Packing your own stuff is a great way to save money when you move. The trick is to know how much you have and how long it will take so you can plan accurately. Most of us tend to accumulate more stuff between moves, but we accumulate it so gradually that it is difficult to make a conscious adjustment of the quantity. That difficulty leads many self-packers to underestimate the time and effort involved in packing their stuff. It’s important to reevaluate to determine how much you have now, as compared to how much you had to pack for your last move.
If you still think you have the time and wherewithal to pack yourself, you might do well to at least have a fallback plan. Make a list of friends who are willing and able to pitch in at the last minute. Ask your movers if they can provide short-notice packing service the day before the move. Perhaps most importantly, consider what things can be left to pack or haul later and what things have to be packed for the move. Your movers can’t move things like china hutches, buffets, end tables, dressers, nightstands or shelving units until they are emptied of breakables. Packing out these items first will prevent you from having to empty them while still on the mover’s clock.
In my experience, the failure to be completely packed is the number one cause of moving costs exceeding the estimate. If you do choose to have your mover pack your belongings, it should be scheduled for the day before the move — never on the same day. If you are going to pack yourself, ask your moving company salesperson what they will and will not move unpacked or uncrated. Some movers will pad (blanket) and wrap pictures and lamps and carry uncrated glass or marble/granite table tops. Make sure you know what their insurance coverage is on these items as well.
My company, like most, will not carry unpacked fragile items. This is not a scam to increase the sale of moving cartons or packing services but a matter of liability in relationship to profit. Packing glass and fragile items properly in the appropriate cartons makes them much easier and safer to transport without damage. Hauling them unpacked is not only more labor-intensive (for us) but riskier and more likely to be damaged. Movers not only consider the loss of revenue from the packing material sales, but also the ten-fold increase in liability as reasons why this is bad business — for everyone.
Ask your moving company salesperson about supplying materials for your use and a partial pack or fragile items-only packing service option. This is not only the safest way to move your fragile valuables, but the only way a mover can provide full-value insurance. Items Packed by Owner (PBOs) are generally uninsurable because your mover has no way of telling if the contents have been padded and packed properly.