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 $507
Local Move: $136
Medium Distance: $293
Long Distance: $1,091
Avg. Review 4.21
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 $1,783
Local Move: $681
Medium Distance: $1,438
Long Distance: $3,230
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 $1,982
Local Move: $1,375
Medium Distance: $1,631
Long Distance: $2,940
Avg. Review 4.49
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

Cynthia Y
Albuquerque, NM
Wrote a review on 7/31/2019
Uhaul Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Truck was ready on time and the paperwork was filled out fairly quickly. Truck was clean and they were considerate and helpful. Chose U-Haul because they were close to both move addresses and were fairly inexpensive. Would use again.

Distance: 18 mi
Cost: $50.00
Per. Mile: $2.78
SqFt. Moved: 900
Carolyn U
Clearwater, FL
Wrote a review on 7/29/2019
PODS Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

I could not believe the POD held that much. I did need another container, but rented a U haul truck to empty the house. They instructed me that I would need another container soon enough so I could order something.

Distance: 50 mi
Cost: $1,000
Per. Mile: $20.00
SqFt. Moved: 1,750
Debbie W
Kent, WA
Wrote a review on 7/27/2019
Uhaul Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Overall a good experience with the Uhaul company however, the company's dolly and blankets, automatically attached to the inside of the truck, takes up valuable space.

Distance: 14 mi
Cost: $50.00
Per. Mile: $3.57
SqFt. Moved: 1,850
Theodore B
Bailey, NC
Wrote a review on 7/24/2019
1-800-Pack-Rat Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

POD delivery and purchase order very expedient and well handled. Website grossly underestimated POD needs (16 ft) - recommend a mover visit site for more accurate need assessment in future! Pickup delayed several days due to miscommunication and truck problems but handled very smoothly when accomplished. Price very reasonable and would use again. POD is excellent condition (only 1 exterior ding). All service personnel most polite and professional

Distance: 60 mi
Cost: $285
Per. Mile: $4.75
SqFt. Moved: 2,600
Mary S
Red Feather Lakes, CO
Wrote a review on 7/11/2019
1-800-Pack-Rat Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

The container was not in good shape. The pod wasn't leveled correctly. When the pod was filled it twisted a little and was extremely hard to close the doors.

Distance: 1,400 mi
Cost: $4,000
Per. Mile: $2.86
SqFt. Moved: 2,200
Leslie B
Pittsburgh, PA
Wrote a review on 7/9/2019
PODS Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Pods worked very well for our cross-country move. The container delivery folk were pleasant and courteous, even when we threw them a curve or two as to where the containers needed to be placed. We had two minor damages owing to our inexperience with packing and moving furniture, but nothing that was the fault of how the containers were handled. I would definitely use Pods again.

Distance: 1,450 mi
Cost: $5,000
Per. Mile: $3.45
SqFt. Moved: 1,500
Arlynne C
Upland, CA
Wrote a review on 6/22/2019
ABF ReloCube Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Transportation worked out perfectly. Even thought it’s not the cheapest option out there, I went with Relocube because I was on a really strict/fast timeline for my move and it transported my pod from East Coast to West Coast about 5 days faster than other competitors. It’s also a metal container rather than plywood/rain, which helped out a lot when thunderstorms were happening when I was packing! The ABF folks on both sides of the country were super friendly and efficient when delivering the cube. Would definitely use them again.

Distance: 2,600 mi
Cost: $3,300
Per. Mile: $1.27
SqFt. Moved: 400
Cole B
Atlanta, GA
Wrote a review on 6/17/2019
ABF ReloCube Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

UPack was fine aside from the mixed stories I got from their Sales folks. The first told me the units were airtight, leak-proof and stored in a warehouse between moves. Once the units arrived, I called and asked where the warehouse was located only to learn they don't use a warehouse. They store the cubes in an uncovered lot they own. When we unpacked, one of the cubes had leaked and we lost one piece of furniture due to mold. I'm guessing that one cube was damaged. ABF was good to work with aside from a staff member at the Savannah ,location who was quite rude. Diane and her team in Atlanta were amazing on the delivery side! They were kind, professional and caring. THANK YOU!

