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Pros and Cons of Packing Yourself Vs. Hiring Professional Packing Services

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Moving is a time-consuming, stressful experience--saying good-bye to your old home and neighborhood, starting a new life in unfamiliar terrain, and handling all of the tasks that come with the process of relocation. Of everything involved in pulling off a successful move, nothing makes us cringe more than the project of packing. A seemingly impossible chore to tackle, packing often gets put off until the last minute, forcing us to start frantically throwing things in boxes carelessly.

However, proper packing is possibly the most important aspect of your move. Without following the proper procedures to protect your items, you could wind up with a shipment of shattered glass, broken electronics, and damaged belongings. If you don't have the time or the patience to pack yourself, you may be considering hiring professional packers. This guide will compare the advantages and disadvantages of hiring packers and packing yourself so you can come to a more informed conclusion about which method is best for you.

Pros of Hiring a Packing Service

  • It's quick.
    If you have a large home with many rooms of belongings to box up, a high volume of furniture to disassemble and wrap, and limited time to accomplish it all, professional packers could be a life saver. What may take you weeks or even months to complete, several packers can finish in just a few hours to a day.

  • Your items will be packed properly.
    There are certain procedures and methods employed to efficiently and effectively pack your possessions. Packers are trained and skilled professionals that know the proper way to wrap your delicate glassware and china, how to take apart and wrap your dining room set and breakfront, and the best method for packing valuable yet cumbersome artwork, mirrors and sculpture. If you have a significant amount of valuable, fragile, or oddly-shaped belongings, hiring professional packers will ensure that they are packed correctly with the most appropriate materials.

  • Your items are less likely to be damaged.
    With your items suitably packed, they are less likely to become broken or damaged while in transit. If you are moving long distance, your belongings will be on the truck for an extended period of time, increasing the risk of mishap. Items that are properly packed, disassembled, and wrapped for protection will be more equipped to sustain the trip, and more likely to arrive at your new home unscathed and intact.

Cons of Hiring a Packing Service

  • Increased cost.
    Of course, any additional service comes equipped with added costs. Packing services can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the amount of belongings that need packing and the time it takes to pack them. Some services will charge you by the hour, others a flat rate based on the assessed volume of your possessions. You may also be charged extra for packing materials, or they could be included in the rate. Be sure to ask any company you are considering for hire if there are extra fees for supplies.

  • Lack of control.
    While professional packers are trained in the proper and most effective methods for packing, they may not organize your items to your liking. If you are paying for packing services only and will be unpacking your own goods, you may become frustrated and frazzled when it's time to sort through the boxes. They may pack your summer clothing with your winter attire. Things that are in storage such as holiday decorations, family photos, and memorabilia may already be sorted and organized to your liking; professional packers are likely to re-pack these items in sturdier moving boxes, and may mix things together in a way that will confuse you when it's time to unpack. However, some simple supervision or special instructions can let the packers know what your preferences are.

  • Trusting the packers.
    You may be uncomfortable letting a group of strangers into your home to sort through your possessions. It takes a great deal of trust to allow your most prized possessions to be handled and packed by others.--you may fear the risk of theft or broken belongings. However, while you cannot guarantee that the packers in your home are honest, ethical professionals, thorough research on the company you hire can greatly reduce the chance of misconduct by your packers.

Pros of Packing Yourself

  • Lower costs.
    The biggest advantage to forgoing packing services and handling it on your own is the decreased expenses. Moving already costs a significant amount, and you may be on a budget after purchasing a home or putting a deposit down on a new apartment. If you are not in the position to splurge on packing services, you may want to skip it and handle the packing yourself.

  • You have more control.
    If you have issues with strangers handling your belongings, or you are adamant about things being done a certain way, leaving all of your packing up to the workers may make you uneasy. Some people have very authoritative tendencies and prefer to control the situation--especially when it comes to their personal possessions. If you have this type of dominant personality, the thought of hiring professional packers may leave you reeling.

  • You are less susceptible to theft.
    While any packing service you hire should be extensively researched by reading reviews, checking references, and verifying credentials, there is always the chance a dishonest worker will pocket your belongings. If you pack your own things and hire movers to just load the truck and drive it to your new home, you are less likely to be a victim of theft. Most thieves won't bother to go through the trouble of prying open a securely taped cardboard box to pilfer your items.

Cons of Packing Yourself

  • It's time-consuming.
    The process of moving includes a variety of tasks and planning--including preparing your new home, changing your address, hooking up utilities, transferring medical records, preparing children and pets for the move, and making travel arrangements. Packing is a tedious burden for those of us that already have busy, jam-packed schedules. If you can't find adequate time to pack, the process could take you months--or you could even be forced to take time off from work to complete the chore.

  • You may not pack items correctly.
    Packing is an art form, and certain steps must be taken to ensure your belongings' safe arrival at your new home. While you could read online packing guides to find out the proper way to pack your items, you are still more likely to rush through the process or use inadequate materials than professional packers. A packing service will work quickly, but diligently--a harried individual with minimal free time may pack haphazardly to get it completed and overlook important steps in wrapping and packing their belongings. If items are thrown together in flimsy boxes, poorly taped and ineffectively wrapped, they are much more likely to crack, shatter or become scratched during the move.
  • Furniture disassembly can be difficult.
    Some pieces of furniture may require disassembly to fit onto the moving truck. This requires some basic skills with tools. Additionally, there are proper ways to wrap your furniture with moving pads and blankets to protect the wood from damaging scratches and the fabric from dirt and unsightly stains. Attempting to handle these tasks on your own can result in costly damage to your furniture.

  • Movers are not liable for boxes that they didn't pack.
    If you pack all of your own wine glasses in boxes and the vibrations of the truck send them toppling to the floor, your movers will not be liable for the shattered stemware. Movers are only liable for boxes they pack themselves, with the exception of negligence on their part. If you pay the movers to pack your belongings, they will be liable for anything that breaks during transit.
    (Note: This doesn't apply if you hire a separate packing service from your moving company).

The Bottom Line

The choice to pay for packing services will depend on you, your move, and your needs. If you have very little time and the extra cash, hiring packers will be a lifesaver. If you have a tight budget, very few belongings, and are not that strapped for time, hiring professional packers would probably be unnecessary.

If you have trouble deciding whether convenience or money is more important to you, you could also hire packers for a "partial pack"--where you pay them to pack or wrap only certain items that are especially fragile, oddly-shaped or difficult to pack. Some examples of these items include furniture, china, glassware, electronics, paintings and mirrors. This will allow you to save a bit of money without compromising the safety of your most valuable or breakable belongings.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on April 5, 2013

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