What is a Local Move?
Most moving companies consider any move between 50 and 100 miles to be a local move, whereas a long-distance move is usually considered 400 miles or more in distance. Select moving companies consider a local move to be any move within the same zip code or state, and definitions of a local move may vary depending on where you’re located. The range in between is up to their discretion, but the cost per mile goes down considerably for a long-distance move. Local moves are more expensive per mile because movers still have to do the same packing, loading, and paying for fuel.
What is the Cheapest Way to Move Locally?
Besides getting away with moving DIY, renting a moving truck is your cheapest option. Renting a single truck can be anywhere from $35 to $130 per day, requiring you to pay only for fuel on top of these charges. Most moving vehicles take diesel fuel, which is cheaper than the unleaded gasoline you use in your car.
Why such a large price range in per-day moving truck rentals? This all depends on the size of the truck you’re renting, whether you need to move the amount of stuff in a studio apartment or a two-story house, or anything in between.
If you don’t have a lot of belongings and you can pack them all up into suitcases and a few boxes, you may be able to use your own vehicle to move, especially if you have a truck, hatchback, or SUV. If you can’t quite fit everything into your vehicle, simply borrow a trailer from a friend to provide that needed space.
If you need to rent a tow-behind trailer, you can usually expect to pay between $15 and $40 per day, depending on the size of the trailer you rent. You can even purchase a used trailer for your move if you’d like, which is pricier than simply renting one. However, this may be a good option if you’d like to take your time packing and driving to your destination and unpacking and settling in. You can then sell the trailer to get your money back when you’re done using it.
Other Affordable Ways to Move
There are a number of reasons why you may not want to rent a moving truck for your move. You might live in a densely populated area where parking a truck is a nightmare, your license may have expired, or you may simply not be comfortable operating such a large vehicle. If you’re looking for other options to move besides using your own vehicle or driving a moving trailer or truck, you may want to consider one or more of these budget-friendly moving options.
Use a Moving Container Service
You can use a moving container service like U-Pack, PODS, or 1-800-PACK-RAT to move affordably. The price is significantly higher than renting a moving truck, but it’s thousands of dollars cheaper than hiring a full-service mover to organize and execute your move for you.
When you contact the container company, you simply ask for the number of containers you need (different companies have different sized containers, so you’ll need to research which one you would like to go with and then choose your size from there). A qualified driver will then drop the container off at your home. Ensure there is enough space for the container, either in your driveway or residential parking lot.
After a few days, when you’re all packed up, you can call the company, and the driver will pick up the container you’ve packed and whisk it away to its new destination. This option is great because it frees you up from driving a large vehicle you may not be comfortable driving, and you can take your time packing. The average cost of a moving container service is around $2,600, which is much less than you’ll pay when hiring a team of professional movers.
Hire a Labor Service
If you hire a labor service, you’re hiring hourly help to get you all packed and loaded. Truck rental is not included, so you still need to rent a moving vehicle (or not, if you’re using your own). Labor services provide hourly help for $15 to $20 per person per hour from independent contractors. You can also request labor help with moving experience from a moving company, which will cost about $40 to $60 per person per hour. This gives you the option of simply hiring the most affordable help or paying extra for those with moving experience if you’ve got awkward items to pack or if some things are cumbersome and heavy.
Rent a Truck or Trailer
When you rent a truck, it’s so affordable that most of your cost for a local move will come from fuel. You can rent a moving truck from companies like U-Haul or Penske for less than $50 per day. You also can rent a moving trailer from those companies, and that can be as inexpensive as $15 per day. Your fuel costs will go up because you’re hauling a trailer behind a car full of your stuff, but since it’s a local move, this is one of your most affordable options.
Should You Hire a Moving Company for a Local Move?
Despite the fact that we are all searching for the best deal and minimal prices to pay for anything, especially a local move, sometimes moving yourself isn’t the best option. If you find yourself in one or more of these circumstances, consider hiring a moving company for your local move. It may not be the cheapest option, but it may be the best for you.
- You have more stuff than one moving truck or trailer can fit: Many of the cheapest options listed above require minimal space or small vehicles with which to make your local move. If your move requires more than one moving container or rental vehicle, then hiring a mover with plenty of vehicles, space, and professional experience could be the way to go.
