NEW YORK — Moving can be a relatively simple matter.
The happy wanderer might need no more baggage than a knapsack. A handful of students can clear out a dorm room in Guinness record book time. The urban cave dweller learns to pack all possessions into a closetlike space, which doesn't exactly make for pleasant living, but at least makes moving easier.
The problem is "stuff," amorphous collections of just about anything. Stuff shows up without reason or explanation, mysteriously, like alien visitors out to observe human households.
The longer you live somewhere the more stuff accumulates through some sinister breeding process, leaving even fastidious residents wondering where all that junk in the closets came from.
The best antidote to stuff is do-it-yourself moving. Most moves take place within a 40-mile radius, according to the experts. A 24-foot truck from a rental chain such as Ryder or Hertz, big enough to move the average household, can be rented for about $100. If you can get one with a hydraulic lift gate instead of a ramp, you'll save yourself a lot of sweat and aggravation.
The reason do-it-yourself moving is the perfect antidote for stuff is that you and your friends, not professional movers, are doing the grunt work. The longer you hump ill-packed boxes and bulky pieces of furniture out to the truck, the easier it will be for you to justify dumping things.
You'll also find that friends will let you know when they've moved what they consider an appropriate amount of stuff.
Do-it-yourself moving, despite the inevitable breakage problems, is an inexpensive and flexible way to change residences, providing you have enough friends to help you out (don't forget, those friends are sure to ask you to return the favor when they move). If you can avoid the hernias, arguments and the dreaded stove or refrigerator-on-the-foot syndrome, you'll end up saving money.
If you're moving across country or simply don't feel so adventurous, it's time to call in the pros. Moving is a big business with plenty of players--Mayflower, North American, Global, Allied and Red Ball are some of the largest outfits serving all parts of the country. Hundreds of local movers are also available.
Mayflower is the biggest moving conglomerate, with something like 1,000 agents around the country--80 in California alone.
"People wait until school gets out so they can accommodate their children's education before they move, according to sales agent Tom Muscaro. The period between June 1 and October 1 is when at least three-quarters of moves take place."
Summer moving can entail a waiting list that varies depending on your destination. If you can wait until the winter to move you're virtually guaranteed prompt service. "We're very slow around the holidays," says Muscaro. "December and January are by far the slowest months."
Moving in the winter is also cheaper. Most companies add a 10% charge onto standard rates for peak period moving.
The average basic rate for a local move is around $700. "Each person's demands are different, though," explains Muscaro. "Some people don't want to touch anything. They want full service from start to finish. They might want their furniture wrapped in bubble wrap. Other people want their china or knickknacks wrapped."
Booklet Tells Rates
Mayflower has a booklet describing the different rates. Wrapping costs for a set of china dishes, for example, are $28.50 for a local move and $32.50 for an interstate move within 40-60 miles.
The average basic out-of-summer rate for a three bedroom family move from New York to Florida is about $1,200. The minimum rate, based on 1,000 pounds, to California from the East Coast is $1,100.
Most movers include all insurance for local and interstate moves in the basic charge, but Muscaro sometimes recommends that customers buy additional insurance "because it's very inexpensive and it might help ease the trauma of moving all your possessions."
Still, Muscaro says very few insurance claims are filed. "Sometimes I don't hear of anything for weeks at a time."