Are U-Haul Trucks Good for Small Moves?

Renting a small U-Haul van or truck can be a great option for studio and one-bedroom apartment moves.

If you’re not moving appliances and/or bulky furniture, one helper will usually suffice, and the price for in-town rentals is definitely affordable.

U-Haul has six truck options, but the smallest three generally make the most sense on small moves.

In this post, we’ll cover the ins and outs of U-Haul’s smallest vehicles, but before continuing on it’s worth taking a few moments to consider DIY alternatives like the best interstate movers and container moving companies.

In some cases, they’re just as inexpensive as renting a truck, and you won’t have the added stress and liability of doing the driving yourself.

But first, check out these helpful articles.

  • Best Interstate Movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, it’s worth hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews.
  • How much will your move cost? – Our moving cost calculator is a great resource. Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move, and the magic algorithms will do the rest.
  • Consider moving containers – It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks. These are the best moving container companies.

Local moves vs long-distance moves with U-Haul

When moving the contents of a minimally furnished apartment across town, renting a U-Haul truck is an option worth considering.

Their trucks are convenient and affordable, and you can rent additional moving equipment like dollies, moving pads, and walk boards (ramps).

On the flip side, if you’re relocating to a neighboring state or from one coast to the other, you’ll want to consider –

  • The cost of fuel (more on this shortly)
  • The risk of driving a large vehicle in cities, mountains, rain, ice, and snow
  • Your family’s comfort and safety
  • The possibility of breaking down in a remote area
  • The cost of additional insurance

When these costs and factors are taken into account, renting a truck often becomes less appealing.

If so, think about budgeting for a full-service move using our moving cost calculator.

The best U-Haul vans and trucks for small moves

Pickup truck

Though they’re more car-like and easier to drive than vans and box trucks, pickups have one huge disadvantage – open cargo areas.

Other than the bed itself, they don’t have walls or a roof which means –

  • There’s the less usable cargo area
  • Your items are exposed to the elements, road debris and bird droppings
  • The chances of something getting stolen or falling out are higher

That said if you’re only moving a few night tables and a dozen boxes across town, a pickup truck may be adequate.

U-Haul pickup truck specs

  • Gross vehicle weight (GVW) – 6,700 pounds
  • Towing capacity – up to 6,000 pounds
  • Cargo area (length x width x height) – 7’10” x 5’2″ x 1’9″
  • Deck height – 3 feet
  • Seats for adults – 3
  • Fuel capacity – 34 gallons
  • Miles per gallon – up to 19

Cargo van

You may pay a bit more to rent a cargo van, but their safety, security and enclosed cargo area generally make them a better value.

Cargo vans work well for relatively small business deliveries, and they’re capable of holding the contents of a studio apartment excluding large items like refrigerators and full-size sofas.

Cargo van specs

  • GVW – 9,000 pounds
  • Towing capacity – NA
  • Cargo area dimensions – 9’6″ x 5’7″ x 4’8″
  • Interior volume – 245 cubic feet
  • Deck height – 2’5”
  • Adult seats – 2
  • Fuel capacity – 25 gallons
  • Miles per gallon – up to 18

10-foot box truck

For small moves that include appliances, beds, dressers and sofas, 10-foot box trucks are probably the way to go.

When packed tightly they can hold a surprising amount of household goods, and even if you don’t use every inch of space the loading process will be faster and easier.

10-foot truck specs

  • GVW – 8,600 pounds
  • Towing capacity – 6,000 pounds
  • Cargo area – 9’11” x 6’4″ x 6’2″
  • Volume – 402 cubic feet
  • Deck height – 2’5”
  • Adult seats – 2
  • Fuel capacity – 31 gallons
  • Miles per gallon – up to 12

Fuel – a huge expense when renting a U-Haul

According to AAA, the average nationwide price for a gallon of gasoline on December 12, 2021 was $3.329.

When perusing U-Haul’s truck spec page you’ll notice that they use the phrase “up to” in regard to fuel mileage.

For example, the website states that 10-foot trucks get “up to” 12 mpg.

Translation – in the real world you may get 9 or 10 miles per gallon.

Let’s look at a few quick examples to show how quickly fuel costs can add up –

Moving from New York to Chicago

Distance – about 800 miles

Fuel consumption – 80 gallons (10 miles per gallon average)

Fuel cost – approximately $265 using the average price quoted above

Moving from New York to Los Angeles

Distance – about 2,800 miles

Fuel consumption – 280 gallons

Fuel cost – approximately $930

Oh, and don’t forget about tolls, lodging, food for each day you’ll be on the road.