Distance: 500 mi
Cost: $1,400
Per. Mile: $2.80
SqFt. Moved: 1,100
Neal C
Watertown, MA
Wrote a review on 6/3/2019
Budget Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Our budget rental went fine. The customer service office wasn't great when we first picked up the van (tried to charge about $500 more than official quoted price), but once resolved it went fine. I got a flat tire along the road and they sent someone out to fix it at no cost to me. The van was also in good shape.

Distance: 2,300 mi
Cost: $1,500
Per. Mile: $0.65
SqFt. Moved: 1,200
Christa C
Longmont, CO
Wrote a review on 5/21/2019
Penske Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Did just great. They did not have the truck I ordered so I ended up with a 26' truck so I do not know how much better speed or gas mileage I might have gotten but we did great. Truck was clean and hearty through the mountains.

Distance: 1,000 mi
Cost: $700
Per. Mile: $0.70
SqFt. Moved: 1,200
Lynn N
Loveland, CO
Wrote a review on 5/21/2019
ABF U-pack Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Knew what they were doing, no problems with transfer. Only issue is a few things got wet in the front of the trailer, luckily only some magazines were ruined. We had stored it in Colorado in the trailer for 2 months from Feb to late April.

Distance: 2,000 mi
Cost: $4,500
Per. Mile: $2.25
SqFt. Moved: 1,800
Susan S
Seymour, IL
Wrote a review on 2/24/2019
Penske Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Have used this company for three previous moves. This time unfortunately, truck had not been serviced correctly and the DEF fluid ran out 300 miles into a 1200 mile trip. Roadside assistance answered quickly and got a hold of a service which came in an hour to fill the DEF Fluid.

Distance: 1,250 mi
Cost: $1,500
Per. Mile: $1.20
SqFt. Moved: 2,000
FranK C
Caldwell, ID
Wrote a review on 9/27/2018
ABF U-pack Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

The trailer was dropped off within the window given and the driver was very helpful explaining about the bulkheads and the ramp. Delivery went smooth as did the pickup. I needed the entire 27' I went with U-Pack to save money and avoid the issues of renting and driving a U-Haul

Distance: 660 mi
Cost: $3,000
Per. Mile: $4.55
SqFt. Moved: 1,400
Valerie S
Lynnwood, WA
Wrote a review on 9/4/2018
Budget Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

I rented a 16 foot truck from the Sodo Budget Truck Rental. I had read some pretty bad reviews, but I found that all truck rental companies have bad reviews. Moving is stressful. And if things don't go according to your plan, you can get frustrated pretty quickly. But I had nothing but good experience from this location. The truck was in decent shape. They said it had new tires on it. It had 135k miles on it, so at least it wasn't on it's last leg. I would say the major pitfall of the whole thing was the power of the truck. I literally could no go over 45 mph up any hill. When the speed limit is 75 and semi trucks are passing you, the truck is weak. There didn't seem to be a spedometer limit, like where it doesn't let you go over 65 or anything. The engine sounded a little raspy the higher I go to 70 so I tried to stay below 70. But, otherwise, it was what I needed to get across the country. Oh, the truck would "pop" when the pressure would change. I thought all my stuff was crashing down, but when it was happening over and over, I realized it was the pressure change was causing the metal to pop in and out. Oh, and I tried to go without their insurance coverage because I have full coverage insurance. We called and Progressive only covers rental cars. The difference was if you can reach into the back seat, they'll cover it. If you have to get out of the vehicle to reach your items, they won't cover's called something else. So if you're just getting like a van, they'll cover it, but if it's a truck, they won't. The truck was $650, the insurance coverage was $475, so with tax it was $1185.

Distance: 2,000 mi
Cost: $1,185
Per. Mile: $0.59
SqFt. Moved: 1,200

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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