Nowadays an increasing number of us are opting to move ourselves rather than hiring a moving company. As you can imagine this has certain advantages and disadvantages. You'll almost certainly save money, but your move may take more time and effort. You'll also have to pick up certain skills to get it right and to avoid typical self-removal problems such as inefficient packing of your vehicle and doing yourself actual physical injury!
You have two primary choices with this option when it comes to vehicles. You can hire a van or you can employ a 'man with van who can'. If you choose the latter, you basically hire an individual/small company with a small vehicle for a specified period of time. You get the advantage of not having to go to a vehicle hire company and also get some added muscle to help with the move. Do be aware that this option may cost you more than plain vehicle hire though. In this case, you should make sure to check with the outfit to see how far their insurance cover will suit you. Although you'll probably be with them during the whole moving process, accidents do happen and you need to know if they are covered for all eventualities. In any case, you should also talk to your current home insurers to see how far your coverage extends (if at all) for your possessions if you move yourself. You may find that your contents insurance will offer some or all cover or you may be able to pay a premium for extra cover while you move. Whether you hire someone to help you out or do a complete DIY removal job, you MUST make sure you are adequately insured.
If you choose to simply hire a vehicle to move yourself, then all you need to do is to shop around for a local supplier with the best vehicle and price for your needs. Again, make sure to assess their insurance cover and claims policies before you sign an agreement. Vehicle hire companies will vary in terms of hire terms and costs. Some will hire by the hour or day - it's important to be clear how long you think you'll need the vehicle for. It's also important to pick the right kind of vehicle for your needs and driving capabilities. Talk to vehicle hire companies about hidden costs. Some will charge you extra, for example, if you exceed a specified mileage.
Don't assume you can do your move quickly just because you are doing it yourself - plan it carefully before you choose your hire period. There's nothing worse than thinking you can move in a day and then finding it actually takes longer. If you've hired a van for just the one day, you'll have no guarantee it'll be available for you for extra time - potentially leaving you half-moved without a vehicle. The size of vehicle you choose is also important - you need to make sure that it is large enough to hold your biggest items of furniture. Go for the largest vehicle you feel comfortable driving - that'll cut down on trips and save you time. On the other hand, if all you need to move are two boxes and a stereo, you'll be wasting your money on a large vehicle! You'll find lots of general packing tips on the site to help you best pack up your possessions. If you are moving yourself you also need to spend some time thinking about packing your vehicle. This is vital - you need to make a compromise between filling the vehicle sensibly, protecting your goods and not over-filling or under-filling it. General recommendations include:
- Don't load all your heavy items in one area - your vehicle should be packed with a mix of heavy and light to distribute the load evenly.
- Put your large items of furniture in first. These should be sited at the back of the vehicle and/or along the sides.
- Use spaces between furniture to slot in pictures/mirrors etc., for added protection - make sure these are wrapped. If you don't want to buy wrapping materials, use blankets, curtains, towels or bedding. You can also use these spaces for boxes, bags and smaller items. This provides stability and extra protection.
- Fill up any pieces of furniture with 'holes' such as wardrobes, chests of drawers etc., with boxes and bags. This maximizes your use of space, adds stability and minimizes the risk of damage. If you're packing up furniture with drawers, it's a good tip to take them out before you load the item on to the vehicle. Fill them with goods and then put them back in place. They're then lighter to load and you can maximize their space. Make sure to secure drawers etc., before you set off.
- Load fragile, expensive and sentimental property last. If you're going backwards and forwards to your vehicle to pack it, you don't want to leave stuff in there that you REALLY don't want to lose for everyone to see. Take extra care with such items to make sure they are secure.
- Pack a box with your kettle, milk, coffee/tea, cups and some soft drinks near the door of the vehicle. You might need a break before you get to the back!
- Don't try to cram every single last possession you own into a vehicle just to avoid making more than one trip! Your aim should be to fill the vehicle to capacity without causing damage to it or to your possessions!
Although you can be a little more relaxed about your schedule if you're moving yourself it's still wise to work out a schedule and stick to it! There's no pressure to get going when you're moving yourself - after all you don't have a team of delivery men banging on your door demanding your possessions at the agreed time. But, it's easy to get sidetracked here - that extra half an hour in bed, a leisurely breakfast and breaks every hour to read the paper may find you still unloading in the middle of the night. It's far better to be disciplined about it and get the hard work out of the way as soon as you can. You can always relax later!
The best tip of all when you're moving yourself is to get some help! You may only need two or three people to load and unload, but just think how much quicker it'll go if you can rustle up five or six friends or family members to help you out during the day. People can take turns loading and unloading and even unpacking - all of which will save you time and effort. Offer them an incentive for helping such as taking them out for a meal or a drink - but make sure you do this after the move. Be sure to have plenty of tea/coffee/soft drinks and biscuits on hand to keep them going but NOT alcohol - that's just a recipe for disaster!