Whether or not you should hire professional movers comes down to your priorities. If you have a large moving budget and you prioritize convenience, hire a mover. If you need to save as much money as possible, rent a moving truck and do all the work yourself. If you can afford some convenience but can put in some work to keep costs low, rent a moving container. You can also combine these services for customized and affordable convenience.
Should I Move Myself or Hire a Mover?
At a glance
When you’re planning your move, you have to decide early on how much work you want to do yourself and how much you want to pay professionals to do. This determines which moving service is right for you, how convenient your move will be, and how much money you’ll spend.
What type of moving company is right for you?
Professional movers load your stuff, ship it to your new home, and unload it all for you. It’s the easiest—but most expensive—option. Learn more.
You load up all your belongings, but the movers transport your container to your new home. It’s the middle road for effort and cost. Learn more.
Worried about costs? Rent a truck, load it yourself, drive it to your new home, and unload all your things. You do it all—and save a lot. Learn more.
You can also get a healthy blend of convenience and affordability by mixing and matching these services. For example, you could hire movers to ship some of your furniture, then rent a small moving truck to transport the rest of your things yourself. And whichever moving service you go with, you can always hire some independent moving labor to help for a few hours.
Keep reading, and we’ll break down costs, benefits, and tips for finding the right moving services for your situation.
Finding the right moving service
We’ll break down how different moving services work and how to decide which one is right for your situation. We’ll also give some tips for mixing moving services into an affordable cocktail of convenience.
Hiring professional movers
Hiring professional movers takes away most of the stress of moving. Full-service moving companies like Interstate Moving & Relocation Group and American Van Lines take care of your entire move for you—from packing your belongings and disassembling your furniture to transporting your stuff and unpacking in your new home. If you’d rather leave the hassle and hard work to the pros, a full-service move is perfect for you.
Full-service movers we recommend
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|33% or less
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How much does full-service moving cost?
We won’t sugar-coat it: full-service moving is expensive. While rates vary widely by company and can be affected by seasonality and location, we’ve found that full-service moves typically cost around $7,600 for local moves (moves under 100 miles) and $9,140 or more for long-distance moves (moves over 100 miles).
You really do get what you pay for when you hire a full-service mover, though. These costs include all the peace of mind that comes from knowing your belongings are being handled and delivered by professionals.
Read our guide to average moving costs to learn more.
A multitude of price and service options
Full-service moving companies generally offer several moving packages to choose from, each with different services. For example, if you don’t want packing services because you’d like to save a little money, you can opt to have your movers only do the loading, unloading, and driving.
Alternatively, if you want your movers to do literally every single thing your move will require, pay for a more comprehensive service package to get this deluxe treatment.
To find the professional moving company that will treat you and your stuff the way you want, ask what services and moving packages every company offers when you start gathering moving quotes.
Get multiple quotes
One of the most important steps of hiring a professional mover is to get several quotes. Moving companies charge differently depending on the area, so we usually recommend getting at least three quotes from reputable movers. This ensures you get the best price for your move.
If your favorite moving company offers price-matching, getting multiple quotes will help you lower your price. If you find another (reputable) mover that will do your move for cheaper than the company you actually want to work with, get a written estimate from the cheaper mover and take it to your preferred company to get the price matched. Not all companies offer price matching, though, so be sure to ask your company ahead of time.
Moving coverage: the safety net
All trustworthy full-service movers carry basic liability moving coverage that protects your belongings for $0.60 per pound. To illustrate, if you had a 300-pound bed frame that broke in transit, it would be covered for about $180 (300 X 0.60 = 180) which might not match the replacement cost.
However, this coverage does ensure that if your movers drop your dining set, you’re not up a creek without a place setting. While basic coverage won’t fully cover repair and replacement costs for expensive items, it’s better than nothing.
If you want more than this basic coverage for your belongings, pay for a more robust coverage package. Coverage rates and inclusions vary from company to company, but you can get a run-down of the typical options by reading our guide to moving coverage.
Watch out for scammers
Like any industry, the moving industry has its fair share of dishonest companies that mistreat and scam customers. These phonies are easy to avoid if you know what to look for, though.
Here’s what you should do to steer clear of scammers:
- Make sure your estimate is “binding” before you sign a contract.
- Check customer reviews online to see if customers frequently report that the company you’ve chosen scammed them.
- Make sure the company is properly licensed and accredited.
To get the full scoop, read our article about spotting moving scams.
Renting a moving truck or trailer
Renting a moving truck or trailer to load and drive yourself can help you save money on your move. It will be much more stressful and intense than just hiring movers, though, and you probably won’t save as much as you think.
Truck rental companies we recommend
How much do truck rentals cost
The rental fee for a moving truck can cost between $20 and $200 on average for local moves. For long-distance moves, truck rentals cost about $2080 on average, though during the busy season (from the end of spring to the beginning of fall), long-distance rentals can cost up to $5,000.
