Looking At Self-Service Movers

Self-service movers, like portable containers, are a middle ground between moving it yourself and hiring a pro. A self-service mover delivers a trailer to your home instead of a container. You save money by loading it yourself, but still have the security of a professional driver to haul your goods.

A trailer is at least 28 feet long, enough to handle a four-bedroom residence. However self- service movers charge you by the percentage of the truck’s floor space that you actually use. If your four-bedroom home only fills up three-quarters of the truck, you’ll only pay three-quarters of what you would if the trailer were full.

Estimating the load space you need some self-service movers set a minimum load below which they won’t take the job. Others will accept loads of any size, but charge you for a minimum amount of space even if you use less. Usually an efficiency apartment is below the threshold; condominium units and apartments are usually above the minimum. An average room will fill about 3 linear feet of truck space, or (since the truck is 8 feet wide) 24 square feet. You’re better off letting the mover do the estimate however. Some base estimates on the square footage of your house. Others have an online list on which you check off the items you’re moving. Once the truck arrives at your house, you typically have 48 hours to load it. Some companies count only business days, so you could get an extra two days without paying an extra charge if you have the trailer over the weekend. Once the truck is on the road, it can travel about 500 miles in a day, and you can often track where it is, either online or by calling the company. Once the truck arrives at your new home, you’ll have 48 hours to unload it.

For a fee, some movers will provide workers who will help you load and unload the truck. One firm charges $300 for two men for three hours and about $60 an hour for the pair thereafter. Given the problems you may have lining up helpers at the new location that might be money well spent. Details of the move vary from company to company. All require a temporary wall, called a bulkhead, to keep your load from shifting. All trucks have metal fasteners for bulkheads on the sides of the truck, and the bulkhead comes in pieces that are already on the truck. Some companies, however, have you supply plywood to put between the bulkhead and your cargo. Some have you install the bulkhead; others have their driver install it. Once the bulkhead is in place, most companies load cargo in the rest of the truck and deliver it before they deliver your things. This saves you money, but ask whether any additional cargo is tightly sealed. Some companies provide a loading ramp. Others charge you for using one. In any event, you will need to rent a hand truck and a dolly. You will also have to provide your own packing materials

Insurance varies too. One company offers $5,000 of free insurance. Another offers $1,000. Additional insurance costs about $10 per $1,000, with the cost declining as you buy more. Yet a third mover offers coverage at $2 a pound, up to a maximum of $20,000. Often a company that offers lower insurance also charges less for move.


Self-service moves differ from full-service moves in two respects. The obvious one is that with a self- service move, you load and unload the truck yourself. The other difference could wipe out your expected savings on the move. Full-service movers charge you by the actual weight of the cargo. The cost of the move is the same regardless of floor space used. Self-service movers charge you by the square foot, so the price may vary: Depending on how carefully you pack, two different people loading exactly the same cargo could use significantly different amounts of floor space.