If you’re looking to save money on your next move, the choice to do-it-yourself is a no-brainer. Moving companies can offer greater peace of mind, insurance, and a simplified moving day – but they come at a cost. No matter how you look at it, it will always be cheaper to do the work yourself.
You know about the general options for a DIY move, like rental trucks, trailers, and containers or freight shipping which can cut costs dramatically. For most everything but the heaviest and most valuable items like hot tubs, pianos, grandfather clocks, and antiques – a DIY move is a great choice. For your heavy items and valuables, we usually recommend hiring specialty movers. Everything else can be safely packed and moved with the help of family and friends.
There are a lot of ways to simplify your DIY move. Here are our top 11 ways to have a smoother move.
1. Book a Rental in Advance
Just like movers, truck rentals can book up fast. Make sure you make your reservation at least five or six weeks in advance. If you are moving during peak season – between May and September – you should reserve the truck a couple of months before your scheduled moving date.
2. Give Yourself Enough Time
A DIY move can take days to execute if you are moving long distance. While local moves may only require a day, many relocations will require at least several days to complete. Be sure to set aside enough time to complete your move without rushing. You may want to take off a few more days than planned to be on the safe side.
If you will have to take time off from work, make sure to discuss it with your employer far in advance to ensure that it is not a problem.
It’s painful to think about throwing out your childhood memories. We’re not suggesting that. But if there are excess clothes, books, furniture – or simply things you won’t use again – there’s no better time to clean house than before you move. Remove clutter, lighten your load, and save money.
Have a moving sale to make some extra money for your move, donate unwanted items to charity, sell them online, or pass them on to loved ones. If you prefer to just throw away your unnecessary belongings, make sure to recycle appropriate items properly.
4. Get Help
Though it is referred to as a "do-it-yourself" move, it is difficult to complete alone. If you have friends or family that are willing to help – even with the packing – it will save a lot of time. Plus, it’s a good morale boost and motivation to keep the move rolling.
From a safety standpoint, having help is a no-brainer. Moving heavy items can cause injury if not done correctly, and you should never attempt to carry more than you can handle. Many bulky belongings like furniture and appliances cannot be safely carried by one person, especially up or down stairs.
We always recommend supplying food and even a “thank you” gift for friends willing to help you move.
5. Get Free Supplies
Buying brand new boxes and packing supplies can rack up your moving bill considerably. While fragile and valuable items should always be wrapped and boxed in high-quality materials, other items can be packed in used boxes. Visit your local grocer, liquor store, or bookstore for old boxes, or visit the U-Haul Box Exchange for donations. You can also ask friends or family that have moved recently for their old cartons.
When packing your goods in used boxes, make sure they are sturdy and always reinforce the bottoms with packing tape.
6. Pack Least Important Items First
Since you’re tackling the move solo, you have the benefit of taking your time. If you’re going piece-by-piece, be sure to leave the most important items for last. You don’t want your packing to interfere with everyday life.
To keep your packing process from interfering with daily life, always pack least important to most important. The items that are essential to your routine, like toiletries, bedding, and cookware, should be saved for last. Start by packing your least important items, like out of season attire, decorations, knick-knacks, books, and movies.
7. Leave Specialty Items to the Pros
Do you have a piano? Pool table? Grandfather clock? An assortment of valuable artwork and antiques? These belongings should be transported by professional movers to ensure they are not damaged. Items like pianos, grandfather clocks, and pool tables are complicated to disassemble, and the slightest error can prevent them from working properly again.
Specialty movers are moving companies that focus on the transport of difficult items, and have all the proper supplies and methods to ensure your belongings are handled correctly and delivered without a scratch.
8. Load the Truck Properly
While you may think you can just pack your rental truck to capacity and hit the road, there is a proper strategy for loading to ensure your goods remain stationary and do not sustain damage. Always pack your heaviest appliances first, towards the front of the truck (the area closest to the cab).
You can then load some of your other large items, like your mattresses, headboards, sofas, and tabletops along the sides of the truck. You should put them upright, and secure them to the panels on the sides of the truck. Follow with other heavy items, like dressers, tables, chairs, and bookcases in the center of the truck.
Boxes come last. Be sure not to put heavy boxes on top of furniture items or other boxes marked “fragile.” Fill any negative space beneath tables or other items with smaller boxes to help keep these items stationary and save space.
9. Plan your route
Before beginning your trip, make sure you have your route mapped out. If you are moving long-distance, designate your stops for food and rest in advance for the most streamlined and efficient trip. Planning your travel in advance will allow you to prepare for road weight restrictions or avoid low bridges that will not accommodate your truck.
Driving an unfamiliar moving truck will be much easier if you are confident in navigating your route. Getting confused or lost will only make your trip stressful and difficult. We prefer Waze or Google Maps for the most up-to-date navigation information.
10. Conserve Fuel
Rental moving trucks are economical only to rent. They burn a lot of gas compared to most modern trucks and cars. To get slightly better mileage (these trucks average between 8-14 MPG), use gas-saving techniques such as using cruise control, not speeding, braking slowly in cities, and keeping A/C use to a minimum. The lighter your load, the less gas you will burn, so be sure to purge your junk before your move!
11. Do you Need a Parking Permit?
If you live in an apartment or in a busy city, you may require a parking permit for your rental truck. Speak with your homeowner's association, landlord, or property management to determine if a permit is required. You may not need one if you are parking on private property – unless you wish to reserve space.
To get your permit, contact the appropriate city office. You can visit your city's government page and search for "moving parking permits", or call the city and request a transfer to the department that issues street parking permits. Most city websites have a main contact number for non-emergency information listed on their websites.
Ready For Your DIY Move?
Moving requires planning and attention to detail. By choosing a DIY move, you’re able to control many more elements of your relocation. And understanding how the little things can impact the big picture can make all the difference.