what size moving truck do I need?

What Size Moving Truck Do You Need?

What’s covered in this article – click on a link to learn more:

Picking the right moving truck size isn’t just about how much you can fit. It’s all about cutting costs, conserving energy and dodging those “If only I’d known” scenarios.

Ever been fooled by a room looking spacious until you start packing? Let’s figure out what you’ve got, look at your truck choices, consider some important details and highlight some pro tips that will help you avoid wondering “What size moving truck do I need”.

Check Your Inventory

Booking a moving truck without having an inventory first is like setting out on a road trip without a map. You need to know exactly what you are transporting to avoid any hiccups along the way so take a minute to jot down every item you plan on moving. This gives you a clear picture and helps you choose the right moving truck size. It can also be super handy for insurance purposes and to keep you organized. That way you don’t risk overlooking any details.

With your packing list ready, it is time to estimate volume. Sure, truck rentals advertise their size in length and cubic feet. But here’s the catch: not every cubic foot will be filled to the brim. Most of us aren’t packing pros, so choosing a truck based solely on volume can be misleading. It’s wise to aim for a truck slightly bigger than your estimated load, up to 15% more just to be safe.

And one more thing: Rooms can be deceptive. Sure, “three rooms’ worth of stuff” sounds straightforward, but what’s in those rooms? Two hefty sofas or just a recliner? Your rooms might not fit the standard definition. It’s the stuff, not the number of rooms, that truly counts in the end. Simply put, the more you know about your belongings, the smoother your moving process in general. Plus you get to make informed choices, not guesstimates.

Back to Top

Understand Truck Size Options

Okay, you’re moving and it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Ever stood in front of a wardrobe thinking, “Will it fit?” Well, choosing the right truck size can feel eerily similar. But, don’t sweat it! The following details can help you decipher the truck-size riddle.

1. Small Vehicles: Pickup Trucks and Cargo Vans

These little champs are perfect for those tiny moves. You know, like picking up that couch you bought off your neighbor or moving out of your college dorm. While pickups are great for mini-jobs, cargo vans take it up a notch, handling about a room’s worth of stuff.

  • Pros: Easy to drive and park, cost-effective.
  • Cons: Limited to very limited space.

2. Middle Ground: 10 ft, 15 ft and 16 ft Trucks

Moving out of a 1-room or a 2-room apartment? Either a 10 foot or 15-16 foot truck is your jam and some of the most popular choices out there. They’ve got enough room to snugly fit your belongings. Some folks even luck out and manage a 3-room load in the 16 ft version, but it’s pushing it and we don’t recommend that.

  • Pros: Relatively easy to navigate, decent space without going overboard.
  • Cons: Might require multiple trips for bigger loads.

3. The In-Betweeners: 20 ft and 22 ft Box Trucks

Now, if you’re dwelling in that gray area between a 2-room apartment and a 3-room house, a 20 ft box truck is your trusty steed. Some companies offer 22 ft trucks instead — go for it. Both of these options fill the gap when 16 ft feels cramped but 26 ft feels like an aircraft hangar.

  • Pros: Great balance of space and manageability.
  • Cons: Slightly pricier, might be too much for some smaller moves.

4. The Largest Size: 26 ft Box Truck

Got a 5-room house? Or maybe a 4-room place with a lifelong accumulation of knick-knacks? This behemoth will have you covered.

  • Pros: Massive space, likely one-trip wonder.
  • Cons: Can be intimidating to drive, more expensive and might be overkill for some.

Back to Top

Need a Moving Truck Size Chart?

As you can see, we tried to match truck length to the number of rooms to give you an idea, but the truth is two 3-room homes can vary wildly in their stuff-to-space ratio. And here is something you might notice on moving truck rental websites: there is a bit of overlap in recommended truck sizes.

For instance, both a 12 ft and a 22 ft truck might be suggested for a 2-room apartment. This happens because not all 2-room apartments are created equal. Some might be bursting at the seams with items, while others could be minimalistic havens. This is why drafting a generic moving truck size chart can be misleading and you should always base your decision on the estimated item volume.

So, the takeaway? Pinpoint your needs, consider the overlaps and always aim for a smidge more space than you think you’d need. After all, it’s better to have a tad too much room than playing a real-life game of Tetris at the last minute.