On top of this, rental truck companies will also charge you for the total mileage of your move when you move locally, and these costs can creep up on you if you’re not careful. For long-distance moves, you typically get unlimited mileage within reason (don’t take the truck joyriding).
You also have to consider fuel costs when you do a rental move. For most moves, you usually have to fill the truck’s gas tank at least once. In fact, most moving trucks get somewhere between 8–15 miles per gallon, so you might need to fill your tank a couple of times—and gas costs add up quickly, especially considering how quickly gas prices are climbing.
Also, because your car gets worse mileage when it’s towing a trailer, moving with a trailer instead of a truck won’t save you much on gas.
When you factor in the extra fees of things like liability coverage, dolly rentals, and other moving equipment, the costs get even higher. To learn more about how much moving truck rentals can cost, check out our guide to moving truck prices.
Doing a DIY move is a significant time investment. You have to pack everything you own, carefully load your truck or trailer, drive to your new home, unload it, return it, and then go home to unpack your belongings. This whole moving process always takes longer than you might think.
On top of this, you may have to solve a lot of problems, some of which you probably have zero experience with:
- Can you safely drive a 26-foot truck?
- Who will drive your car while you’re driving the truck?
- How do you arrange all your stuff in the truck?
- Where can you park the truck while you load it?
- Will the hotels and Airbnbs you stay at en route let you park your truck on their premises?
- How do you hook up a trailer to your car’s electrical system?
- What happens if you catch a flat or your vehicle breaks down?
We can help you navigate some of these problems and plan your truck rental move. Read our guide to planning your moving road trip for some helpful tips and tricks.
Lastly, there’s also the physical stress that a DIY move puts on your body. Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder, you’ll probably be sore for a few days after you finish loading and unloading.
The bottom line
Renting a truck or trailer and doing all the moving labor yourself is always cheaper than hiring a full-service moving company. That’s indisputable. The savings may not always be substantial, though, and there are a lot of other factors to consider like time, stress, and effort.
If you have minimal belongings (no large furniture and just a few moving boxes) and only a few miles to move, then moving yourself is a great choice.
If this isn’t the case, though, you should consider hiring professional movers and at least get a few quotes. The pros might cost less than you fear.
Renting a moving container
Moving and storage containers are ideal for people who don’t mind lifting heavy items but would rather not drive their stuff across the country. And the best part is that container moves are a good middle ground price-wise between full-service moves and truck rental moves. If you can afford some convenience and you can also do some of the moving labor yourself, then container moves were made for you.
Moving container companies we recommend
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How do container moves work?
When you move with a container company, a delivery driver brings your empty container to your home and parks it where you tell them to. Then you load your container, and you usually get a few days to do so. After you’ve loaded everything up, the company will send out a truck to pick up the container and deliver it to your new home where you unload it.
If you pay them to, the company can also store the container for you after you load it up. This isn’t always necessary, but it’s nice to have the option in case your lease or mortgage falls through and you need to make different arrangements.
To see a container move in action, watch this video:
Adam from Move.org tested out a moving container from 1-800-PACK-RAT for his move from Park City, Utah to San Clemente, California. He discusses how he determined the container he wanted, how delivery went, his loading process, and container drop off at his new home. He touches on the importance of knowing where to park your container.
How much do moving containers cost?
On average, it costs $3,800 to move using a moving and storage container, though exact prices range from $850 to $12,000. This range is so wide because—as with any type of move—factors like distance, location, and the time of year can all impact your price.
Additionally, renting more than one moving container—which you may need to do if you rent from a company with small containers—can also increase your price.
To learn more about moving container prices, check out our guide to the average costs for container moves
Combining moving services
If you’re looking for a halfway option between doing all the work yourself and paying someone to do it all for you, hire pros to take care of things you can’t or don’t want to do and save money by doing all the things you can handle yourself.
Here are just a few ways you can combine different moving services:
- Hire professional movers to deliver your furniture and load up a small moving truck or trailer with things like books, dishes, clothes, and other household goods.
- Rent a moving container for all of your most important stuff, then cram everything else into a truck or trailer.
- Rent a moving container and hire some hourly help to load it.
Speaking of hourly moving labor…
Hiring loading assistance
With all the other moving services we’ve mentioned, you always have the option to hire an hourly moving labor company to help you pack, load, or unload your belongings.
Hiring a labor company to load and unload your belongings can cost between $45 and $80 per hour. Keep in mind, though, that this is an additional cost on top of all the other costs you’ll pay for your moving service. Still, renting a truck or moving container and hiring a labor company for a few hours is still usually cheaper than hiring full-service movers.
While it’s by far the most expensive option, hiring a full-service moving company is the gold standard for moving in comfort and convenience. With every other option we’ve listed, you take on a lot more responsibility, labor, and stress. That said, if money is the biggest stressor in your move, then renting a moving container, doing a DIY move with a moving truck, or mixing a few moving services might be better for your situation.