The Decision: Hire a Professional Mover or Do It Yourself

When planning a move, whether across town or cross country, the most important decision is whether or not to hire a team of professional movers as opposed to taking on the burden of moving on your own.

Most people think they will save a lot of money if they decide to move themselves. In reality, when you weigh all the positives and negatives associated with a do it yourself (DIY) move, it is commonly not the case.

A recent market survey asked DIY movers if they would do it on their own again – 4 out of 5 said No.

Cost Comparison: Move from San Diego, CA to Boise, ID for a 3-Bedroom Home totaling 10,000 pounds:

  Do It Yourself (DIY) Full Service Move
Truck Rental $4,366 $5,692
Packing Expense $2,100 $2,800
Loading Labor $600 (3 men) Included
Driving the Truck to new Home Your Risk and Responsibility Included
Unloading Labor $600 (3 men) Included
Fuel $300 Included
Transit Protection for Belongings Unknown $439
Vacation/Personal Time from Work 7 days 3 days
Total $7,966 $8,931

Hire a Professional Mover vs. Do It Yourself Move PDF

Process for Moving on Your Own

  1. Rent a Truck
    • Assess your belongings and contact the truck rental company. Review your needs with the rental agent to determine the truck size. A second rental truck may be required if all of your contents don’t fit in one truck, or if the weight of the load exceeds truck scale regulations for a single vehicle.  
    • Most states require trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more to stop at any, and all, weigh stations. If a rental truck is over its maximum rated weight, a ticket will be issued and fines applied. In addition, the overweight truck must be held at the weigh station until an additional truck can be secured to remove the excess weight. 
    • Secure insurance coverage for the truck and ask your insurance agent about insuring the contents in the event of theft or damage while in transit.
  2. Packing and Loading
    • Itemize, sort and pack all of your belongings into moving boxes. You will need tape, boxes, packing paper, scissors and markers on hand for the process.
    • Once your furniture, boxes and miscellaneous items have been moved out of the home, they will need to be securely loaded into the moving truck. It is likely you will need to rent or purchase equipment to assist with the process, such as 2-wheel and 4-wheel dollies, furniture pads and straps to secure the load.
    • If you have large or heavy pieces of furniture, stairs, or other access challenges, you’ll need to secure additional labor to help with the moving and loading process.
  3. Driving the Rental Truck
    • From a risk and safety perspective, carefully consider if you are prepared to drive a straight truck cross country. Confirm that you have the proper license and insurance coverage (auto and liability) in case of an accident.
    • Plan for expenses that you will incur along the way to your new destination, as you will have to pay for fuel, hotel or lodging, food and tolls.  
    • Prepare an action plan in the event the truck has mechanical issues and you become stranded on the side of the road. Rental trucks occasionally break down which may jeopardize your health and safety, not to mention delay your arrival. 
    • All of your belongings will be in the truck throughout your move, so each time you stop at a hotel your belongings are at risk during the overnight hours. Liability for the safety and security of your items is your responsibility, and must be considered.
  4. Unloading at your New Home and Return of Rental Truck
    • Once you arrive at your new home, you will have to unload all of your furniture, boxes and miscellaneous items and place everything within your new home.
    • If you have large or heavy pieces of furniture, stairs, or other access challenges you will need to secure additional labor to help with the unloading process.
    • Now the unpacking and organizing process begins in your new home.
    • Return the rental truck once unloading is completed. If you rented moving equipment, it too will need to be returned or you will be charged by the rental company.
  5. Other Factors for Consideration
    • Take into account your time, the time of your friends, family members, and anybody else who is doing you a favor by helping you move. Also consider the implications if there is an injury during your move process to a family member or friend assisting.
    • For a DIY move, you will likely use vacation or personal days when you take time off from work. You also have to take into account the wear and tear on your body during the move as injuries do occur.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Moving Company

  • When hiring professionals, they have the capability and experience to take care of your move from start to finish, with efficient and well-trained teams. Executing moves day in and day out is their expertise.  
  • Experts pack and load your entire home into a truck; then drive it cross country; and finally unload your belongings into your new home.
  • Professional movers have access to the skilled and qualified labor required, as well as all packing and moving equipment including pads, dollies and more to improve efficiency and reduce wasted time.
  • A reputable moving company has process and procedures in place to move your belonging while taking precautions to protect your home and goods along the way.
  • A professional company taking care of the move transfers the risk and safety of your items to them. They have the insurance and experience to safely move your goods.  
  • The time and stress you will save by relying on a trusted moving partner is invaluable.


Compare Professional Movers vs. DIY

If you are in the process of either selecting a professional moving company or a DIY option, make sure to include all of the direct and indirect costs that are part of the equation. Work with a moving company to get a free estimate and compare it to the cost of a DIY move. As outlined above, once all the cost variables are compared, it isn’t a huge cost savings when you do it yourself.   


Direct Opinions, a market research company, recently did a survey of people who have moved within the last two years. When they asked Do It Yourself movers if they’d do it on their own again, 4 out of 5 people said No.


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