REVEALED: How Much Does a DIY Move Actually Cost?

By: Nik Watson Last Updated: May 11, 2024

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Compared to hiring a moving company, a DIY move is thousands of dollars cheaper. Below you’ll uncover the true cost behind moving yourself and what factors besides money play into the cost of DIY moving.

REVEALED: How Much Does a DIY Move Actually Cost?

DIY moves are the cheapest option out there, but they can also be the most dangerous.

Why? Because by hiring a moving company, you are hiring trained professionals who have completed thousands of moves and know the process like the back of their hand. However, that’s not to say it’s impossible.

You need to know several key factors price-wise when completing a DIY move. This will be your complete guide on all of the different types of costs associated with a DIY move from the distance traveled and the size of your move to some expert tips on how to save money during the process.

Costs of a DIY Move

Every move is different. You might be moving down the block or driving across the country. Our chart breaks down the potential costs of renting a moving truck. On the lower side, prices start at about $120, while on the upper end, they can soar up to $2500.

Insert a graph that shows the range of how much a DIY costs ($120 – $2500). This graph should also show the average cost of a DIY move ($1200)

1. Distance

As we all know, the further you travel, the more expensive it gets. Here’s a chart depicting the amount of miles and a range of how much it would cost with a moving truck rental. (Does not include gas or insurance).

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. Supplies

Invest in good-quality packing materials to protect your valuables while in transit. Moving boxes will be your largest supply expense due to the sheer amount of boxes you’ll need.

The average cost of 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. Size of Your Move

The size of your moving truck rental depends on the size of your move. The moving truck rental is the traditional choice because of the sheer amount of space it offers for the price. A moving truck can cost between $30 for local moves and up to $2,000 for long-distance moves.

Some popular moving truck rental companies are U-Haul, Penske, and Budget.

4. Gas & Insurance

Gas and insurance will also have to be factored into your budget if you choose to go this route. When traveling longer distances, gas prices can vary, so make sure to factor the change in price into your budget. Larger vehicles are less fuel-efficient by nature, so don’t think you’ll pay the same price as you would with a sedan.

Basic moving insurance starts at $60 for local moves, while full protection for long-distance moves can get up to $500. If you have priceless valuables that are at risk of being damaged, opt for full protection. It could end up saving you a significant amount of money down the line.

5. Unexpected Costs

When planning a DIY move, always have a little extra money in your budget if something goes wrong because it’s always a possibility. For example, your vehicle could break down on the highway or you could need extra packing supplies last minute.

We recommend setting aside 10% of your budget for the unexpected. It’s better to be safe than sorry

Additional Costs of a DIY Move (Not $$$)

Now that we’ve covered the monetary factors affecting DIY moves, it’s time to dive into the intangible costs associated with moving yourself.

1. Time

When performing a DIY move you decrease your monetary costs, but that also comes at a price. Not only will you need to pack the boxes, but you will also need to schedule a time to load the truck, unload it at your new place, and unpack everything. Be ready to set aside your PTO days to focus on moving.

2. Labor

Packing, loading, driving, and unloading can be exhausting, taking days if not weeks to finish. Moving is physically demanding, especially if you have bulky items and a long carry distance. Even if you enlist the help of a few friends, you are putting yourself at risk by continuously lifting heavy items.

3. Stress

Managing the whole moving process on your own can be overwhelming. Be sure to plan ahead and factor in additional costs or any unexpected circumstances.

Moving is considered by many to be one of the most stressful life events someone can experience, so take breaks when necessary and try to make the process as enjoyable as possible.

Best Ways to Save Money

  • Recycled Packing Materials: A great way to get free moving boxes is by going to a grocery store or local business, and simply asking. More times than not, they have some spare ones in the back. Use old newspapers, blankets, or towels to wrap fragile items to save money on bubble wrap and packing paper.
  • Rent Moving Equipment: Renting equipment is more cost-effective when dealing with dollies, furniture pads, or straps. Hardware stores offer affordable rental prices for these items.
  • Family and Friends: Enlist the help of friends and family while packing and moving heavy pieces to make the process more efficient. It also makes packing more enjoyable because you have someone in the thick of it with you.
  • Ship Some Non-Essential Items: Postal or shipping services are often very cheap for items you don’t need right away. Some popular items that people ship are books, winter clothes, and art. By shipping heavier items, you can save a lot of money on truck fees.
  • Shop Around For Quotes: The key to getting the best price is shopping around with at least 3 different moving truck services and comparing quotes to get the best price. Ask for discounts or seasonal deals.

To DIY or Not to DIY

A DIY move ranges from just under $500 for a local move to around $4000 for a long-distance move, everything included. This is honestly thousands of dollars less than hiring a professional moving company, which can exceed $10,000.

So if you’re on a tight budget and feel like you’re up to the challenge of putting adequate time and energy into the moving process, go for it. Make sure to follow our advice closely (planning, supplies, mode of transportation, etc.) to make the trip as seamless and efficient as possible.