The Cheapest Ways to Move Locally
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The cheapest way to move locally is usually the most difficult. You pack everything in your car or rent a truck and trek back and forth. While these options are definitely cheap, they also make moving truly miserable.
When it comes to the cheapest ways to move locally, the best approach is usually a hybrid move.
In a hybrid move, you do some moving yourself and hire a professional team to take on the rest. One example of a hybrid move is renting a truck yourself and hiring labor to help with the moving and loading of items into the truck. Another example is renting a storage container and hiring labor to move and load items. That way you don’t have to worry about transporting items yourself and driving a truck on your own.
Of course, a hybrid move isn’t the only moving option. You can hire professional movers for the whole operation, rent a container and move your own items and furniture, or rent a truck and do it all on your own.
Here’s a list of options when it comes to the cheapest ways to move locally:
- Hybrid Move Option (cheapest, but requires some legwork)
- Hiring Professional Movers (most expensive, but also the least amount of work)
- Moving Containers (best if you need storage or want to take time with your move)
- Truck on Demand (best for flexibility)
- Alternative Local Moving Options (very affordable and includes borrowing a truck, renting a trailer, or driving your own car)
How Much Does a Local Move Cost?
Before we dive into the different moving options, let’s address the basic question: How much does a local move cost? Since a local move is close, extra fees like mileage fees — which are charged to you by professional movers — don’t apply. Pricing for local moves is based on hourly rates and the number of movers. That means the cost of a local move tends to be cheaper than homeowners who need long-distance moving companies or are planning an out-of-state move.
|HOME SIZE||AVG. TOTAL||# OF MOVERS||COST/HOUR||# HOURS|
|Studio||$335||2 movers||$119/hr||3 hours|
|1 Bedroom||$454||2 movers||$119/hr||4 hours|
|2 Bedroom||$717||3 movers||$167/hr||5 hours|
|3 Bedroom||$1614||4 movers||$233/hr||8 hours|
|4 Bedroom||$1847||4 movers||$233/hr||9 hours|
|5 Bedroom+||$2832||5 movers||$327/hr||10 hours|
The above table consists of figures for moving expenses for local moves. If you’re looking for something more along the lines of interstate moving or farther, review our guide to the cheapest long distance movers.
So, while the costs of moving locally tend to be more affordable than a cross-country move, they can still add up quickly. For example, the average cost to move a three-bedroom house ranges from $1,000 to more than $3,200 — and this could be a move just across town. The size of your moving budget will change depending on several factors including if you do a DIY move or choose to work with professionals when moving out.
If you’re planning to move locally, you have several options to help keep a lid on the costs. Not all moves have to be performed by professional movers from start-to-finish. An affordable option to keep a local move cheap is to take a hybrid approach. We’ll look at this moving strategy first in our list of cheap ways to move locally.
A hybrid move is the cheapest option and gives you greater flexibility.
The Hybrid Move Option: Hiring Labor Services and Moving Truck Rental
When you’re moving a short distance, you tend to have greater flexibility over the moving process. By choosing a hybrid move, you can save on additional services — and the additional fees that come with them — to reduce the cost of your move.
With a local move, you can piece together a mix of services. For example, you could rent a moving truck but then pay other people to handle the labor of packing and moving all your goods. This method of splitting the moving process into component parts, with you handling certain areas and hiring others for different aspects, is called a hybrid move.
Besides giving you increased flexibility, a hybrid move tends to be cheaper than many other methods of moving. Even if you do hire movers to physically load a truck you rented, you’re still cutting down the overall usage of movers and reducing the hourly costs you’d be charged had you hired them to load, drive the truck, and unload. What’s more, you can get more granular and have them move only heavy stuff to save money while reducing your own time and energy.
If you need a clearer picture of what a hybrid move is actually like, check out this detailed personal moving experience of a hybrid move — which includes the money saved and other advantages.
