Image of nyc Budget movers

The motley crew of Intense Movers, a Brooklyn-based budget moving company (Source: Yelp)

Moving in a hurry or on a budget? Budget movers are an easy and affordable option for renters who want to avoid the pricey hullabaloo of commercial movers in NYC. Unlike commercial movers, budget movers are locally owned companies and independent contractors who typically charge less than large corporations. Consider these pros and cons when deciding if a budget mover is right for you.

Affordability: Always a Pro

While commercial movers vary in price, the standard starting rate is about $125 per hour. Budget movers charge significantly less than this, starting as low as $50 per hour. Plus, with so many local budget movers to choose from, you can usually shop around until you find someone who meets your budget.

Tip: Since many budget movers are independent contractors who get to pocket their earnings (which are usually paid in cash), you don’t have to tip them as much as you would a commercial mover who is paid a lower rate through a larger company.

Price Flexibility Is a Plus, Too

Commercial moving companies have established algorithms to calculate the price of the move based on variables such as the size of the apartment, number of boxes, miles traveled, number of flights of stairs, and amount of time. Budget movers, on the other hand, often have more leeway for negotiation. For example, if you find yourself schmoozing with your mover all day, they may decide to round down instead of up when it’s time to pay the bill.

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Budget Movers Will Work on Short Notice

Budget movers typically don’t require as much advanced notice to book as commercial movers do. In NYC, you can easily find a man with a van or the company, Man with a Van, within hours of your impending move — whether you’re facing an unforeseen eviction or end up needing more help with your DIY move than you initially anticipated. In my experience, budget movers are also very easy to schedule. No need to fill out paperwork or itemized intake forms.

The Lack of Insurance Is Risky

Unlike commercial movers, most budget movers don’t offer insurance to cover damaged items or property during the move. This is a risk if you’re moving large, expensive items, like instruments or artwork. This could also be a problem if your new building requires a certificate of mover’s insurance to gain access to the elevators on moving day.

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No Frills Is Not for Everyone

Many commercial moving companies offer extra services such as supplies, boxes, and assembling and disassembling furniture. While some budget movers also provide these services, often a Man with a Van is just what it sounds like: a man with a van. There’s no guarantee that your budget mover will also be a skilled packer and handyman.

Tip: If you hire a budget mover, grab a few friends to help with the miscellaneous packing tasks that your movers might not include in their services. This will cut down on the number of hours billed and help ensure your stuff is well protected. 

Don’t Expect Expertise and Specialized Supplies

Commercial movers specialize in all things moving-related. They are pros at maneuvering furniture and getting things done in a quick and efficient manner. While some budget movers are similarly skilled, they don’t always have the same moving expertise and supplies (i.e., tape, dollies, tools, protective blankets) that commercial movers have. With a budget mover, you might end up paying for these supplies on your own, which can add up quickly.

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Accept the Inherent Uncertainty

Commercial movers typically require you to sign a contract and submit a deposit, which provides a basic level of assurance that they will fulfill their duties, show up, complete the job, and not run off with your belongings. With a budget mover, you need to be a bit more vigilant in vetting them before trusting them with your money or belongings. Since many budget movers only accept cash, there won’t be a paper trail or contract to fall back on in case anything shady occurs.

Tip: To prevent getting involved with a potential scammer, read reviews on Yelp or ask friends for recommendations of trustworthy budget movers. It’s also smart to have a buddy with you during the process.

The Bottom Line

Budget movers are a great option if you need to do a quick and dirty move and don’t have many large, fragile items. They are especially cost-efficient if you’re a single person moving out of a small apartment or bedroom. However, for bigger jobs that require packing supplies, handiwork, and protection of valuables, commercial movers are definitely worth the money.

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