How Much Does It Cost to Move Yourself?

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated March 25, 2022
couple sitting in the back of moving truck
Photo: Tara Moore/ Digital Vision/ Getty Images


  • Rental trucks cost between $120 to $2,300, depending on the truck size and number of days needed.

  • Budget for hidden moving costs like moving insurance and tipping.  

  • You can save money by scheduling an off-season move and using recycled packing materials.

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Savvy movers may consider a DIY move because it saves money, but that doesn’t mean that you can skip the budgeting step. Some moving costs are obvious, but unexpected or hidden expenses (like tipping the movers and stopping for snack breaks on the road) will change your bottom line. Follow this guide to understand the cost of moving by yourself and use it to plan a budget-friendly move.

How Much Does It Cost to Move Yourself?

A DIY move is usually the least expensive relocation option, which is perfect if you’re operating on a tight budget. However, this type of move requires significant time, labor, responsibility, and driving, especially compared to hiring professional movers.

Two main factors tally moving costs: distance traveled and load size. Local moves typically cost $150 to $250, based on the cost of renting a moving truck and purchasing moving supplies. On the other hand, long-distance moves can cost anywhere from $1,550 to $2,350 or more depending on the same expenses plus distance traveled.

Moving Yourself Cost Breakdown

bubble wrap, packing boxes and tape
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

You’ve probably considered the big-ticket moving costs, like reserving the moving van or truck, but you should expect a lot of smaller expenses to add up fast for a DIY move. Take a look at some of the general pricing for typical moving costs. 

Moving Supplies

If you’re not working with a moving company for your move, you’ll need to purchase or find your moving supplies. If you prefer or need new moving boxes, they’ll likely tally as the largest supply cost. Find the right boxes for your move through moving companies or home improvement stores. 

You’ll also need to source these items either new or in used condition: 

  • New moving boxes: $1 to $10 per box, depending on size

  • Packing tape: $2 to $4 per roll

  • Furniture pads: $8 each

  • Packing paper: $10 per 10-pound box

  • Bubble wrap: $20 per box

  • Foam packing peanuts: $5 per bag

Moving Truck or Van 

You can expect to spend between $120 to $2,300 to rent a moving truck or van, depending on the vehicle size and length of the trip. When budgeting for your DIY move, renting a truck or van will likely be your highest cost.

If you live in an apartment or condo community, don’t forget to ask about move-in and move-out policies. They may restrict days or hours or require you to protect common hallways and doors with moving blankets. 

Moving Container 

Portable on-demand moving containers are a popular option for moving on your own. You’ll likely pay between $500 to $5,000 for this service, depending on the distance of your move. Although you’ll pack and load on your timeline, you’ll schedule pick-up and delivery days with companies like PODS, U-Pack, Zippy Shell, and Pack-Rat. 

Professional Movers 

Sometimes, hiring a local moving company to help with loading and unloading large and heavy items makes sense, even if you’re planning a DIY move. Professional movers have tools like dollys and lifts that make the move faster and easier. Plus, professional movers have the moving experience and skills necessary to complete the move safely. You’ll likely pay professional movers $25 to $50 per hour for each worker. 


If you’re hiring a professional moving team, you should budget for their tip at the end of the transaction. You should estimate about a 10% to 20% tip, knowing that a 20% tip is standard if the move cost less than $500. Some companies let you add the tip to your credit card, but cash is always accepted. 

Moving Insurance 

When you rent a moving truck or hire movers, you’ll have the chance to buy moving insurance to cover the replacement or repair costs from an accident or loss. Moving is no time to skimp on protecting heirlooms and one-of-a-kind pieces. The cost of moving insurance depends on the type of coverage and value of your items, potentially adding several hundred dollars to your bottom line. 

Hotels and Food 

During an interstate or cross-country move, you’ll have to stop for meal breaks and overnight stays. You may need to add about $100 for meal breaks, and $100 to $150 per one-night hotel stay. Don’t forget to factor these costs into your moving budget. Months before your move date, review your credit card and loyalty programs for discounts, free flights, hotel stays, and upgrades.  


You’ll need plenty of gas to fuel your personal vehicles and the rental truck during your move. Depending on the length of your trip, you could spend hundreds of dollars for both vehicles. So, plan ahead and download a gas-finder app like GasBuddy or Gas Guru to help you locate the best deals on the road. 

  • Personal Cars: Determine how many miles per gallon your car gets so you can calculate how much money you’ll need to set aside for gas. 

  • Rental Trucks: Rental trucks are notorious for low miles per gallon, so you’ll likely stop often. Take a look at this example: If you rent a 26-foot moving truck that gets seven to ten miles per gallon and your new home is 1,500 miles away, you may use 200 gallons of fuel.

3 Ways You Can Save Money When Moving Yourself 

If you’re feeling a little anxious about the moving costs, it’s understandable. Here are some small ways to stretch your budget and cut down your moving costs. 

  • Use recycled packing materials: Scour community websites and apps like Nextdoor, Buy Nothing Groups, and Craigslist to score free boxes and packing items. Most DIY movers are thrilled to empty their homes of boxes post-move-in day. 

  • Take advantage of off-season move rates: Moving and rental truck companies often offer lower rates for fall and winter moves. They’ll also discount mid-week and mid-month moves if you can avoid weekends and holidays

  • Shop around: You should request price quotes from several moving companies to find the best rates. Even if they provide you with an estimate, you don’t have to stick with the initial quote. 

FAQs About Moving Costs 

What should I consider when planning a DIY move?

When moving yourself, you should consider the non-monetary costs, such as time spent and physical and mental stress. If you’re packing and moving every box on your own, or with the help of a few volunteers, you can expect the process to take several days or even weeks. While it’s a less expensive option than hiring full-service movers, keep in mind that the process will be much more difficult.

What other projects should I do at the same time?

When packing up to move, you should consider donating items to charity and purging as many unused or unwanted belongings as possible. It may seem time-consuming, but you’ll thank yourself later when you’ve saved money because you didn’t need the largest moving truck and fewer boxes. 

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