How to Choose the Correct Moving Truck Size

Kaitlyn Pacheco
Written by Kaitlyn Pacheco
Updated January 11, 2022
man unloading boxes out of moving truck
Photo: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock


  • When choosing a moving truck, consider the size of your home and measurements of your furniture pieces.

  • There are three main moving vehicle options: pickup truck, cargo van, and box truck.

  • Some rental truck companies recommend approximating three cubic feet of space per room.

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Picture this: You rented a moving truck to carry all of your household items to your new home, but when you start loading it on moving day, you realize there isn’t enough space to fit all of your boxes. This headache-inducing scenario is why choosing the right size moving truck rental is essential.

To ensure that you don’t end up with a moving truck that’s too big or too small, use this guide to determine which size fits your moving needs.

What to Consider When Calculating Your Move

When deciding what size moving truck to rent, consider the answers to the following questions. 

  • Do you plan to hire a moving company or move by yourself?

  • How many mattresses are you moving?

  • How many rooms are you moving?

  • How many people need to ride in the moving truck?

  • What types of furniture are you moving? How bulky are these items?

  • What kind of accommodations do you need to make for fragile items?

  • What’s the total distance of your trip? 

  • Are you planning to ship any furniture items instead of moving them?

Rental Truck Sizing Guide

To determine the right moving truck size for your move, take into account the total cubic feet of space, size of your home, and the dimensions of your belongings. Many moving truck rental companies provide a handy online calculator that tells you how many cubic feet of truck space you’ll need based on your needs.

Cubic Feet of Space

Since moving trucks are measured in cubic feet, some rental companies approximate that you can allot three cubic feet of space per room. This measurement considers the entire length, width, and depth of the truck. 

For example, if you’re moving seven rooms-worth of belongings, you’ll likely need at least a 21-cubic-foot truck. To account for large pieces of furniture and empty space in between items, you should err on the side of caution and reserve a moving truck that’s slightly larger than the result of your cubic-foot calculation.

Size of Your Home

Another factor to consider when determining your moving truck size is the size of your house and the number of rooms in it. For example, if you’re moving out of a one-bedroom apartment, you’ll likely need a 10- to 16-foot truck, while moving out of a five-bedroom house will probably require a 22- to 26-foot truck. 

However, it’s important to remember that square footage and items vary by room, meaning that this calculation method isn’t foolproof. 

Amount of Belongings

Of course, the number of boxes and size of your personal items greatly affect the moving truck size you need. For example, if you’re moving out of a two-bedroom apartment, most moving companies would recommend using a 12- to 22-foot moving truck. But if you need to transport two large sofas, two king-sized beds, and a large dining room table, you’ll likely need a larger moving truck. 

That’s why it’s essential to carefully consider the amount and size of your furniture items and weigh that factor into your final moving truck decision.

Types of Moving Trucks

moving truck full of boxes outside of house
Photo: New Africa / Adobe Stock

Let’s review the main types of rental vehicles available to take your household items to your new home.

Pickup Truck

This option is mainly for moving a small number of items or a few bulky pieces of furniture. If you only need to move a small apartment’s worth of furniture, a pickup truck is an inexpensive alternative to renting a larger moving vehicle. Pro tip: Transport your large pieces of furniture, such as your mattress or kitchen table, in the pickup truck and move smaller boxes and household items in your car.

Cargo Van

A cargo van is the next step up from a pickup truck. While the dimensions of your cargo van will depend on the rental company, they are typically ideal for small apartment or home moves. Plus, cargo vans tend to be easier to drive and park than a large box truck, which is a lifesaver during the moving process. 

Box Truck

When you picture a moving truck, a box truck is probably what comes to mind. This moving vehicle is commonly used for long-distance moves and transporting larger loads. 

The dimensions of box trucks vary by moving truck rental company, but they typically run in small, medium, and large sizes. Small box trucks are ideal for one- or two-bedroom apartment moves, but they don’t usually hold king-sized mattresses. Mid-size options offer a lot more space, with most ranging from 15- to 17-foot box trucks. The largest box trucks can carry the largest weight and load, including California king mattresses and even a washer and dryer set. 

How Much Do Moving Trucks Cost to Rent?

Once you’ve settled on the type of moving vehicle you want to rent, the next step is to budget for its cost. The final price tag will depend on the size of the rental vehicle and the number of miles traveled, and the costs vary by the rental company. 

For example, a local move out of a one-bedroom apartment can cost as low as $130, while a large, long-distance move can cost more than $2,000. Plus, keep in mind that you’re responsible for paying for the rental vehicle’s gas, insurance, and additional supplies. If you need help loading the moving truck, call a moving company near you so you can focus on preparing to move into your new home. 

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