Is U-Haul Actually Cheaper than Hiring a Mover?

Joe Roberts
Researcher & Writer
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Published on May 17, 2021
5 min read

We compared dozens of quotes from U-Haul and professional movers to determine which is cheaper. U-Haul always won, but cheaper doesn’t always mean better, and U-Haul’s service consistently falls short.

Cheaper
1,000-mile moves as cheap as $2,907
  • Icon Pros  Light
    You pack, load, and drive
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Help-for-hire available for extra cost
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Terrible customer reviews
Better service
1,000-mile moves as cheap as $4,011
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Gold-standard for convenience
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Safer for you and your belongings
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Most expensive way to move

While renting a U-Haul moving truck can be $1,000 to $5,000 cheaper than hiring professional movers, it’s not as cheap as it’s cracked up to be (it isn’t even the cheapest moving truck rental company).

Additionally, DIY moving comes with a lot of inconveniences and risks that hiring professional movers shields you from. That’s why we always recommend full-service movers if you can afford them.

Keep reading to learn more.


U-Haul vs. full-service movers at a glance

Quick service comparison

Service
U-Haul
Full-service movers
Packing service
Icon Yes  LightCosts extra*
Icon Yes  LightCosts extra*
Loading service
Icon Yes  LightCosts extra*
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Delivery service
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  DarkYes
Moving coverage included
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  DarkYes

*U-Haul works with a network of moving labor professionals to supply these services for an extra cost.
**Professional packing services are always available, but they cost extra.

Renting a truck from U-Haul usually means you do all the moving labor yourself, though U-Haul does offer moving services. If you need help, the company will send you moving labor professionals for packing and loading, but these services can add hundreds of dollars to your final cost. To really save money on your DIY move, you have to do the hard work yourself and maybe enlist some good friends for assistance.

When you hire qualified movers, you don’t have to cart your heavy furniture down any stairs or drive an unwieldy moving truck hundreds of miles. You simply have to let the trained professionals do what they do best, handling your items with care and transporting them to your new home where they’ll unload it all.

Let’s be honest: your furniture and boxes are safer in the hands of experts who have access to proper equipment than they probably would be if you and your neighbors were to tackle the move yourselves.

Your budget is certainly a valid concern, but if convenience and security are your top priorities, then hiring professional movers is well worth the price.

Our favorite full-service movers

Best overall
internationalvanlines
International Van Lines
Best for up-front pricing
americanvanlines
American Van Lines
Best customer service
allied
Allied Van Lines
Best for customizing
northamerican
North American Van Lines

If you want to learn a little more about these movers and why we recommend them, hop over to our list of the best moving companies.


Quick pricing comparison

Average prices
U-Haul
Professional movers
500-mile move
$875
$3,396
1,000-mile move
$2,907
$4,011

Average truck rental costs were based on up-front rental costs for two truck sizes plus the costs for gas for the rental truck and one other vehicle, moving coverage costs, and food and hotel costs for two people.
Prices for professional moving services were calculated by averaging quotes for two home sizes gathered from two full-service moving companies. Prices do not include packing costs.

For a move under 1,000 miles, you probably won’t pay more than $4,000 for your U-Haul truck rental, and prices are usually much lower.

Hiring a professional moving company, on the other hand, will almost always cost you upwards of $1,000, even for short distances. And the sky is more or less the limit on how much professional movers can cost if you purchase every add-on service a moving company offers.

That said, prices for truck rentals and movers vary greatly depending on how far you’re moving, how much stuff you’re moving, and what time of year it is. The only way to know exactly how much your move will cost is to get your own online quote or—even better—in-home estimate.

Additional truck rental costs

On top of the price for your rental truck, you should also factor these extra costs into your budget if you’re planning a U-Haul move.

Moving coverage

When you book your truck rental, you should also purchase protection coverage for your truck, yourself, and your belongings in case you get in an accident or you go over a bump too quickly and break something in the cargo area.

U-Haul has several different protection options, but the cheapest one, Safemove®,1 was often somewhere between $50 and $90 on the quotes we gathered.

For contrast, all properly licensed full-service moving companies offer basic liability coverage for free with your move. Basic liability coverage is exactly that: basic. It only protects your belongings for $0.60 per pound, so it doesn’t cover full market value for your items, but it’s free and better than nothing. Full-service movers also offer much better coverage, but never for free.

Fuel costs

Truck size
Miles per gallon2
Trip distance
Cost of gas
10-foot
12
500
$120
26-foot
10
500 miles
$144
10-foot
12
1,000 miles
$240
26-foot
10
1,000 miles
$288

Cost of gas based on the average gas price of $2.88 on April 27, 2021.3

Fuel costs don’t stop at fuel for the moving truck. You should also have someone drive a backup vehicle, ideally your personal vehicle, behind you during your journey in case the moving truck breaks down and you need help.

Assuming that gas costs $2.88 per gallon and your car gets the national average of 25 miles per gallon,4 you’ll pay about $115 to drive it 1,000 miles and $57 to drive it 500 miles.

Food costs

The next cost you should budget for when you’re planning a moving road trip is food. Since there will be at least two people (you and the driver for your backup vehicle) making this theoretical journey, we’ll budget for two people for this example.

The cost of food during a road trip can be about $40 per adult per day.5 You should never drive more than 500 miles in a day,6 so let’s say that the 500-mile trip takes you one day and the 1,000-mile trip takes you two. If this is the case, you should plan on paying about $80 for food during the 500 mile trip and $160 for the 1,000-mile trip.

To cut down on these costs, you can pack meals and avoid fast food restaurants.

Food costs

As we mentioned, you can safely drive 500 miles in a day, so you probably don’t need to add a hotel to your budget for a 500-mile trip. You can just wake up early in your old home, drive your moving truck to your new home that day, and sleep there that night.

For a 1,000-mile trip, though, you should plan to spend at least one night in a hotel. The average price for a single night in a hotel room is $180, though it can be much higher in fancy hotels or in densely populated regions.7 If you need a place to stay for cheap, you might find a better deal on Airbnb.


Conclusion

Even with all the additional costs that go into a moving road trip, renting a U-Haul moving truck is much cheaper than hiring a full-service moving company. However, the convenience and service you get from full-service movers is worth the extra cost if you can afford it.

Recommended resources

While you’re here, feel free to check out these other guides that can help you plan and budget for your upcoming move:

Sources

  1. U-Haul Truck Rental, “Get the Protection You Need for Your Move!” Accessed April 27, 2021.
  2. U-Haul Truck Rental, “U-Haul Truck Rentals.” Accessed April 27, 2021.
  3. AAA, “Gas Prices.” Updated April 27, 2021. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  4. Business Insider, “The 5 Most and Least Fuel-efficient Cars on the Road Today,” December 2019. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  5. Living on the Cheap, “9 Ways to Take a Bite Out of Road Trip Food Costs.” Accessed April 27, 2021.
  6. The Road Trip Expert, “How Far Can You Drive Safely in a Day,” August 2019. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  7. Business Travel News, “Demand Drives U.S. Hotels,” March 2018. Accessed April 27, 2021.
Joe Roberts
Written by
Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over three years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.