Homeowner Q&A: should I pay for a packing service when moving home?

26 March 2019


I’m moving home and with two young children and working I’m wondering what the best removal firm to use is and if it’s worth paying extra for them do all the packing? My parents think this is a ridiculous and unnecessary expense. What is the price difference and what do other people do? 



Choosing the right removals firm is no different to any purchase. It starts with some research and comparing the costs and service offered.

Get recommendations from friends and look online, as well at review sites, to get a shortlist together. Then speak to the different removal firms.

You can start researching and getting quotes well in advance of your exchange of contracts, so you’re ready to move fast. Book a removal firm as soon as you have your completion date. 

We recommend choosing a firm that is a  member of the British Association of Removers (BAR), a trade association that regulated members in line with Trading Standards and offers a dispute resolution via the Furniture Ombudsman. 

When comparing quotes, you should think not just about price but about the details of the service you’ll get. The firm should offer to come and do a survey of your home to make sure it has the right team and vans for your move. 

You should also ask what level of insurance is provided and how their staff do the packing – and unpackin of anything beds and wardrobes to clothes.

With delays a common feature of home moves, you should find out whether there is flexibility if your move date shifts; and whether it can offer storage and how much this will cost. Removals firms can often provide a professional cleaning service for the house you are leaving and/or moving in to. 

You can use HomeOwner’s Alliance’s (HOA) tool to compare five removal firms based in your area. You will get five quotes straight away and you can then check out the individual firm’s feedback from previous customers. All firms are credit checked and backed by the Furniture Ombudsman. 

Costs vs benefits

On your point about whether packing is worth it, with so many of us leading busy lives, in recent years this is increasingly commonplace. Typically, this will cost a few hundred pounds on top of the removal fee.

Whether or not you opt for this depends on how much time, help and other commitments you have – but for working parents it is a popular option. 

I have just had a quick look on our removals service and for a family to move from a three- bedroom house in Walthamstow to a new home 10 miles away, I received five quotes ranging from £432 to £598 without packing and £952 to £1,023 including packing. 

Obviously the further you are moving, the more your move will cost but packing would usually add around an extra £400 to £500 and take about a day. 

There would be a further cost for unpacking at the other end the day after the move, although many people do this part themselves in their own time. Typically, unpacking would take a team of professionals half a day.

I was quoted between £140 and £200 although the firms I spoke to stressed the importance of having a surveyor to give an accurate quote. 

Some people prefer to pack some or all of their things themselves. If your removal firm is local, it may deliver boxes in advance free of charge; others will charge cost price – starting at £1.32 for a small box up to £4.38 for a wardrobe-sized box.

For tips on packing and getting ready for your move day see HOA’s Moving House Checklist

As with any purchase, whether you get a removals firm to pack for you often comes down to whether you can afford it. If the cost is just too much to absorb at this expensive time, then I would suggest you speak to your parents, admit how right they were and recruit them to help you pack!