Back to Top

Factors to Consider When Choosing A Moving Truck Size

When you’re about to hop onto the moving truck train, remember: it’s not only how much stuff you have that matters. How and where you are moving are equally important and could have an impact on moving truck size. Here’s what to consider:

Space vs. Cost Trade-Off

Think of Goldilocks and her three bears. One was too big, one too small and one just right. The same goes for trucks. You might be tempted to grab the largest truck available, but is it cost-effective? Will you be paying for space you won’t use? Conversely, saving a few bucks on a smaller truck might backfire if you end up with damaged items due to overcrowding. It’s a balancing act.

Distance of the Move

If you are moving just across town, a slight hiccup with the truck might not be a biggie. But going long distance? That’s a marathon for the truck — make sure it’s not for your wallet too. Fuel costs can add up quickly so it’s worth checking if the rental company offers unlimited miles or not (which could save you additional expenses if they do!).

Number of Rooms and Furniture Pieces

This one is a sneaky factor. You say “two rooms”, but what’s in those rooms? Maybe one has a couple of oversized couches and the other just a minimalist chair and desk. It matters. Always take stock of your heftier items.

Back to Top

Specialized Items

Moving a piano or a massive fridge? Such items aren’t just bulky — they often need special considerations in transport. Ensure you’ve got space not just to fit them, but also the padding that helps move them safely and securely. Some specialty moves might even require custom crates to keep your artwork and valuables safe and sound.

Packing Density and Organization

Ever played Tetris? If so, you know that efficient organization can make all the difference. How you pack, from box size to how you stack them, will influence how much you can fit. Masterful packing might let you size down on the truck, but poor packing could leave you scrambling for space.

Back to Top

Use Moving Truck Size Calculators

Choosing the right moving truck doesn’t have to be a guessing game, especially when there are handy online calculators designed just for this purpose. Whether you are using Penske’s Truck Wizard or any of the other helpful tools out there, the process is relatively straightforward:

  1. Input inventory. Most tools will ask for details about your move — like the number of rooms you’re packing, the types of furniture you own or even specific larger items. Being precise and thorough at this stage ensures the most accurate recommendation.
  2. Receive recommendations. Once you’ve keyed in your details, these tools will suggest a suitable truck size. Remember, their suggestions are rooted in years of moving data and expertise.
  3. Safety first. Do you recall our earlier advice about going slightly bigger? It still holds true. Even with a specific recommendation in hand, leaning toward a truck with 10-15% extra space gives you peace of mind. After all, surprises can and do happen during moves.

Back to Top

Ask Experts For Help Selecting The Right Size Moving Truck

While online tools and calculators are extremely helpful and available around the clock, there is a certain kind of wisdom that only comes with experience. Tapping into this firsthand knowledge is worth the effort because moving is an expensive and time-consuming task to begin with— you definitely don’t want to overlook anything and regret it later.

Option 1: Consult with rental truck companies. They are libraries of moving knowledge. They have seen countless renters come and go, each with unique inventories. A chat with them could provide insights tailored to your needs. They might recall someone who moved a similar grand piano or had that quirky collection of oversized vases.

Option 2: Seek recommendations from movers. No one knows the moving game like professionals. They have packed, hauled and unpacked in every truck size imaginable. This wealth of experience means they can give real-world advice on choosing sizes. Plus, they’ve seen the outcomes of choosing too small a truck or overspending on a bigger one.

Option 3: Ask for advice from friends or family with moving experience. While professionals have a breadth of experience, your friends or family offer depth. Their personal experiences, especially if they’ve moved recently, can be relatable and hit closer to home.

Note that these are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we recommend you go for all three and draw your own conclusions.

Back to Top

Choose the Right Moving Truck Size for a Smooth Move

Picking the right moving truck size will save some cash and a lot of energy come moving day. These are equally big perks. To get past the first hurdle, aka “What size moving truck do I need”, take stock of what you’re moving and how much space it actually takes with all the necessary cushioning.

After listing out everything you plan to haul, take into account the distance you are traveling and any big, fragile or unusual items. Online tools like a moving truck size chart or a complex calculator can give you a nudge in the right direction but don’t forget to add a bit of extra space. And always, always listen to folks who’ve been there, done that, whether they are pros or just your next-door neighbor.

Here’s to a move that feels just right, with no hitches along the way.

Back to Top

Categories DIY Move Moving