The Real Cost of Moving Yourself


If you’re moving soon and considering doing the move on your own to save a few bucks, make sure that you consider the cost of moving before you make your decision. It might seem that moving yourself will be cheaper than hiring a professional mover but when you add up the costs along with the time commitment needed to be your own mover, the benefits of saving a few bucks can quickly be outweighed by the cons of having to do the move yourself.

First things first, you cannot move without packing your belongings. In order to do this you’ll need boxes, packing paper and tape. How much of these materials you need will depend on how much stuff you need to pack. In general if you’re packing a 3-4 bedroom house you’ll need 100+ boxes, a good amount of paper and several rolls of tape. Just those materials can cost $500-700 alone if you purchase them on your own at a retail store. This doesn’t include any of the time required to sort and pack your items. For the 3-4 bedroom house, it might take several days to sort and pack if you do it yourself versus taking a few hours to maybe one full day if your mover does the packing. Depending on your situation you might say that the cost of packing is the materials plus amount of time you spent at your hourly rate if you work and have to take vacation time to complete this move. For a person that makes $50,000 annually that means that it costs you about $24 per hour of packing. If it takes you 8 hours a day to pack you’re spending close to $200/day. When you do the math you can see that you’ll easily be spending $700-1000+ to do your own packing. A professional may charge around the same amount or maybe just a little more, freeing up your time to focus on other tasks and work.

You can certainly save money by using recycled boxes from wherever you can find them, and forego the paper, but now you risk damaging things.  And many moving companies offer free boxes that are re-used.  Free and green!

Once you’re packed and ready to load you’ll need to rent a truck to transport your belongings from the old residence to the new residence.  The base cost to rent the truck depends on the size you need to fit your belongings. It’s generally a flat fee.  A quick search on U-Haul’s website shows that truck rentals for a 20’ truck, which says will fit a 3 bedroom home are $150 per day needed. There are also mileage and fuel costs associated with the driving beyond 48 miles. If you need the truck for two days to have enough time to load and then unload your items you’ll spend a minimum of $300. Again if we take your time into consideration and assume that it will take your between 1-2 days to load and unload your items, this cost will range between $200-400. After your belongings are unloaded at the new residence some of your bigger furniture items will need reassembled and you’ll need to drive the truck back to your nearest dealer.

If you’re moving long distance, one way rentals are much more expensive and now you bring in other factors such as fuel costs, breakdown risk and getting your vehicles where they need to be.  How comfortable are you driving a 20ft truck with a car trailer behind it?  In traffic?  In the snow?  What’s my height clearance again?

We’ve all had our friends over to help us move.  When you’re young, you just get some pizza and beer and have a moving party.  When you get a little older, your friends might not be as cheap.  Now they expect you to buy propane, adult beverages, and surf & turf for the grill!  Hire the pros and have a party because they’re fun, not because you owe somebody.

Moving isn’t cheap, even when you do it yourself. When all is said and done you may have spent $1000-$1500 to move yourself locally or thousands to move long distance. You can move for that cost or close and have a professional mover do it for you. Hiring a professional will minimize your risk and reduce the physical and emotional stress involved with moving.

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