DIY Moving

Move yourself to save a few bucks (but it might cost your back)

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The do-it-yourself, or DIY move, is for the bold and adventurous. DIY movers are not going to be hiring anyone to help haul all their worldly possessions from one place to another, although they might call on family and friends to lend a hand. When you choose this option, you are telling the world that you laugh in the face of back-breaking manual labor, driving a truck the size of your apartment, and turning your family and friends against you. You're also saying that you want to save as much money as possible because this tends to be one of the cheapest moving options for obvious reasons.

Still, you'll have to shell out some cash unless, for some reason, you personally own a big rig. You will choose among renting a truck, portable storage container, or space in a freight truck. More on that later. You'll also have to invest in pizza, refreshing drinks, and toilet paper (for the bathroom of your new residence) for the friends and family you coax into helping you. It's the least you can do.

DIY Moving
Time Estimate

You might not realize how much time you actually spend planning and executing your move. Breaking down where all that time goes can be tricky and tough to agree on, but we've seen over 100,000 moves, so we've got a pretty good estimate of where it disappears to. One thing we can agree on is that your time is valuable. So, to help you decide whether it's worth it to just pay someone else to do this or that part, here's a breakdown of where your time will be spent.

Total Time Estimate

Based on an 1,100 mile move of a 3 bedroom home.


Quoting & Planning Time

5 - 7 hrs.

When it comes to time spent, truck rentals tend to have an easier rental process than portable storage units because for something like PODS®, you'd have to get on the phone for a long-distance move. A phone call with either a truck rental company or a portable storage container company could last you anywhere from 15 - 45 minutes, depending on how complicated your move is. (By the way, we're including any research you do, including hanging out here on HireAHelper's Moving101 guide to read up about your options). You'll also have to coordinate schedules with your friends and family, get all the necessary equipment, make a timetable for moving day - not to mention the days of packing yourself leading up to moving day.

Packing Time

12 - 14 hrs.

Again, this is based on packing up a 3 bedroom home, so scale accordingly for your move.

Loading & Unloading Time

11 - 13 hrs.

Let's face it, you're not a professional mover. It's gonna take you, your cousin, and your roommate quite a bit more time to load up that truck than the pros.

Transportation Options Comparison

DIY Move

with Rental Trucks
Average Cost $506
Local Move: $140
Medium Distance: $291
Long Distance: $1,088
Avg. Review 4.19
Packing & Unpacking You
Loading & Unloading You
Driving You

The most cost effective and flexible option. You control your own moving day schedule.

You have to drive a ginormous truck. How fast should you take that speed bump, or that turn?

DIY Move

with Rental Containers
Average Cost $1,802
Local Move: $683
Medium Distance: $1,449
Long Distance: $3,275
Avg. Review 4.49
Packing & Unpacking You
Loading & Unloading You
Driving Container Company

The most convenient option if you need temporary storage for your move. It's delivered straight to your home and transported to your new location by pros.

How much is all of this added convenience worth to you? That is the question.

DIY Move

with Freight Trailers
Average Cost $1,998
Local Move: $1,375
Medium Distance: $1,631
Long Distance: $2,987
Avg. Review 4.47
Packing & Unpacking You
Loading & Unloading You
Driving Freight Company

It's the most affordable way to have the pros drive your stuff to your new home.

Two words: air-ride suspension. They don't have it. Your stuff needs to be expertly wrapped and loaded to survive this ride intact.

The Perfect Match

Are you and the ambitious DIY move a perfect match? Someone who is strong, organized, and a good boss is a great fit for DIY moving. If the purse strings are extra tight and you are physically and emotionally able to handle a move (more power to you), then you should consider the DIY move. You will have a hand in every inch of the move – packing, loading, driving, and unloading. And you'll be delegating work to your willing family and friends. Brush up on those stress-management skills now, however, because the whole deal is going to be resting right on your shoulders.


