On the bright side, staying stress-free and managing the moving process have never been easier.
In years past, renters and homeowners were limited to DIY moves or hiring full-service movers.
But now, cheaper and more customizable services are available that are perfect for families on tight budgets.
And speaking of tight budgets, before reading on, consider checking out our moving cost calculator.
Just remember that with so many variables, you’ll eventually want to get in-home estimates.
That said, free online moving quotes are great pre-move resources.
Now, five moving options worth checking out before your next move.
Before we dive in, here’s a quick breakdown of the top moving options:
- Hire Professional Movers: Don’t risk injury by moving heavy items yourself. Professional movers know what they’re doing and can save you the chance of hurting yourself and a loved one.
- Consider moving containers: Need a more budget-friendly option? With these companies, you load, and they drive! These are the best moving container companies.
- Rent a moving truck: If you want to pack and drive your items yourself, make sure to choose a reliable moving truck company. And don’t forget to pick up rental insurance.
- How much will your move cost?: This cost calculator will provide a free moving quote and calculation of what your move should cost. Just plug in your move dates, the size of your move, where you’re moving to/from, and let the calculator do the rest.
1. Hire full-service movers
For safety, value, convenience, and peace of mind, nothing beats the services of a professional moving company.
They’ll do all the heavy lifting and driving, as well as the packing and unpacking if you’re looking for a truly “white glove” experience.
But here’s the thing –
If you hire a fly-by-night van line or shady online broker, you may end up with a missed pick up, damage and loss, a late delivery, and inflated costs.
For a positive moving experience, you’d be much better off working with one of the best professional movers of 2021.
On the downside, full-service movers –
- Can be expensive
- May be fully booked in the peak season between June and August
- May increase their rates significantly during the summer months
- Might give you a delivery window of one, two, or three weeks on long-distance moves
- May present you with a final bill that exceeds the estimated charges
You should hire a full-service moving company if…
You’d rather pay a little extra and leave the hard work and driving to professionals.
2. Rent a moving truck
Raise your hand if you like –
- Wrangling up (begging) friends and family to help you move
- Lifting heavy items
- Stubbing your toes, smashing your fingers, and throwing out your back
- Missing work or wasting a weekend lugging furniture up and downstairs
- Driving a clunky moving truck through mountains, cities, ice, and snow
- Paying for pricy fuel, meals, and hotels while on the road
Of course, you probably answered “NO” to these questions.
However, renting a moving truck like a U-Haul and doing your move yourself have upsides as well.
Renting a truck is inexpensive compared to hiring full-service movers, and you’ll be in the driver’s seat from start to finish – literally and figuratively.
Just remember to rent the right truck size for your move and to reserve it weeks in advance if you’ll be moving during the summer.
Our Top 5 Long Distance Movers of 2021
500 interstate moving companies, 3 months of research, cross-referenced reviews, license data, insurance data, and federal complaint records.
2021 Best Moving Containers & Storage Companies
We spent 260 hours researching moving container and storage companies to find the best prices, best customer service, and fastest deliveries so you don't have to.
You should rent a moving truck if…
You’re relatively young, fit, and handy and would rather not spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a full-service move.
3. Go with a moving container
Whether you’re moving in town, cross-country, or just need temporary storage during a home renovation, moving containers may be the way to go.
They’re available in multiple container sizes and are perfect alternatives to renting moving trucks for the following reasons –
- You save money by loading and unloading yourself.
- Professionals do the driving whether you’re moving locally or out of state.
- You can use them for moving and storage (in most cases)
- They can accommodate the contents of most homes and apartments
- They’re constructed with steel and weatherproof materials to keep your items safe and dry
- They sit at ground level, so you won’t need a walk board for loading and unloading
Large moving containers (about 16-feet-long) can hold between 3 and 5 rooms worth of furniture and boxes if packed and loaded correctly.
Here’s how it works…
- You reserve your unit and set your date.
