How to Rent the Right Size of Moving Truck

What Size Do You Need for Your Move?

Guy sitting in the back of a moving truck with packed boxes
Alan Powdrill/The Image Bank/Getty Images.

If you're moving yourself rather than hiring movers, and you don't have access to a truck or large vehicle that can hold a lot of stuff, you'll need to rent a moving truck or van.

Getting the Right Size is Key

Before you rent a moving truck, find out how much you have to move to ensure you get a truck that's the right size - a truck too small will mean you'll be making several trips from the old house to the new, too large and you'll be paying for space you don't need.

Or, if you're moving a long distance, you may find that you have to leave stuff behind if your truck is too small.  In this case, always rent a larger truck than you need just in case you miscalculated.

How Much Stuff are You Moving?

Before you rent a truck, you should assess how much stuff you have and try to sort and get rid of things you don't need or haven't used in a very long time. This will not only save you time and money when packing and unpacking, but also ensures you start off in your new home without too much clutter.

Once you've gotten rid of stuff you don't need, you can use the following guide as an estimate of the truck size you might need.  Every truck rental agency will provide their own estimates so make sure you ask before you rent.

Don't forget about spaces you might not consider like the garage or storage shed, attic or spare room that holds all your stuff.  A lot of people forget just how much stuff these areas of our home have and how much they add to our move.

How to Estimate the Size of Truck You'll Need

The following list is a guide that most rental agencies will use to determine the size of truck you'll need. Just remember that this is a guide only: 

  • 26' will move 4+ bedrooms
  • 24' will move 3-4 bedrooms
  • 17' will move 2-3 bedrooms
  • 14' will move 1-2 bedrooms
  • 10' will move a studio or small 1-bedroom apartment

    Go to your rental agency with a general idea of what size of truck you need based on the above estimates, and also provide them with a list of all your large items and the number of each that you have to move. For instance, you might have three couches or two king-sized beds or two fridges to move. Often, larger items or specialty items will require a larger truck and possibly special moving tools.

    If the rental agency doesn't provide an estimate of what their trucks can hold in terms of equivalent spaces as in the list above, you can guess using this general guide: one room = 3 cubic feet of truck space. Again, this is just an estimate and you should always err on the side of caution and rent a slightly larger truck than your estimate.

    Know How a Rental Truck Agency Measures a Truck's Holding Capacity

    Most truck rental agencies will provide you with the amount their trucks can hold measured in cubic feet. One cubic foot essentially means the volume of a cube whose sides are all 1 foot long.  They use this type of measurement to ensure every inch of available space is considered, meaning the space from the floor of the truck's bed to the ceiling, back to front.  Now, most people won't be using every available inch only because it's almost impossible to load and pack a truck so well that there are no empty spaces.

      Because of this, always opt for a slightly larger truck than what you think you need.