If you’ve ever moved, you know that packing is a major hassle.

Dishes and sentimental items need special care and can’t just be thrown into a box. Unpacking fragile items only to find an heirloom was damaged or destroyed during a move is a devastating feeling everybody wants to to avoid.

If you are about to move, you’ll need to decide whether to pack your own things or hire a professional packer.

“If you’re on a tight budget and don’t have many valuable or breakable items, then it makes sense to pack everything yourself,” says Margarita Hakobyan, founder and CEO of Moverscorp.com in Salt Lake City. Moverscorp helps consumers find moving labor online.

“If you don’t have time or experience in packing valuable items, then I’d strongly recommend hiring professionals,” Hakobyan said.

 Packing your own items might be cheaper, but it is time-consuming.
Packing your own items might be cheaper, but it is time-consuming.

Advice From the Trenches

Susan Hamby Crutchfield, a resident in Maryland who has moved more than 20 times as an adult — including within cities and across the country — said she’s done both: packed herself and used professionals.

Crutchfield said she always hires a professional when it comes to her piano. It’s too heavy to move herself without the risk of damaging it, and the professionals have experience in moving heavy objects and know how to properly pack the piano inside a moving van to avoid damage.

If you are moving within the same city, Crutchfield suggests packing your own things to save money. If it’s a bigger move, she suggests considering hiring professional packers.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each method:

Weighing Your Options

There is a certain reduction in stress that comes from having someone come in and do the packing that might be worth the extra cost for long-haul moves. But you don’t want to be absent during the process.

“If your dishes are heirloom, you will want to supervise that,” Crutchfield said. “If you are doing the packing, plan ahead as it will take longer.”

She recommends taking photos of everything that will be professionally packed before packers arrive. This will ensure that you have proof of the pre-packed condition of your items if a professional moving company damages anything.

 A good professional packer will help keep your move organized.
A good professional packer will help keep your move organized.

Best of Both Worlds

If professional packers are coming, be forewarned that they will pack every thing unless you specifically mark items that should not be packed.

“Put what you don’t want packed in a corner of a room, cover with a sheet and clearly mark with a large sign that says ‘Don’t Pack.’ Packers are known for just throwing things in a box,” Crutchfield said. “This may seem crazy, but you don’t want your trash packed. That has happened to me. They are there to pack and they are going to pack everything.”

Things you may want to set aside away from the packers: your purse, your laptop, important documents, daily medicines, toiletries and about a week’s worth of clothes. Be sure to hire a reputable company that is properly licensed and insured.

Kerry Curry