How Much Does a DIY Move Cost?

By: Harrison Gough Last Updated: Sep 08, 2023

  • Share article:

The cost of DIY moves vary from $500 to $4,000, depending on factors like distance, moving supplies, and insurance.

How Much Does a DIY Move Cost?

Moving can be an exhilarating life change. While it’s common knowledge that a DIY move is cheaper than hiring professionals, many are unaware that the price difference can reach thousands of dollars.

Between moving quotes, calculating moving costs, and deciding between the cheapest ways to move cross-country, you may wonder – exactly how much does a DIY move cost?

Below, we aim to demystify that question and provide a detailed breakdown of all the expenses involved in a DIY move. Get ready to plan your next big move the savvy way.

In this article

The Cost Factors of a DIY Move

Each move is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to assessing moving expenses. From the span of your move to the supplies needed and even the choice of vehicle, several aspects come into play when calculating moving expenses.

How much you end up paying depends significantly on factors like distance covered, number of items moved, size of the moving vehicle, the labor involved, and additional services or supplies.

Let’s delve into these elements to give you a solid foundation for budgeting your self-move expenses.

1. Move Distance

Distance plays a major role in the cost of a DIY move. Moving from one block to another will be far less expensive than moving to another part of the city. The average local move, due to lower vehicle rental and fuel costs, may run between $150 to $250.

However, when the distance grows, so does the cost. A long-distance move, for example, can range anywhere from $1,550 to $2,550 or more. This cost increase is due to higher vehicle rental rates, fuel costs, and the need for more extensive preparation and packing to ensure goods are secure for a longer journey.

Here’s a general estimate for moving truck costs depending on the distance:

Move Distance Estimated Moving Truck Cost
< 10 miles $150 – $200
10 – 50 miles $200 – $300
50 – 200 miles $300 – $600
> 200 miles (long-distance) $1,550 – $2,550

2. Moving Supplies

One expense often overlooked when planning a DIY move is the cost of moving supplies. This isn’t just about boxes. When you opt for a self-move, you’re also looking at purchasing furniture pads, packing tape, bubble wrap, and other packaging materials to protect your belongings.

New moving boxes will likely be your largest supply cost. It’s important to remember that saving money on a move doesn’t mean cutting back on the protection of your items. Good quality boxes and padding materials can prevent damage and save you from potential loss or damage costs.

Here’s a quick rundown of the average cost of various moving supplies:

  • New Boxes: $2 – $3 per box
  • Furniture Pads: $15 – $20 each
  • Packing Tape: $5 per roll
  • Bubble Wrap: $20 for 100 feet
  • Plastic Wrap: $20 per roll
  • Marker for Labeling: $2 each
  • Box Cutter: $5 each

3. Moving Vehicle Choice

Choosing the right moving vehicle is another crucial factor in a DIY move. This decision will mostly be influenced by the quantity and size of items you are moving. You have options like moving trucks, vans, and containers. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons.

The moving truck is often the go-to choice due to its spaciousness. However, a van or a container might be more cost-effective, especially for smaller moves. A moving truck can cost anything from $20 to $40 per day for local moves and up to $2,000 for long-distance ones.

Choosing the right vehicle isn’t just about cost, though. You must also consider factors like ease of driving, fuel efficiency, and how much you can realistically fit into the space.

4. Gas Prices

Even with the most fuel-efficient moving vehicle, you’ll have to account for gas prices when planning a DIY move. This is particularly relevant in the case of long-distance moves. The average price of gas can fluctuate considerably.

Gas prices vary from region to region and even daily. Plus, larger moving vehicles are less fuel-efficient, further escalating your fuel costs. Therefore, it’s crucial to factor in gas prices when calculating your moving cost.

It’s also worth considering additional factors like the weight of your load and the terrain you’ll be covering. More weight and hilly or mountainous terrain can result in higher fuel consumption.

5. Moving Insurance

Moving insurance can add to your moving expenses, but it offers important protection for your belongings. Basic moving insurance usually starts at $60 for local moves, but for long-distance DIY moves, full-value protection could cost upwards of $500.

Having moving insurance can provide you with peace of mind, knowing that your belongings are covered should anything unexpected occur. Accidents can happen, items can get lost, and valuables can get damaged. With moving insurance, you’re protected against these potential losses.

While moving insurance does add to your overall relocation costs, it could end up saving you a significant amount of money, particularly if you’re moving valuable items.

6. Extra Labor Costs

If you need additional help during your move, consider the associated costs. While hiring professionals is not the DIY route, you may occasionally need to bring in some help, particularly for heavy items like furniture.

You could look for day laborers or even student movers who can provide these services at a lower cost than a professional moving company. Prices vary, but you can expect to pay around $15-$25 per hour per person.

7. Unexpected Expenses

When budgeting for your DIY move, always factor in the possibility of unexpected expenses. These could range from needing extra packaging materials at the last minute to unexpected vehicle maintenance or needing overnight accommodation during long-distance moves.

To better prepare yourself, consider adding a buffer amount to your budget, specifically allocated for unexpected expenses. It’s a good idea to set aside around 10% of your total moving budget as a contingency fund. This will provide you with some financial cushioning to handle any unforeseen circumstances.

Remember, it’s always better to overestimate the potential costs and have some extra funds available than to get caught unprepared.

5 Tips to Save Money on a DIY Move

1. Opt For Recycled Packing Items

One of the simplest ways to save on moving costs is to reuse or recycle packing items. Instead of purchasing new boxes, consider reusing old ones or taking boxes from local businesses. These boxes often get thrown out or recycled, so it’s a win-win situation.

You can also use old newspapers, clothes, or towels for wrapping fragile items. Not only will you save on bubble wrap and packing paper, but you’ll also be more environmentally friendly. It’s all about being creative and resourceful with what you have.

2. Rent Moving Equipment Instead

When it comes to moving equipment, such as dollies, furniture pads, or straps, renting can be a more cost-effective option than buying. Many hardware stores or moving supply companies offer affordable rental rates for these items.

Renting moving equipment not only saves you money, but also eliminates the need to store or dispose of the equipment once your move is complete. It’s a practical and budget-friendly choice for a DIY move.

3. Get Help from Family and Friends

Getting help from family and friends can drastically cut labor costs. A few extra hands can make the moving process faster and more efficient. Plus, it’s a great way to spend time together.

Make sure to show your appreciation for their help. Prepare some snacks or a meal as a thank-you gesture. Although it might cost a bit, it’s still likely to be less expensive than hiring professional movers.

4. Consider Shipping Some of Your Goods

If you’re moving long-distance, consider shipping some of your non-essential items. Postal services or shipping companies are often the cheaper option for items you don’t need to use right after moving.

This method can be particularly cost-effective for books, out-of-season clothes, and other non-fragile items. By reducing the weight of what you’re personally moving, you can save on truck or van rental fees.

5. Obtain Multiple Quotes

Don’t settle for the first quote you get. It’s crucial to shop around and get quotes from different truck rental companies or shipping services. Each company will have different pricing structures and may offer various deals or discounts.

Take the time to compare these quotes and services. You’ll get a better understanding of what constitutes a fair price, allowing you to choose the most affordable option for your DIY move. This simple step can lead to substantial savings.

Is a DIY Move Worth It?

The cost of a DIY move can vary widely, depending on several factors. Considering the distance, moving supplies, choice of moving vehicle, gas prices, and moving insurance, a DIY move can range anywhere from $500 to $4,000 or even higher.

A DIY move might be worth it if you are on a tight budget and willing to invest your time and effort into the relocation process. However, keep in mind that DIY moves require careful planning and physical labor and can be time-consuming.