It really adds up, which is why hiring a small move specialist like MiniMoves is often a better alternative.

Pickup vs van vs truck – which is better?

When possible it’s always best to use a vehicle with an enclosed cargo area for moving household goods.

For this reason, vans and 10-foot trucks are the best choices.

It’s worth noting, however, that neither pickups, vans or 10-foot trucks come with ramps for loading and unloading, so you’ll need to hoist everything up into the truck bed.

Frequently asked questions (faqs)

What options does U-Haul have for small moves?

With U-Haul, the best vehicles for 1-bedroom and studio apartment moves are cargo vans and 10-foot box trucks because they have secure, enclosed cargo areas and higher gross weights than pickup trucks.

What size U-Haul should I rent for moving an apartment?

When moving a moderately furnished apartment including sofas, dressers and appliances it’s best to err on the high side and rent a 10-foot truck.

What size U-Haul should I rent for moving a studio?

Cargo vans usually have enough space to move the contents of a studio apartment.

How much does it cost to rent a U-Haul pickup truck?

Local pickup truck rental rates are often advertised as low as $19.95, but additional fees and costs (like a per-mile rate) apply.

Can I rent a pickup truck or van for a long-distance move?

In most cases, pickup trucks are reserved for local use. Vans may be rented for short interstate moves, but in most cases, a 10-foot truck will be the smallest option available if you’re moving more than 100 miles.

What can you fit inside a cargo van?

According to their website, you can load a twin mattress/box spring set, three-person sofa and two nightstands into a U-Haul cargo van and still have room left over for miscellaneous items like boxes and chairs.

How to Ship Your Furniture using U-Pack

For more than two decades U-Pack has been a top player in the household goods moving industry.

In fact, they’ve handled nearly 1.5 million relocations since 1997, and to make the moving process less tedious, confusing, and stressful, they’ve distilled their system down to a few easy steps.

In this post, we’ll skip the “fluff” and jump right into the following useful information –

  • Moving and storage options with U-Pack
  • Estimating how much space you’ll need
  • Ways to book your move
  • How much your move will cost

But first, take a minute to get a free “ballpark” quote from our moving cost calculator.

Just enter a few key move details, and the magic algorithms will do the rest.

U-Pack makes the moving process simple

In most cases, U-Pack only offers moving and storage services if the distance between your old and new homes is greater than 100 miles.

Depending on the size of your home or apartment, you’ll have the option of choosing ReloCube containers or a 28-foot “pup” trailer.

You’ll pay for each container you use, but with a trailer, you’ll only pay for the space your items occupy.

Moving with U-Pack works like this –

After booking your move online or over the phone, their driver will deliver your trailer or container(s) to your home or apartment.

Then, you’ll have three days to load your items.

Next, they’ll transport your trailer or container to your new address and you’ll have three days to unload everything.

And finally, they’ll come to pick it up when it’s empty.

It couldn’t be easier, but we always recommend getting quotes from other leading moving container companies as well.

U-Pack is a great option for storage too

Coordinating moving dates with closings and lease signings can be tricky.

If you need storage before moving into your new home, you’ll have the option of storing your items at one of U-Pack’s secure, climate-controlled facilities.

Just remember that –

  • Storage fees are charged monthly and can’t be prorated
  • You won’t be able to keep your trailer or container onsite
  • Storage rates vary by location
  • Local storage isn’t usually available

Estimating how much space you’ll need is a snap

Determining space requirements doesn’t have to be a hassle.

With U-Pack, all you’ll need to get the ball rolling is the square footage of your home or apartment.

Square footage Trailer floor space (in feet) ReloCubes
Less than 600 6 1 or 2
Between 601 and 1,000 7 2 or 3
1,001 to 1,500 13 2 or 3
1,501 to 1,800 17 3 or 4
1,801 to 2,400 23 Between 4 and 6
More than 2,400 35 (more than one trailer) 7 or more

Remember, these are rough numbers based on moderately furnished homes and apartments.

It’s always best to estimate on the high side if you’re not sure how much trailer space you’ll need, or how many ReloCubes it’ll take to complete your move.

Who doesn’t love easy booking?

Getting quotes and reserving your trailer or ReloCube are no-brainers.

Just go to U-Pack’s website and enter –

  • Your origin and destination zip codes
  • How many rooms you need to have moved
  • When you’re planning on moving

Within seconds you’ll get a free quote based on the least expensive option.

For example, if you’re moving to a studio apartment the quote will default to using one ReloCube instead of a trailer.

In addition, you can add –

  • Labor for loading and unloading
  • Moving supplies like boxes, tape, and packing paper
  • Optional insurance

You’ll see how much each costs before adding them, and you can always go back and edit your quote later if your situation or budget changes.

