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Moving on Your Own: Expert Tips for the Do-It-Yourself Mover

The expense of moving from one home to another can put a toll on your budget. Moving company fees, storage rentals, utilities deposits, increases in insurance premiums and unexpected incidental expenses can sneak up on you.

Doing the moving yourself, instead of hiring a company to do it for you, is a great way to save cash. On average, you'll be able to reduce the cost of hiring a professional service by one-third to one-half.

Here's some helpful DIY advice from the experts at U-Haul International on planning, packing and loading your move.


It's no secret that planning ahead is the key to making things run smoothly, no matter what the circumstance.  

Consider the time of year. Moving during the summer? You're not alone. Nearly 45 percent of all moves occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Be sure to reserve your truck or van at least two to four weeks prior to moving day.

Avoid the weekend. Friday and Saturday are the most common days of the week for do-it-yourself moves, and they're also the most expensive. Moving Sunday through Thursday ensures better equipment selection.  It can also be less expensive, since truck demand is lower. Services like utilities, banks, your local cable company and government offices are open on weekdays, too, which can be a real plus.

Check for discounts. Moving centers offer different types of discounts, from AAA to military, and specials on moving boxes and equipment. Be sure to ask about discounts and specials when you make your reservation, so you'll get the best deal possible.


Select the right box. Boxes come in all shapes and sizes, from traditional squares for common items like books and clothing to specialty shapes for mirrors, electronics and china. Make sure your boxes are designed for moving or shipping, so they'll withstand the occasional bump or two. Boxes for packing can be purchased at truck rental facilities, shipping stores or storage facilities.

Pack strategically. Several weeks in advance of your move, designate a packing room where you can store boxes until moving day. Pace yourself! Each day, pack up a few things, and make sure to label the boxes with their contents and the room location in your new home. 

Create a moving day box. The end of a long moving day, when you want to grab a bite to eat, or just  crawl into bed and catch-up on your favorite shows On Demand, is not the time to figure out where you put your toothbrush.  Have essentials set aside, including toiletries, sheets, towels, tissues and a change of clothes. Pack these items in your clothes hamper or a brightly colored box, so you'll know just where to find them.

Make the most of your rental fee. Although you may be renting by the day, remember that your fee is based on hours. Make the most of your money by having all your boxes packed before it's time to pick up the truck or van.

Getting Your Equipment

Schedule extra time. Don’t assume you can just walk in and pick up the truck. Leave enough time in your schedule to go through the process, inspect your equipment and take care of any paperwork.

Ask questions. Now is the time to make sure you are familiar with your vehicle's operating and safety features. Ask for driving or packing tips and make sure you understand the safe use of dollies, blankets or any other equipment.

Be observant. Keep watch over the rental truck just as you would your own vehicle, periodically monitoring oil and gas levels, tire pressure and other systems.


Heavy first. The first boxes you load into the moving truck should be the heaviest. Make sure to pack them tight and close, to avoid items becoming jostled during transport.

Lock it up. Always secure the back door of the truck with a padlock.

Advise the destination. Smart movers have someone ready to assist them at their destination. Before you head out, let your helpers know when to expect you.

Tips provided by U-Haul International