Here are a few more savings tips to cut down on moving costs:
- Hire laborers to help you move items, rather than a full service moving company: Whether you work alongside hired helpers or let them handle the heavy lifting on their own, hiring labor-only movers can be a major cost-saver. Often, labor-only movers will charge you on a per-house basis, rather than charging you an hourly rate for all the time spent loading and unloading your truck.
- Pack everything yourself: If you’re new to the moving process, you may not realize professional movers pack your goods as part of their job — and charge you for those packing services. Hence why packing and unpacking all your goods yourself is a big money-saver, not to mention providing you with greater control over the best way to pack certain items you really care about. Here’s where to find cheap moving boxes and packing materials to get started. Don’t forget the bubble wrap for fragile or specialty items.
- Declutter before you start packing: The moving process is a perfect time to go through all the items you own and decide which ones are must-haves and which are ready to get tossed out. Decluttering your house before you start packing cuts down on the costs of boxes, tape, transportation space, and ultimately labor costs. It’s particularly helpful to get rid of bulky items — like pool tables and pianos — as these can be expensive and difficult to move. Having a garage sale is a cost-effective way of funding your move while getting rid of unwanted items.
When many people prepare to move, they think that renting a moving truck is their only option. This isn’t true, but it is one of the cheapest options for a local move. If you can round up some help to load the truck, you’ll only have to pay for your packing supplies and the truck.
If you’re planning on the DIY approach, gather at least three different moving estimates from truck rental companies. You can then negotiate with the moving provider you prefer for the best deal. Even if you’ve gotten a nice price after negotiating, you still need to factor in additional costs and travel fees, such as price per mile, gas, and taxes into the total cost. Also bear in mind the non-money costs of moving yourself including the hassle of lifting heavy items and caring for fragile items. Lastly, verify with your moving company the day before to ensure your moving truck is reserved for you.
The costs of a moving truck rental can differ considerably, depending on the size of the truck, how far you’re driving it, and the various add-on fees such as mileage fees or insurance. For a local move, a rental truck plus fuel, mileage fees, insurance and any other add-ons often add up to at least $50 to $60 per day. And take note: That’s just the cost of the truck, no labor included.
Find an Affordable Professional Moving Company
If you’re not onboard for a DIY approach, then hiring professional movers is a tried-and-true route to take. The cheapest way to move for one person may be different for another. For some, time is more valuable than money. If you’d rather pay more to save time and energy moving, consider hiring movers who are experts at what they do.
In order to find the most affordable professional movers, start with a solid list of local moving companies in your area. Use our best local movers database to get quotes from several options.
Full-service movers are more expensive, so you can expect to spend between $282 on the low-end for a studio and over $7,000 on the high-end for a five-bedroom home, all for a local move. Price varies depending on the type of move, size of your home, the distance of the move, and the time of year of the move. There are also added fees for things like multiple flights of stairs. To get a good idea of what your move will cost, get a free quote with our moving cost calculator.
The moving industry is fraught with shady companies and ones that end up charging a lot more than others. To ensure you hire the best and most affordable professional movers:
- Review each company’s credentials: Make sure to verify that the moving company is properly insured and credentialed. Run through their website to see if they have key information like that readily available and easy to find. If it’s not, ask if they can provide that information. Some additional good signs to look for include proper registration with the United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). On the FMCSA website, you can search for the registration of any moving company you may have encountered shopping around. Lastly, checking the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for any previous complaints lodged against the moving company by customers is a smart move.
- Make sure to get multiple quotes: Getting multiple quotes is a sound strategy in most situations involving purchasing a service. When it comes to hiring a reputable moving company, getting as many quotes from other companies will help you get a clearer picture of the average cost and what sorts of services and fees are usually included.
- Lock down an onsite estimate in writing: Many moving companies throw out cheap estimates for your move based on information you give them. But you need to watch out for these ad-hoc estimates and instead get professional movers to do an onsite visit to see everything you intend to move. This will provide a more accurate and transparent estimate compared to a mover merely using weight as their metric for approximating the cost of a move.
Best for Moving at Your Own Pace
If you aren’t pressed for time while you move, rent a moving container.