Once you’re satisfied with your quote you can usually book your move online.

If you still have unanswered questions, just jot down your reference number and call U-Pack to speak with a representative.

You’ll need to give them your credit card information at booking, but you can change move details up to the day before your scheduled service.

U-Pack offers two convenient equipment options

Unlike their competitors, U-Pack offers containers and trailers to accommodate moves of all sizes.

ReloCubes – good for small moves

ReloCubes are weatherproof metal containers that are safe and affordable for long-distance moving.

Measuring 6’ x 7’ x 8’, each unit has about 308 cubic feet of usable interior space, which is usually enough for the contents (furniture and boxes) of one room.

Since ReloCubes sit directly on the ground, loading and unloading are safe and easy since you won’t need to use walk boards (ramps) like you will with a trailer.

Trailers – best for large apartments and single-family homes

The inside of U-Pack moving trailers are 27 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 9 feet high.

Interior capacity is a whopping 1940 cubic feet, or about 6.3 times larger than a single ReloCube.

Trailers can typically hold the contents of a 2 or 3-bedroom home, but if you have an attic, basement, and garage you may need more space.

U-Pack trailers have weight limits of 22,500 pounds, but most household goods shipments packed from front to back and floor to ceiling inside a 28-foot trailer won’t weigh more than 12,000 pounds.

Since their floors are 48 inches off the ground, trailers come with 14-foot ramps to make loading and unloading easier.

Just keep in mind that ramps weigh approximately 150 pounds, so you’ll need a helper to get them into position.

After loading you’ll install a secure divider (included at no extra charge) called a bulkhead.

To maximize efficiency and keep costs low, U-Pack fills unused space with commercial freight or other household goods shipments, so keeping your items separate is important.

Bulkheads stay in place until you remove them at your new home or apartment, just be sure to load the ramp in the back of the trailer.

U-Pack cancellation policy

There aren’t any additional fees for cancellations made at least seven days before your scheduled service date.

However, if you cancel within seven days there’s a $50 fee, and canceling within 24 hours of your scheduled drop-off date will result in a $150 charge.

U-Pack pricing at a glance

Your move cost with U-Pack will depend on –

  • Whether you use a trailer or Relocube(s)
  • The distance between your old and new homes
  • What time of the year you’re moving
  • If you need storage and additional items like insurance, labor, or packing materials

The following table will give you a general idea of moving costs.

1 bedroom 2 or 3 bedrooms 4 or 5 bedrooms
Less than 500 miles $1,390 $1,720 $2,300+
More than 500 miles $2,260 $3,250 $5,100+

Again, these are rough numbers, so be sure to get a free quote based on your specific move details.

Is U-Pack right for you?

With multiple variables and service options to consider, it’s always wise to do a cost-benefit analysis before settling on one particular company.

The pros –

  • Usually more affordable than full-service movers
  • Moving and storage services are available
  • Transparent pricing means no hidden fees
  • Easy-to-use website and instant quotes
  • Quick delivery times
  • Online tracker allows you to monitor your shipment while in transit
  • You can easily add items like labor and packing material
  • Choose from containers or trailer
  • Customers only pay for the space they use
  • You don’t have to drive a moving truck
  • Your items stay where you load them

The cons-

  • No moves less than 100 miles (in most cases)
  • Spring suspensions (not air ride) can damage fragile household items
  • Last-minute cancellation fees apply
  • No on-site storage is available
  • Trailers are high which means you’ll need to use ramps for loading and unloading
  • Due to their size parking can be an issue with moving trailers

The verdict

These days getting the most bang for your buck is all about having convenient and affordable options.

In short, U-Pack is head and shoulders above much of the competition.

However, if full-service movers are a better fit, be sure to familiarize yourself with common moving scams and insist on working with the best interstate moving companies.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to ship furniture using U-Pack?

Standard delivery is usually between 2 and 5 days, but transit times on cross-country moves may be longer.

How much does it cost to ship furniture using a U-Pack?

Prices can be less than $500 for short-distance container moves, while long-distance trailer moves often cost well over $5,000.

Can you ship individual items with U-Pack?

Yes, you can ship individual items in ReloCubes.

How does U-Pack compare to other furniture shippers?

U-Pack is generally less expensive and offers more options than full-service movers.

Is it safe to ship furniture using a U-Pack?

Yes, U-Pack ReloCubes and 28-foot trailers are safe options for transporting household goods.

Who should use U-Pack for shipping furniture?

If you’re moving more than 100 miles and would rather leave the driving to professionals, U-Pack may be the way to go.


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