The decision to move yourself or hire one of the top moving companies boils down to cost and convenience. A full-service move offers the most convenience, but it comes with the highest cost. A DIY move can save you the most money but will require the most elbow grease. Hybrid moves allow you to skip the moving chores you want to avoid while still saving money by doing some of the work yourself.
Should I Move Myself or Hire a Mover?
At a glance
Move type comparison
Keep reading to get a more detailed breakdown of the different options and what they can offer you. If you’d rather start researching moving companies, here are a few resources to get you going:
What's best: A DIY, full-service, or hybrid move?
To begin with, we want to say that every move is different and every person will have different needs when they move. For example, a college student moving out of a dorm will have very different needs than a family of six moving out of a five-bedroom home.
These differences in needs mean that there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. There is a one-size-fits-most answer, though: hiring a full-service moving company.
If the crafty consumer in you balks at that idea, we understand. But hear us out.
The DIY move
If you’re considering renting a moving truck to pack and drive yourself, it’s probably because you want to save money. There’s no denying that moving yourself is a cheaper alternative to hiring a full-service mover—but you probably won’t save as much as you think.
How much truck rentals costs
On average, we’ve found that the rental fee for a moving truck can cost between $120 and $200 for local moves. For long-distance moves, a truck rental can cost between $1,500 and $2,300.
On top of this, you’ll also have to fill the truck’s gas tank at least once. In fact, most moving trucks get somewhere between 6–14 miles per gallon, so you might need to fill your tank a couple times—and gas costs add up quickly.
Rental truck companies will also charge you for the total mileage of your move when you move locally, and these costs can also creep up on you if you’re not careful. For long-distance moves, you typically get unlimited mileage (within reason—don’t take the truck joyriding).
When you factor in the costs of things like liability coverage and dolly rentals, the costs get even higher.
Doing a DIY move is a significant time investment. You have to pack everything you own, carefully load your truck, drive to your new home, unload the truck, fill up the gas tank, return the truck, and then go home and unpack your belongings. This whole process always takes longer than you might think.
You should also consider the stress involved in moving yourself. There’s a lot of problem-solving with issues you probably have zero experience with. Where can you find a gas station that can service a twenty-six-foot truck? How do you arrange all your stuff in the truck? Where can you park the truck while you load it? What happens if the truck breaks down? It pays to plan ahead in case you run into any of these hiccups.
Lastly, there’s also the physical stress that a DIY move puts on your body. Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder, you’ll probably be sore for a few days after you finish loading and unloading. It’s also important to be realistic when you’re planning the logistics of your DIY move. No matter how much pizza you feed your friends, they probably can’t safely lift a piano.
The bottom line
Moving yourself is always cheaper than hiring a full-service moving company. That’s indisputable. The savings may not always be substantial, though, and there are a lot of other factors to consider like time, stress, and the required effort.
If you have minimal belongings (no large furniture and just a few boxes) and only a few miles to move, then moving yourself is a great choice.
If this isn’t the case, though, we strongly suggest you consider hiring professional movers.
The full-service experience
Hiring full-service movers takes away much of the stress of moving. Full-service moving companies can take care of your entire move for you—from packing your belongings and disassembling your furniture to transporting your stuff and unpacking in your new home. If you’d rather leave the hassle and hard work to the pros, a full-service move is perfect for you.
Full-service movers we recommend
If you can’t wait to start gathering quotes and learning what a full-service moving company can do for you, check out these excellent full-service movers:
How much does full-service moving cost?
We won’t sugar-coat it: full-service moving is expensive. While rates vary widely by company and can be affected by things like seasonality and distance, we’ve found that full-service moves typically cost between $550–$2,000 for local moves and $2,000–$7,500 for long-distance moves. We have seen full-service moves as expensive as $12,000, though.
Keep in mind, though, that you really do get what you pay for when you hire a full-service mover. These costs include all the convenience and peace-of-mind that come from knowing your belongings are being handled and transported by professionals. The only finger you’ll lift is the one that swipes your credit card.
A multitude of price and service options
Full-service moving companies generally offer several moving packages to choose from, each with different services. For example, if you’d prefer to do the packing yourself to save a little money and make sure your valuables are carefully handled, you can choose a simple package in which movers just do the loading and driving.
Alternatively, if you want to just walk away from your old home and into your new home to find everything already unpacked inside, then you can also get this deluxe treatment by paying for a more comprehensive service package.
To find the moving company that can treat you and your stuff the way you want, be sure to ask what services and moving packages every company offers when you start calling customer service agents.
Moving coverage: the safety net
All trustworthy full-service movers carry basic liability moving coverage that protects your belongings for $0.60 per pound. For example, if your 300-pound table broke in-transit, it would be covered for only about $180 (300 X 0.60 = 180). Most quality tables cost at least a little more.
However, it does mean that if your movers happen to drop your dining set, you’re not up a creek without a place setting. While basic coverage won’t fully cover repair and replacement costs for expensive items, it’s better than nothing.
If you want more coverage for your belongings, you can always pay for a more comprehensive coverage package. Coverage rates and inclusions vary from company to company, but our moving insurance guide breaks down the basics.
Get multiple quotes
One of the most important steps of hiring a full-service mover is to get several quotes. We usually recommend getting at least three quotes from reputable moving companies. This ensures you get one of the best prices on the market for your move.
If your favorite moving company offers price-matching, getting multiple quotes will also help you lower your price. If you find another moving company that will do your move for cheaper, get a written estimate, take it to your preferred company, and ask if you can get the lower price matched. If the company offers price-matching, it will lower your price to keep your business.
Watch out for scammers
Like any industry, the moving industry has its fair share of dishonest companies that mistreat and scam customers. These phonies are easy to avoid if you know what to look for, though.
Here’s a basic overview of what you should do to steer clear of scammers:
- Make sure your estimates are “binding” before you sign any contract.
- Check customer reviews online to see if customers frequently report that a company scammed them.
- Make sure the company is properly licensed and accredited.
Hybrid moving, the middle ground
If you’re looking for a nice halfway option between doing it all yourself and paying someone to do it all for you, consider doing a hybrid move. There are two types of hybrid moves, and they appeal to different people:
- Moving container moves
- Truck rental moves with loading assistance
Between these two options, you get to choose which part of your move you’d rather handle yourself and which part you’d rather leave to the pros.
Moving container moves
When you move with a moving and storage container company, the company will deliver a shipping container right to your home, you’ll do all the packing and loading yourself, and then the company will pick it up and take it to your new home for you to unload.
This model makes container moves ideal for people who don’t mind doing the heavy lifting but would rather not drive all their stuff across the country.
Container moves still have a lot of the shortcomings of full DIY moves (back aches, for one), but they’re much more budget-friendly than full-service moves. Typically, moving container moves cost somewhere between around $1,280 and $5,420.
Truck rental moves with loading assistance
The second hybrid moving option is renting a moving truck and hiring an hourly moving labor company to help you load and unload your belongings.
With this moving option, you’ll still be driving your rental truck yourself, but you won’t be loading it, at least not alone. This model is better for people who don’t mind driving for several hours but can’t do all their moving by themselves.
We’ve found that hiring a labor company to load and unload your belongings can cost between $45 and $80 per hour. Keep in mind, though, that this is an additional cost on top of all the other costs we’ve mentioned for truck rental moves.
While it’s by far the most expensive option, hiring a full-service moving company is the gold standard for moving in comfort and convenience. With every other option we’ve listed, you take on a lot more responsibility, labor, and stress. That said, if money is the biggest stressor in your move, then doing a hybrid move or going full DIY might be the best way to go.