Still stickin with the D.I.Y. move? Sure we can't tempt you with a refreshing Hybrid™ move instead? No? Ok, fine then. I suppose we'll help you plan the most awesome D.I.Y. move you've ever executed in your life. Here's all we know on how to move by yourself:

  • Timeline, Budget, & Inventory

    Everyone who has ever moved in the history of the world will tell you that it is never too soon to start planning. Get started as early as you can. The first step is determining your schedule. Ask yourself the following:

    • When do you have to be out of your old place?
    • When can you move into your new place?
    • Where can you store your stuff and on whose couch can you crash, if there's a lag in between those dates?

    Taking into consideration all this information, determine your moving dates. If there's flexibility, you'll be better off because you might be able to get a price cut when equipment is less in demand. Moving mid-month and mid-week - especially in the fall and winter - tends to bring down your costs, but it might be harder for friends and family, depending on their schedules, to help you out then. Take all these factors into consideration and come up with a date to bring with you when seeking quotes from your various transportation options.

    Learn how to make a moving binder and take photos of your stuff for future insurance claims by watching the YouTube video, "how to plan a stress free move." You can also try out apps, such as the moving list for iPhone, which costs $2.99 and offers a to-do list for you to work through, and the moving planner for android phones, which costs $0.99 and provides a timeline of your move to keep you on track.

  • Pick your transportation

    Think of this step like you would dating. You're looking for a good match for you. Don't marry the first option that comes along. Get to know them. Moving Trucks are perfect for someone unafraid of driving a ginormous vehicle, whereas portable storage units are right if you need to store your goods at all and don't have much to move. The freight trucks are a nice fit if you don't want drive and have lots of stuff.

    Visiting their Web sites, asking questions of customer service representatives, and reading through their stats here on Moving101 ™ are all great ways of "dating" move transportation companies to see which one to marry for your move. Here's a quick overview of each of your transportation options:

    Moving Truck Rental - This is the traditional choice. As the name implies, rental truck companies, will have you renting a truck, some as big as 26 feet, sized to meet the amount of stuff you need to haul. You (perhaps, along with friends and family) or hired help will load and unload it. Of course, you'll have to drive it from your old residence to your new residence. Most of these companies have been in business for many years and have lots of experience in renting out their equipment to DIY movers like you. The major players in this sector are U-Haul®, Penske®, and Budget®. The staff can offer valuable tips. You will pay, on average, around $155 for a local move, $225 for a short move, and $971 for a long-distance move. Gas and insurance will also have to be factored into your budget should you go this route. You can compare different truck rental companies and real average pricing and reviews in our moving truck rental guide.

    Moving Containers - This is the fresh, new way to move yourself. PODS® and 1-800-PACK-RAT® are among the big names in this sector. The companies provide you with a shipping container, often made of a durable material, such as steel. You take as long as you'd like to pack all your stuff into it and then a driver comes to pick it up and transport it either to a storage facility or your new place. You could even keep the container for storage on your property. Regardless of what you do with the big box, you alone keep the key, which has to make you feel more secure about the safety of your prized possessions. Typically, the containers come in two sizes - 8' and 16'. But you might require more than one if you are moving a big place, such as a 3-bedroom home. This can get pricey, which is why the portable storage containers are often a better option for moving smaller apartments and homes. Prices range from just under $500 for a local move (with the largest container) to more than $5,000 for a long-distance move (with two of the largest containers). To compare prices and reviews on different moving container companies, check out our moving containers guide.

  • Pack up to ship out

    This is the part where most people get tripped up. They tend to procrastinate because, well, who really wants to go to through the hassle of packing up their entire life? But the sooner you start, the sooner you will be done. Go from room to room and assess whether you really need each item. You might decide to throw away some things, give others aways, and sell others in a garage sale or on eBay. The less stuff you have to bring with you, the easier your move will be. Here are some tips on how to get rid of stuff before you move yourself.

    Once you know what you're bringing, then you can start the actual packing. Be sure to keep necessities, such as your toothbrush and paste, deodorant, your kid's beloved blankie, and important documents, such as the deed to your home, in luggage that you can bring with you. The rest should be snugly packed into boxes that are the same size, so that you can easily fit them tightly into the truck or container. Label everything clearly, so that you know just where to put the boxes in your new place. This will make unpacking and getting organized a lot easier.