Load it up when you have the time and notify the company when you need it picked up. They will transport or store it for you and deliver it to your new home when you’re ready.
While that’s convenient, there are other advantages to using moving container companies as temporary storage units. A moving container is one of the cheapest ways to move locally if you haven’t found a new home yet. You can affordably store part of your belongings without having to move everything in and out of a stationary storage facility.
On top of that, a moving container can come in handy if you’re building a house or need to be out of your current house but can’t get into a new one yet. With a good portion of your belongings stashed in the moving container, you can then stage your home for sale in a decluttered, more presentable fashion.
This method of moving using containers became popular with PODS, but several other companies have appeared since then. With more players now in the moving container industry, try gathering three to four quotes from several places for the best moving price.
Typically, you can fit a one-bedroom apartment into a single moving container, which has an estimated price range between $115 to $215, if you utilize U-Haul’s U-Box for example. If you need another container, the price roughly doubles.
Best for Flexibility: Truck on Demand
Does the stress of moving make you wish it was as easy as calling an Uber? Now it is. Truck-on-demand lets you hire helpers and even a truck all on your phone. Truck-on-demand isn’t a specific company, but rather a moving service model that has gained a lot of popularity recently.
Several companies have this Uber-style business model, and some of the most popular ones are Dolly, Lugg, and Buddytruk. Prices will vary from company to company. Some provide upfront base rates while others offer custom quotes. Here’s what you could expect to pay your helpers per one hour of work, using some popular truck-on-demand company prices:
- Buddytruk: This service’s pricing is based on moving distance, with it costing $1 per mile plus $1 per minute. The minimum price for this moving truck service is $40.
- Dolly: Especially relevant to hybrid moving, the average cost for a labor-only move is $80, according to Dolly’s site.
- Lugg: This “Uber for moving” service charges $0.75 per labor minute, making one hour of labor alone cost $45. What’s more, Lugg charges $0.60 per driving minute (on top of $2 per mile).
Alternative Options for the Cheapest Local Move
You already have access to one of the cheapest ways to move locally if you own a truck or have a family member or friend with a truck. Access to a truck you can use is the basis of some of the best alternative options for doing a local move cheaply.
Best When You Own a Truck: Tow-Behind Trailer
Not only can you fit some belongings in the truck’s bed, but you can also tow a trailer to move. A tow-behind trailer can be a gamechanger when it comes to doing a local move yourself.
If you’re going the route of driving your own truck with a tow-behind trailer, make sure you have the towing capacity for your move. Besides towing capacity, cost of a moving trailer is another obvious factor. U-Haul is the most popular company to rent a trailer from. Their prices seem great online but be aware of additional charges. Per usual, it’s always great to shop around and compare costs of a moving trailer.
You can also buy a used trailer for your move and resell it when you’re done. This costs more money upfront, but you’ll get it back when someone buys it.
Friend With a Truck
If you have a friend with a truck, you can spend considerably less when moving locally. Because you won’t be going far, you can take multiple trips to your new home. If they have a trailer, you can move most of your belongings at once.
Unlike using a moving rental truck company, there’s no rigid price tag on using your friend’s truck. Because your friend is offering their truck and likely their time and labor, pay them back in other ways. Buy them lunch or drinks. You know your friend best, so make sure you provide some form of payment that they’ll enjoy.
This option doesn’t include the cost of all your packing supplies. For more help getting ready to move, be sure to check out our moving checklist.
Best for Small Moves: Your Vehicle
If you have nowhere else to turn, one of the cheapest ways to move locally is to use your own vehicle. You’d be surprised how many moving boxes you can squeeze into a car with open seats, floors, and a trunk.
You’ll still need to pay for moving supplies and the gas you’ll use driving to your new home. If you need to take multiple trips, you may end up paying more than expected.
This moving option works best for small moves. It’s also ideal for people who need a specific moving date. If you have large furniture, you’ll need to spend extra money or ask a friend with a truck to move them.
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