Self-Move Estimates

Ready? Here's Ramsey's Unreal Formula for Pricing the Do-It-Yourself Move:

Miles X cubic feet X days on the road X current price of a Big Mac Meal + distance between your location and Puckerbrush, Nevada + distance required to avoid driving by Aunt Martha's / rental fee for videos in your new hometown. Reverse the formula if you cross a longitudinal line during your move. Margin for error: 100%.

Estimating the cost of a do-it-yourself move is actually pretty easy. Be sure you figure in the size truck or trailer and any other equipment you will rent, such as dollies, furniture pads, tow bar, and automobile transport. You also need an estimate of how much packing material (boxes, tape, rope, plastic peanuts) you require. And add in the cost of labor you must hire to help you pack and load.

Here's a list of expenses that might be involved in a do-it-yourself move:

  • Truck or trailer rental

  • Tow bar or car carrier rental

  • Drop-off charges, if applicable

  • Other equipment rental (dollies, furniture pads)

  • Packing materials (boxes, tape, rope)

  • Any labor you employ to help pack, load, or unload

  • Insurance

  • Fuel

  • Mileage

  • Motels

  • Meals

  • Storage

The biggest expense of your do-it-yourself move will be the charge for renting a truck or trailer. Here are some guidelines:

  • A small (14-foot) rental truck will hold about 750 cubic feet of stuff—a one- to two-bedroom household.

  • A medium (18-foot) rental truck will hold about 1,000 cubic feet of stuff—a two- to three-bedroom household.

  • A large (24-foot) rental truck will hold about 1,400 cubic feet of stuff—a four-bedroom household.

  • A professional (40-foot) moving van will hold about 4,000 cubic feet of stuff—enough for everything from the attic to the basement including the car in the garage.

You can save money on packing materials by getting free grocery and liquor boxes from your favorite market. Also check fast-food restaurants for non-food boxes. However, using them can be false economy. Moving boxes are sturdy and of uniform size, making them easier to handle and stack than assorted grocery boxes. Special dish packs, wardrobe cartons, mirror boxes, and others will keep your things safer during the move.

Newspaper is cheap and works for packing around things in boxes, but it is dirty. The ink will rub off on your hands and clothes as you work and on the things you pack it around. Consider purchasing clean wrapping paper instead.

Moving Tips

To save money, wrap your dishes in clean paper so they don't have to be rewashed. You can wrap other things in newsprint.

You also can buy bubble wrap and packing peanuts. If you know ahead of time that you will be moving, you can save original packing materials from items you purchase.

You also will need packaging tape to seal boxes and rope for tying off your load. Many suppliers will let you return any unused materials for a full refund.

Unless you're going to do all of the packing, loading, and unloading yourself, you'll need some help. And help costs money. Even free labor isn't really free.

If you need to hire help, remember that a small, efficient crew will work better than a large, disorganized group. Ask your truck rental agency. They may know of some unemployed movers who could use a day job. Or call the local employment office for day laborers. Also check with moving companies. Some may have a crew that needs work and can make you a good deal.

How much will you have to pay? Ask around. Typically, paying 1-1/2-times-minimum wage will get you good but inexperienced help. Paying twice the minimum wage should get you experienced, but otherwise unemployed laborers. Pay a reasonable wage and you should get good work. If boxes are packed and the household prepared for moving, two laborers can load a medium truck in four to six hours or a large truck in less than a day.

 
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