Storage Association in Washington, D.C., a savings of 39 percent.
But it still doesn't beat the deal a person can get by renting
a truck and driving it. U-Haul's John Taylor estimated a New York to Los Angeles
move in a 26-foot truck would cost $2,230. That's about a 30-percent savings over
the "you load, we drive" method and a nearly 60 percent over full-service movers.
line -- if you're willing to provide the muscle you can save a lot of money. If
you're willing to drive, you'll save even more.
transport goods, coach customers
Most companies that do the driving
also offer various levels of "coaching" free of charge.
Kelly of E-Z
Way Relocation in Jacksonville, Fla., says his company assigns a personal
move coordinator to each customer.
"The coordinator is available
24 hours a day, they're on call. They do pre-move counseling and act as a single
point of contact."
Proper packing is crucial. Box everything
just as a full-service mover would.
"Occasionally, you run
into someone who throws stuff into the truck with predictable results. You need
to be sure you have the right packing materials," says Grad of MoveAmerica.
Here are some things to consider when using a "you
load, we drive" company.
load -- If you don't use the full trailer, someone else's belongings will
probably be used to fill it up. Often it will be a commercial load, but it could
be personal property. All the companies assure us no one else will have access
to your property. A secured bulkhead is between the loads.
payment upfront -- Some companies will do cash-on-delivery in special cases,
or 50 percent upfront and the rest on delivery, but don't expect that. Have a
certified check or money order ready.
- Cash discount
-- All the companies we talked with will give a 3 percent to 4 percent
discount for payments made in cash instead of with a credit card.
-- Some companies will expect a deposit when you book the trailer -- most
likely less than $100.
- Loading and unloading --
Most companies will allow a day or two to load or unload the truck. Most will
charge about $50 a day if you need extra time.
-- None of the companies will tow a car. If you have more than one car
or you plan on flying to your new destination, some companies will help arrange
for a car to be shipped.
- Packing materials --
More than likely you'll need to buy boxes, packing paper, tape, etc. from
a local mover or a U-Haul. You'll also need to rent an appliance dolly.
-- Most cover at a rate of $0.10 per pound and provide $10,000 worth of
coverage if the truck is involved in a serious accident, fire or is stolen. You'll
need to buy additional coverage either through the mover or an insurance agency
if your homeowners policy doesn't cover the move.
and delivery -- Allow six days for delivery to your new address, especially
if it's long distance. Your trailer will be stored at a local facility for a limited
amount of time -- after that, you'll need to have it unloaded at a private storage
facility if you're still not ready to move into your new home.
-- As with any move, you may need to hire a specialist to shut off the
gas, unhook the washing machine, etc. If friends are helping load the trailer,
you'll at least want to provide sandwiches, soft drinks and water. It's usually
a good idea to hire a sitter for the kids and the pets so they're safely out of
the way. If you're driving, you'll also need money for gas, tolls and hotels.
Posted: July 7, 2004