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Should You Hire A Moving Company or Move Yourself in NYC?

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Moving in NYC can be a stressful ordeal. Find out if hiring a moving company is the right option for you. Learn about how to choose a moving company and what you need to know before you move yourself or decide to hire movers.
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When you first make the move to New York City, there are going to be a ton of different things you’re going to want to do.

You’re going to want to know about the best way to get your landlord to approve you, and how to save money on moving costs.

You are also probably going to want to pack up your stuff and enjoy your new apartment.

The issue, of course, is the actual act of packing up and moving your stuff into an apartment.

Getting your items moved into an apartment can be a major hassle, even if you’re a veteran of traveling around.

So, should you hire a moving company? What should you look for in a moving company?

This guide will help introduce you to the basics of getting movers in the Big Apple...and what you should expect.


Should You Hire a Moving Company or Move Yourself?

  • Hiring a moving company or doing it yourself each have their own benefits and drawbacks.
  • Hiring a moving company can take away a lot of the stress and physical labor from yourself the day of the move.
  • Professional movers usually take a shorter period of time to move than if you had done the job yourself, and are generally recommended for moving households and precious items.
  • Doing it yourself is cheaper and you can move on any day that is convenient for you instead of matching the scheduling of a company.
  • If you are moving yourself, many landlords will require a security deposit in case of damage to the building. If you hire movers, you'll need to provide their certificate of insurance to your landlord.
  • There exists everything from small local movers to national van lines for every moving need possible.
  • Some moving companies can accommodate long-distance moves, provide storage options, coordinate logistics, and even pack for you.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Moving Company

Moving companies are popular in New York City, and rightfully so.

They make hauling all your belongings easier and also do so while potentially providing some convenience during your transition.

Let’s take a look at the perks and pitfalls of using moving companies, shall we?

The Pros of Hiring a Moving Company

When it comes to getting a moving company, the biggest perks are also the most obvious.

That said, hiring a moving company comes with the following benefits…

Convenience

You don’t have to worry about hauling your gear upstairs or having to deal with transporting it from out of town. It’s a time saver.

The more “stuff” you have to haul, the more appealing a moving company is.

A Safer Move

Professional movers are also a good choice if you have a lot of items that are fragile, need to be insured, and need to be installed with care.

This is because most moving companies come with optional insurance and have skilled movers that are trained to handle specialty items like antiques.

Logistics

That being said, sometimes you need to hire a moving van at a bare minimum.

If you don’t have any other means of bringing your items into town, a van or truck is what you are going to need.

Liability

Professional moving companies are required to carry liability insurance. That means if there is any damage to the building(s) or home(s) during the move, their insurance will cover it.

Liability also covers injuries that may occur during a move.

If you do the move yourself, you will be held personally responsible for any such damages or injuries.

The Pitfalls of Hiring a Moving Company

Though most people want to hire movers, there are often problems that can impede them from doing so. Here’s why hiring a mover might not be good for you…

Price

Price is a big issue that most people have with hiring a moving company.

The fees alone are what make most people rethink hiring movers—at least when it comes to full-service moving companies.

Hiring a moving company usually starts at around $700 for a move across town.

If you have a larger apartment or are moving in from out of state, the price can easily skyrocket to several thousand dollars.

Most of us don’t have that cash lying around in our budgets.

That’s why most people who are moving a short distance and have friends to help them move to choose to do it on their own. This is especially true in the city.

Scheduling

Like most other major service industries, you have to schedule a time for movers to come.

If you are on a tight schedule, you might have a hard time finding a company that can accommodate your needs.

This is especially true at peak months like May or June.

Packing

Even if you hire a full-service moving company, there’s a good chance that you won’t have the entire move done for you.

For example, you’ll still have to pack up your items in boxes and label them for the movers for most moving companies.

That being said, there are some companies who offer "white glove service", which means they handle the whole move from start to finish, including packing and labeling.

However, if you have delicate and precious personal items or heirlooms, you're better off packing those things yourself to ensure their safety.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Professional Movers

ProsCons
All the heavy lifting is done for you.Hiring movers usually costs significantly more than moving yourself.
Professional movers are experienced in carrying household items and may avoid damage better.A moving company may not be available on the day(s) or time(s) you need the move to happen.
They coordinate the move for you.Packing comes at a higher cost, and some companies may not offer this service.
They carry insurance liability.

When Should You Hire A Moving Company?

Aside from being very convenient and time-saving, there are points where hiring a moving company is just common sense.

If you have any of these situations as part of your moving conundrum, it’s best to hire the pros when you move.

You Have A Company That’s Paying Your Moving Costs

Many companies are willing to pay for top talent to move to New York City, simply because it’s a way to ensure they get the quality of worker they want.

