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How Much Does it Cost to Move Yourself?

Moving is something that almost every person will have to face, some multiple times in their lifetime. In an effort to save money many people choose to rely on friends and family and call in old favors to get the move done quickly and cost effectively. Depending on how far someone is moving and how much stuff they have, being a DIY mover is feasible.

The prices listed below are estimates; it is up to the individual to decide if they need more or less of an item or none at all. The costs of breaking leases, home down payments and security deposits should be added when figuring out a total budget. Be prepared to shop around and explore options. This is a time when a Costco or Sam's Club membership can come in extremely handy.

Material costs:
  • Boxes - for most situations boxes can be acquired for little or no cost from grocery stores, friend, family and retail businesses. For very large or awkwardly shaped items, companies which specialize in moving supplies sell individual boxes starting at $1.25 for small sizes to $4.50 for extra large boxes. Assuming you can't acquire enough free boxes for your move, $20-$30 would get you a large variety suitable for most needs.

  • Moving pads and blankets - This is an area where moving supply companies can be a little high. Most places, such as Home Depot and Harbor Freight, sell movers blankets ranging from $7-20. For most people, 5-7 should cover their needs. Total cost $35-140.

  • Moving truck - Truck rental varies based on size. A medium sized truck plus insurance runs right around $410 plus the cost of fuel at about $170, leaving an approximate $580 dent in the wallet. This varies a little based on the truck size as well, a 10" truck will move an apartment, whereas a 26" truck will move a 4+ bedroom house. Utilizing a friend with a truck is a good way to save money on this expense.

  • Packing materials - These can be picked up at any store, as a general rule $100 worth of tape, bubble wrap, paper and styrofoam peanuts will have you well on your way.

  • Food for the trip - Stocking coolers with sandwiches and drinks can save money. For those opting to stop and eat, figure on spending around $40 per person per day.

    The low end of this cost analysis is $775 all the way up to $890. While this is still cheaper than the several thousand dollar expenditures of hiring a moving company, deciding if the hard work is something that can be undertaken should be a deciding factor.

    Other ways to save money:
  • Sell, donate or give away anything that is no longer needed. This frees up space and provides extra travel cash.
  • Pack meals for the trip in a cooler
  • Explore Craigslist to see if anyone is selling the needed items, or even giving them away.
  • Have a game plan. As they say "time is money," so figure out ahead of time if you want to move the bigger items first or pack up the small things first. This really depends on the layout of the home and how many belongings someone has.
  • If you hire someone who works "on the side" to help in the loading or unloading you may save money, just be wary, they usually don't insure lost or broken items.
  • Put as much in a personal vehicle as possible, this may require creative packing but, can make a difference in the needed truck size.
  • Enlist the help of family and friends to fit stuff in their cars or even provide a place to spend the night. This saves on the cost of a hotel room.
  • Check your insurance policy to see if it covers items during the move. In addition to the cost benefits, a self-move gives pride and leaves many people feeling safer about their precious cargo. Take into account all of these factors before deciding to DIY or hire the professionals.

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