Are you facing an upcoming move? When it comes to residential moving, people have two choices: handle the transition on their own or enlist the help of a professional moving company. While working with the pros is recommended, many people will opt for alternatives to movers to save money. A DIY route while moving can be less expensive; be careful not to underestimate the cost of a self-serve move. 

The first thing most people consider when moving themselves is a truck rental for places like UHaul. This may be the single largest DIY mover expense. But, it is usually the little things that surprise people and eat away at the moving budget.

1. Multiple trips will mean morefuel.

Whether you rent a moving truck or use your vehicle, you may have to make multiple trips to get your belongings moved. Multiple trips while hauling a heavy load of furniture and belongings will also mean a lot of stops to refuel the gas tank along the way. Therefore, many DIY movers tend to spend far more on fuel than they expect during a move. 

To avoid surprises for fuel, do some quick calculations. A typical rental truck will get between 8 and 14 miles to a gallon with a tank of about 35 gallons for up to a 16ft truck. The larger trucks 926 foot) will have up to a 50-gallon tank. The mileage will vary based on your load, driving habits, and traffic conditions. 

1.1 Unforeseen truck rental costs. 

Reputable truck rental companies will be clear about the different costs involved. Understanding these costs before committing to a truck rental is important to avoid surprises. Ask about:

  • Insurance (your auto insurance likely won’t cover a moving truck like it may a rental car.)
  • Per-mile charge. Some rentals come with a mileage charge. Be clear on the amount and what is involved in your move. The mileage between two points (old and new home) is only part of the travel. 
  • Return truck fee. If you are moving to a more remote area, the rental company may charge you to cover the cost of moving the truck to a different location.
  • Clean-up fees. These can be avoided by taking proper care of the equipment. But, depending on what you move and where, things may get messy. 
  • Moving equipment rental is often available with truck rental. Special equipment may be needed to move larger items and secure items in the truck properly.

2. Consider the costs of moving equipment

As mentioned above, moving equipment is helpful when moving from one house to the next. A few items you may need just to effectively maneuver large pieces of furniture and other items safely include:

  • Rolling utility dollies to move heavy boxes and appliances
  • Moving blankets to protect items from scuffs and bumps
  • Ratcheting straps to secure heavy items in place before transport
  • Bungee cords to secure heavy boxes to a utility dolly
  • Tarps or plastic wrap to protect items during inclement weather

When considering the costs, include either the rental or purchase of any equipment you may not have access to otherwise.

3. Damage to your belongings or property

It is easy to say, “We’ll just be careful,” but damage is a common occurrence during moves. For minor damage, you may be able to simply accept it as a scratch or dent or just repair it yourself. But if the damage is significant or happens to the house you’ve just sold, you’ll need to cover the costs. Professional movers have some level of insurance to cover these issues. On your own, you’ll need to take care of this out of your pocket.

4. Indirect Cost: Taking time off of work

While a move with professional movers will require some of your time, it is much less than managing an entire move as a DIY mover. While using paid time off is an option, or you may be able to take unpaid leave, this indirect cost of a DIY move is often underestimated and quickly dismissed during the planning process. Be sure to give this reasonable consideration.

5. Injuries while moving are a real possibility and a costly event

Moving involves strenuous activity. Activity most people are not accustomed to. Beyond simply lifting heavy objects frequently, they also have to be carried while navigating stairs, potentially slippery services, and inclines/declines. Go slow and take care to minimize the risks of injury.

Using Pros or DIY Moving

While hiring professional movers will be more expensive than the direct costs involved in a DIY move, the difference may be less than you think. Consider the full range of costs in your planning, and you will make a better decision for you and your family when deciding how to handle your move.