Professional Movers vs. Truck Rental: Which One Is Right for You?

In a lot of ways, comparing professional movers to moving truck rentals is apples to oranges. Still, many Americans find themselves stuck when it comes time to decide between the two.

The best moving companies handle everything from start to finish, minimizing the stress of the moving process — which frees you up to focus on your family’s needs — but they often come at the steep price tag. On the other hand, the best moving truck rental companies have near split-second availability and much lower price tags, but you’ll have to do a lot of hard work on your own.

We’ll break down the ins and outs of both options so you can make an informed choice, but first we should point out that every move is different. Let’s look at how renting a moving truck compares with hiring a professional moving company.

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Comparing professional movers vs. truck rental companies

Skim the below table for a quick look at the differences between professional movers and truck rental companies. Comparing the two can give you a clearer picture of the right choice for your needs.

Considerations Professional movers Moving truck rental
Booking flexibility Usually need at least eight weeks in advance Can be booked same-day in many cases
Cost Starting around $240 Starting at $20
Control Some professional moving companies may subcontract to other carriers, leading to inconsistent service quality You have control over all parts of the moving process
Amount of work You may have to do front-end research to find a reputable company, but after that, everything is handled for you You’ll have to do everything yourself, including hiring moving help
Major advantages Time and energy saved on the more difficult parts of the moving process; customizable add-ons, including packing and storage You can ensure all parts of the moving experience are up to your standards; reservations are usually flexible (often with last-minute reservations)
Biggest disadvantages Expensive; minimal autonomy Affordable, but can have hidden fees; not always a good fit for long-distance moves

Hiring professional movers

  • Safer handling of your belongings due to years of experience
  • Convenient pickup and drop off from your current home to your new home
  • More efficient packing services
  • No heavy lifting
  • More energy to focus on other parts of the moving process
  • Moving supplies often provided by the company
  • May take more research to find a reputable moving company
  • May have less control over your moving date
  • More expensive than DIY moves
  • Additional fees if parts of the move don’t go as planned

Keep reading to compare the costs, services, and availability of professional moving companies.

Cost

If cost is the most important factor to you in the moving process, hiring a full-service moving company will seem like a big splurge. Based on our analysis, you can expect to pay anywhere between $240 and $13,000 for professional moving services. The lower end of that range is for local moves from a one-bedroom home, while the higher end is for cross-country moves from a larger home.

You can use our moving cost calculator to decide if DIY or professional movers are the right fit for your budget or cross-reference some average costs we’ve pulled for various types of moves.

Cost for a local move with a full-service moving company

Home size Average cost
1 bedroom $240–$500
2-3 bedrooms $320–$800
4-5 bedrooms $640–$1,500

Cost for a move less than 250 miles with a full-service moving company

Home size Average cost
1 bedroom $1,400–$3,500
2-3 bedrooms $1,800–$5,300
4-5 bedrooms $2,400–$7,000

Cost for a long-distance move with a full-service moving company

Home size Average cost
1 bedroom $2,700–$6,000
2-3 bedrooms $4,000–$8,900
4-5 bedrooms $7,600–$13,200

We recommend requesting a moving quote from at least three companies to zero-in on the best rate for your needs.

Services

Moving companies and truck rentals operate quite differently, and your level of involvement will vary depending on which one you choose.

When you hire a full-service moving company, you can let them take care of just about everything. Their moving services even include packing and unpacking for you.

Outside of a few personal items, you can hire a professional moving company to pack up your entire house. Once they’ve driven the truck to your new destination, they’ll unload everything for you as well.

You may also opt to hire a professional moving company to just handle the loading, driving, and unloading. You’ll still be responsible for the packing and unpacking, but you won’t have to worry about doing any heavy lifting.

Many full-service moving companies offer specialty services for handling difficult items, such as swing sets, pianos, and fine art.

Availability

If you plan to hire professional movers, it’s best to book your move at least eight weeks in advance. It’s easier to hire local movers than long-distance movers during peak season, so you may want to plan even earlier if you’re moving in the spring or summer months.

You can probably count on truck rentals being comparatively easier to find, with large truck rental companies like U-Haul and U-Haul competitors across the country offering many options in most locations.

Renting a moving truck

  • More flexibility throughout the moving process
  • Less expensive than a full-service moving company
  • Full control over all the details
  • Roadside assistance, including towing, tire changes, and troubleshooting if anything goes wrong
  • Variety of truck sizes to accommodate different size homes
  • Can be difficult to park a large truck on your own
  • Extra fees if you don’t have unlimited mileage
  • You’ll have to pay for fuel and tolls
  • May need to hire moving labor

You’ll also want to consider the costs, services, and availability of moving truck rentals before making your final decision.

Cost

Renting a moving truck can massively reduce your overall moving costs. While full-service moving can cost many thousands of dollars, DIY moving starts as low as $20. That said, you may have to leave some wiggle room in your budget for extra costs that companies aren’t always great at advertising, including fuel, tolls, and per mile fees.

