I though that moving would be easy for me.
I was staying in New York City, I didn’t have to move any furniture, and I was fortunate enough not to need to be out of my old apartment on the same day that I got the keys to my new one.
So I figured that I’d save money by doing everything myself.
As it turns out, that was a terrible idea.
The train ride from my old apartment in Brooklyn to my new apartment in Harlem takes an hour each way, so moving just one box was a two hour commitment.
Once I arrived in Harlem, I’d excitedly unpack, and be finished in all of five minutes.
The box that had felt so heavy as I was carrying it up the stairs inevitably contained nothing but a few mixing bowls, some books, and a rain jacket.
Also, the week that I was moving, a heat wave hit New York.
One night, I looked at the pile of boxes in my old apartment and did the maths.
There were 13 left, which would mean 26 hours on the subway, making moving practically a part-time job.
And I still hadn’t packed any of the things that I use on a daily basis.
Some of my friends had volunteered to help me move, but none of them had cars, so it wouldn’t have been much more efficient. And part of me worried that after hauling boxes across the city on a humid 90-degree day, they wouldn’t want to be my friends anymore.
After writing about TaskRabbit for Business Insider, I realised that it might be the solution to my problems, and created an account. Using the site was simple: After selecting the option for “General Moving Help,” I entered my address, listed the date and time that I’d be moving, and wrote a brief description of what I needed to move. I also was able to specify that I’d need someone with a car.
Next, I was given a list of six TaskRabbit users who were available to help me move on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn. The prices that they’d set ranged from $US30 to $US136 an hour. I picked E’lon, who was charging $US30 and had received a 100% positive rating on the site. Within minutes, she got back to me to confirm the time.
On Saturday afternoon, E’Lon met me at my apartment, and we loaded up the back of her SUV and drove to Harlem. On the way, she told me this was her third task, ever. She’d recently been inspired to join TaskRabbit by a friend who was already on the site. So far, she’d picked up one client’s laundry and dropped it off for them, and helped to set up a 4-year old’s birthday party.
Her goal was to make some extra money outside her 9-5 job as a project manager, but still have some control over her schedule. She had a few big vacations planned — Napa for her husband’s 30th birthday, New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and potentially a trip to Italy in the future — and planned to put all the money she made on TaskRabbit into her vacation fund, so she could save more of her regular paycheck.
Usually, she said no to helping people out with moves, she told me, since TaskRabbit didn’t reimburse her for gas. But she’d happened to be going uptown that day, so I was on her way.
After we’d arrived at my new apartment and she’d helped me carry all my boxes up the stairs, she headed off and I began unpacking. All told, the process had taken only a hour and 45 minutes. If we hadn’t been stuck in traffic for a while due to an accident on FDR Drive, it would have been even quicker.
In total, the cost came to $US55.12. I also tipped $US20 in cash, which is standard for local moves, according to Business Insider’s handy tipping guide. Unlike Uber, TaskRabbit doesn’t explicitly state that its workers can’t accept tips, but it also doesn’t allow you to leave one through the site, which I found frustrating.
Given how easy it was to use the site, and how much time I saved, hiring a TaskRabbit to help me move was worth the money. It’s not for everyone: If you have bulky furniture, it may be hard to find someone with a car or truck large enough to carry it. But for a small move like mine, it was perfect.
E’Lon mentioned that aside from the money, she’d also joined TaskRabbit in order to meet new people. That ended up being an unexpected bonus: Instead of being bored during the tedious process of moving, I got to know someone who I might have never met otherwise. By the end, I felt like E’Lon was my friend with a car — except that I didn’t have to feel guilty and wonder how to return the favour.