Self Moving Cost Savings Example

Moving an entire household with a full service moving company is expensive. A full household with four bedrooms, living room, kitchen, basement, garage, can be around 7,000 to 10,000 pounds – 5 tons of stuff! A traditional moving company will generally charge using a combination of distance — or miles being moved — and weight of goods being moved. A full 10,000 pound family move over a 250 mile distance can cost upwards of $12,000 using a full service moving company that provides packing and loading/unloading service. Some people are lucky enough to have a corporate-sponsored move. But if you have to pay for it yourself, you may be considering a do-it-yourself move to save money. But because you are not a professional mover, you need some help to do it right, and to have the confidence to do it yourself. So how much could you save by doing it yourself? Well, let’s assume as an example a 10,000 pound move, which would require a combination of the largest U-Haul® 26 foot truck, pulling a U-Haul ® trailer. Depending on what you pay for boxes, helpers, and other supplies, a do-it-Yourself U-Haul® move (including personal expenses) over 250 miles would cost around $3,000. So that is a big savings of up to $9,000 compared to using a full service moving company. The trade-off, however, is a lot of hard work! But relax, there is now an instructional e-book available to take you through the entire self-moving process from beginning to end. Use the below link to order this book which was written by a former Professional mover!

Estimating Total Cost of the Move

Before logging onto the U-Haul web site, first develop a cost estimate using the Cost Calculator in TAB 4 of the moving template. Why? It’s important that you have an overall sense of what the move will cost before you place your order. If you are thinking that a household move will cost a couple of hundred bucks for a rental truck – think again. The truck is just one piece of the puzzle. We also need to order boxes, reserve furniture pads, figure out how much labor we need to pay for, and pick up some other supplies. There are non-U-Haul personal expenses to factor in also, like the cost of refreshments, dinners and hotel stays during the moving process. We will capture all of these expenses so you have a complete picture of what to expect.

Let’s take a look at the Moving Cost Calculator spreadsheet from TAB 4 of the Moving Template. The grand total from our estimate is around $3,083. Let’s break it down into the major cost components. This spreadsheet has already been filled in with the information from our sample move using TAB 1 (Planning Checklist), TAB 2 (Inventory Spreadsheet), and TAB 3 (Total Cubic Foot Estimate). Of course, you will modify the spreadsheet to fit your specific needs.

TAB 4: MOVING COST CALCULATORSize NeededWhere Obtain?Qualtity NeededCost Per ItemTotal
Rental Vehicles     
Rental Truck26 Foot TruckU-Haul Center/Web1232.00$232
Insurance for TruckSafe moveU-Haul Center/Web1 policy42.00$42
Rental Trailer (if needed)5' x 8' Foot TrailerU-Haul Center/Web176.00$76
Insurance for TrailerSafe MoveU-Haul Center/Web1 policy25.00$25
Roadside Assistance ProtectionSafe TripU-Haul Center/Web1 per trip5.00$5
Auto Trailer (if needed)Full TrailerU-Haul Center060.00$0
Insurance for Auto TrailerSafe moveU-Haul Center024.00 
Auto Dolly (if needed)2 Wheel DollyU-Haul Center050.00$0
Insurance for Auto DollySafe moveU-Haul Center024.00 
Padlock for TruckLong U-ShapeU-Haul Center or Store115.00$15
Padlock for TrailerRegularU-Haul Center or Store110.00$10
U-Haul Environmental FeeN/AU-Haul Center15.00$5
Subtotal    $410
Figure 3.4: Cost Estimator – Rental Vehicles

Note: U-Haul pricing obtained from

I’m going to break TAB 4 up into several sections for our review. You will complete the entire spreadsheet and save it to a unique name. The first part of the cost estimator, Figure 3.4, covers the rental vehicles. In our case, we know we will be renting the 26 foot truck. I have already entered the cost of a one-way rental from Buffalo, NY to Utica, NY based on visiting the U-Haul web site. (You will determine the actual cost of your rental truck once we visit the web site). We also decided to reserve a U-Haul trailer since our cubic foot estimate is very close to the truck’s maximum limit. The difference between my total cubic foot estimate (1,684), and the capacity of the large 26’ truck (1,682 cubic feet), is very close – only 2 cubic feet. I may get lucky and have everything fit, but I have decided to reserve the 5’ x 10’ trailer, which holds 208 cubic feet. That will give me some wiggle room in case my estimates were a little off. Again, you will fill in the cost of the trailer when we visit the web site, but I’ve filled in the cost for my Utica move to give you an idea. Both the truck and the trailer include the cost of standard insurance from U-Haul. I also included a $5 roadside assistance option called ‘SafeTrip’ that covers things like lost keys, flat tires, dead batteries, fuel service, and other roadside assistance needs. That is a really cheap price to pay for some peace of mind! The Cost Estimator template includes the auto dolly options. We won’t be using one for the Utica move, but it is included in case you don’t need the trailer but you decide to pull an auto with your truck. The other small item is the purchase of pad-locks for the truck loading door, and the trailer. If you already have pad-locks, just delete this cost item. Just a hint, I have found that I need to use a ‘long neck’ padlock to properly fit the U-Haul loading door.

