Making the Right Move: Moving Containers, Hiring Movers, or DIY Truck Rentals

A loaded moving truck

Moving is never cheap, unless you’re a recent college grad with only a few boxes to your name.

By the third or fourth move, you’ve accumulated so much stuff that you may need a 17-ft truck — or larger. You’re no longer moving into a studio apartment, but a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house.

While DIY moves were the obvious choice in your callow twenties, things are different now. You’re less spry, more prone to injuries, and you have enough disposable income that you can pay someone to do the heavy lifting.

So then, what’s your best option? Hiring professional movers, doing it all DIY, or a hybrid approach?

Hiring Professional Movers

Hiring full-service movers is the most convenient option.

Movers know how to pack and safely transport all items, from furniture to fragile glassware. A trained team handles every aspect of the move, from logistics and loading to driving and unloading at the destination.


  1. No Heavy Lifting: With full-service movers, you won’t have to lift a single box. The movers do all the loading and unloading, allowing you to focus on your traumatized cat.
  2. No Risk of Injury: Professional movers are trained to manipulate heavy and awkward items. The friends you may have enlisted to help are not. Plus, if they get hurt lugging a sofa down the stairs, you could be liable for your friends’ medical bills.
  3. Insurance Coverage: Reputable moving companies cover most of your belongings. You can purchase additional insurance for 100% coverage.
  4. Efficiency & Time-Saving: Professional movers can accomplish in a day what might take you two or three days DIY.
  5. Specialized Care for Delicate Items: Some movers are trained to handle oversized or specialty items, such as pianos, aquariums, or safes.
  6. Less Stress: Handing the reins to a pro team means one less (huge) thing to worry about. You can enjoy the adventure of starting fresh, rather than fretting over minutia.
  7. Storage Options: You may have to vacate your old place before the new digs are ready. Many moving companies offer short-term storage to keep your belongings safe and dry until you can move in.
  8. Knowledge of the Area: If you’re moving to a new city, local movers know the lay of the land. They can navigate any traffic conditions and find the best routes.
  9. Equipment and Tools: Movers come equipped with all the goodies — hand trucks, dollies, furniture pads, straps, tools, packing material, and wardrobe boxes.


  1. Higher Costs: The convenience comes at a price, and full-service movers typically cost more than DIY options like truck rentals or moving container services.
  2. Longer Delivery Times for Long Distances: Coast-to-coast long-distance moves can take a week or longer, requiring you to plan for temporary living arrangements.

Nerdy Tips

  • It’s customary to tip your movers as a thank-you. Budget for at least 10% of the total cost or 20% for exceptional service.
  • You can save a chunk of change by pre-packing loose items like kitchen utensils, drinkware, books, and knick-knacks. You’ll also save time on the back end, as you won’t have to search for items you packed yourself (assuming you labeled your boxes).
  • If you’re moving for work, your employer might cover all or part of the costs. Be sure to ask about relocation benefits

Moving Truck Rental: DIY for the Budget-Conscious

Renting a moving truck and managing the move DIY gives you control over every aspect of the move. Plus, it’s the cheapest and possibly your best option for smaller, straightforward relocations.


  1. Cost-Effective for Short Distances: Renting a truck and loading it yourself usually saves you money, especially for local moves.
  2. Single Trip Possibility: With a large enough truck, you may be able to move all your belongings in one trip.
  3. Flexibility with Timing: You pick the best day and time for your move. There’s no waiting for a moving crew to knock on your door. You start when you’re good and ready, even if that’s in the middle of the night to beat traffic.
  4. Complete Autonomy Over Packing: Love a good Tetris challenge? Packing the truck yourself lets you work your spatial magic to ensure the most important things are loaded last.
  5. Scheduling around Tight Transitions: When time is of the essence, renting a truck lets you coordinate the tight turnaround.


  1. Physically Exhausting: Handling the entire move yourself can be time-consuming and physically demanding, potentially leading to damaged belongings if not packed and loaded correctly.
  2. Risk of Injury: Loading and unloading heavy furniture and boxes can lead to strained muscles or more severe injuries.
  3. Unfamiliarity with Driving a Large Truck: If you’re not accustomed to driving a large vehicle, navigating city streets and tight parking lots can be challenging, especially if you’re towing a trailer.
  4. Additional Costs for Supplies: Additional expenses for moving supplies, gas, mileage, taxes, and insurance can add up.
  5. Picking up & Returning the Truck: You could be stuck if your new address is far from a pickup or drop-off location.

