Many people these days are hiring vans to move themselves when it comes to moving house. The reasons behind this vary but usually it’s because of a cost saving against using a professional removal company or just the fact that hiring a van allows for more flexibility in undertaking your own removal.
When you hire a van you can take your time to sort through things as you load and you may want to make additional stops on your journey to collect further items or drop items off at other locations. You may also want to take a pet with you which may be allowed to ride in the van with you providing there is room.
This may all work out for you if you are using the van to make a local or short distance removal but what about long distance removals. Worldwide removal specialists advancemoves have looked into the costs of one way van hire against using a professional removals company and the results are quite alarming. It can actually work out to be more expensive to undertake a removal yourself using a one way van hire company than it is to actually hire a professional removal company to undertake the removal for you. You do have to choose the right removal company however as costs and transit times vary enormously.
One of the easiest ways to compare professional removal company costs is to use the advancemoves Instant online quick quote system that allows you to enter some pretty basic information in about 30 seconds and will then give you an instant online quotation for your removal. The quote is in the form of a price range based on the information given. However the information you submit is automatically passed to up to 5 professional removal companies that cover the removal parameters that you specified in the information you submitted. Therefore you will also receive up to 5 quotes for your removal from reputable professional removal companies, allowing you to then select a quote that is best for you. There is no obligation, this is just the quickest and easiest way to obtain a quotation for a removal anywhere in the world without having to contact multiple removal companies and arrange home visits and inspections just to get a price for a removal.
Armed with this information you can then start to work out the cost of a professional removal against hiring a van and doing the move yourself. So if you’re going to hire a van then what do you need to allow for? Well fist of all there is the actual cost of the hire van itself and how many days you will need to hire it for, including pick up and drop off days. Straight away you can be looking at a price far higher than you have seen advertised. It’s also worth noting in Europe that many one way hire van companies will no longer actually hire you a van unless they provide a driver. Therefore you have an additional cost and you are sharing a cab with a stranger. Maybe the van hire route is already less flexible than you thought. Look out for additional charges for excessive mileage or an additional driver. both of these factors can add a great deal onto the bill. There is usually a holding deposit taken when you hire the van and if any damage is recorded then this money is lost. Be careful with this one, some one way van hire companies make it impossible for you to get your deposit back. there are a few horror stories on the internet about this sort of scam, especially with Spain to UK/UK to Spain van hire.
So you have worked out the cost of hiring the van. Now how about the cost to get it to your destination? First of all plan your route and work out how long it’s going to take you. The advancemoves removals team are based in Spain and whilst they deal with removals all over the world their main traffic is removals from UK to Spain. They have compared hire vans against professional removal services and know inside out the costs of transport between the two countries. For a removal between the UK and Spain across Europe you need to allow for a Ferry or tunnel crossing at the English channel or across the bay of Biscay into northern Spain. The costs of this vary but to get a van on board will cost from £90 to £600 based on some of the very best deals available so this price maybe higher depending on the time of day you travel and if you want to add in a cabin. Pets will be extra, so will additional passengers and also allow for food and drink on board. Make sure you are not selected as a commercial vehicle as prices will be even higher so be ready to prove that you are in a hire van and the items you are carrying are your own. The Ferries and channel tunnel operators have different for commercial vehicles and trucks. If they think you are undertaking a removal for a third party and the items in your truck are not your own, then they will want you to prove ownership of the effects or you will have to pay a higher commercial transport rate. This can all get a bit tricky so just make sure you can open the back doors of your truck and show a load of boxes with your own name written on them and a hire van contract in your name on it. That should be enough to satisfy the ferry operator that you are moving your own effects.
