If we follow the standard train of thought, even the most remote idea of moving house will be immediately tailed by an endless sequence of dollar signs and question marks in your head. Given the notoriously expensive nature of the relocation process, it is only logical that the very first question which comes to mind when contemplating a residential move is How much will it cost? – How much do movers cost, How much does it cost to ship my car across the country, How much will it cost to rent a moving truck, How much does moving insurance cost, etc. The question of How much does it cost to pack a house, however, is commonly overlooked when calculating the total moving costs. And yet, packing expenses may easily add hundreds of dollars to the final moving bill.
Therefore, it is highly recommendable to get an accurate idea of what your packing costs may be well in advance and plan your moving budget accordingly in order to avoid unpleasant financial surprises on moving day.
How to estimate the cost of packing for a move?
The cost to pack up your house will depend on the type and amount of packing materials required to ensure the safety of your items and the kind of packing help you’re going to need when preparing your belongings for shipment.
In order to estimate the packing costs, you need to know what exactly you’re going to take to your new home – once you have a detailed inventory of all the household items and personal possessions that will need to be packed for shipment, you will be able to determine the type and amount of the required packing supplies and calculate their approximate cost.
Then, you’ll have to decide if you’re going to need professional packing assistance or not. If you can pack all your items by yourself (or with the help of family and friends), you’ll be able to save the money for hiring professional packers. Have in mind though that packing is not only laborious and time-consuming, but also extremely tricky as a single mistake can result in great troubles and/or severe damage to your cherished possessions. So, if you don’t have the time or the required know-how to pack your belongings in a safe and efficient manner, hiring professional packers may be your only viable option. In this case, you’ll have to figure in the cost of packing services as well when calculating your packing costs.
SEE ALSO: Should I hire professional packers
What is the cost of packing supplies?
First things first – whether you pack by yourself or hire professional help, you can’t do without the necessary packing materials.
Cost of packing supplies
You’re going to need appropriate moving containers (cardboard boxes of assorted sizes, plastic containers, wooden crates, different bags, etc.), wrapping and cushioning materials (bubble wrap, packing paper, moving blankets, packing peanuts, foam sheets, etc.), securing materials (packing tape, plastic wrap, ropes, etc.) and labeling materials (colorful labels, permanent markers, etc.).
On average, the quality packing materials necessary for packing a one-bedroom home will cost you about $100-$150 ($150-$200 for a two-bedroom home, $250-$300 for a three-bedroom house, and $400-$450 for a four-bedroom house).
Good to remember: It’s advisable to provide some more packing materials than you deem necessary in case you decide to pack a few more items in the last minute or in case you need to repack something for safety reasons.
How to save on packing materials
The fewer items you decide to relocate and the better you optimize the space in the moving containers, the less packing materials you are going to need. So, you are recommended to pack for moving only those of your items that you really need and/or cherish and to get familiar with various efficient packing methods that will allow you to save time, space and materials when preparing your belongings for shipment.
What’s more, you can try to find some more affordable packing materials:
- Check websites, such as Craigslist and Freecycle, where you can find used packing supplies in good conditions for free (or at very low prices);
- Ask around your neighborhood and your workplace (or spread the word in the social networks) to find out if someone wants to get rid of no-longer needed packing materials;
- Ask family and friends if they can give you any suitable packing supplies;
- Get clean and sturdy cardboard boxes for free from local grocery stores, bookshops, copy centers, etc.;
- Ask for white paper strips or end rolls of newsprint at local printing houses (you can use them instead of packing paper);
- Stock up on free packing materials in the months before your move – preserve any large, sturdy shipping boxes that arrive in the mail, keep the packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and air pouches that come in them, etc.;
- Purchase packing materials in bulk (it’s much cheaper and, besides, you’re going to need plenty of them), use coupons to get a discount, and look for ongoing sales and promotions;
- Use any appropriate “packing” materials you already own – suitcases and travel bags, crates and baskets, laundry hampers and buckets, old towels, bed linen, blankets, tablecloths, and so on.
Have in mind, though, that improvised packing materials and used cardboard boxes won’t provide as good protection to your belongings as brand-new specialized packing supplies. Quality packing materials will cost you a few extra dollars, but they may save you money in the long run as they will help prevent damage to your items during shipment. So, it’s a good idea to invest in professional packing supplies – at least for your breakables and valuables.
What is the cost of packing services?
As already discussed above, hiring professional packers may be your best bet when preparing for a residential move – especially if you’re short on time and have plenty of fragile, oddly-shaped, heavy, sensitive, or highly valuable items to pack for shipment. Professional services will not only be a huge convenience, but will also help ensure your peace of mind as your goods will have the best possible protection from damage during the transportation.
The experienced professionals will use quality packing materials to wrap and box your items as appropriate, will complete the laborious task with great speed and efficiency (in most cases – within several hours), and will ensure the maximum safety of your cherished possessions during transit. What’s more, the movers will accept the liability if any of your professionally packed items get broken, damaged or lost while in their custody.
All these benefits, however, come at a price. But how much do professional packers cost in fact?
Average packing services cost
The cost of packing services depends on the type and amount of your belongings and the time it will take to pack them. You may be charged on an hourly rate (between $25 and $35 per hour per packer) or a flat-rate based on the volume of your goods. Besides, the price may vary considerably from one company to the next or may include different things (the cost of the necessary packing materials may or may not be included, there may be an additional charge for unpacking and disposing of the packing materials, etc.). Therefore, the only way to get an accurate idea of the final packing costs in your particular case is to get an in-house estimate (make sure you get at least 3-4 estimates to be able to compare the services and the rates offered by different companies).
Generally, you can expect packing labor to cost you about $250 for packing an one-bedroom home, $400 for a two-bedroom home, $600 for a three-bedroom house, and $1000 for a four-bedroom house.
How to save on packing services
Even though the numerous benefits of professional packing services are definitely worth the cost of hiring professional packers, you may not feel financially comfortable with the extra expenses. To cut down the packing costs, you may opt to pack most of your belongings yourself and use professional assistance only for your most delicate, valuable, or oddly-shaped items (bulky furniture, sensitive electronics, delicate artwork, pricey antiques, family heirlooms, fragile glassware and chinaware, etc.). Make sure only the items you wish to have professionally packed are included in the final estimate.
Good to remember: Be careful to avoid costly packing mistakes when packing on your own:
- Not having enough quality packing materials;
- Underestimating the time required to pack your entire household (packing in a hurry will result in disorganization and possible damage to the items you haven’t packed carefully enough);
- Failure to provide sufficient padding inside the boxes and protective cushioning among the items;
- Making the boxes too heavy, leaving them half-empty, or not sealing them tightly (See also: How to pack boxes for moving);
- Packing your valuables with the rest of your items (See also: What items to move yourself);
- Packing non-allowables (See also: What items not to pack for moving);
- Not preparing your furniture and appliances the right way (disassembling large furniture pieces, wrapping them in moving blankets, etc.)
- Not getting proper insurance for the items you have packed yourself.
One final piece of advice – Make every effort to pack your belongings as safely as possible! Whatever the cost to properly pack a house, it will be much lower than the cost to repair or replace damaged household items and personal possessions, not to mention the emotional side of the issue.