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 $504
Local Move: $136
Medium Distance: $291
Long Distance: $1,086
Avg. Review 4.20
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 $1,801
Local Move: $684
Medium Distance: $1,449
Long Distance: $3,268
Avg. Review 4.50
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 4.48
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

Jason R
Haymarket, VA
Wrote a review on 4/22/2020
PODS Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Service representative has been very helpful in moving drop off and pick up dates around. The POD arrived and was picked up as scheduled with plenty of notification via both text and email.

Distance: 835 mi
Cost: $900
Per. Mile: $1.08
SqFt. Moved: 1,800
Scott G O
Seattle, WA
Wrote a review on 4/19/2020
PODS Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

On time delivery of POD with the opening in the right place. Two PODs used on this job and both done correctly. However, buy your own locks. One lock was not delivered.

Distance: 1,500 mi
Cost: $6,000
Per. Mile: $4.00
SqFt. Moved: 2,800
Beverly T
Omaha, NE
Wrote a review on 3/5/2020
Budget Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

I've used Budget Truck rentals for many things over the years, e.g. to transport large canvases of art across town for my art business. This time I used them to move my home from Omaha to Santa Fe, rental a 26-ft truck one way. The team at Omaha, where I picked up the truck was great... but the team (one guy) at the end destination was not at all friendly and acted put-out at my arrival on the Monday morning when I returned the truck. In between, the truck ran 800 miles... in the middle of the trip the truck's RMP would rev without gaining speed. I was quite worried that I'd need to stop for repairs at the next city. But as quickly as the problem appeared, it disappeared. I was lucky. But wonder that the next person won't be so lucky.

Distance: 800 mi
Cost: $2,000
Per. Mile: $2.50
SqFt. Moved: 5,000
Luis d
Miami, FL
Wrote a review on 11/15/2019
Uhaul Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

The other major company I had reserved earlier notified me the previous evening that they would not have the needed truck available. I scrambled last minute and located a Uhaul outlet nearby with the necessary truck. At pick-up time all hell broke loose: the app on my phone wouldn't work, the computer at the service station froze while performing an update. Undeterred, the staff and owner of the station went to work on personal phones, computers and a sense of urgency to get us out of the hole. Our move seemed to be doomed from the start but Uhaul saved the day. Thank you.

Distance: 300 mi
Cost: $350
Per. Mile: $1.17
SqFt. Moved: 2,000
Debbie F
Key Largo, FL
Wrote a review on 11/13/2019
1-800-Pack-Rat Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

These people are awesome anytime you move try to get them to help you they are the best showed up on time card before they dropped off couldn’t ask for a better experience??

Distance: 145 mi
Cost: $3,000
Per. Mile: $20.69
SqFt. Moved: 1,700
Barbara G
Smithfield, VA
Wrote a review on 11/13/2019
1-800-Pack-Rat Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Pack-Rat's customer service is beyond reproach. My contact in Raleigh, NC, Dawn (or Donna), answered questions that I did not even know I had! Her experience was my Godsend! My drivers (Reggie and Keith) skillfully maneuvered inside a fenced and gated storage unit facility.

Distance: 700 mi
Cost: $2,138
Per. Mile: $3.05
SqFt. Moved: 1,300
Lauren B
Austin, TX
Wrote a review on 11/13/2019
ABF U-pack Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

A little expensive but very convenient and cheaper than PODS. We way underestimated how much space we'd need and it was so easy and not too too expensive to use twice as much space. The customer service was really good, the drivers were very professional (and skilled when the delivery had to back up a long driveway with a semi...), and overall it was easy to get things packed, picked up, delivered, and then picked up for the last time. I will say it took like 5 business days which is kinda long, but overall very pleased. The silver shavings (or whatever) on the inside of the truck did get on EVERYTHING so if I did it again I would drape everything in blankets.

Distance: 1,320 mi
Cost: $2,900
Per. Mile: $2.20
SqFt. Moved: 915
Norman L
Yukon, OK
Wrote a review on 10/27/2019
Uhaul Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Both the truck & trailer I rented were almost new and the agent I got the truck from went out of his way to make the process worry free. After the truck was loaded, I noticed a cut in the sidewall on one of the outside rear tires. I contacted the agent and within 2 hours they had someone to the house to replace the tire. After the move, I took the truck to the local Uhaul store, gave them the keys and left. They took care of everything else.

Distance: 570 mi
Cost: $1,000
Per. Mile: $1.75
SqFt. Moved: 2,100
Lisa B
Saint Louis, MO
Wrote a review on 10/26/2019
Budget Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

They worked hard and smart. Also agreed to move something to our daughter’s house a mile away from our home since we had an hour of time left. Nothing was damaged and they were organized and respectful.

Distance: 450 mi
Cost: $325
Per. Mile: $0.72
SqFt. Moved: 1,147
Ted R
Pasadena, CA
Wrote a review on 10/24/2019
Penske Truck Review
(4 out of 5 rating)

Penske was good - but HOme Depot, where I picked up the truck wasn't. They claimed the truck had a full tank when it was 1/2 full and when I pointed out the DEF tank was almost empty, the response was to tell me that DEF fluid wasn't needed.

Distance: 2,400 mi
Cost: $4,000
Per. Mile: $1.67
SqFt. Moved: 1,000
Carol C
Plymouth, VT
Wrote a review on 9/6/2019
Penske Truck Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

Our 26 foot truck was clean and in excellent condition. Customer service was efficient and professional. I chose Penske due to recommendations of family and friends and would definitely use them again.

Distance: 550 mi
Cost: $1,000
Per. Mile: $1.82
SqFt. Moved: 2,300
Deborah L
Elkhart, IN
Wrote a review on 8/23/2019
ABF ReloCube Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

UPack was on time delivering two boxes each 8x7x6 ft and they placed the containers with a forklift so they did not damage the grass. We could still park in our garage.

Distance: 1,700 mi
Cost: $4,100
Per. Mile: $2.41
SqFt. Moved: 1,500
Molly N
Columbus, OH
Wrote a review on 8/13/2019
ABF U-pack Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

The trailer arrived on time in good condition for us to load and unload our stuff. The drivers were very friendly, and the customer service was excellent throughout. We definitely recommend this option!

Distance: 2,400 mi
Cost: $3,700
Per. Mile: $1.54
SqFt. Moved: 1,200
Tamanna H
Nashville, TN
Wrote a review on 9/10/2018
ABF ReloCube Review
(5 out of 5 rating)

UPack is wonderful! I used the Relocube container for the first time. I was so nervous that my items would be damaged within the container during transport across state lines. I was pleasantly surprised to see everything intact and in great condition. Nothing had been damaged. Of course I had all delicate furniture pieces covered & protected first. But nothing got damaged during transport. I am so relieved.

Distance: 409 mi
Cost: $1,600
Per. Mile: $3.91
SqFt. Moved: 1,000

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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