Understanding Self-Service Moving Options


Self-service moving has seen its popularity grow in recent years and has become an excellent choice for many people seeking a cost-effective choice that falls between a full-service and do-it-yourself move. There are two types of self-service moves. The first involves the use of commercial trailer, which is transported from your current residence to your new one. The second type involves the use of special containers in which you pack your items, and then the containers are picked up and brought to your new residence.

There are four types of moves that cover most moving situations:

  • Full-service
  • Self-service, you pack, they’ll drive
  • Do-it-yourself, rent your own truck
  • Specialty, transporting unusual items such as pool tables, pianos, and boats

Unlike the range of moving services that a full-service moving company offers, you are responsible for your own packing and loading in a self-service move. You must purchase your own moving and packing supplies and handle all of the packing yourself. In some cases, you can contract moving labor or packing services, which can be cost-effective ways to handle the heavy workload during a move. Recruiting friends and family members to help will also save you money.

Self-service advantages

Probably the biggest advantage of the self-service moving over the do-it-yourself option is that you will not be transporting your household goods. This will be done by a licensed professional driver with a commercial vehicle.

Self-service moving options are normally available only when you’re moving across state lines, because major companies providing such services are licensed with the Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees interstate moves. When your goods arrive at your new location, you will again be responsible for unloading the truck and unpacking the boxes.

Why consider a self-service move

The biggest reason that people choose self-service moving is to save money. Because you will be responsible for all of the supplies, packing, truck loading and unloading, you will not pay the time, materials and labor expenses associated with a full-service move. However, the range of costs can vary, and we encourage consumers to look closely at both the self-service and full-service moving options before making a decision.

The second major reason for using a self-service mover is that many people are not comfortable driving large trucks on the highway, especially for long distances. Because moving trucks carry heavy weights, you will need to maintain a very moderate speed throughout your trip, which could easily stretch into multiple days or even a week. If you own many household goods, you may not be able to drive the larger vehicle needed to transport all your items.


There are usually two ways that self-service moving services are quoted. If the self-service company you use provides an empty trailer for your items, they will charge you based on the linear feet or cubic feet that you use within the trailer. Other self-service moving companies utilize specially designed containers that are built for long-distance moves. The cost of these containers will depend on the number you use and how far they will travel. They are a good option if you’re concerned about your goods getting mixed up with other peoples’ items. You will have exclusive use of the container you reserve and will be able to see it before you lock it up at your current residence.

When discussing self-service moving quotes, ask the companies how they will transport your items and how their pricing works. They can help provide you with a good estimate based on the size of your residence the type of items that you will be transporting.


Many people tend to underestimate the amount of time and expense involved with packing their own items. Moving is a specialized service, and many items require special supplies and packing techniques to for proper protection during transport. There’s a risk of some damage when items are moved across long distances. The risk of damage increases considerably when you rush through the packing process and don’t use proper packing techniques. You could easily incur much higher costs from damaged items than the extra money you pay for a full service move. Carefully weigh the value of your items, the time it will take to move on your own, and potential problems and damage of valuables before making a final decision on a self-service move.

Questions for self-service movers

Self-service moving companies will likely offer you various insurance options. Clearly understand how your items will be insured before purchasing coverage. If you’re moving valuables, it’s important to understand that basic moving coverage is based on a fixed reimbursement per pound. This will inadequately insure valuable items that aren’t especially heavy, such as computers, stereos and television sets

Also understand how your items will be scheduled for delivery. Some companies will be able to offer only a wide delivery window. Try to get as firm of a delivery date as you can for your trailer or container to be delivered to your new residence. Most self-service companies that provide their own containers will give you two days to load and pack the container before they come to pick it up. Some companies can give exact delivery dates to your new residence, and in other cases, you will be given an approximate delivery date. The more questions you ask about scheduling and timing, the better prepared you will be when your move date actually arrives.

Next steps

The best way to make an informed decision about self-service moving is to get multiple quotes from trusted and professional self-service movers. We can help you get quotes from large, national companies who have excellent reputations and who have helped thousands of families with successful self-service moves.

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