Among life’s greatest joys and pains is moving. On one hand, you’ve got this great new space to fill; on the other, you’ve got the hassle of packing and transporting everything you own. It’s the bane of existence for new homeowners and renters everywhere. The first choice you’ll have to make is whether or not to hire a service to do the heavy lifting.

Both come with expenses; although, at first glance it may seem as though hiring professional movers is the more expensive option. The following breaks down each by cost, and then gets into the finer details of what is involved in a move, and what hurdles you’ll need to plan for.

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The cost of moving

To get an instant quote on what a professional service costs, you’ll want to check their websites. Professional movers, such as Allied.com or United’s residential moving services, sometimes offer an instant quote. You type in your current address and where you’re moving to, then follow the prompts so the business can get an idea of how much you’re moving. Either a quote will produce on the screen and you can purchase the service, or a representative will call you.

Keep in mind moving an apartment or one-bedroom home will cost less than moving a three bedroom, two-story house. The distance also plays into the cost. For example, it’s almost always cheaper to be moved across town than it is to be moved across the country. Additional needs also add to cost, such as the need for equipment, such as dollies and moving pads.

If you’re moving yourself, the costs aren’t so easy to compute. If you have paid-time-off at work, you can use those days to fund the time off you’ll need. If you have a truck big enough to handle your move, great; if not, you’ll need to rent a truck. This expense may be comparable to hiring a moving company, so do your research. Packing materials, fuel costs, and toll costs are other considerations.

If you’re moving out of the country or moving an entire business, the best method is to hire movers. This isn’t to say that you can’t do a good job, but are you truly willing to risk damaging important or fragile boxes? There’s also the time it takes. Professional movers will get the job done faster, so you can resume business as usual. No matter what, the secret to saving money is very careful planning so itemize everything, create a budget, and find out for yourself what’s cheapest.

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Moving is labor intensive, and other considerations

A self-move is extremely labor intensive (this is especially true if you’re moving an entire household). It will be exhausting, so it helps to have a solid crew. If you’re moving yourself, call in favors you may be owed by friends and family (you’re going to need it). If you’ve got a disability or are otherwise impaired, it may be impossible to move yourself.

Here’s a breakdown of some final considerations:

  • Safety is a concern for self-movers, such as your safety behind the wheel of a large moving van or truck. If you’re not totally comfortable driving one of these vehicles, ask someone who is to drive it for you. Also be when safe carrying boxes (don’t pack too heavy) and when unloading.
  • Remember to clean up your apartment if you want your security deposit returned. Landlords will charge you if they have to send in a cleaning crew.
  • Create a moving checklist or use this printable checklist from Good Housekeeping. It outlines what you need to do up to 8 weeks in advance of your move.
  • Finally, don’t forget to fill out a change-of-address form.

Moving is a chore, but it’s worth it to upgrade your digs. Before you stress about moving yourself, carefully consider the costs, pros, and cons of hiring a professional mover. This isn’t for everyone, but it can help alleviate some of the stress.