Once you have worked out the ferry costs then look at the rest of your route. Check for toll roads. If you are driving through France to Spain then you want to allow at least 120 Euros for tolls, maybe a little more depending on your route and final destination. You will also need to work out where you are going to stop and find a hotel for the night. The drive through France to Spain is a long way and will require at least one overnight stop. Make sure the hotel has secure parking in a gated compound, preferably under cctv and in plain sight of the Hotel. Hire vans are easily broken into and criminals target them as they know they are usually full of people possessions. The ‘one way hire van’ branding on most of these vans kind of gives the game away and criminals have been known to follow these vans until they stop and then break into them when the driver is not there. Criminals target these foreign vehicles with a variety of ways to rob the individuals driving them. One ruse is to get you to pull over on a motorway by the criminals pretending to be police in an unmarked car and driving in front of you and signalling for you to pull over. They may also just signal to you that you have a problem with the van or a puncture. Whatever the ruse, they try and make you pull over and then one of the gang will distract you buy taking you to the back of the van where the problem is supposed to be whilst another gang member goes through the cab of the vehicle and steals whatever he can, usually money, passports, credit cards, phones, sat nav, basically anything of value. The rule here is just do not EVER pull over. Check your mirrors, if you have a flat or a problem you will see smoke or feel the van is hard to drive and if it’s the real police trying to pull you over then they will be in full uniform and in a marked modern police car or an unmarked car that has blue and red flashing lights actually built into the car. The criminal will be wearing a hi-vis vest and in some crappy old car. They are quite easy to spot if you think about it, but these gangs are very convincing and most people think they are being helped until they find out that they have been robbed blind. It’s a common thing now on the motorways of Spain especially on the coastal routes from Barcelona all the way down to Malaga. They are looking for foreign vehicles as they know these people will be carrying more valuables and be easier to trick as they are driving in a foreign land. So be careful in a hire van but this also applies if you are driving a foreign plated car.
You must be aware that your personal effects and furniture held within your hire van will also not be covered by insurance. You may be able to take out an insurance policy to cover these items with your hire van provider or with your insurance broker but if you’re not covered and someone breaks into your van, or worse still, actually steals the van with its contents, then you won’t be covered and you could lose everything……
So back to the costs, Fuel is the next big thing. Most modern vans with a full load of cargo are nowhere near as fuel efficient as advertised. forget 30/40 mile per gallon. work on about 18 mpg for a fully loaded van going up and down the big mountain climbs all across Spain on your journey. So working on that level of fuel consumption and based on a 1200 mile journey from say Calais to Murcia (mid way down the Mediterranean coast of Spain) you will need to budget for at least 450 Euros of fuel. Allow more for southern Spain as that’s another 6-8 hours travelling, so maybe more like 550 Euros in fuel.
So you can quickly see that doing it yourself can actually add up to be very expensive and can actually become more expensive than getting a professional remover to undertake the removal for you. Add it all up and see for yourself. Professional removal costs vary but you can expect to pay from 125 Euros upwards, per cubic metre of effects moved, for a professional remover to move you from the UK to Spain. Prices vary depending on volume, so you will find that if your moving 30 cubic metres or more, then the price per cubic metre is less than if you were only moving one or two cubic metres. You might find some movers doing it even cheaper, especially if they have a load already going to Spain and they can fill the rest of the truck up with your consignment. This is call groupage removal transport and it allows for the best pricing as you are effectively sharing the big costs of a removals truck with several other paying clients, so overall costs for everyone are reduced. The draw backs of this service can be the timing of your collection and delivery as you are subject to when the truck is full, then it runs. However most of the agents used by advancemoves relocation specialists have frequent services within Europe and worldwide and can therefore give you an indication of transit times prior to booking. This groupage service can work well for a lot of people as they can have their effects collected and held in store whilst they move to their new destination and get themselves settled in, before their effects and furniture arrive at a later date, It just makes things more relaxed.
So now you have worked out the costs involved, it’s worth also looking at the other complications that can arise from one way self drive van hire. We have already mentioned the risk of criminal activity and if you think that you might be more protected by sleeping in your van then think again. There is a risk (be it small) that you may get gassed and robbed at the motorway services in France or northern Spain. Generally trucks and motor homes are targeted when they are parked up and the driver is asleep late at night in the parking area of a motorway services. The criminal gangs have been known to pump sleeping gas into the vents of the motor home or truck and then break in and rob the occupants without fear of them waking. The occupants wake up the next morning with a splitting headache and missing all their valuables. If you do need to park up to sleep, try and make it a well populated and lit area and make sure you are locked in. Some truckers actually use a ratchet strap through both door handles and stretching across the cab to tie each door to the other so no-one can open them. Once again this sort of crime is happening more on the coastal motorways alongside the Mediterranean , but be vigilant wherever you are.
