Bribing your friends with pizza and beer is still a lot cheaper than hiring professionals.
It's not surprising that packing up a moving truck and driving it yourself is cheaper than hiring someone to do it for you. What could be a surprise is that it's often thousands of dollars cheaper.
In general, you have three options for moving your belongings: Rent a moving truck and do everything yourself, pack a moving container and have it shipped, or hire a professional moving company to do everything. To determine the cost of each option, I collected quotes for moving a two-bedroom apartment over a variety of distances.
Keep in mind, moving quotes are highly personalized -- especially when it comes to hiring professionals -- and you'll probably need to provide a moving company with a detailed inventory or conduct an in-home tour to exactly see how prices will break down for your move.
|Move distance||Average truck rental||Gas cost||Total cost|
These truck prices reflect the cheapest options available from three of the most popular rental companies. These are the simplest packages available for a 15- or 16-foot truck rental -- no insurance, no packing supplies and no car towing. (Learn more about picking the right rental truck size here.)
The amount of time you have with the truck typically depends on how far you're going. For a move from Seattle to Bakersfield, for example, U-Haul gives you five days and 1,218 miles. Other companies, like Penske, give you unlimited mileage for long-distance moves.
I also factored in current average gas prices ($3.53 per gallon) and fuel efficiency for a 16-foot truck (about 10 mpg). For a 3,000 mile move, you'll need to factor in an extra $1,059 for fuel.
|Move distance||Average cost|
Moving containers split the difference between a DIY move and hiring professionals. The company drops off a portable storage unit at your home, you fill it with your belongings, and the company ships it to your new home. Most moving containers like PODS and U-Box also offer loading and storage services that will add to the final cost.
|Move distance||Average cost|
The prices above show the average quotes I got from three different moving companies for full-service moves. You pack, and they load, drive and unload. There are a number of other factors that can impact these prices (more on that below) but these are the ballpark figures you can expect to pay when hiring professional movers.
|Move distance||Moving truck||Moving container||Professional movers|
Unsurprisingly, the cheapest way to move involves lifting those heavy boxes and furniture yourself. For almost every distance of move, renting a moving truck and driving it yourself is going to save you the most money.
The one exception to this rule is for long, cross-country moves. If you're going from one coast to another, using a moving container may end up being slightly cheaper than renting a truck and driving it yourself. That's largely because you're paying for gas out of your own pocket when you rent a truck, which can add more than a thousand dollars to your final cost.
|Packing services||$500 to $1,800|
|Moving insurance||1 to 2% of total coverage|
|Truck rental coverage||$14 to $235|
|Hotels||$212 to $636|
|Car towing||$69 to $511|
|Car shipment||$700 to $3,400|
|Tip for movers||10 to 20% of total bill|
Unfortunately, moving expenses don't end after you put the deposit down with your moving company or truck. Here are some additional costs you'll want to budget for as you're comparing your options.
No matter how much of the heavy lifting you do yourself, it costs a lot of money to get your life packed up for somewhere new -- especially if the new place is all the way across the country. In those situations, you might be better off selling or donating furniture before moving so you don't end up paying more to ship your old couch than it's worth.
For more tips on reducing costs, check out these six tips for moving on a budget.