    One of the biggest "how to move yourself" tips we can offer is to NOT wait until the last minute - make sure your boxes are ready to be loaded on moving day. Don't be that guy. Your friends and family, who take the time to help you out, will think less of you (and they should) if you have them wrap up dishes and everything in your underwear drawer instead of simply loading boxes onto a moving truck or into a shipping container. It also will take more time, the stuff may get shoved into boxes without much thought to their protection, which means you could even end up spending more money replacing damaged items. Plus, the longer the move takes, the more money you'll have to pay for the trucks or containers.

    In the YouTube video, "How to Move and Pack Your House," you'll learn how to keep your friends even though you've asked them to help you move. There's also some valuable scoop on how to score free boxes. BuzzFeed's "33 Moving Tips That Will Make Your Life So Much Easier" keeps it real, is a good read, and offers some good advice, such as packing your glasses and stemware in clean socks for extra padding.

  • Load the truck or container

    On moving day, you should be all set to load the truck and container and get to, well, moving. One person can stand in the truck or near the container to coordinate loading and ensure a tight fit. Trust us - it's not a waste of time. The alternative is to have everyone carrying things to the truck, each person left to pick their favorite spot for the box or end table they're carrying. You'll be left with half as much usable space, which means you'll either end up leaving stuff behind or having to re-pack the whole truck or container.

    So, you and your friends and family can bring boxes out to the coordinator. He or she will tie things to the rails and use mattresses and other soft items to cushion more delicate things. You want your stuff to fit into the trailer or container tightly, so there's minimal movement when driving. Use furniture blankets to protect items, such as your dresser or china closet. Be sure to have hand trucks on hand for moving the heavier stuff, so no one throws their back out.

    For a more detailed look at how to load a rental truck, you can check out wikiHow's "How to Pack a Moving Truck" or U-Pack's® "Tips for Loading a Moving Truck." You can also see how professionals load a truck in the YouTube video, "How Franks WorldWide Moving Packs A Moving Truck." Just don't be fooled into thinking that you'll be able to finish the job in the 5 minutes that it takes these pros to do it on screen; the video is on the speed track, and sadly we are not.


Think this through.

Moving all by yourself or with a few well-meaning loved ones (who are not moving professionals) is a really big challenge. While you'll be saving money up front, it could end up costing you in the long run. For one, if you don't pack things well, they are likely to break and you'll have to replace them. You could have an accident with the rental truck if you're not comfortable driving one of those big boys. Or you could royally piss off all those helping hands and be left alone with relationships in serious need of repair. If you can't fit any kind of professional help into your budget, then just try to be as prepared as possible and be considerate of anyone who offers to help you. The point is that you need to know exactly what you're about to take on.

Pack ahead of moving day.

One of the biggest mistakes DIY movers make is leaving the packing - the wrapping and placing of items in boxes - to the last minute. Then, their friends and family show up on moving day and find themselves loading things into boxes before loading them onto the truck. Besides annoying your loved ones, you'll also be putting your stuff at risk. People will rush and they won't properly pack delicate items. They might put too much stuff into one box. Or your things could get shuffled around to the point that it will be completely unorganized when you begin unpacking. In addition, you will be off schedule on moving day, which could mean keeping a rental truck, for instance, longer than you were supposed to. That could end up costing you more money. So, make sure everything is packed and ready to be put onto the truck or into the portable storage unit before moving day.

Do your homework.

You're already off to good start because you've come to this page. Do some research into how to conduct a smooth move. The Internet can unlock affordable help in the form of moving trucks, portable storage units, packers, and unpackers. Get advice from professionals on how to properly pack a box and load a truck, so your stuff stays in one piece. Make sure you have a firm grasp on what moving day will look like, so there are no surprises.

Be considerate.

Your loved ones have agreed to help you move. That's a big deal. Be sure to have water on hand for them throughout the day. Offer them something to eat, such as a pizza. Make sure there is toilet paper and soap in the new place, so everyone can freshen up. And say thank you. Better yet, write out thank you cards, along with your new address cards. If you can afford it, offer up a little gift to show you really appreciate their help. Moving is not fun. Only people who really love you are going to help you move. And you want to nurture such relationships. Trust us.

Have the right equipment on hand.

