Self-Packing vs Pro Packing – Which One is Right for You?

There’s no getting around it. Moving is a lot of work and it can be difficult to schedule all of the necessary tasks you need to complete while also juggling your work and family responsibilities. The last thing most people want to do is pack. Not only is it tedious, but it’s also time-consuming. You’re not just tossing everything into a box, you have to declutter, organize, and pack everything properly.

If you’re pressed for time, this can seem like a monumental task. It’s why many people choose to outsource this to professional moving companies. Most NYC companies offer a wide range of services including the basic ones that transport your belongings from your old home to your new home. However, many offer professional packing services that offer partial or full packing and unpacking options.

Is adding the packing services to your move a good idea? As with everything, it depends on your moving needs. However, below you can find out what to expect when you do hire professional packers.

Professional Packing Service Options

You won’t know if pro packing is right for you unless you know what comes with the service. Luckily, most moving companies allow you to customize the packing services to fit your needs. Some of the most common options are:

  • Basic – this inexpensive package just covers the difficult-to-pack items like TVs, antiques, glassware, paintings, etc. It’s useful, but won’t cover any major packing
  • Per room – if you just need a certain room or area packed, this is a great option. It’s still relatively affordable and you get to offload a chunk of packing and leave it to the pros.
  • Full service – as the name suggests, with this option the packers will do everything for you so you don’t have to lift a finger. This tends to be the most expensive option, but it’s great for people who don’t have the time or ability to pack.

When you hire professional packers, they will automatically bring their own materials. However, if you want to save on money ask the movers if you are allowed to bring your own supplies and use those in combination with what they plan on bringing. Some might be open to it, which means you can save some money.

Pros of DIY Packing

Now that you see what services professional packers offer, it’s time to decide whether you should hire them or do it yourself. Most people probably haven’t even considered hiring professional packers. After all, there are plenty of benefits to packing yourself.

Reduce your moving costs 

Moving is cheap. If you’re hiring professional NYC movers, you’re already spending anywhere between $500-$2,000 depending on the size of your home. DIY packing allows you to keep your costs low. After all, you’re not charging yourself for your labor so your only expenses will be for packing materials. Even here you can save money as you can find cheap or free boxes. You can also use household items as substitutes for packing materials (e.g. using towels and linens to wrap fragile items).

More importantly, packing yourself gives you the opportunity to go through your items and see what you want to keep or get rid of. In many cases, you might be able to sell the belongings you no longer need and can use the money you earn from these sales and apply them to your moving budget. And the less you have to move, the lower the cost of the movers as they will spend less time loading and unloading their truck.

Flexibility and convenience

When you pack yourself, you get to choose when and things get packed. You can pack at your own pace whether that’s for 30 minutes or 8 hours. There’s no limit to it so you can choose the best times and days that work for you. When you’re not rushed, you are less stressed and you have time to properly sort your belongings and group them in ways that make sense to you.

With pros, they’re certainly efficient, but they’ll spend a full day or two packing everything for you. This can be intrusive as you’ll have strangers going through everything you own. For the most part, professionals have seen everything, but if you feel uncomfortable it might be in your best interest to pack yourself.


When you pack yourself, you get to choose how things are organized in your boxes. Your system might be confusing to other people, but the only person it has to make sense to is you. It might take longer to pack things up in this way, but it makes unpacking a lot easier. You’ll know exactly where everything is located so you can have your important items ready to go in your new home the minute you move in. On the flip side, you will also be able to store away boxes that contain items you don’t need immediately, freeing up your new home from clutter.

Disadvantages of Self-Packing

Packing tends to be the part of moving that pretty much everyone hates. The reason is threefold:


Packing yourself eats up a lot of precious time. Most people tend to underestimate exactly how long it will take. Unsurprisingly, many people end up frantically packing at the last minute. This can lead to improper organization and poor packaging of fragile items. In order to reduce the chances of your belongings getting damaged during transit, you need to mindfully carve out time before the move to pack with purpose. This can be difficult as there are always competing priorities. However, set aside some allotted time so you can pack uninterrupted. If you only have 30 minutes a day to pack, that means you should start packing at least a month or two before your move so you’re not rushing at the end.


As careful as you might be when packing your possessions, chances are you don’t have the experience required to pack everything as safely and efficiently as possible. Even if you’ve moved every year, professionals have years of experience and training under their belt. They know the best way to pack items so they don’t get damaged.