- The company delivers the container to your home, apartment, or business
- You’ll have a day or two to load it (check how much loading and unloading time are included)
- When you’re finished, the company picks it up and hauls it to your new address (or to one of their secure storage facilities)
- You have a day or two to unload it
On the downside, movers may not prorate storage.
In other words, if you use your container for two or three days after the first month, you may be charged for another whole month of storage.
You should rent a moving container if…
You’re interested in value and flexibility and can do the heavy lifting, but rather leave the driving to professionals.
4. Rent a freight trailer
Freight trucking companies are good moving options for those looking to save money without having to drive rental trucks.
Instead of wheelless containers, freight moving companies deliver empty 28-foot “pup” trailers to their customers’ homes and businesses.
They’ll have a day or two to load their items, after which a company truck will pick the trailer up and haul it to its final destination.
Customers are then given a day or two to unload.
But remember that –
- Freight trailers can’t be used for storage
- Charges are usually based on the amount of floor space your items take up
- They’re high, so you’ll need to go up and down a steep walk board during loading and unloading
- They’re usually not available for moves under 200 or 300 miles
- Most have spring-ride (not air-ride) suspensions that can be tough on fragile household goods
Top freight moving companies include ABF U-Pack and Estes SureMove.
You should go with a freight trailer if…
You’re moving the contents of a multi-room apartment or 3 or 4-bedroom home (excluding attics, garages, and basements) from one state to another.
5. Ship your household goods
Admittedly, shipping personal items by post or with parcel carriers like FedEx and UPS is only feasible if you have a few things.
However, for recent college graduates setting off on their own for the first time, it’s a great option.
It’s quick, convenient, and inexpensive, and you won’t need to worry about renting and driving moving trucks or shelling out big bucks to full-service movers.
You’d rather not part with that ratty IKEA bookcase from 1997?
Why not donate it and help the needy?
With the money you save shipping it, you can buy a new one when you get where you’re going.
You should ship your belongings if…
You’re pinching pennies and traveling light.
Hybrid Options for Convenience and Big Savings
The downside for moving containers and freight trailers is that the loading and loading are up to you.
But thankfully, there are a number of nationwide companies that provide labor-only moving services for those doing DIY moves.
Combining contract labor with the aforementioned moving options is like having your cake and eating it too.
In short, you’ll get a full-service for the price of a budget move.
Depending on your particular moving needs, consider –
- Renting a truck and hiring labor-only movers for help with loading and/or unloading
- Moving via container and hiring labor-only movers
- Shipping your household goods on a freight trailer and hiring labor-only movers
Companies that offer labor-only moving services include HireAHelper, Two Men and a Truck, and Movinglabor.com.
Finding moving help in your area is usually as easy as entering your zip code into the company’s website or giving them a call.
Just remember that –
- The movers won’t provide a truck
- They won’t drive your rental truck
- They may or may not be able to help with packing and unpacking (be sure to ask)
Additional Moving Resources for your Next Move
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the best options for international moves?
When moving overseas, household goods and personal items are usually loaded inside a shipping container and transported via ship. For small moves (1,000 pounds or less), however, they may be loaded into a wooden storage vault and then be loaded inside a shipping container.
Do van lines make local and intrastate moves?
Though they specialize in long-distance interstate moving, van line agents also make both local and intrastate moves.
Are online quotes accurate?
Most reputable full-service moving companies only provide detailed move cost estimates after a representative has visited your home. Some companies give customers “ballpark” quotes or free quotes for local moving services over the phone, but usually only on small moves. It’s probably best to avoid companies that only give phone estimates.
How can I reduce moving costs?
Remember, moving services aren’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Even if you hire a full-service moving company, you can control costs by doing the packing and unpacking yourself and downsizing beforehand. Better yet, consider using a storage container or freight company for your next move.
What is the average cost for a local move?
Pricing for local moves can vary greatly. Moving the contents (already packed) of a studio or 1-bedroom apartment may cost as little as $350. On the other hand, moving a multi-bedroom with full packing and unpacking services can cost $10,000 or more.
Can PODS containers be used for moving and storage?
Yes, you can use most portable storage containers like PODS for both moving and storage.