Nerdy Tips

  • Renting a truck usually costs less during the week (Monday through Thursday) than on weekends.
  • Always budget for extras like gasoline, insurance coverage, and maybe even snacks for the road. Better to overestimate than to find yourself short on cash mid-move!
  • Think about how much stuff you have to move. If it’s just a few things or a small studio apartment, renting a truck and moving yourself may be the most practical option.
  • Invest in proper packing supplies that will keep your belongings safe during transport, like sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, and furniture pads. Don’t skimp on materials to save money; damaged items will cost you more in the long run.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having extra hands to help pack or load the truck can make all the difference. Ask friends or family for assistance, or consider hiring hourly laborers through a reputable service.

Moving Container Services: A Cost-Effective Middle Ground

Moving container services transport and deliver your belongings, while leaving the loading and unloading to you.


  1. Driver Included: You can skip the stress of driving a large truck, as moving container services handle transportation and delivery.
  2. Flexible Loading and Unloading Time: Typically, these services include a few days for loading and unloading at the base price, providing flexibility in your moving timeline.
  3. Affordable for Long-Distance Moves: Moving container services are usually cheaper than full-service movers for long-distance moves.
  4. Trucks Delivered to Your Doorstep: You don’t have to worry about picking up and returning a rental truck; the company delivers it right to your door.


  1. Limited Loading Time: While you can load and unload at your leisure, the company typically charges extra for keeping the container longer than a specified time.
  2. Weather-Proofing Woes: Moving containers aren’t climate-controlled, so extreme temperatures can damage items susceptible to heat or cold.
  3. Parking Permits May Be Necessary: Depending on your location, you may have to obtain a parking permit for the container on the street, adding another step and cost to consider.
  4. Space Requirements: Homes and apartments with limited exterior space may not accommodate a moving container.
  5. Potential Extra Costs for Help: Hiring movers to assist with loading and unloading can escalate costs, potentially making the expense comparable to full-service movers.

Nerdy Tips

  • Research local regulations before choosing this option. Some cities have strict rules about where you can park moving containers, which could significantly impact your move.
  • Pack strategically! Moving containers often have weight limits, so distribute weight evenly throughout the container to avoid additional fees.
  • Consider using moving containers for storage, especially if you have a gap between moving out and into your new home. Many companies offer affordable options for long-term storage.
  • Don’t skimp on insurance. Make sure your belongings are covered in case of accidents or damage.

Moving in Metro Los Angeles

If you live in metro Los Angeles or are moving to or from LA, please contact us at Walsh Moving & Storage. We can handle the entire move or just the parts where you need professional assistance.

We’re family-owned and operated, with over half a century in the business. All Walsh movers are licensed and bonded. We offer free estimates, and will never charge a penny more than the estimate we give you. Call us today at 310-320-4660.

FAQ: Moving DIY Vs. the Pros

Q: Do I need to rent a moving truck if I’m only moving a short distance?

A: It depends on how much stuff you have. If you’re moving from a small one-bedroom or studio, you may get away with a few car trips or even borrowing a buddy’s pickup truck. If you own more than a few pieces of furniture, renting a truck will save you time and hassle.

Q: Can I get friends to help me move instead of hiring movers?

A: Yes. Pizza and beverages are time-honored ways to thank your pals for their help. Remember to be ready with supplies and have a solid plan to keep everything running smoothly.

Q: How long in advance do I need to book a moving container service?

A: Earlier is always better, especially during peak moving seasons (like summer or at the end of the month). Try to give it at least a month’s notice. This isn’t last-minute homework — you don’t want to be stuck with no way to move your belongings.

Q: What happens if my moving container doesn’t fit in my new place?

A: Before booking, check whether the container will fit in your new driveway or the street. If space is tight, you may have to opt for a smaller container or consider alternate moving methods.

Q: If I hire Walsh Moving & Storage, do I pack my boxes or will they do it for me?

A: We can be as hands-on or off as you want. If you pack yourself, have everything boxed up before we arrive. Or, if you hate packing, we can take care of it all for you.

Q: What’s the best way to keep my valuables safe during the move?

A: Keep your most valuable items, like jewelry or important documents, with you during the move. Make sure electronics and other pricey goods are properly padded and packed. It’s all about cushioning and keeping things snug so they don’t do the cha-cha slide in the back of the truck.

Q: Can I leave clothes in drawers when moving furniture?

A: You can leave clothes in drawers if you’re moving the dresser a short distance. But if it’s going on the truck, take them out. It makes the furniture lighter and prevents the drawers from flying open. Plus, it’s a good chance to declutter and decide if you really need that “I’m with the band” T-shirt.

Q: Is moving during the holidays a bad idea?

A: Moving during the holidays can be tricky, but it’s doable. There’s usually less demand for movers, which could snag you a sweet deal.



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