What size moving truck do I need? (2023)

What size moving truck do I need? (1)

by Ethan Greenfieldon Jul 20, 2017.


If you have decided on a DIY move, you have probably estimated the associated moving costs, assessed the risks, figured out how much work it is going to take, and come to the conclusion that you can handle the job on your own. If so, you know that your self-moving endeavor will not only require a lot of time and effort on your part, but will also put your organizational and decision-making skills to the test. Without professional moving help to facilitate and simplify the process, you’ll have to plan each and every step of your relocation journey, take care of all the laborious moving tasks, and make a number of important decisions that will determine the final outcome of your moving adventure.

Among other things, you’ll have to find a safe and efficient way to transport your belongings to your new home. Chances are that you won’t have an appropriate vehicle and will need to rent a moving truck for your DIY relocation project. Finding one should not be too much of a problem as there are many reputable rental truck companies that will be glad to provide you with all the necessary equipment for your move – including an affordable moving tuck in good condition. The real challenge will be to choose the right vehicle for your particular relocation needs – one that will fit all your belongings and will suit your available budget.

To be able to determine what size moving truck to get, you need to be familiar with the available options and to know just how much cargo space you’re going to need.

How to estimate moving truck size

What size moving truck will be most appropriate for your move depends on what exactly you intend to relocate and how far you’re going. So, to be able to make a correct choice, you need to find the answers to the following crucial questions first:

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  • What is the size of your home? The bigger your home, the more stuff you’ll have for relocating, of course. It’s only logical, then, that moving a four-bedroom house is going to require a much bigger truck than moving a two-bedroom apartment;
  • What is the number of items you intend to relocate? On the other hand, a two-bedroom home may mean something completely different for different people – some prefer a minimalistic way of life and keep only a few items of daily necessity in their homes, others are pack-rats and fill every nook and cranny of their living space with all kinds of stuff. Besides, even if you have a lot of household items and personal possessions, you may have decided to get rid of most of them before the move and relocate only a selected lot of your most valuable belongings. The size of moving truck you choose to rent has to correspond to the actual number of items you want to take to your new home, not to some generic recommendations (a 16 foot moving truck is perfect for relocating a two-bedroom home);
  • What is the volume – the sizes and shapes – of the items you have for moving? You may have only two kitchen appliances for moving, but a freezer and a cooking range will take much more space than a small fridge and a microwave oven, right? So, it is the actual volume of your items, as well as their particular shapes, that you need to take into account when estimating how big a moving truck to rent;
  • What is the relocation distance? Last but not least, you need to consider the distance to your new home. If you’re moving locally, or just across town, you’ll be able to make several trips between your old residence and your new one, so even if your belongings don’t fit in the rented truck all at once, that won’t be a problem. If you’re moving across the country, however, multiple trips won’t be an option and you’ll have to make sure your rented truck is big enough to accommodate all your stuff. Otherwise, you’ll either have to unload the vehicle and exchange it for a bigger one or arrange alternative transportation methods for the items that don’t fit – both of which will cost you a lot of time and money, of course. (Hiring a larger moving truck than you need, on the other hand, will also result in unnecessary expenses – you’ll be paying for space you don’t use.)

Now that you know how much space you need, you should find out the available options.

Moving truck sizes

Moving trucks are usually categorized by the number of rooms they can move or by the cubic feet they can hold.

1) By number of rooms

Most truck rental companies list their moving trucks’ capacities in terms of bedrooms to make it easier for their customers to determine what size of vehicle they need:

  • 10 ft. – 12 ft. trucks can move a studio or a small one-bedroom apartment (no large furniture or appliances);
  • 14 ft. trucks can be used for one-bedroom homes and small two-bedroom apartments;
  • 16 ft. – 17 ft. trucks are appropriate for two-to-three-bedroom apartments or houses;
  • 20 ft. – 22 ft. trucks can hold the contents of a large three-bedroom house;
  • 24 ft. trucks are the best option for 4-bedroom homes;
  • 26 ft. trucks should be used for homes with five or more bedrooms.

Using the company’s guidance will save you time, but may result in a wrong decision (the estimate is based on the typical furniture in a room – if you have a lot of stuff, you must assume that you will need a bigger truck than the one recommended for the number of bedrooms in your home).

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2) By cubic feet

Choosing a truck size based on room estimates may be your simplest option, but it is definitely not the most accurate one. To be sure that you’ve picked the right size of moving vehicle, you need to know the cubic footage your household belongings take up and the amounts different trucks can hold (also measured in cubic feet):

  • 10 ft. – 12 ft. trucks have a storage space of 350-450 cu. ft. and a load capacity of about 3,000 lbs.;
  • 14 ft. trucks have a storage space of 700 cu. ft. and a load capacity of about 4,000 lbs.;
  • 16 ft. – 17 ft. trucks have a storage space of about 800-850 cu. ft. and a load capacity of about 5,000 – 5,500 lbs.;
  • 20 ft. – 22 ft. trucks have a storage space of about 1,000-1,200 cu. ft. and a load capacity of about 7,000-8,000 lbs.;
  • 24 ft. trucks have a storage space of about 1,500 cu. ft. and a load capacity of about 9,000-10,000 lbs.;
  • 26 ft. trucks have a storage space of about 1,700 cu. ft. and a load capacity of more than 10,000 lbs.

When listing the sizes of their moving trucks in cubic feet, truck rental agencies calculate the entire available space in the trailer – from the floor to the ceiling, back to front. Needless to say, it is almost impossible to use the full capacity of the vehicle as no one can load and pack a truck so well that there are no empty spaces (although professional packers can come pretty close to it). Therefore, it is advisable to opt for a larger truck than what you think you need.

Good to know: When choosing a rental truck, keep in mind that medium size vehicles cost about the same as small ones. This is so because most truck rental companies have a large inventory of medium trucks (due to the high demand for that size of trucks), but not so many small moving vehicles.

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How to choose the right size moving truck

Armed with the above information, you should already know the answer to the crucial question “What size moving truck should I rent?”. All that is left to do now is:

  • Visit the websites of several different truck rental companies in your area and see what they have to offer – review the lists of moving vehicles they have for rent, examine any comparison charts they have posted, compare the prices (do not forget to figure in the cost of the fuel and the necessary insurance costs) and narrow down your choice to 2 or 3 options (click here to learn how to rent a moving truck for cheap);
  • Use the moving truck calculators available on the websites of the companies you consider renting a vehicle from to estimate the right size of moving truck you need – just enter everything you want to relocate into the corresponding fields and you’ll get a good idea of the total cubic footage of your belongings;
  • Look at the lists of available rental trucks – the right size moving truck for you is the one that has about 10-15% more storage space than the estimated cubic footage of your household goods.

Last but not least: Call the moving truck rental companies before making your final decision -ask about insurance coverage, extra fees and penalties, possible discounts, special conditions, and any other details that may interest you. Make sure you choose a company that maintains their vehicles regularly and keeps them in excellent condition to avoid the risk of a breakdown on the road.

SEE ALSO: How to drive a moving truck

Have a safe and trouble-free journey to your new home!

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1. What Size Moving Truck Do I Need? Let SOLIDWORKS Figure It Out
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2. Minute Moving Hack - Right Size Moving Truck
3. What Fits in a 26' Moving Truck
4. What Fits in a 20' Moving Truck
5. What Fits In A 10' Moving Truck
6. How to Pack a Moving Truck | The Home Depot
(The Home Depot)


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