Moving yourself vs. hiring movers: What's the best way to move?

Is hiring moving help really worth it?

Last Updated 6/4/18
by Jami Barnett, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team
Couple moving boxes into house

Overview of moving options

When you move, you can hire professional help, do it yourself or a mix of both. Moving companies and rental truck providers offer a lot of options and services; pick and choose the ones that work best for you. Here’s a rundown of your options:

Moving yourself

When you move yourself, you’ll pack items, load them into your own vehicle or a rented truck and then unload at the other end. This choice might be easier and cheaper if you own or can borrow a truck. Moving yourself is more complicated if you don’t have the benefit of free help or you’re moving long distance.

Hiring movers

Professional moving companies can do everything related to your move, including packing your boxes, moving items from Point A to Point B and unpacking your belongings at your new house. This option will likely cost the most but involve the least amount of stress and work for you. You can save on costs by packing yourself.

Moving boxes

When you choose moving containers, like PODS or U-Haul U-Boxes, you’ll pack your items into a portable storage container and then either haul it yourself using a trailer or have the shipping company move it. You can hire independent moving helpers to help you pack, load the moving box containers and transport them to and from the container provider. This option gives you a lot of flexibility in deciding which services you want.

Friends eating pizza next to moving boxes

Moving yourself costs

You’ll save a significant amount of money when you do all the work yourself, but that doesn’t mean it will be cheap. Don’t forget to consider these costs when deciding whether to move yourself without professional movers.

Truck rental

You may need to rent a moving truck. Pricing for this will depend on the size of truck you need and the distance you’re moving. Renting a small truck for an in-town move will be much cheaper than renting a large one for a cross-country trek. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of truck rental insurance when getting estimates.


Whether you’re taking your own vehicle or renting a moving truck, remember to consider the cost of fuel when making your budget.

Moving helpers

You should offer friends or family members who help you food and drinks on the day of the move. You might also consider giving them a small thank-you gift after the move. If you need extra help, hire independent moving helpers. These businesses often advertise on local classified websites. They may also partner with rental truck companies, so you can book and pay for the rental truck and the extra labor all at once.

Movers moving boxes from truck

Moving company costs

Using a moving company may not be as expensive as you think, and it’s worth your time to get an estimate for large or long distance moves. When you’re considering costs, make sure to factor in these expenses.

Basic charges

The company will charge you to move your items from your old home to your new one. Most reputable companies base the cost on the weight of your cargo.


Although movers must legally provide some liability coverage for your belongings, it usually won’t cover the cost of replacing a damaged or lost item. For the most comprehensive protection, you’ll need to purchase full-value insurance from your moving company or an insurance company.


It’s standard to tip each individual on the moving crew. Check out our article on how much you should tip movers.

Miscellaneous charges

Moving companies charge for a variety of other services, like using a smaller truck if they can’t get their large truck into your neighborhood. Make sure you fully understand the moving estimate when comparing the cost of hiring movers versus moving yourself without professional help.

Two blue self-pack storage containers

Container moving cost

Using a portable storage unit for your move gives you some of the perks of both moving yourself and hiring a moving company. The cost is often comparable to hiring movers, but make sure to consider these costs when comparing prices and making your budget.

Container rental

Moving container companies charge per unit. It won’t matter how fully you load the container, so you’ll want to use as few containers as possible.


The company may charge a fee to store your containers between the time they’re picked up and delivered to your new home. Renting a container often comes with one month of free storage, but that isn’t always the case. Make sure to ask about this cost if you need the units stored.

Delivery and pick-up fees

If you own a trailer, some companies will let you pick up and return the unit yourself. You can also pay to have the unit delivered to and picked up from your old house and then transported to your new house.


Moving containers are so expensive because of how much it costs the company to ship them. The price for shipping will depend on the number of containers you use and the distance you’re shipping them.

Moving helpers

You may want to hire independent moving helpers to help with loading and unloading your containers once they’re delivered. Many independent movers advertise their services online through classifieds and job boards. Some movers also partner with moving container companies so you can book your unit and additional help all at once.


Moving box companies don’t legally have to provide the same kind of insurance as traditional moving companies. However, they usually sell straight-forward insurance policies to offer financial protection if items are damaged in transit.

Man taping fragile box

Other considerations

Besides price, you should consider several other factors when thinking about whether to hire a mover or move yourself.


Each type of move presents different stressors. Moving your items on your own may be less stressful financially, but more stressful in terms of how much work you need to do. Consider how much work you’re okay doing yourself and what you’re willing to pay for to reduce your stress level.


Each type of move follows a different timeline. Moving yourself is often the fastest option. It can take a few weeks for items to be delivered by a moving company or for your moving container to arrive.


Smaller, local moves are easier to do yourself than cross-country moves. Consider whether you’re comfortable driving a big box truck hundreds of miles. If not, hire a moving company to handle the transportation of your belongings.


When you move yourself, you have the maximum amount of control over your belongings. With moving containers, all your items stay in your container, and you lock the container before it leaves your property. This ensures that your items will never get mixed up with someone else’s, which provides some control.

Moving boxes on wood floor


Whether you decide to move yourself, get some additional help or hire professionals to do it all, choosing a way to move should be about what makes the most sense for you. Consider your budget, schedule and preferences so your move can go as seamlessly as possible.

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Jami Barnett, Ph.D., is an experienced researcher, and she believes consumers have a right to clear and honest information about products. In her role at ConsumerAffairs, she thoroughly researches products and companies by interviewing experts, reviewing research studies, reading governmental regulations and investigating customer service responses. Her work gives consumers the information they need to make smart purchasing decisions.

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