You can see that my vehicle rental is $232, and the trailer rental is $76. However, add in the locks and the insurance, and the total is $410.

Rental Equipment     
Appliance DollyStandard Aluminum DollyU-Haul Center112.00$12
2-Wheel Utility DollyStandard Metal DollyU-Haul Center110.00$10
4 Wheel Furniture DollyStandard Wood DollyU-Haul Center110.00$10
Furniture Pads12 Pads per BagU-Haul Center10 bags$10/bag$100
Subtotal    $132
Gasoline for Rental TruckStandard Aluminum DollyGas Station Purchase25 gallons$3/gallon$75
Subtotal    $75

Figure 3.5: Cost Estimator – Other Rental Equipment

Figure 3.5 shows the next section of the Cost Estimator spreadsheet. This section covers other rental equipment that we will reserve at the same time that we reserve the truck. From our Inventory Spreadsheet, we know we will be moving appliances, so we will need to rent an Appliance Dolly. We will also rent the Utility Dolly for moving boxes, and the Furniture Dolly, for moving large furniture items. Our Inventory Spreadsheet also identified the need for 120 rental furniture pads, so we have that item captured as well.

Notice I have included an estimate of the amount of gasoline I will need when I drive the truck from Buffalo to Utica. I know that trip will be 250 miles, and the truck goes 10 miles on a gallon of gas. Therefore I know to plan for 25 gallons of gasoline. Now, gasoline is not a UHaul item, it is your own personal expense item. However, we want to estimate ALL the costs associated with the move, both U-Haul rental and personal, on our Cost Estimator spreadsheet. If you do not account for gasoline charges ahead of time, it may come as quite a surprise the first time you pull a 26 foot rental truck up to the gas pump for a fill up!

Moving Boxes
Extra Large Boxes 6 Cubic Feet U-Haul 12 2.37 $28
Large Boxes 4.5 Cubic Feet U-Haul 32 1.67 $53
Medium Boxes 3 Cubic Feet U-Haul 50 1.37 $69
Small Boxes 1.5 Cubic Feet U-Haul 51 0.87 $44
Dish Barrel Boxes 5.2 Cubic Feet U-Haul 8 5.95 $48
Shorty Wordrobe Boxes 9.4 Cubic Feet U-Haul 14 8.95 $125
Grand Wordrobe Boxes 14 Cubic Feet U-Haul 5 12.95 $65
Mirror Boxes 5 Cubic Feet U-Haul 4 7.95 $32
Subtotal 176 $464
Other Supplies
Paper Moving Pads - 20 48" x 72" U-Haul Store 7 Packages/ 3 Per $5.10/Pkg $36
Masking Tape 2 inch Wide Rolls U-Haul or Store 8 Rolls $4/Roll $32
Magic Markers Thick Black Tips U-Haul or Store 4 $3/Pkg $6
Bubble Wrap 1 Roll = 100 Feet U-Haul 3 Rolls 20/Roll $60
Roll of 6" Plastic Stretch Wrap 1 Roll U-Haul 1 Roll $6/Roll $6
Boxes of Wrapping Paper 1 Box = 200 Sheets U-Haul Center 6 Boxes $10/Box $60
Moving Straps 6 Feet Long U-Haul Center or Store 2 Pair (4 straps) $25/pair $50
Carpet Film Protectors 24" x 50 foot roll U-Haul Center 1 package 50 Feet/Roll $3
Clothes line U-Haul or Store 1 package 50 Feet/Roll $3
Plastic Mattress Bags - with handles Queen U-Haul 1 $16/bag $16
Plastic Mattress Bags - no handle Twin U-Haul 3 $4/bag $12
Subtotal $311

Figure 3.6: Cost Estimator – Boxes and Other Supplies

The next items on the Cost Estimator spreadsheet, shown in Figure 3.6, are for the boxes we need to order, and other supplies that we can order from U-Haul. From our Inventory. Spreadsheet we know the types and quantities of boxes that we need. The Cost Estimator spreadsheet incudes the unit-cost per box from the U-Haul web site. By plugging the number of boxes in for each category, we end up with $464 for the 176 boxes that we will order. Now, I know what you are thinking. You are just going to save that $464 by going to the grocery store and collect a bunch of used boxes instead. Please, please, do not! For one thing, no grocery store carries specialty boxes like the Wardrobe boxes, or the Dish Barrel boxes. For another thing, it really slows down the loading process onto the truck when you have all sorts of odd shape boxes that do not stack well. And finally, keep reminding yourself, it would cost $12,000 to have a full service move. Yes, you will spend some money for boxes and supplies, but you will save $9,100 by doing it yourself, and it will get done properly! Above is a modified excerpt from the e-book: “Try Moving Yourself!: The Complete Self-Moving Guide for a Full Household Move Using U-Haul® Products And Services, by John A. Elie. The Moving Templates referenced in this article can be downloaded from the website: To order the complete book: =1594479311&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Check out this video to see how to move an Upright Piano:

You Tube Video Reinforcement – Moving an Upright Piano

How to Move an Upright Piano

Shipping Connections
5 min, 38 seconds
Source: Try Moving Yourself! The Complete Self-Moving Guide for a Full Household Move Using U-Haul® Products and Services (2020) John Elie, Author.