Moving Van Rental vs. Mini Van to Save on Estimated Moving Costs

As I alluded to a few weeks back, I just finished my move back to New Mexico. Seen by some in my family as a clear sign of my mental degradation, my short-lived trial run back in California didn’t last too long and I feel as though I am back where I am supposed to be. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about here at My Two Dollars; rather, I wanted to take a look at the cost of moving a small amount of material goods in the most efficient and cost-effective way. So here’s a little backstory on my move, how I did it, and how much money it cost me.

Because I knew I wanted to move back to NM, I have been living out here for weeks at a time looking for a place to live, which I have now secured for myself. And so for a while, I had a place in NM and a place in CA. Talk about living large! But I needed to get rid of the place in CA before the end of March, so I made a decision — I would get back to CA, empty my house, bring back a few belongings for now, and then figure out anything else a little later on. So in just 3 short days, I moved out of and cleaned up the house I was renting in California.

Because I have plans to eventually go on the road in the coming year with a truck and a camper, I used this move to really cut down on my belongings. I gave furniture, dishes, glasses, rugs, tables, and tons of assorted stuff to Goodwill in hopes that someone less fortunate than myself could use them. Sure, I could have held a yard sale to make a little extra dough, but I didn’t want to invest the time in doing so. The rest of my big-ticket items, like my TV, couch, etc. went into a short-term storage facility in CA until I either A. get settled into a place I want to stay in here in NM or B. return from my ‘round the country’ camping trip, and have a need for such items once again. Once the Goodwill pile was gone and the big ticket items were in storage, I was left with the essentials and needed a way to get them back to my place in New Mexico. And thus led me to the biggest choice of the move, and I decided that my two best options would be to either:

  1. Drive my car to California. Rent a U-Haul truck, fill it up, tow my car behind it, drive back to NM, and put stuff in storage.
  2. Rent a van here in NM, drive to CA, use it to move my stuff, fill it up with my “keeping” pile, put stuff in storage in CA, and drive back to NM.

I knew I wouldn’t be using a professional mover or a U-Pack service like I have in the past, as I wasn’t moving all that much stuff. So I would be packing and driving everything myself. Storage in both cities is exactly the same, so while I will eventually (it could be years from now) need to get my stuff once I feel settled down a bit, I can’t really factor that in today’s dollars. Comparing the cost of these two options, it was quickly obvious which one would be an exorbitant cost and which one would be totally reasonable for a move of almost 900 miles. Let’s take a look:

Renting a moving van

This was going to be a one-way van rental, as I was driving my personal car out to CA first. I would drive there, pick up the van, load it up, attach a towing hookup, and tow my car back to NM. Using U-Haul as an estimate, I chose a 10 ft moving truck (I would have been bringing everything with me to store here in NM) and a tow dolly for my car, and the total came out to:

  • $734 truck rental
  • $109 tow dolly
  • Truck Gasoline – 870 miles / 10 MPG = 87 gallons of gas used X $3.50 = $304.50
  • Mini Gasoline – 870 miles / 31 MPG = 28.06 gallons of gas used X $3.50 = $98.21

Grand total: $1,245.71

Renting a mini van

Because the price (and hassle) of renting a truck and towing my car, I decided to check out what it would cost to just rent a mini van from Budget for a week instead. This way I could drive the van to CA, use it to move my stuff to storage there, load it up with my essentials I need right now, and return it to the rental place back in NM. For 6 days, the costs were as follows:

  • $364 van rental, unlimited miles
  • Van gasoline to CA – 870 miles / 24 MPG = 36.25 gallons of gas used X $3.50 = $126.88
  • Van gasoline to NM – 870 miles / 24 MPG = 36.25 gallons of gas used X $3.50 = $126.88

Grand total: $617.76, plus no wear and tear on my own personal car

Can you guess which choice I made? I picked the second option, saving me $600+ for the move. Sometimes you have to think a little outside the box in order to find any hidden savings, and this definitely saved me some money. Most people (myself included) usually go right for the moving van rental, but in this case a little digging found me a much less expensive, safer, and more comfortable option this time around.

So next time you are moving, make sure you take a look at all your options, even the ones you wouldn’t normally think of; you never know how much money you could save!

(photo credit: madmolecule)

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Comments (4)

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  1. Moving definitely is more expensive than people think. I think this last move has encouraged me to develop a more minimalist lifestyle. That way, I can fit all of my things in a mini van and not have to rent a U-Haul

  2. Andy Hough says:

    I’ve been lucky that I usually have so few possessions that I can move everything in my car. The road trip sounds interesting. That is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

  3. If you want to have tour own car than its a nice thing to move on and its the van hire services that help you a lot in this matter.

  4. yes its a nice think to say that van hire services are pity good to move you . And they are sometimes cheaper to move .