At a glance
It depends on how you define “cheap.”
Speaking strictly about dollars, moving yourself may be the cheapest option.
However, moving everything yourself comes with a lot of unexpected costs—and you may not save as much as you’d think.
There’s also the question of time. Specifically, how much is your time worth? When you factor time in as an expense, the scales tip quickly. If you want to save the most time, consider a full-service mover.
If you want a pretty even balance of saving money and time, consider a moving container company. A moving container company allows you to save on cost in exchange for a little sweat equity. The company delivers a container to your door, you pack it at your leisure, and then you schedule a time for the container to be picked up and moved to your new address.
- To save the most money, move yourself.
- To save the most time, use full-service movers.
- To maximize time and money savings, use a moving container company.
The whole picture
The cheapest way to move depends on how much moving you’ll be doing and how willing you are to go to bed late, tired, and sweaty. Finding which type of move will be the best value for you means deciding what you’re willing to sacrifice.
Here are some things to ask yourself when you’re wondering whether you should move yourself.
How far am I moving?
A DIY move is easier the shorter your move is. If you’re moving down the street, a moving truck, a weekend, and a few strong friends lured in by free pizza may be all you need to accomplish your move.
If you rent a truck for a local move, you’ll be responsible for mileage, fuel, equipment, and liability insurance. Not to mention you’ll also do all the loading, unloading, and driving. If you rent a larger truck to decrease the number of trips, keep in mind that rental costs increase with the size of the vehicle.
How much am I moving?
Take a moment and look around your home. Have you stopped and looked at the sheer volume of stuff you’ve accumulated since your last move? It’s always more than you think. Go through each room of your house, as well as your garage, shed, or storage unit, and honestly assess how much you have to move. You may realize you’re better off getting some professional moving help to pack your autographed Little Rascals memorabilia.
How much time do I have?
Do you have the time and inclination to scrounge up boxes and supplies, pack up your home, rent a moving truck, and coordinate everyone’s schedules to ensure you have the help to move when you need it?
What are my affordable moving options?
If you enlist friends, get donated packing supplies, and find a screaming deal on a moving truck, you can save a lot on moving costs by putting in a boatload of time and effort—but moving will likely never be free.
Even if you have a little further to travel or your closets are bursting at the seams, the DIY move may still be the cheapest option. However, it may not be the best value if you value your time and energy as much as your dollars.
With a full-service mover, the pendulum swings from dollars saved to time and energy saved. They may carry a higher dollar cost than a self-move; however, the best full-service movers can take everything off your hands. From packing to moving to unpacking, there’s a reason they do this for a living.
What will it cost me?
This depends on a number of factors such as the distance of your move, the amount of support you want, and how much stuff you’re moving. We put together some estimates based on how the average mover moves.
Choosing a variety of services, we got quotes ranging from $900 to $1,400 for two sixty-mile trips using a twenty-five-foot truck with a full-service mover.
Full-service movers might not be the ideal solution for everyone—especially if you’re only concerned with dollars—but they’re a great solution for most. Even if you’re committed to executing the cheapest move possible, we’d still recommend shopping around and getting a quote. Many full-service moving companies offer different packages that allow you to choose how much money you’re willing to trade for your time and effort. Best of all, a free quote is still within your budget.
To maximize your budget while expending minimal time and effort, a self-pack move is the way to go. In a self-pack move, the company drops off a storage container at your home and you pack it at your leisure.
Once the container is filled, the moving container company transports it to your new home for you.
What will it cost me?
The quotes we obtained from moving container companies were for two 16’ x 8’ x 8’ containers, the largest available and ideal for four rooms of furniture each.
Our quotes ranged from $600 for a basic move, including drop-off and delivery of the containers, to $1,000 for all the bells and whistles, including supplies, packing help, dollies, padlocks, moving blankets, and insurance.
A self-pack move delivers the best of both worlds. The cost is typically less than a full-service mover, but you still have the luxury of someone else doing the transportation, freeing up precious time and energy. A self-pack move is a great compromise and could give you the most value.
Put your time and money to work for you
Whatever you value most—whether it be money, time, or effort—there’s a move that’ll work for you. For our picks of the best DIY, full-service, and self-pack movers, check out our list of the best local moving companies.