The Ultimate DIY Move Guide

What is a Do-It-Yourself Move?

In a DIY move, you handle the heavy lifting, literally. You’re packing, loading it onto a truck, driving that truck yourself, and then unloading and unpacking when you arrive at your new home. No hired help whatsoever, though getting a few friends to help is probably a good idea, as long as you make it worth their while (think pizza). The point is, you’re not enlisting professional help in a DIY move, so understanding the task ahead is crucial to your success.

When it comes to moving, the best part of doing it yourself is all the money you’ll save. Moving is expensive enough on its own, and if you’re able to shed the cost of hiring movers and a van line, you’ll likely save a ton. Still, it’s crucial that, should you decide to go the DIY route, you don’t underestimate the task at hand.


  • Saves money (in most cases)
  • Full control over belongings
  • Schedule on your own time


  • Requires more time and work for you
  • No insurance on belongings
  • Experts are likely better at moving your things

Planning and Scheduling

Setting a schedule (and doing your best to adhere to it) is crucial to having a successful move day. The best way to do this is to start with a rough outline, and refine it as the details materialize. For example, you probably know when you have to vacate your current home, but you might not know when you’ll have access to a rental truck. Starting with your move out and move in dates and fill in from there.

Three Anchor Dates

Current Lease End Date

This is when you have to be out of your current home. You absolutely cannot schedule your move after this date. If you are unable to move into your new place by this date, you’ll have to consider storage options for your belongings.

New Lease Start Date

This is the ideal day to schedule your move, though you’ll likely be able to move in after the date your lease begins. If you’re moving into an apartment building or a condo, make sure management is aware of your plans. Sometimes you have to schedule elevator time.

Move Day

This is the date of your move. It might be the same as your lease start or end date, but it might not. This is the day you’re moving your belongings to your destination city, and into your new home. Have everything packed in advance of this date.

Scheduling Tips

  • Try to make your move-in date as close to your move-out date as possible. The entire process is easier if you don’t have to put things in storage, even for a short period.
  • The hardest part of scheduling is making sure you have enough friends or family members to help. Getting everyone’s schedules to match up with your own is very tricky, so contact more people than you think you’ll need, with as much advance notice as possible.
  • Don’t forget to let your current and future property owners know your move-in and move-out plans. You might need to reserve elevator time, as well as time to park so you can load and unload belongings in front of the property.
  • Figure out the relevant dates so you’ll have a better idea of what you’ll need in terms of transporting your items, and getting help from friends.



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What You’ll Need

Being equipped for your move isn’t hard if you know what you’re going to need, as well as where to get it all. The earlier you can begin packing the better, so pick up materials as soon as you can!


Boxes of All Size

You can buy boxes if you want, but there are plenty of inexpensive or free ways to get them. Once you know you’re moving, start saving every box you get your hands on. Some grocery and liquor stores will even give them away for free if you ask.

You can buy boxes if you want, but there are plenty of inexpensive or free ways to get them. Once you know you’re moving, start saving every box you get your hands on. Some grocery and liquor stores will even give them away for free if you ask.

Packing Materials

Bubble wrap, newspaper, and/or packing peanuts are life savers. You want to keep fragile items and valuables protected, so make sure you have enough of this stuff to cover them all.

Tape and Box Cutter

Tape guns are a lifesaver, and if you have a couple of them, friends can help speed along packing. Just make sure you have enough rolls of tape.

Padding and Covers

Protecting your furniture is important, as things can shift around or get dirty during a move. Plastic sheeting or tarps are great to prevent dust and dirt from getting on your things. Padding helps with some of the finer items.


No, not the country music icon, even though she would keep spirits high during the move. The kind of dolly used to lift and move heavy things. Trust us, you’ll want to get one, and many rental moving trucks have one included.


Rental Truck

It wouldn’t be a true Do-It-Yourself move without one of these bad boys. Renting a truck to drive all of your stuff to your new location is the ultimate solution for those who want to go the extra DIY mile. There are a number of good rental providers for this, just make sure you’re getting the right size. You’ll likely have to pay for insurance, and you’ll definitely have to pay for gas, but this option is still normally less expensive than hiring movers and a van lines. Driving one of these is a lot different from a normal vehicle, but don't worry, we have tips.

Best For: Those comfortable driving a large truck, those who can move into their new home within the truck rental period.

Buddy System

>If you have a really great friend with a larger vehicle (or a couple of great friends with regular sized cars) you might be able to pull this off. Asking friends to help you lift boxes into a truck is one thing, asking them to help drive your belongings to a new location is something else entirely. It could end up saving you a lot of money, but before you spend anything, be sure to compare the cost of gas for multiple vehicles to the cost of a truck rental.

Best For: Those with great friends who own vehicles with cargo space, and those who aren’t moving too far.

Containerized Move

This stretches the definition of a Do-It-Yourself move, but it’s such a great option, especially if your move-out and move-in dates don’t match up.

With this option, your service provider will drop off a container, normally the same size as a smaller moving truck, and you can fill it on your own schedule.

Once you’re done packing the container, the provider picks it up and takes it to your new location for you to unpack. This is particularly useful for those considering storage, as many providers will allow the container to be stored for a period of time before they drop it off.  

Best For: Those who wish to take their time loading their belongings, those who require storage before their move-in date.

Making a Choice

After reviewing your options and considering the size of your move, It’s time to decide which ones are right for you.

Think about each option fully, and ask yourself questions like:

  • Are you confident in your truck driving skills, and ready to rent a truck?
  • Do you need storage for a few days and want to go with a containerized move?
  • Are you moving out on your current lease end date, or moving in on your new lease start date?

Figure out which options you’re using, and your plan is finally coming together! Make a move-day schedule and do your best to adhere to it.

Remember, saving money is great, but moving it stressful and hectic. It might be better in the long run if you hire professionals, especially if your employer is giving you money to put towards your relocation. If you’re confident you can handle it, or saving money is that important to you, you can get the job done.

Human Resources Today