While you might not be able to beat out the pros in technique, you can increase your odds by using quality packing supplies and appropriate packing methods. Otherwise, you can end up with a box of shattered items and ruined valuables.

No Insurance

When you pack yourself, you are held liable if anything gets damaged during the move unless you can prove the damage was caused by poor handling by the movers. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. While it’s not a guarantee that the movers will fully reimburse you if an item gets damaged when they pack it, you do have a better chance of getting your money back. That’s why many movers suggest that you leave the delicate pieces to them.

Pros of Professional Packing Service

Unless you have moved multiple times in a day, there’s no way you can have the same experience in packing as the pros. Not only do they move multiple people a week, but they also receive ongoing training to make sure they are up-to-date on all the new safety techniques. Of course, there are other benefits of using professionals.

Fast and efficient

The experts use packing strategies in order to complete a job as quickly and efficiently as possible. They know exactly how to pack items to make the most out of the available space in boxes. And since they are hired to focus only on the task at hand, they can get your home packed in a few hours.

Time and stress saver

The best part of hiring professionals is that you don’t have to lift a finger if you choose the full-service option. You don’t need to search for moving supplies or spend hours wrapping and packing up boxes. Plus, you lower the risk of damaging any precious items during the move. Even if you hire the packers for a single room, it can still shave hours off your move and save you a lot of stress.

Quality service and materials

Free boxes are great for when you’re packing yourself, but there have been plenty of horror stories where the used boxes have broken apart mid-move. You don’t have to worry about that when you hire professionals as they use all new moving supplies including boxes, tape, bubble wrap, etc. More importantly, the materials they use are of high quality so even if there’s a heavy downpour, you won’t have to worry about the box breaking apart.

In addition to top-notch materials, you’ll also receive excellent service. Professional packers will make sure all your precious items are packed to ensure maximum protection. They also will take precautionary measures to prevent any property damage and injuries during the move.

Disadvantages of Pro Packing

There are plenty of benefits to hiring professionals, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some downsides. Perhaps the most obvious disadvantage is the increased moving cost. A full packing service can add anywhere between $300-$3,000 dollars depending on the number of items and complexity of the job. While it should come as no surprise that hiring other people to do the packing for you costs money, for some people there can be a sticker shock when they see just how much it might cost. There are still options, though. If you can’t afford a full packing option, look into the per room option. It will be cheaper and can still save you time and effort.

Besides the price, there are a couple of other disadvantages of hiring other people:

Lack of organization and control

The pros might be fast and efficient, but they don’t know your house and belongings like you do. They will pack items to optimize space and reduce potential damage. They’re not spending any time sorting or grouping your possessions. That means when it comes time to unpack, it can be hard to find the things you need. In general, the packers will try to group items by room so everything in the kitchen goes together, but that’s not always the case. After all, the packers don’t have the information or time to organize your things properly.

If you still want to hire packers, you should take the time to pack a box or two of items you will need immediately. Make sure to label them as well so you don’t forget what is in them! This way, you can easily find your bedding, clothes, toiletries, etc. once you move into your new home.

Untrustworthy packers and movers

While most packers are ethical professionals, there’s always the chance that a dishonest worker might steal an expensive item. This is why trusted moving companies will often advise you to take your valuables with you and/or pack them yourself. It will give you peace of mind and will also prevent any potential issues for the movers should something happen. Of course, you can avoid such issues by carefully researching your movers beforehand. If the online reviews are bad and they are dodging your questions, move on to another company.

DIY Pack or Pro Pack?

So which one is right for you? It boils down to your needs and budget. If you prefer total control over your packing and have the capacity to pack yourself then a DIY pack will save you a lot of money and put your mind at ease. On the other hand, if you’re short on time and/or physical ability and have money to spare then hiring professional packers is a great option. You save time, there’s less stress, and you know your items have been packed properly. There’s no right or wrong answer so pick the one that makes sense for you.


Do I need to be present when the packers arrive at my house?

Yes, you will need to be present while they pack your belongings so you can let the movers into your home and make sure they provide the right service.

Is unpacking included in the full service packing?

No, you will need to ask for the unpacking service. Keep in mind that they might not place your items exactly where you want them.

Do I need to tip more if the movers pack my items?

If you felt that they provided excellent service you are welcome to tip them more. However, it isn’t required. The standard tip is $5/hour per person.