If you’ve been offered a job relocation package, you might not have to pay anything to hire a moving company at all.

Since you’re not paying out of pocket, it might be silly to ignore the offer. After all, the sooner you move, the sooner you can enjoy working.

You Own Seriously Pricey Equipment

If you own a lot of antiques, expensive electronic equipment, or anything else along those lines, carrying it yourself is a bigger risk than you think.

If you don’t pack your items properly or drop them, you won’t have a way to recover costs.

Moving companies come with trained staff, enough packing equipment to keep things safe, and also come with the option of moving insurance.

If you want to make sure your goods are safe, movers are the best choice.

You Have A Fragile Back

Moving on your own requires heavy lifting, as well as the use of tools that can require serious exertion.

If you’re young and fit, this might not be a problem. However, not all people are able to do a lot of lifting without risk of serious injury.

People who are physically incapable of the heavy lifting should not try to move on their own. It could lead to serious injury, or worse.

What To Look For In A Moving Company

Moving companies are not all built equal, and choosing the right one is a must. You need to know what to look for if you’re going to hire one. A good moving company will have the following traits:

Basic Information

Believe it or not, there are reports of fake moving companies that show up, only to take your stuff and flee.

The best way to prevent getting fleeced is to have a company that’s easy to trace.

A good moving company will have the following clearly present when you search them up online:

  • A Website
  • A Phone Number
  • A License Number
  • An FMCSA Number
  • Liability Insurance

Most of those bullet points are pretty straightforward, but there are some things you still may want to know.

The license shows that they are legally allowed to be movers, and that they have the proper insurance policies to protect your stuff.

The FMCSA number shows that they are approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.

The moving company you hire should liability insurance to cover any damages or injuries that may be incurred during a move.

Your landlord or property manager will probably need to get a copy of their coverage before the move.

Insurance Options

All decent companies worth their salt will have basic insurance on what they carry, but that doesn’t always cover the full value of what they’re transporting.

To make sure that you have your items given the proper coverage, look for movers that have additional insurance options—or full value coverage.

Service

There are several types of moving companies. There are moving van rentals like U-Haul.

There are also partial-service moving companies, which will drive your items to the location of your choice but not unpack everything.

Then, there are full-service companies that will pack and move everything and set it up for you.

Some of them will even disassemble furniture for you.

It’s good to choose a company that’s within your budget and works with your needs. That, of course, is up to you to determine.

Distance

Not all companies are capable of doing long-distance moves, and if you’re not local to the tri-state, that can pose a problem when you move to New York City.

Choosing a company that works with your distance is a smart choice.

Also, note that the farther you are moving from your previous home even within the five boroughs, the more you will need to pay.

Many companies charge per mile after a certain point, and you may also be on the hook to pay for gas.

Storage Options

Apartments in New York City can be tiny, making storage a popular service.

Some moving companies also offer storage options. This can be a real time-saver if you need to store some extra clothes or furniture you won't be taking to your new apartment.

This can truly come in handy if you are moving to a smaller space but don't want to part with some precious items.

However, if you're doing a straightforward move, this might not be a necessity.

Turnaround Time and Logistics

Here's something a lot of people forget to ask about and that's how long the move will take.

An experienced moving company with apt movers will be able to do even a large move in less than 5 hours.

The best ones can do it in less than 3 hours and without damaging your items.

A topnotch company will also assess your items before the move day and bring all of the necessary equipment and packaging material required.

Professional companies also usually have a manager or foreman onsite who will oversee the move and coordinate all the movers and communicate with you.

Good Ratings

Moving companies are another part of the service industry that deals with real estate, so you should treat them just like any other professionals you’d see in this field.

You probably wouldn’t hire a plumber who didn’t have good ratings, so why would you let yourself hire movers that weren’t well-liked?

Ratings matter a lot. So, make a point of searching up the movers you want to use on Yelp or Angie’s List before you agree to work with them.

What If You Have Delicate Items to Be Moved?

Not all companies will have the expertise or insurance coverage to move valuable artwork, antique furniture, or pianos.

In fact, in the cases of pianos, you will most likely have to hire a company that just specializes in moving these large delicate instruments.

So, it's important to ask before you hire a company if they move specific items from your home, be it an antique vase or a valuable painting.

You may need to hire a separate company that specializes in the moving of valuable and fragile items.

This is definitely true for moving pianos.

Should You Move Yourself?

There are plenty of pros and cons to moving on your own, and if you’re considering doing a DIY move, it’s important to know what they here.

