I recently moved apartments and let me tell you: hiring movers is always a good idea.
Isn’t it odd that for some services we can do on our own, it’s frowned upon to outsource (e.g. raising your children) whereas others nearly everyone uses a professional (e.g. butchery). For some people, moving is not something one should outsource because it can be expensive and you have the tools available in your community. But I say, sometimes just pay someone else to do it! Money can’t solve all problems, but it certainly solves some of the more annoying ones.
Hiring People Means Expertise
I noticed that my movers moved my bike and TV last. I would have figured they’d be moved first because they’re both large and in the way. But I realized later it was strategic because these are also the two items in my apartment that are the most likely to be stolen from a rental truck idling in a loading dock. This is the kind of expertise you don’t get when you ask for help from novices.
I know some people will think that moving isn’t something for which people can develop expertise, but that’s not true. Knowledge of weight, parking laws, movement, equipment, insurance, liability, driving a big ass truck, logistics – you get that with professional movers. Of course, you can hire movers that aren’t good, but it’s still a bit better than directing your novice mover friends in your move. It could quickly become the blind leading the blind.
You Get What You Pay For
It’s hard to gauge the perfect dividing line between seeking free or professional help. For instance, if you’re a complete minimalist, your friends might not mind moving you but paying movers would also be quite cheap. If you’re a hoarder, you stand to save a lot of money by having your friends move you, but your friends would hate you and you increase the risks of something going wrong in a complicated move.
It’s the same with asking for favors from a friend. If it’s a simple matter, you’re not saving much money. Thus, you have to weigh the cost of requesting a favor versus a potentially insignificant cost. Maybe the small amount of money saved isn’t worth the guilt of owing someone for their free services.
On the other hand, if you have a complicated problem that would cost a lot of money, it’s less likely that a professional would give those services for free. They have liability concerns as well. If they’re doing something for free that they’d normally get paid for, they also might not be as careful. You really do get what you pay for.
Of course, as an attorney, liability runs top of mind. My friend, who’s a doctor, told me about a move she participated in where they were moving someone INTO A WALK-UP. She said the path was actually quite treacherous and she was glad that no one got hurt, but there were many close calls.
Most of the reason I hired movers is that I don’t want to risk my friends hurting themselves moving. Movers are professionals – they know how to lift things so as not to hurt their own bodies, maneuver things so as not to hit other things, and pack things so that they don’t all fall out and cause a rolling catastrophe.
It’s probably unlikely that your friends would get so hurt that they would need to see a doctor (i.e. not a broken bone or a heart attack) but they’re likely to get lesser pains that are nonetheless expensive.
Like if your friend throws out her back, she’ll have to rest until she recovers. What does that mean for her job and her family? Are you going to pay for those costs? If your friend backs up the truck into another car or person, will you pay for that? If your friend breaks something valuable, will you be paying for that in awkwardness for years to come? Also you have to live with the idea that you put your loved ones in peril to save a few hundred dollars. We can differ but safety is worth it to me.
Having Help Means You Can Think About Other Things
I heard of someone who got his friends to help him move. After the move, the movee couldn’t find his gun. Now, I think that a professional mover would have kept a closer eye on it. But also I think that if the movee had hired movers, he’d have fewer people to oversee and fewer things on his mind – so he could concentrate on the single most important responsibility of the day – not losing his gun. (To this day I’m still not sure if he found it).
The truth of the matter is that you’re not just hiring muscle – you’re hiring brains. Without movers, you have to think of all the logistics yourself and it’s exhausting. It’s hard to contain all those moving parts in your mind and inevitably something is going to fall through the cracks.
When To Rely on Your Friends and Family
I’m not so callous that I won’t help my friends and family when they need it. I’m taking my sister’s family to the airport and I’ve done errands for friends.
Further, I typically stay with friends when I go visit a city where someone has an extra room. I find that if I had a hotel room, I would have a lot less time to spend with my friends.
It’s hard to draw strict boundaries, but generally, the more annoying or thorny the task, the more likely you should hire professionals. Yes money is an important consideration, but if your only consideration is money, you can ruin a lot of relationships. That’s basically penny wise pound foolish right there.
It can be difficult for some people to break out of the idea that it’s ok to pay people to do things for you that you don’t want to do and probably aren’t that good at. Too often personal finance focuses on saving money but never how to spend money to make your life better. But Harvard Business Review has already done the studies and spending money to save yourself time makes you happy. Hire a cleaner, use Instacart, and yes, get movers.