How Big Should My Moving Truck Be?

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What Size Moving Truck Do You Need?

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You have decided to go the DIY route and rent a moving truck, but the only problem is that you have no idea how big it should be. Moving trucks come in a variety of sizes, so you should probably stop and ask yourself a few questions before you contact a moving truck rental company:

How big is my stuff?

Not all items are created equal. Some things are just big and will take up a lot of volume on the moving truck. Even if your home is relatively small, large items like TVs, beds, and couches can take up a lot of room in the truck very quickly. Measuring the dimensions of some of your biggest items should give you a rough idea of how much room you're going to need.

How big is my home?

Of course, the general rule of thumb is to consider your home's size and then rent a truck relative to the size of the property you are moving out of. A five bedroom mansion is going to take a bigger moving truck than a studio apartment. Generally the larger the property, the larger the moving truck needs to be.

Can I make multiple trips?

If the destination of the move is a short distance away from your old home, you may be able to get away with moving your items gradually while you make several trips back and forth using a small moving van. If you are going on a long ride for your move, then everything needs to fit into your moving truck all at once -- making multiple trips is unreasonable at longer distances.

What sizes do moving trucks typically come in?

There are many different sizes of moving trucks but one size does not fit all. Moving trucks are measured by the length of their trailers in feet. Here are some typical sizes of rental moving trucks and what they can normally be expected to move:
  • Pickup/van: Not really a normal moving truck, these are options for the smallest of moving jobs, like what one university student may need in his dorm.
  • 10 feet: These moving trucks are still designed for small one person moves usually from an apartment
  • 14 feet: The next step up, these trucks are designed to handle moves from a two bedroom apartment
  • 17 feet: The first size that U-Haul recommends for homes, they usually work for moves from a two bedroom house
  • 20 feet: Now we're getting to the bigger side of the spectrum, this size should sustain a move from a home with up to three bedrooms
  • 24 feet: For some rental companies, this is the largest that they'll go. This truck should accommodate a move from a home with three to four bedrooms.
  • 26 feet: The largest size available for popular rental companies like U-haul, it is designed to cope with moves coming from houses with four bedrooms or more

I'm still not sure, who can help me?

Most rental companies will help you estimate how much room you need for you belongings. It is important to know what you can about the size of your belongings and what your truck options are. The rental company will likely skew larger to make the biggest payday, but skewing larger is probably the safest idea anyway -- you wouldn't want to get stuck with a truck that is too small for your move.

Should I just get the biggest moving truck possible?

If you want to be safe, you should always rent a bigger moving truck than you need. Having some extra space is a far better problem to have than not having enough space in your moving truck. You should always create a buffer zone when calculating the space you need for packing your belongings. You should aim for roughly 15 percent open space inside the moving truck. this allows some wiggle room for your estimations of the size of everything to be off, or for surprise cargo added last second.

The only reason why you wouldn't want as big a moving van as possible is because the bigger ones are more expensive. Still, it is better to be safe than sorry. 

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on June 24, 2014 - Moving Expert
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