- You’re moving with an older family member: Moving is a stressful enough experience without trying to do it all yourself when you have day-to-day responsibilities, making moving even more challenging, such as taking care of an older family member. You can hire a mover to do all the packing, loading, and transport while you focus on taking care of your loved ones.
- You have specialty items: This can include anything from fragile family heirlooms and antiques to delicate instruments like pianos. Professional movers have the tools and experience to pack up and move these items—chances are that you do not. Hiring a moving company to plan the logistics of your move and execute the heavy lifting can ensure that your specialty items stay in the same condition from origin to destination.
- You’re moving to start a new job, and you need to be out fast: When you’re moving locally in a DIY fashion, the schedule is more relaxed. The only person you’re working around is you. But if you’re starting a new job at your new place and they’re counting on you to arrive and be ready quickly, it might be best to opt for a moving company to take care of at least the loading, transport, and unloading of your belongings.
- You’re uncomfortable driving a larger vehicle or pulling a trailer: Not everyone is comfortable driving a moving truck or towing a trailer behind their own vehicle, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A moving container service or full-service mover can help you handle all of that. No driving awkward vehicles required.
- You need someone to handle the planning: If you have children or older family members, or just a large family in general, the moving process can be intimidating, exceptionally stressful, and you may not even know where to start. Movers have staff with years of expertise in evaluating the rooms in your home, and how much stuff you have to plan and execute your move with the most efficiency possible, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Signs of a Moving Scam
With all the excellent companies out there, there are always the illegitimate ones that seek only to take advantage of people in vulnerable situations within any industry. If you come across quotes or services that seem too good to be true, it’s probably because they are. Protect yourself from moving scams by keeping your eyes open for the following common signs of a fraudulent company.
- The company says they take cash only: If there is a strong emphasis on cash only, no exceptions, this is a huge red flag. When you pay for a service with cash and the company doesn’t deliver on its promises, you always have the option to file a chargeback with your credit card. You don’t have this option when you pay in cash, which is why illegitimate moving companies often demand cash payments.
- You don’t have to sign a contract: Legitimate moving companies always require you to sign a contract. This protects you from damages due to staff error, and it’s to protect them from not paying them. If there is no contract, move to another company.
- The company has no physical address: If there is no office or physical building where the company is located, this is a sign that they’re not an official business.
- Unprofessional customer service: If they ever answer a phone call with a simple “hello” rather than stating the name of the business in the answer, this is an indicator that the company isn’t really a company. Listen for professionalism and competence, which are cornerstones of any well-run business.
- Ridiculously low rates: If the rates seem incredibly low compared to other movers in the area, you should be wary of booking with that moving company. It takes money to pay laborers and customer service staff, cover overhead, maintain vehicles, purchase tools, and fill fuel tanks. A mover should have reasonable rates, not too low or too high.
Remember that it is always against the law for a moving company to refuse to deliver your shipment before paying a fee that you did not agree to and that isn’t laid out in your contract. If movers attempt to hold your shipment “hostage,” contact the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and file a complaint. The FMCSA can connect you with local law enforcement options to save your shipment and get your things back.
Tips to Lower Your Moving Costs
Whether you’re moving 20 miles away or 200, you can do plenty of things to make your local move cheaper (and easier). No matter which method you go with to move, you can lower your costs before turning on the ignition by using the following tips.
Sell What You Don’t Need
This is one of the easiest ways to cut down on moving costs. The less stuff you have, the less time it takes to pack and the less weight you will have to account for. That means less space in a moving vehicle and cheaper fuel costs. You can have a garage sale to make a few bucks while you clear out unneeded items or ask friends and family to “shop” in your home.
Whatever you don’t sell, you can donate to your local homeless shelter or the charity of your choice. You can lighten your load and feel good about doing it—not to mention that you may also be able to save on taxes with your donation.
Enlist Your Friends and Family
This is an excellent option to save money moving, especially if you don’t have much stuff. Your friends and family can work as a team to help you pack and load in no time, and perhaps they can even drive a car or two full of stuff so that you don’t have to rent any vehicles.
Save Up a Moving Cushion
This isn’t exactly a tip to lower the cost of your move, but it is a tip to keep you from stressing about unforeseen expenses. If you have ample notice of your move and plan at least several months ahead, you can start to save up a moving fund. That way, if and when you have to pay for things (labor service, truck rental, trailer rental, storage, etc.), you will already have that money set aside, and you can pay for those things without dipping into your normal household budget.
