Sorting, purging, and packing for a move are easily the most time-consuming and tedious parts of the process. Even if you hire local movers to pack for you, you should still allot several days or even weeks so you'll have everything ready to box. The stories you hear about professional packers wrapping full ashtrays or empty beer cans are probably true--they're not there to judge, but to wrap and box everything in sight.
You've got at least twice as much stuff as you think you do…if you're conservative. Most people are stunned at the amount of possessions they have, and at the sheer volume of complete junk they have hanging around. Of course, you're going to purge all the old stuff you don't want or need, or at least you have great intentions to toss and donate-for a week. Ultimately, it's all got to go, and letting the pros do the packing does give you more time to separate trash from treasure.
The big advantage of hiring your movers to pack is that they know how to pack--smart packing is an art form. They know how to wrap--paper, bubble, or peanuts--and tape so the fragile things stay in one piece. Did you know, for example, to twist a bit of paper around the handle of a coffee cup? Did you know NOT to wrap something fragile too tightly? OR to remember to take the bulbs out of all the lamps?
They also know how to load the boxes so they are as easy as possible to move, so that heavy things are in small boxes and you'll have a couple of giant boxes that weigh about a pound--that's where the lampshades are.
Disassembly and Assembly--Worse Than Christmas Morning
Movers also know how to disassemble everything that comes apart--without damaging your furniture. So much modern furniture is easy to move because, for example, legs come off tables, but having the right tools and knowing how to do it makes the difference in a table the comes back together easily and one that's a little warped or wobbly. If you've got antiques or fine art, it's certainly worth it to have experienced pros who know how to take a tall case clock apart and wrap it--not to mention knowing how and where to place it on the truck.
A child's backyard playset has reduced many a man to frustrated tears when he goes after it with a screwdriver and a hammer, but a guy who takes them apart every day does the job quickly and knows to keep all the nuts and bolts in one place so that he can put it back together again without three trips to the hardware store.
Loading and Unloading
If packing boxes is an art form, loading a truck full of furniture, appliances, and household goods is graduate-level engineering. Having the right truck is key--and you have big, heavy stuff, a van or small pick-up truck isn't going to cut it. A DIY move frequently goes off the rails when the actual move is happening--most people don't have the supplies to keep their furniture safe in transit. You'll need moving blankets for all the big things, plastic wrap to keep the blankets in place, crates for big mirrors and art, lots of tie downs to keep things from shifting, hand trucks for appliances and big things--the list goes on. What you won't get, unless you have experienced pros, is how to load--the correct weight distribution is crucial since these trucks have to navigate traffic and you can bet that, if not braced properly, the load will shift when the driver brakes.