Review the below tables for average costs for different move types or take a look at our moving cost calculator to determine your ideal budget for your upcoming relocation.

Cost for a local move with a rental truck

Home size Average cost
1 bedroom $20–$200 (plus mileage fees)
2-3 bedrooms $20–$250 (plus mileage fees)
4-5 bedrooms $40–$250 (plus mileage fees)

Cost for a move less than 250 miles with a rental truck

Home size Average cost
1 bedroom $289–$350 (plus fuel costs)
2-3 bedrooms $289–$350 (plus fuel costs)
4-5 bedrooms $300–$600 (plus fuel charges)

Cost for a long-distance move with a rental truck

Home size Average cost
1 bedroom $800–$1,900 (plus fuel charges)
2-3 bedrooms $1,200–$2,850 (plus fuel charges)
4-5 bedrooms $1,800–$3,100 (plus fuel charges)

Request a free quote from several moving companies to ensure you’re getting the best price for your budget and desired services.

Services

When you choose a moving truck rental, you’ll be responsible for everything. Most importantly, you’ll need to find a reliable moving truck rental company, figure out where you’ll return the truck, and make sure to rent the truck for long enough to complete your move.

You’ll either need to hire laborers to help with packing and loading or handle it entirely on your own. If you’re moving from one city to another or across state lines, you’ll need to hire two different crews: one for loading and a second for unloading.

Renting a moving truck or cargo van also means you’ll be in charge of driving and paying for fuel. And if you’re planning to tow a vehicle, you’ll need to rent a car dolly or car trailer, too.

Moving rental trucks are great if you have plenty of time and energy to handle the logistics or you’re on a tight budget, but they may not be the best if you are worried about driving a large truck on your own.

Availability

During the peak moving season, it may be harder to hire a moving company, while truck rentals are usually still fairly easy to find.

Availability will be determined by several other factors, including your home size, demand in your origin and destination locations, and the types of items you need to move.

Professional movers vs. truck rental: Which should you choose?

Should you hire professional movers or a rental truck

If your budget is the deciding factor in which method you choose, a moving truck rental likely makes the most sense. Handling the move by yourself with a rental is the more affordable option and offers you more control over the moving process.

If having a less stressful move matters to you more than cost, hiring a professional moving company is probably the way to go. It’s more expensive, but you won’t have to do any heavy lifting or drive a large truck. Hiring professional movers allows you to focus on other things involved in your move, like setting up the utilities at your new place.

Use professional movers if:

  • You have a lot of heavy furniture that would be difficult to move on your own
  • You live somewhere parking a truck would be difficult
  • You have specialty items that require an experienced hand

Don’t use professional movers if:

  • You’re on a tight budget
  • You don’t have a lot of belongings to move

Rent a moving truck if:

  • You only need a one-way rental
  • Your new home is nearby with convenient parking
  • Your moving date is last-minute or you need a flexible cancellation policy

Don’t rent a moving truck if:

  • You can fit all your belongings in a moving storage container or cargo van
  • You don’t feel comfortable driving a truck

Professional movers vs. truck rentals: FAQs

Is it worth it to hire professional movers or should I just rent a truck and move myself?

It can be worth it to hire professional movers if you have a flexible budget, have disabilities that prevent you from doing heavy lifting, or don’t have the time to do some or all of the moving process on your own.

Full-service movers take a lot of the difficulty out of the moving experience, but with added expenses. If you have a tight budget, friends who are willing to help with moving labor, or you’re moving nearby, renting a truck can be a good choice.

What should I consider when deciding between hiring professional movers or renting a truck?

When deciding between hiring professional movers or renting a truck, you should first consider the scope of your move. Renting a moving truck can be a cost-effective solution for small, local moves, but it may not be the best choice for large, long-distance moves.

You may also want to go with professional movers if you’re on a time crunch and won’t have time to pack or drive on your own. Moving containers can help you save on labor costs –– and you won’t have to drive.

What are the hidden costs of renting a moving truck vs. hiring professional movers?

When you rent a moving truck instead of hiring professional movers, you may end up with unexpected costs, including tolls, packing materials, and per mile fees. You may also need to factor in the cost of additional moving help for loading or unpacking and packing services if you decide to do a hybrid move.

What is the cheapest company to rent a truck from?

U-Haul is our cheapest moving company for DIY moves. U-Haul’s wide availability and competitive prices allow it to help you complete your moving projects on a budget, but don’t accept the first quote you receive.

Our best cheap moving companies round-up has a long list of options. We generally recommend you request quotes from at least three providers before making your final choice.

Why are professional movers so expensive?

Professional movers have business operating costs, including fuel, vehicle expenses, employee benefits and salaries, equipment maintenance, insurance, packing supplies, and storage facility rentals. Amateur or small part-time movers don’t have these expenses.

Consult our best cheap moving companies round-up to choose a budget-conscious moving company that meets your needs.

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