Jacob Beckstead
November 2, 2023
Article type:
Moving Help & Tips
Applies to:
All Moving

Mastering DIY Moving Part 2: Conducting a DIY Move On a Budget

You’re likely reading this article for one of two reasons:

  1. You came from Part 1 of this low-cost DIY moving series, which focused entirely on cost-effective move prep. In that article, we covered basics like decluttering, obtaining moving equipment, finding cheap moving boxes, and avoiding boxes/totes that may damage your belongings.
  2. You typed “how do I move for cheap?” into the Google search bar, trying to curb the ever-looming stress of your move before it’s even begun.

No matter the reason, I’d like to welcome you as you prepare for this exciting journey. As someone who has worked in the moving industry for many years, I can assure you that not everyone needs to hire professional movers. You can accomplish your move without boosting your budget and losing sleep.

Allow this article to serve as your guide to low-cost, safe DIY moving. Here, I’m going to provide you with all the same advice and assistance I offer to my friends and family who ask for DIY moving help. In each section, I will present a recommended approach to accomplish the subject of that section. Then, I will provide alternative ideas if you are unable to implement that recommended approach. Every DIY move involves a series of trade-offs, but the more closely you can align your move with the "Standard" approach outlined in each section, the better it will be for you.

Choosing A Moving Truck

This section is for people who are choosing to rent a moving truck. If you're choosing portable storage, there's a section further down that delves into that.

There are two crucial factors to consider before renting a moving truck:

  1. The first is size, which you’ll determine by the amount of belongings you need to transport and the distance of your move. While the quantity of items is self-evident, it becomes even more critical to choose a truck that can accommodate as much as possible when the distance is greater. This helps minimize additional driving time, which ultimately saves money by reducing fuel spent and minimizing your rental time. However, if your move is just around the corner, you may be able to get by with a smaller truck and make extra trips without incurring significant additional costs.
  2. The second factor to consider is truck height. It's important to consider the height of the truck box floor from the ground. Lowering the height makes it easier to load items into the truck with less effort. This is particularly relevant for those who plan to rent a trailer from a freight company or a non-specialized moving company. Freight trucks are typically "dock height," meaning the box is about 4 feet from the ground. When you think about it, that's quite tall, requiring a long ramp for convenient access. To assist you, here is a guide to help you navigate recommended ramp sizes. Use the measurements from the ground to the floor of the box or trailer that you'll load on.

If it's:

    • 20" - 26" tall - use a 10ft ramp (9-12 degrees)
    • 26" - 30" tall - use a 12ft ramp (10-12 degrees)
    • 30" - 45" tall - use a 14ft ramp (10-14 degrees)
    • 45" - 48" tall - use a 16ft ramp. (13-14 degrees)

In summary, the selection of a moving truck hinges on several factors, including the volume of belongings, distance of the move, and truck height from the ground. Making an informed decision will not only ensure a smoother moving process but also minimize unnecessary costs, reduce the risk of injury, and optimize the loading process.

Moving with Portable Storage

This section is for people who are choosing to accomplish their DIY move using portable storage over a rental truck.

The biggest question people have regarding low-cost moving using portable storage containers is how many containers will I need? To be honest, that's next to impossible to answer. Every company has different sized containers and limitations. Some companies have weight restrictions on their containers, while others are sturdy enough to be loaded to the brim. So, consult with the portable storage companies you’re considering to help you decide how many you need.

But what else should you consider?

  • Size of Containers Needed: While a larger container may accommodate most of your belongings, sometimes it may be more practical to rent several smaller ones. This could be beneficial for organizational purposes or if your new residence has limited space to accommodate a large container. Carefully plan the distribution of your items across multiple containers, if needed.
  • Access and Duration of Use: Determine how often and quickly you need access to your belongings. If you need frequent access to your items while you load, you might consider renting extra containers to avoid having to unload and reload a single container repeatedly. Additionally, consider the duration for which you'll need the containers. Long-term rental might make larger or additional units more cost effective.
  • Delivery and Placement: Finally, consider how the containers will be delivered and where they will be placed. Not all locations can accommodate large containers. Apartment complexes are notoriously difficult, for example. Also, some providers may not be equipped to deliver to certain locations or terrains. Ensure that your chosen location is accessible to the delivery vehicle and has enough space for the container.

As you can tell, planning is key for having a cost-effective and successful DIY move using portable storage. Each decision—from the size and number of containers to the frequency of access and delivery location—plays a significant role in ensuring a smooth transition. By leveraging the flexibility that portable storage provides, and keeping in mind the factors mentioned above, you can optimize your moving experience.

How Long Will it Take Me to Move?

Moving always takes longer than expected. When professional movers handle local moves, they typically require 1-2 days. If packing is included, add another 1-2 days to the timeline. Keep in mind that this involves a trained team of 3-4 individuals devoting their entire day to the task. Realistically, your own pace will likely be about half as fast as that of a professional mover.

Let's use a standard 4-bedroom house as an example. Keep in mind the average 4-bedroom house is comprised of about 2500 square feet, with household goods typically weighing 15,000 pounds. During your DIY move, you should expect there to be about 80 boxes of items.

  • You'll pack an average of 3-4 boxes per hour, per person - which means about 25 hours of packing.
  • You'll load about 250 pounds per hour, per person - which means about 60 hours of loading.
  • You'll unload at about 375 pounds per hour, per person - which means about 40 hours of unloading.

Completing this project will require a total of approximately 125 hours. However, keep in mind that the duration might vary depending on the number of people assisting you. For instance, if you and three friends are fully dedicated and work for 10 hours a day, it will take approximately 3.5 days to complete the project, not including travel time.

Typically, most people complete DIY moves like this within 2-4 weeks, starting from packing to finishing unloading, with additional time required for interstate moves (around 1-2 weeks). It is worth mentioning that unpacking time is not usually considered, as it varies widely depending on individual preferences and methods.

The Etiquette of Asking People for Help During Moving Day

This final section serves as a guideline, rather than a strict set of rules, for seeking assistance during a DIY move. Moving can be a stressful experience that has the potential to strain connections and break friendships. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize the support of family and friends. These are the individuals who know you best, genuinely care about your well-being, and are most likely to stand by you even during moments of during the moving process.

So, get them to help if you can. Moving can be overwhelming, so surrounding yourself with people who are understanding and forgiving during your vulnerable moments is invaluable.

However, if you find yourself without the assistance of family or friends, consider reaching out to other social groups within your community. Remember that these individuals may not know you as well, and asking for their time and help may require additional consideration. To make the process smoother, I recommend attempting to move as much as you can independently first. Then, you can ask these individuals for assistance with tasks that require multiple people, such as moving large furniture or heavy boxes. They may expect compensation for their efforts if they are to help you move everything you own. In that case, it may be more practical to hire professional movers.

By following these suggestions, you can navigate the moving process while maintaining strong relationships and minimizing potential conflicts.

Ready For Your Low-Cost DIY Move? You Should Be!

Remember, it's important to consider the unique circumstances of your move before you begin. Whether it's the size of your house, the number of items you have, or the distance you are moving, they’ll all impact your DIY move.

By utilizing the tips and guidelines provided in this article, you can approach your DIY move with a well-informed mindset, prepped to keep costs as low as possible. The key is to prepare, plan, and then proceed. And remember, it's okay to ask for help.