If you are planning a move in the near future, one of the first decisions you must make is which type of moving service you plan to use. Moving companies come in three basic varieties – full service, “do-it-yourself”, and hybrid “partial” service movers. Along with the three basic options, there are also specialized moving companies that offer services for unique or difficult moving scenarios. Understanding your options will help you decide which type of service best suites your needs.

Full Service Moving Companies

As the name implies, a full service moving company handles your move from start to finish. They will typically pack your belongings at your current home, load them onto the truck, transport them to your new location, unload them, and unpack them. In addition, they may inventory and insure your belongings against damage, theft, or other unforeseen losses. Not surprisingly, this option is also likely to be the most expensive but also the least stressful and usually the most secure method for moving your belongings. Because these movers are professionals, there is less chance that something will be damaged. In addition, you can usually count on your belongings being at your new home on the date promised.

“Do-It-Yourself” Moving Companies

At the other end of the spectrum is the “do-it-yourself” option. With this option, you rent a truck and handle all of the details yourself. You will need to pack, load, transport, unload, and unpack your belongings. Although the rental company may offer insurance, you should check into purchasing a separate policy as it may be less expensive and offer better coverage. Although you will have the additional expense of purchasing gas and insurance, this option is usually significantly less expensive than a full service moving company. The downside of not working with professionals though is that there is a higher likelihood of damage to belongings and an increased chance of a delay that causes your belongings to be late arriving at your new home.

Hybrid Moving Companies

In between the two extremes are a number of “partial” services moving companies that are gaining in popularity. Typically, with this option you will handle the packing and unpacking of your belongings. You may also be required to load and unload the truck or container. Frequently, the moving company is only responsible for the actual transport of your belongings. A popular twist on this option involves the moving company dropping a container at your home which allows you all the time you need to fill it before it is picked up for storage or transport. The cost of this option is usually less than a full-service moving company but more than a “do-it-yourself” option.

For more unique moving needs, you can even find a moving company that will move your entire home – literally. Structural moving companies will pick up your home and move it to a new location. You may also need to look into air transport or freight trains if you need to move an unusual or unique item. For an international move, you will likely need to check into shipping your belongings via ship which often requires you to pay hefty import taxes and tariffs in the new country.

Finally, if you have the option to rely on a relocation service through your employer, consider doing so. Relocation services handle all of the details of your move for you from finding you new housing to moving your belongings from point A to Point B. If your employer does not offer relocation services, there are private companies that will perform the service for you for a fee.