Renting a truck is typically a budget-friendly choice, while hiring a full-service moving company is usually thought of as a more luxurious option—but the truth is more nuanced than that.
Renting from a company like U-Haul means doing all the packing and loading yourself as well as driving a huge vehicle to your new home and paying for gas, lodging, and food along the way.
And while hiring a professional moving company can give you peace of mind by streamlining your moving experience, it will be more expensive and it can be tricky to get an up-front moving quote.
We’ll break all this down and more, but first we should point out that every move is different. To get an idea of how much each of these moving methods will cost you, use our moving cost calculator.
Let’s look at how renting a moving truck compares with hiring a professional moving company.
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There are plenty of pros and cons for both moving companies and truck rentals, and comparing them directly will help you decide which one is right for you.
Of course, you can also consider a moving container company that will drop off portable storage containers for you to pack. They then pick up the storage containers and deliver them to your new home—or a storage facility if you need more time
For large-volume moves, especially if you’re moving long-distance, we recommend a freight moving company.
Hiring a Moving Company
Hiring a professional moving company means you’ll have less to worry about. Moving companies take care of the heavy lifting and do the driving for you. You can even hire a full-service moving company to handle the packing and unpacking.
Transporting your belongings with a professional moving company means the move will likely be done much faster than doing so yourself. In some cases, it may be roughly the same price to hire interstate movers as it would to be to rent a moving truck.
Renting a Truck
If you decide to go the DIY route for your move, you’ll need to ensure you’re using a trustworthy truck rental company. Renting a moving truck means you’ll be doing the driving and paying to fill up the gas tank.
A moving truck rental doesn’t come with labor, so you’ll either have to hire moving labor to help with loading and unloading or handle it yourself. You’re in charge of when and how your items arrive, but most truck rental companies do offer car towing options.
Moving Company vs Truck Rental: How Each Service Works
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 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.
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 you’ll have to 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 one 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 Company vs Truck Rental: Availability
Moving companies and truck rentals are usually available if you book months in advance. But 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 many other factors, including home size, where you’re moving from, where you’re moving to, and the types of items you need to move. It’s easier to hire local movers than long-distance movers during peak season.
If you plan to hire professional movers, it’s best to book your move many months in advance. You can probably count on truck rentals being comparatively easier to find, with large truck rental companies across the country offering many options in most locations.
Moving Company vs Moving Truck Rental: Can You Fit All Your Stuff?
The quick answer? Yes.
Professional moving companies and moving truck rental companies offer multiple truck sizes for your needs, but it does start to get a bit tricky when you need to move a very large home (five bedrooms or more). If you find yourself in that position, a freight moving company may be a better option.
For most people, hiring professional movers or renting a moving truck will provide the necessary space to fit your belongings.
Professional Moving Company vs Truck Rental: How Much Do They Cost?
Many factors go into figuring out the cost of both a moving company and a truck rental, so it’s difficult to make an exact comparison. These factors include:
- Where you’re moving from and to (locations and distance).
- The size of the home you’re moving (how much stuff you have).
- Whether you have any speciality items (pianos, fragile items, ride-on mowers, or a car that needs to be towed).
- When you plan to move.
The cost of a truck rental will largely depend on the mileage used and the location you return the truck to once you’re done. A one-way truck rental will be priced differently than a local truck rental.
Cost for a Local Move
|Moving Company||Truck Rental|
|1 bedroom||$240 – $500||$20 – $200 (plus per-mile rate)|
|2-3 bedrooms||$320 – $800||$20 – $50 (plus per-mile rate)|
|4-5 bedrooms||$640 – $1,500||$40 – $100 (plus per-mile rate)|
Cost for a Move <250 Miles
|Moving Company||Truck Rental|
|1 bedroom||$1,400 – $3,500||$289 – $350 plus fuel costs|
|2-3 bedrooms||$1,800 – $5,300||$289 – $350 plus fuel costs|
|4-5 bedrooms||$2,400 – $7,000||$300 – $600 plus fuel costs|
Cost for a Cross-Country Move
|1 bedroom||$2,700 – $6,000||$800 – $1,900 plus fuel costs|
|2-3 bedrooms||$4,000 – $8,900||$1,200 – $2,850 plus fuel costs|
|4-5 bedrooms||$7,600 – $13,200||$1,800 – $3,100 plus fuel costs|
We suggest using a moving cost calculator to more accurately estimate how much your particular move will cost.
Moving With a Professional Moving Company: Pros and Cons
Our favorite thing about professional moving companies is the extent to which they can minimize the stress of your move. They handle the driving, and most offer packing supplies and services. Reputable full-service movers also offer liability coverage to help in case your items are damaged.
On the other hand, a professional moving company will be the most expensive option for most moves. Moving companies don’t offer much flexibility when it comes to your moving time frame, and they have a reputation for hidden fees.
Moving Company Pros
- There’s a decreased chance of accidents or damaged items.
- Moving crews will handle all the heavy lifting for you.
- Your move will be expedited compared to a DIY move.
- All moving supplies will be provided by the company.
- A moving company can provide tailored handling and packing for specialty items such as fragile objects, fine art, pianos, or electronics.
Moving Company Cons
- They’re more expensive compared to renting a moving truck.
- You won’t have the same amount of flexibility compared to a DIY move.
- You’ll have to be extra vigilant about hiring a respectable moving company and avoiding potential hidden fees, last-minute cancellations, and moving scams.
Moving With a Truck Rental: Pros and Cons
When it comes to affordable moving, it doesn’t get much better than renting a moving truck. If you’re working with a tight budget, you’ll likely need to find a truck rental company to keep moving costs down.
However, it’s not uncommon for truck rental companies to bury hidden costs in the final bill. We highly recommend reading the fine print and asking questions before deciding on a truck rental company.
Truck Rental Pros
- They’re more affordable than hiring a professional moving company.
- Most companies offer a variety of truck sizes and budget truck rentals.
- They’re widely available throughout the United States and Canada.
- You have more control over your moving date and time frame.
- If you have AAA, you may qualify for rental discounts with providers like Penske and U-Haul.
- Most places offer unlimited mileage for one-way truck rentals.
Truck Rental Cons
- It’s up to you to handle the driving and pay for gas.
- Hidden fees are common with some truck rental companies.
- Quotes vary quite a bit from one company to another.
- You may have to hire additional moving help to load and unload your truck rental.
- You may have to pay additional fees for roadside assistance.
Moving Company vs Truck Rental: Which Is Right for Your Move?
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.
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