Make sure to have hand trucks and furniture pads or blankets for the move. You and your friends might be able to lift a king-sized bed or giant entertainment unit. But you might also put out your backs or break something (like yourself) if you do. A hand truck would help. And furniture pads protect your things from the elements, dust, and from scratching or banging against each other. Professional movers often provide this for you or allow you to rent this kind of equipment; you might have to get it on your own. Just make sure it's all on hand on moving day.

Recent Customer Reviews

Lauren W
Las Vegas, NV
Wrote a review on 8/22/2020
1-800-Pack-Rat Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

The price was very competitive and the company put me on the no charge list as my delivery date was a day or two after my one month anniversary. I moved cross country. Customer service was usually very helpful. I only had a bit of an issue with the original delivery as I needed the pod delivered at a precise time as my condo building only allows me a 3 hour window to move and the pod was delivered late. The movers arrived before the pod so they had to stage my stuff first. Other than that no complaints.

Distance: 2,000 mi
Cost: $3,500
Per. Mile: $1.75
SqFt. Moved: 650
Debbie R
Lorton, VA
Wrote a review on 8/21/2020
1-800-Pack-Rat Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

PackRat was very accommodating to our circumstances during this awful pandemic. Our move was delayed three times. But each time the CSR was happy and courteous in helping me reschedule. I will recommend PR to everyone. Hopefully I will not have to move again but if I do I will use PR.

Distance: 1,800 mi
Cost: $2,750
Per. Mile: $1.53
SqFt. Moved: 1,100
Lynn S
Vallejo, CA
Wrote a review on 8/19/2020
ABF U-pack Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

I have only just loaded the truck so we will see how my belongings arrive after a 2,000 mile trip. I am hoping it was packed well enough to survive. The truck is huge but I did use more space than I thought I would, tie downs are inside so it looks pretty tight in there and the doors seal up my section to keep it separate from the rest of the truck. Hopeful that it will fare better than a pod.

Distance: 2,000 mi
Cost: $2,900
Per. Mile: $1.45
SqFt. Moved: 800
Dennise D
Broken Arrow, OK
Wrote a review on 8/19/2020
PODS Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Great communication and ease of ordering. Emails and texts keeping me informed of payments and arrival. POD delivery arrived on time. However, using the online calculator for determining the size of POD, the one it said for us to order was too small. Because of this, I dropped the rating by one star.

Distance: 900 mi
Cost: $2,100
Per. Mile: $2.33
SqFt. Moved: 500
Marian B
Cambridge, MA
Wrote a review on 8/8/2020
PODS Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Pods does a first class job of communicating and tracking all phases of the move. Their drivers are professional and do a good job of updating timing for delivery and pickup. I am very appreciative of the on-line portal for checking in on status of the delivery and availability of the phone comm's as well. Not the cheapest service but I'd recommend and use them again simply based on the above and beyond service provided by every touch point along the way.

Distance: 2,000 mi
Cost: $4,000
Per. Mile: $2.00
SqFt. Moved: 1,500
Dawn T
Bethesda, MD
Wrote a review on 7/30/2020
Penske Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Of course I needed to move in the busiest week of the yr, so prices higher than even 3 weeks ago! But the 12 ft Penske was brand new, comfy seats, ac, cruise control, all sorts of plug I s and a backup camera in rear view mirror. And plenty of room between the seats for food, suitcases or a pet. Used twice now in a month and easy checkout system whether online or call up very nice people. This time pick up and drop off at Home Depots. Should’ve gotten a 20ft the first time! Oh well live and learn.

Distance: 450 mi
Cost: $1,090
Per. Mile: $2.42
SqFt. Moved: 400
Linda S
Lansing, MI
Wrote a review on 7/26/2020
Penske Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Penske's trucks are larger than Uhaul's--I rented a 22 foot truck that had space comparable to Uhaul's 26 foot vehicle. The turning radius is larger and it's wider, so is a bit more difficult to maneuver. The ramp is also higher. However, the truck was in excellent condition, drove well, and pulled an auto transport without issues. The mirror adjustments are perfect making backing up with and without the transport relatively easy...and the blue fenders make the trailer highly visible.