Be very aware that is extremely easy to overload your van and make it dangerously over weight. Most vans are advertised as 3500 kg. Now this is the overall weight that the vehicle can carry minus its own weight. So don’t go thinking you can put 3500 kgs in it. Most vans weigh about 2300 kg to 2500 kg so once you take that away from the 3500 kg you may only be left with a 1000 kg payload. Now that still sounds like quite a bit but you will be surprised how quickly things mount up. Most of the large pack 2 (tea chest size) boxes that are the industry standard when it comes to removals will weigh in at about 25kg once loaded. Maybe even more if you have filled it with heavy items like books etc, but you will then probably put your back out lifting it.
So if you loaded 40 of these boxes into a van then your weight would equal 1000 kgs and you would have reached the limit of the vehicle. Those 40 boxes would have a total volume of just under 6 cubic metres. most extra long wheel base vans have a volumetric cargo capacity of 14 cubic metres. So with your 40 boxes you have filled less than half of the space available in the van, and yet you have reached the vans maximum payload. Add anymore and you will be overweight and both dangerous to drive and illegal.
You also have to load correctly. It is very important that you keep the weight distributed over both axles. You can be overweight on one axle and you will be fined. VOSA in the UK, the French police and especially the Spanish Police (Guardia Civil) target vans, as they know you are likely to be overweight. The Police lie in wait at tolls and junctions with mobile weighing pads to target foreign vans. If you are found to be overweight, you not only face a large fine that has to paid in Cash at the roadside (from 350 to 4000 Euros!), but you cannot move until you have offloaded the excess weight, which means offloading at the side of the road and arranging another vehicle to collect the other items. If you are heavy then you run the risk of a tyre blow out or a breakdown from the heat and the long climbs in Spain. Make sure your hire company has a recovery policy that will get you to your final destination without having to offload you van. Tyres are rarely covered by insurance and the replacement cost in Spain is high, maybe 300 Euros plus the call out.
You may also have a random drugs/contraband roadside turnout. This usually happens in France when heading to the UK, and it is very rare not to be stopped before you reach a port, as the French police are sat at junctions waiting for you. A sniffer dog is put through your load and then you may be requested to offload your vehicle on the roadside for further checks. If returning to the UK you should also be aware that UK customs and excise take a keen interest in hire vans and once again you may be subject to a search and a turn out even if it has already occurred in France. Guardia Civil are also on the lookout for British Vehicle operating illegally, as many British Nationals run companies without registration or paying taxes, so be warned they may think you are moving someone else’s effects and fine you. These fines are all on the spot CASH fines. If you do not pay they will confiscate the vehicle to a police pound with no access to your furniture or effects. You must also check that the vehicle has the correct tyre tread for the countries you are entering, correct roadside jackets, warning signs and replacement bulbs, breathalyser kits, as again if you are found with the incorrect equipment you will be fined.
Check that you have all the correct vehicle documents and insurance details on you. You will need to present them if the police stop you and they will need to be in date and original copies. You will need to show proof of ownership or hire contract and your passport and driving license. Even though you may be hiring a 3.5 tonne vehicle with no tachograph, you are still subject to driver hours laws, and therefore you will need to keep a record of the number of hours you have driven. You cannot exceed 11 hours in anyone 24 hour period, and no more than 60 hours in any 7 day period. If you have an accident the police will require this information.
That’s all the horror stories dealt with but what about your time? To undertake a one way self drive removal over a long distance from, let’s say the UK to Spain. You will need to collect the van, then find a friend to help load the van at your house. You should also consider the fact that you will need to load the van carefully so that weight distribution is even and safe and that all items of furniture are protected for their journey to Spain. Some self hire van companies provide a removal kit of a few padded blankets and some webbing or ratchet straps to secure the load. This is normally an extra charge, but you will need padded or thick blankets to cover your furniture to prevent it rubbing against other furniture items or boxes and creating damage. You will also need ratchet straps to secure the load and any other awkward items such as motorcycles. Once loaded, you will then need to spend a good 2 or 3 days on the road, maybe even 4 if you get tired driving and are heading for southern Spain through France. And then you will need another mate to help offload and then once again you need to drop the van off to the nearest depot. This can all add up to about a week of your own time. We think that week could be better spent if you leave the removal to the professionals and you get on with the more important things in life.
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