Before you decide to hop on the DIY bandwagon, take these aspects of your move into consideration…

The Benefits Of Moving On Your Own

Moving on your own holds a lot of perks, many of which are fairly clear to those who are in the process of moving. The most common ones include…

Cost

Cost is the big one. Moving companies can easily charge upwards of $1,000 for a simple move.

When you do it on your own, all you really need to worry about is the price of packing materials, a moving van, and other basic necessities.

Control

Moving companies won’t always give you a say in what gets loaded or unloaded first, nor do they always tell you whether you will be able to get stuff done the way you want it to be done.

When you move yourself you’re in control of the pace and process you use.

Scam-Proofing

There have been many cases where people claiming to be movers just picked up peoples’ things and left, never to be seen again.

If you’re moving on your own, the chances of you falling for a moving scam are virtually zero.

Easier Scheduling

Trust us when we say that there are months where getting a moving crew can be downright impossible, especially if you’re moving close to (or inside) New York City.

Doing it yourself means that you will be able to schedule your own move, even if it’s peak season.

The Pitfalls Of Moving On Your Own

Though there are perks to doing a DIY move, it’s not always advisable. Here’s why many people avoid moving on their own.

Doing All the Heavy Lifting

Moving companies are popular because they are able to drive your goods to your new location and bring it up to your new home for you.

Some moving companies will even place furniture where you want it to go. That makes it way easier than doing it yourself or enlisting the help of friends.

If you are mobility-impaired, then getting movers may be the only way to move house. After all, if you can’t pick up and carry your furniture, you will need to hire someone to help you out.

You Need to Coordinate Your Own Logistics

Logistics are a hard thing to work with, especially when you have a large house that you’re moving out of.

If you have a lot of stuff to haul, then you’re not going to be able to fit it in a single U-Haul truck.

Moving companies can bring extra trucks and personnel to help you lug all your stuff to your new home, though it won’t be cheap.

You are Responsible For Your Own Damages

The insurance policies that movers carry is a really huge perk to hiring a pro.

Should anything get damaged, movers will be able to cover the cost of replacing it.

Moreover, since they are experienced in moving fragile items, they’ll be more capable of bringing it to your new home without issue.

The Pros and Cons of Moving Yourself

ProsCons
It's a lot cheaper to move yourself, especially if you find boxes for free.You have to use your own muscle to move your furniture and boxes.
You have full control over the move.Coordinating your own move can be a headache.
You protect yourself from any potential scams.You're personally responsible for any damages to your own possessions, the buidling(s), and persons injured during your move.
You can move when it's convenient for you, especially important during peak moving season.

Should You Hire a Large or Small Moving Company?

The answer can be simple of you know what your needs are.

A small moving company such as a "man with a van" type operation, can be the perfect fit for a small move within the same neighborhood or borough for a couple, roommates, or a student.

Pricing will be less costly and the van usually comes with 2 or 3 movers.

The larger your family or possessions or the farther the move, the more hiring a larger moving company may be appropriate, especially if you need to put things in storage.

Types of Moving Companies

There are even different levels of moving companies.

Local Movers-Small Moving Company

As discussed above, these companies are more of a mom-and-pop type of operation, affording the customer a more personal touch, lower prices, and moving date flexibility.

Full-Service Movers- Mid to Large Company

Full-service movers can handle larger moves and relocation between larger distances, within a city or some even out of the city.

These companies vary in the level of service.

Some of them will simply move your furniture and boxes, and others may be able to provide "white-glove service", packing your items and coordinating the whole move.

Moving Franchises- Regional or National Company

Once a company reaches a franchise level, you may be able to find their services across many neighborhoods, cities, states, or nationally.

These companies can provide a large range of services, but pricing is set and always consistent across their service regions.

Some of these companies may or may not offer long-distance moves.

Van Lines- National Network

Van lines work almost like booking agents. These national companies work with a number of affiliate moving companies regionally to provide service throughout the country.

Van line movers are ideal for long-distance moves, which can span from any part of the country to another.

They coordinate all the logistics from start to finish. This type of mover is essential when moving an entire household to another state.

An Important Note To Remember About Moving In New York

New York is one of the many states that allow landlords to ask for a security deposit for damage that could be incurred during a move.

This means that you may need to plunk down extra cash for a short period of time.

If you choose to hire movers, you need to give your landlord their insurance information.

This can cover the deposit and also help keep you protected if the moving company damages property while they get you situated.

So Is It Worth Hiring Movers?

In most cases, the answer is yes.

Movers are amazingly good at making a home transition easier, faster, and safer than if you were to do it on your own.

If you have the money to afford it or have a way to write it off, then hiring a mover just makes financial sense.

Just make sure you do your own research, read customer reviews, and check out their track record.

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