When you’re getting ready to move you have a lot of decisions to make. One of the most important choices is whether to rent a truck or hire professional movers to haul your belongings to your new abode. People make a lot of assumptions about what is best, cheapest, or safest that may not take all the issues into account.

The first assumption most people make is that renting a truck is cheaper than hiring a moving company. This is true- a quote from a truck rental will always be lower than hiring professional movers. However, there are other costs to take into account. The quote you receive from a moving company takes the cost of the entire process into account, from soup to nuts. With a truck rental, the quote shows only the cost of the rental and possibly the mileage. Before you dismiss the quote from the moving company you will need to do your own estimates for fuel, tolls, and supplies.

Another consideration is the amount of items you will be moving (e.g., large furniture and heavy boxes). This decision is completely dependent upon your individual situation- whether or not you have help both loading and unloading the truck, how much furniture you have, how fragile your items are, etc. You may have friends and family to help you pack up the library or move the piano to the truck, but who will be on the other end? It may be worth a paying a little extra to not have to move a piano with your 12 year old daughter. Movers have the necessary equipment and are trained and experienced in moving heavy, fragile or awkward items carefully. If you don’t have heavy and delicate furniture or a collection of valuable first editions, you may find that the truck rental is the best option. You know what you will need to pack and if you will be able to carry and safely transport your belongings on your own. If hiring movers, alert them to particularly fragile or important boxes, so they know to pay them extra attention and keep them safe during the move.

Finally, consider your schedule and your sanity. Are you moving 1,500 miles on Friday and starting a new job on Monday? You may want to weigh your well-being against the added cost. Many movers offer un-packing services, as well. Having the unpacking taken care of for you (while you prepare for your new job) has a value that is difficult to quantify. Or on the other hand, do you have a more open, leisurely agenda? If so, it may be worth doing it yourself and saving the money. If you have the luxury of taking time to get settled into your new nest, use it!

Moving has been shown to be one of the most stressful events we experience in our lives-do not add to it unnecessarily. If at all possible, take your time. Try to get into your new home in plenty of time to settle in before starting a new job. If you have children, allow them to arrange their furniture and decorate their new rooms as they choose, helping them feel more at home. If you are unpacking yourself, open one box at a time, put the contents away and then move onto the next box. This will minimize the amount of your belongings sitting out, cluttering up your space while you unpack (and can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed).

The decision to hire movers or rent a truck is completely dependent on your personal situation. Remember, it is about more than just the cost. Think ahead, be realistic and look for referrals and reviews. Your new home is a new beginning- get a positive start!