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 $505
Local Move: $135
Medium Distance: $291
Long Distance: $1,088
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 $1,792
Local Move: $687
Medium Distance: $1,434
Long Distance: $3,254
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 $1,989
Local Move: $1,375
Medium Distance: $1,631
Long Distance: $2,961
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

Damien C
Virginia Beach, VA
Wrote a review on 9/23/2019
PODS Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Easy to order...on time. Probably TOO on time. Was given a window of 1:30-4:30. I BEGGED for a 4:30 pick up. It's up to the driver, I was told when I called. Driver called at 1:30! Had towait and extra day for pick up. Not helpful. BUT....aside from this snafu, PODS is professional and prompt.

Distance: 2,500 mi
Cost: $5,000
Per. Mile: $2.00
SqFt. Moved: 1,710
Judith W
Surprise, AZ
Wrote a review on 9/23/2019
PODS Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

I may have underestimated my things by just a little bit, but it was not a problem in the end. The container was clean, convenient to schedule, and I was kept informed about arrival and pick-up times. I did not need to home. I would definitely use them again.

Distance: 45 mi
Cost: $510
Per. Mile: $11.33
SqFt. Moved: 1,280
Andy R
Omaha, NE
Wrote a review on 9/19/2019
ABF U-pack Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

The informational videos provided by UPack were dated and no longer applied to the equipment they provided, but they also provided additional equipment that I was not expecting. The dispatchers and drivers were very friendly and took time to explain to us how everything worked and our next steps in the process.

Distance: 1,400 mi
Cost: $5,600
Per. Mile: $4.00
SqFt. Moved: 1,303
Shannon D
Las Cruces, NM
Wrote a review on 9/18/2019
ABF U-pack Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Frank at El Paso office was great—helped me out by getting a second trailer out to me promptly—the loading service put me way behind schedule due to their poor work and laziness.

Distance: 1,886 mi
Cost: $8,300
Per. Mile: $4.40
SqFt. Moved: 2,000
Brianna E
Greenville, SC
Wrote a review on 9/15/2019
Uhaul Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Great people. Only complaint is that the first truck didnt start. They should have inspected it before we rented it. But immediately gave us another one. Would definitely use them every time.

Distance: 1 mi
Cost: $100
Per. Mile: $100
SqFt. Moved: 900
Jared R
Everett, WA
Wrote a review on 9/13/2019
Uhaul Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Truck was great, Uhaul contractor was very helpful, but Uhaul's lack of flexibility on one-way moves and price discrepancies between markets leads me to believe they have the most complicated algorithm running the show. It was cheaper ($1400) to do a local, 700 mile move, than it was to do a one-way. We round-tripped the truck and flew back to our new destination just to save.

Distance: 700 mi
Cost: $600
Per. Mile: $0.86
SqFt. Moved: 1,800
Jillian R
San Antonio, TX
Wrote a review on 9/5/2019
Penske Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

The company forgot the hand truck, but overall great. The truck was clean and customer service excellent. I chose them for affordability and ease. Will use them again.

Distance: 600 mi
Cost: $800
Per. Mile: $1.33
SqFt. Moved: 3,000
Jason S
Wickliffe, OH
Wrote a review on 9/3/2019
Penske Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

I was very nervous about driving a truck this large 1000 miles while packed full of all my worldly possessions and towing a car to boot. After being on the road for about 30 mins these fears started to melt away. It was clear to me that the vehicle was very well maintained. The steering was tight and responsive with no drift or slop. The suspension was unbelievably smooth considering the weight. Not saying there weren't a few white knuckle moments through the hills of W. Virginia, but I imagined a lot worse in my head. The rental process at Penske was great and I didn't have to worry about them calling the day before saying my truck wasn't going to be there (re:Uhaul).

Distance: 1,000 mi
Cost: $2,600
Per. Mile: $2.60
SqFt. Moved: 1,750
Marissa G
Westerville, OH
Wrote a review on 8/22/2019
Budget Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

The truck was not in great condition as the front bumper was taped on, but it safely transported our belongings to our destination, which is the important part. It was easy to pick up the truck and return it, and everyone we spoke with was friendly.

Distance: 494 mi
Cost: $432
Per. Mile: $0.87
SqFt. Moved: 1,300
Nancy P
Simsbury, CT
Wrote a review on 8/11/2019
1-800-Pack-Rat Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

We were pleased with the cost for our long-distance move and the logistics of drop-off and pick-up worked well. There were a few issues with the dates as they appeared on the website because we had 2 containers, but our questions were always resolved by our phone calls. One of the containers was in rough shape and was put out of service after our move, but our belongings all arrived in good condition. One complaint was the blankets that we rented from They were old, smelly, and flaking - which caused additional cleanup for us. Also, there was no way to get a good estimate of the number of blankets needed. (There was a very accurate tool on their website to decide what size containers we needed.) Customer service was good whenever we called, but if the status of the move on the website had been updated more frequently, fewer calls would have been needed. All in all, the move went well and we would use them again.

Distance: 800 mi
Cost: $3,000
Per. Mile: $3.75
SqFt. Moved: 1,200
Hillary G
San Francisco, CA
Wrote a review on 8/1/2019
1-800-Pack-Rat Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Great price matching, easy communication. They took care of street permits, unlike PODS where you have to figure it out yourself. Friendly staff and very flexible. Moving is always a hassle, but PackRat made it much simpler.

Distance: 3,000 mi
Cost: $3,600
Per. Mile: $1.20
SqFt. Moved: 500
Art D
Rhoadesville, VA
Wrote a review on 7/27/2019
Budget Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Great value, easy to drive and the check out and check in process went very smoothly. I actually did not get back until 10 minutes AFTER their scheduled close and they waited for us and checked me in a day early.

Distance: 84 mi
Cost: $100
Per. Mile: $1.19
SqFt. Moved: 1,200
Bert W
Vernon Hills, IL
Wrote a review on 12/28/2018
ABF ReloCube Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Cant say enough good things about ABF U Pack It. This is the second time I have used them and they are on time and the drivers are great. They make sure everything is explained when they drop off and pick up the units. Highly reccomend using them.

Distance: 1,700 mi
Cost: $3,500
Per. Mile: $2.06
SqFt. Moved: 2,300
Axel W
South Jordan, UT
Wrote a review on 11/13/2018
ABF ReloCube Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

I would have given them five starts if it hadn't been for water intrusion at the bulkhead of both containers. Ended up with several soggy and collapsed boxes.

Distance: 1,100 mi
Cost: $8,000
Per. Mile: $7.27
SqFt. Moved: 4,500

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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