Questions such as “What’s going to happen to my furniture, or even my house and car? How will I forward any post?” quickly accumulate.
Even when so much of a person’s professional and private life is at stake, people choose to move by themselves, without the help of a relocation company - commonly called “self-service moves” (or “DIY moves” for short). Many of these involve moving crates or moving "pods", and are entirely self-service.
There are advantages to this approach. You’ll manage every detail according to your own specification. The main advantage for most is that DIY moves – in avoiding certain labor costs – can appear less costly than professional relocations.
Assuming you can find a competitively priced DIY moving option, the question arises:
Why choose a professional mover and what added value do they offer?
DIY Moving anxiety
You may be surprised to learn there’s a small body of psychology that focuses on moving and relocating. While the focus of the research tends to be expatriate workers, a lot of what is revealed applies to anyone who relocates internationally.
Homesickness is a recurring theme in many surveys of those who have undertaken long distance moves . It also underscores something we miss when we think about moving: It’s not just about the process of moving your belongings, it’s the longer process of settling into your new home.
Does this mean you should assume the worst? Of course not. There’s a complex interaction between excitement, anxiety and fear at play. The new opportunities, whether career, cultural or lifestyle related, are enjoyable to think about. The process itself however, with enormous to-do lists, is what gives people most unease at the outset.
This is the most obvious reason to use a professional moving company. It means you won’t be alone when it comes to dealing with the complexity of a move. From the planning stages, through to transit and settling in, you’ll have an experienced, dedicated partner who has helped tens of thousands of people like you relocate before.
“First-time relocations are always the most difficult.
There are almost certainly rules, regulations and best practices that you’re not even aware of,
so it’s worth at least sounding out some advice from an expert.”
- Hannah Bunce, Move Manager, Crown Relocations, London
“The whole process of moving is quite stressful and nerve-wracking. I often feel overwhelmed and not sure what to do.”
- Millennial move from a Crown Relocations market research session
What are the advantages of a professional relocations firm?
Which leads us to what specifically a professional firm does to make a move smoother? Let’s look at the advantages:
1. Properly surveying your property and possessions
The main reason why many choose a DIY move is the apparent ease of just hiring a “man with a van” to turn up and move their belongings into boxes, put them in the back, and take them to where they need to be.
The problem with this approach is that, in all but a few cases, there will have been no comprehensive survey of your belongings. In the case of a relocation firm, even a smaller one, a “home survey”, conducted either in person or increasingly through a smartphone app, is an absolute necessity.
The home survey establishes what needs to be moved, both in terms of volume of goods and type (for example, artwork needs to be handled slightly differently to cutlery).
It also means operational teams need to know how many crew members to send to you, how large the truck needs to be, the type and quantity of packing materials required and so on.
Importantly, they’ll also know exactly what parking permits are needed and what the rules about loading and unloading are, which is crucial if you’re in a higher floored apartment. This is something that catches out some “man in a van” operations; improper use of loading and permit bays usually equals hefty fines.
Ultimately, it’s all about professional expertise. DIY moves can be well planned and executed, and they certainly have their place, but don’t underestimate how complex international moving is.
2. Professional packing and loading services
How to pack things properly involves more than just bubblewrap! Packing boxes and other items professionally involves a lot of care and attention people aren't immediately familiar with.
Custom-built crates (crating) are often used for high-value items, such as artwork, to prevent damage in transit. Different surfaces also demand different materials. There's a lot to think about! Good crews will even ensure particular areas of the home that could be liable for damage, such as narrow passageways, are protected and that floors are kept clean with matting.
If you're looking for some moving tips, here are some pointers from our Crown Relocations crews:
- Use kraft paper on the exterior of furniture to prevent scratching
- Ensure polished surfaces are padded with soft material for the same reason
- Ensure boxes are not overpacked to equally distribute weight, these can then be safely loaded onto vehicles
- Label boxes clearly so they can be organized by room (e.g. kitchen) at destination
Bespoke crating is particularly important for artwork, antiques or other high-value items. You’ll want to give your comfortable mattress or prized TV more than just a box and foam.
Moreover, the full range of materials they’ll have access to exhausts what you’ll be able to find at your local hardware store, such as reinforced cardboard boxes specifically created for housing large televisions, or wardrobe-shaped boxes designed to keep clothes upright.
No less serious is making sure you don’t hurt yourself. We’re all familiar with instructional videos on safe lifting techniques; but for many, a home move will be the heaviest and most labor-intensive task they’ve done in many years (if not ever).
A key part of any large moving company’s training process will be how to safely handle, lift and move large objects. There's also the issue of waste. Who is going to deal with all that waste paper and cardboard scattered around your home? Reliable relocation firms will pack, deliver and clean any mess they cause.
Finally, a professional moving truck will be customized to ensure your items are loaded and kept safe in transit.
For international moves, remember that the rules around customs can be incredibly difficult to navigate without professional help. For example, what sort of items you’re allowed to bring into the country.
3. Dependable customer service and insurance
Finally, and possibly most importantly: Customer service. A professional relocations firm will generally offer you your own single point of contact. At Crown we call them "Move Managers", who you can circle back to if ever you have questions or concerns. This simplifies matters as you have someone managing your move above the operational level, whose goal it is to make sure you're satisfied with everything.
It's also important to mention that as professional movers will generally have confidence in their ability to deliver a good quality service, many operate their own insurance programs. These provide affordable peace of mind to cover against the extremely unlikely event of damage, theft or loss.
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