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Moving House on a Budget: Is DIY Moving Worth the Trouble?

moving house in singapore

Joanne Poh

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You and your friends might have spent countless hours watching anime or drama serials in your childhood bedroom, but at some point it’s time to grow up and move out.

If you’re moving house, you’ve probably got lots of other expenses on your mind like rent or a mortgage. So moving all your stuff to your new place on your own can seem tempting, especially when professional movers don’t come cheap. But is trying to DIY worth the trouble?

 

1. Professional movers

If you’re seriously lazy, you can pay movers to do virtually everything for you. These guys will come to your house and stick bubble wrap all over your furniture as you lounge in front of the TV (at least until they have to pack the TV in, too). They can even pack all your personal belongings and small items into boxes, although this packing service is usually charged separately.

The more you get them to pack, the more the movers will charge, so if you’re loaded go ahead and let the movers pack every damned thing. If you want to save some cash (and this is what most people do), pack your personal belongings into boxes yourself and then get the movers to handle furniture and bulky items. They will then load everything into the moving van.

Before you engage movers, ask not only about their rates but also if they provide boxes or cartons free, as well as sealing tape, which many do. One common practice is for them to loan you the boxes for free on condition that you return them after the move.

If you are moving any bulky musical instruments such as pianos or organs, ask the movers if they specialise in moving such items.

This is what movers can do:

  • bubble wrap your furniture
  •  dismantle bulky furniture
  • carry furniture and boxes out to the moving van
  • drive your stuff to your new place
  • unload everything from the van into your new place

Here are some movers in Singapore to get you started:

Cost: Most movers charge according to how many loads or trips they’ll have to make. Some movers will want to go to your home first to survey your stuff before they tell you how much moving will cost. In general, you can expect the cost of moving the contents in a 3 room HDB flat to be about $500.

 

2. DIY

If you get a shock after receiving quotations from movers, you might want to go the DIY route. To be honest, unless you have no furniture, doing it yourself is not easy. You will need the following:

  • rented or borrowed van or lorry (from $75 a day)
  • boxes or cartons – from $2 to $6
  • sealing tape – masking tape from a mama shop will do
  • bubble wrap – $30+ per roll
  • at least one or two other pairs of hands to help with furniture and heavy items

As you can see, you can save quite a lot by doing it yourself. But here are some reasons you might still need help from the pros:

  • You have huge items (eg. a giant dining table or wardrobe) that need to be dismantled, and screwdrivers freak you out.
  • You need to move a piano or organ.

Even if one of the above applies, it might still be cheaper for you to move most of your furniture on your own and then get the pros to deal with the items you can’t handle. Make sure you get quotations before you decide what to do.

For instance, an upright piano costs about $100 to $150 to move, which is still cheaper than getting movers to bring all your stuff to your new place.

If you do decide to go the DIY route, here are some tips that can make your life easier.

  • Avoid hitting the road from 8am to 9am, during lunchtime and after 5:30pm, or you’ll find yourself stuck in one of Singapore’s infamous peak hour traffic jams.
  • If you are moving on a weekday and have multiple trips to make, it’s a good idea to start loading everything into the van in the morning and be ready to leave at 10am, when traffic has cleared. You’ll then have several hours to make another one or two trips up and down.
  • Another alternative is to move late at night, when there are hardly any cars on the road.
  • Label all boxes clearly so you know what’s inside, unless you want to spend 12 hours looking for a hole puncher.

Cost: Assuming you have ten cartons and have to pay to rent a van, doing it yourself will cost about $150 not including petrol. Throw in a piano and you’re looking at a total of $200+.

 

So, is DIY moving worth the trouble?

The idea of having to do their own moving can be so overwhelming that many people run in fear to the movers.

However, one of the two hardest parts about moving is really packing all your books, clothes, electronics and so on into boxes. And most people end up having to do it on their own anyway, whether or not they engage professional movers.

The other thing that people hate doing is dismantling furniture. If this stresses you out, plan to do it slowly over a few weeks in the lead up to the big move, one bookshelf or table at a time.

Most movers will bring along an army of 6-8 men, so if you want to DIY but only have two friends who can help, things are going to take a little longer, especially if you have a lot of furniture. But unless there is someone at home to supervise the movers and ride with them to your new place, you’re going to have to take a day off work anyway.

By organising your own transport and getting a few friends to help out, you can potentially save yourself an average of $350. If a friend of yours has a van, your cost savings increase to $400+.

Have you ever moved house on your own? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.