Distance: 950 mi
Cost: $1,800
Per. Mile: $1.89
SqFt. Moved: 700
Todd H
Hewitt, TX
Wrote a review on 7/10/2020
ABF ReloCube Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Delivered as promised, on time, according to contract. Their storage fees are high, but we knew that signing up for them. Our entire interaction with them was excellent. They even delivered for us as scheduled even though it was a day off.

Distance: 800 mi
Cost: $3,000
Per. Mile: $3.75
SqFt. Moved: 2,200
Karen D
Everett, WA
Wrote a review on 6/25/2020
Uhaul Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

They saved my butt with this move. I had rented a truck through Budget and they botched my reservation so I had to rent a truck at the last minute. When I explained the situation the gentleman was unable to get me the size I needed but had a larger truck available. I said I'll take it. He then gave me a discount for the smaller truck price. I will forever be grateful to U Haul for my emergency save.

Distance: 1,550 mi
Cost: $1,017
Per. Mile: $0.66
SqFt. Moved: 720
Bruce M
Jonesborough, TN
Wrote a review on 6/23/2020
ABF U-pack Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Delivery was on time and all the equipment I needed to get my items in the trailer were there (the ramp and separation sections). The drivers are all experienced and capable of getting into tight spots. The trailer solution was the best option for me since I did not want my shop items mixed with my household items. They give you an excellent amount of time to pack and unpack. Trailers are in good shape and clean. They may look rough on the outside but inside it's dry and clean. After all these trailers are on the road constantly unless they are in storage with your items. Good company very nice people to work with and eager to please.

Distance: 560 mi
Cost: $850
Per. Mile: $1.52
SqFt. Moved: 1,700
Marie M
Toquerville, UT
Wrote a review on 6/20/2020
Budget Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

The truck had a lot of mileage on it so we felt that we had to be extra careful going up hills. But, had no problems. They forgot to put rented hand truck on the truck.

Distance: 420 mi
Cost: $450
Per. Mile: $1.07
SqFt. Moved: 1,700
Rebecca M
Atlanta, GA
Wrote a review on 5/8/2020
Budget Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

I rented a 16 foot truck to drive from Georgia to Florida. Surprisingly this truck was very easy to drive, however it was a bit noisy in the cab. It was large enough to fit everything I needed to move with me. Both the rental check in and the return location were very easy to get to and the person helping me was very informative and answered all of my questions. The price was very favorable and included unlimited mileage, so it was much cheaper than hiring a moving company. I will definitely use Budget rental trucks again. I did add the full insurance/road side assistance to the rental which added to the cost, but since I was driving alone between two states, I wanted the assurances that came with the Insurance and road side assistance.

Distance: 683 mi
Cost: $232
Per. Mile: $0.34
SqFt. Moved: 900
Debra B
Basye, VA
Wrote a review on 5/7/2020
ABF ReloCube Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Did a great job moving our furnishings from AL to VA. No damage and they were within the time period they quoted. Provided a very cost effective option. Great value for the cost.

Distance: 900 mi
Cost: $2,300
Per. Mile: $2.56
SqFt. Moved: 2,300
Cathy a
Las Vegas, NV
Wrote a review on 4/19/2020
Uhaul Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

26ft truck was was clean, drove well. The remote check in was less than optimal since the website had some kind of issue and we had to wait until a human was available at 9am to do it manually. Same issue with checking it back in after hours. Had to call 800 number since online had same issue.

Distance: 12 mi
Cost: $80.00
Per. Mile: $6.67
SqFt. Moved: 1,300

U-Haul® is a registered trademark of U-Haul International, Inc. Budget Truck Rental®, LLC is a registered trademark of Budget Truck Rental, LLC. Penske Truck Leasing Co., L.P.® is a trademark of Penske System, Inc.

U-Pack® is the registered trademark of Moving Solutions, Inc. U-Pack® is a registered trademark of ABF, Freight System, Inc.

PODS® and the PODS® logo are the registered trademarks of PODS Enterprises, Inc. (PEI). U-Pack® is the registered trademark of Moving Solutions, Inc. ReloCube® is a registered trademark of ABF, Freight System, Inc.

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