Find Free Packing Supplies
If you live anywhere near a grocery store or school, there is no reason to ever purchase boxes for moving. You may have to purchase packing tape, but that is readily available from any dollar store or even supermarket. Ask the manager of your local grocery store if you can have boxes for your move, and they’ll likely be happy to oblige. Otherwise, those boxes get flattened and strapped onto pallets to be recycled, and no one gets to benefit from using them. If you talk to any teacher acquaintances, they can also get you paper boxes, perfect for moving. You can also use suitcases to pack up when moving for a free and sturdy option that you likely already have around your home.
Move During the Off-Season
Even if you’re moving without hiring movers, you can still find great deals on truck and trailer rentals when you move during the off-season. In general, the off-season is in winter; however, there are slow weekly and monthly times to move as well. If you book a rental or hire laborers during the weekdays instead of weekends, or even in the middle of the month, it can save you some costs, since weekends and the start and end of the month are when most moves are planned.
Our Recommendations For Affordable Moving Options
There are a number of ways that you can save money when you move, especially if you’re only moving locally. If you decide that you don’t want to take the DIY route when planning your move, you might want to consider working with one of our recommended moving service providers below.
PODS is a moving container service that makes it exceptionally easy to move without breaking the bank. PODS offers three unique moving container sizes that you can use to customize your move, ensuring that you have plenty of space for all of your things.
PODS’ rates are affordable, and you can get an instant online quote for most local moving processes. You can also store your PODS container on your property for a month without incurring additional fees, which allows you to take your time loading and unloading. This leisurely process combined with PODS’ patented loading mechanism ensures a safer (and more affordable) move for you and your family.
Most Convenient Service
- Local & Long-Distance Moving Container Service
- Can Store PODS on Property or Storage Facility
- Three Container Sizes (7', 12' & 16')
American Van Lines
American Van Lines (AVL) is a nationwide moving company offering services throughout the continental United States. AVL is best known for its price matching policy, which helps to ensure that you get top-quality service without overpaying your moving team. The company will offer you a written estimate when you book with AVL. If you get a binding quote that’s more affordable than the option offered to you by AVL, the company will match the most advantageous rate for you.
In addition to providing policies that allow you to avoid overpaying for your move, AVL is also well-known for its strict employment practices. Instead of relying on third-party labor or independent contractors, AVL hires and trains all of its own staff in-house. This practice allows you to rest with peace of mind knowing that only well-trained and practiced movers will be moving your household goods.
Best Moving Add-ons
- Local, Long-Distance & International Moves
- Direct Carrier to All 48 Continental US States
- Storage Options Available
Safeway Moving Systems
If you need assistance from a professional moving team, but still want to save as much as possible, consider working with Safeway Moving Systems. Safeway Moving Systems is a moving broker that maintains a complete rolodex of connections with moving companies across the country. After connecting with a Safeway representative to tell the company more about your move, Safeway will pair you up with a moving company that happens to have availability when you need to move. This is a win-win for both you and the mover—you get a more affordable move coordinated on your behalf, while the moving company gets to maximize their profits by spending more time on the road.
Best for Military Moves
- FMCSA-Licensed Broker Nationwide
- Long-Distance Moving Only
- Packing & One Month Storage Included
The Key to Affordable Moving
Even if you think you know which moving service you want to work with, we recommend getting a quote from all of our recommended providers before you book your date. Getting a moving quote is easy and provides you with the most accurate information on what you expect to pay for your services. After all—you have no idea how much you could be able to save before you explore all of your options.
Cheapest Way to Move Locally FAQ
How can I move cheaply locally?
You can get rid of items you don’t need (sell, donate, toss), pack everything up yourself, and rent a moving truck. You can also use your own vehicle and simply tow a trailer behind it if you don’t have very much stuff to get to your new property.
How much does a typical local move cost?
A basic local move with no add-ons is typically only a few hundred dollars (vehicle rentals, fuel costs), even if you hire labor to help you. If you use a moving company for a local move, expect that to go up to around $2,000 to $2,500.
How much should I pay a friend to help me move?
This is completely up to you. Perhaps your friends will be happy if you feed them the day they’re helping out. If you want to pay them, you should start with around $15 an hour if they’re helping you from the beginning of the process. Some will feel uncomfortable accepting hourly payment, so you may want to offer dinner or a night out to your friends.