Moving House – The True Costs of Doing it Yourself

Who should consider a DIY move?

Ideally the DIY mover should be ideally suited to the smallest moves. One bedroomed flats and apartments, bedsits, house-shares, or small office moves; these are the candidates for hiring a van and doing it themselves.

If you’re going to DIY move then be realistic. As in any move plan early, make lists, stick to them, declutter so you aren’t taking any extra items you should have thrown away, sold, or got rid of that will only take up valuable time and space in your van. Leaving anything to the last minute will only add more stress.

What are the pros and cons?


If you’re going to do the move yourself the pros for this are many but the main one should be the cost. If it isn’t cheaper to do it yourself then why are you bothering? Get some quotes for a professional company and compare them to hiring a van and doing the work yourself. If it’s not too different then consider what the extra will buy you in peace of mind, energy exerted and in having someone else do all the worrying.

It’s going to be good exercise if you need to shed a few pounds. You won’t have strangers in and out of your property handling your belongings. You get to drive the van so you’ll get to pick the route, decide whatever stops you may need to make along the way, carry out any additional pick-ups and take whatever breaks you’ll need if you’re making a long distance move.

You will also get to the load the van how you want and if you choose to have friends help you you’ll also have someone to celebrate with at the end of the day.


You’ll be exhausted. It’s tiring and hard work. It’s a lot of lifting, carrying and climbing up and down stairs. With a professional you can leave them to get on with all of that extra work, and they will be fast and efficient. If you choose your friends and family to help there’s a good chance they’ll spend just as much time poking around your things reminiscing about bygone days.

Are you comfortable driving a large vehicle around town or over long distances? Do you want to drive multiple trips and have to load and unload at each end? And if you load the van badly are you happy to pay to replace or fix anything that gets broken? Or to take somebody to hospital if a badly packed van causes an injury to someone while unloading?

It will take much longer. Professionals know what they’re doing. They know exactly which corners to cut and which not to. They will take at least half the time; maybe even less? That could actually save you money over the course of the day.

Van Hire

When hiring a van you’re going to need better than good guesswork. How big a van do you need? A smaller van will be cheaper but if you get it wrong you’ll have to make more trips. A larger van might just save you money if you get it right first time. If you obtain the services of a professional removal company such as AMC Removals, who are an Edinburgh removal company then they always recommend that you make an inventory. Estimate how many boxes those items will fill. Then work out how they can stack and how much space that they’ll take up.

You will be guaranteed to have more belongings than you think.

You’ll also want to consider mileage, fuel costs and if your drivers licence covers the size of van you’ll need.

Ford Transit

A Transit or similar size from alternate manufacturers is a very popular model for the DIY move. It will carry around 800kg of items, large enough to fit most furniture and runs at around 35mpg. You can step up a model to a long wheelbase Transit that is 3ft longer, a little taller and slightly less economical at 25/30mpg.

Luton Box Van

The box van is synonymous with removals because of its high backed, square container. The bed of the van is often 2 or 3ft off the ground so heavy items may require a lift of some sort. The vehicle hire company should be able to advise or supply you with the equipment you require.

7.5 Ton Box Wagon

This is the largest self-drive you can command on a standard licence with a C1 category (you’ll need to take a test if you didn’t receive your licence until after January 1997). It’s the largest in size and capacity, will accommodate the greatest weight and is much better suited for long distance moves than smaller vehicles. However, it’s a lot bigger than your day to day drive so keep an eye out for bridges and walls; tall vehicles have a tendency to lean so some walls or trees might be in range of contact when you think they’re not.

Additional points to note

Make sure to ask about all charges and additional costs. A fixed allowance might be as little as 50 to 150 miles, which if you’re returning the vehicle to base that may well not be enough. What will it cost for each additional mile? Most companies charge between 8p and 12p but it’s best to be sure before you sign anything.

What does the insurance cover? Is it included? Will there be an excess to pay in the case of a claim? Do they provide breakdown cover? Will it be ok to take the van abroad if you’re moving overseas? And where can you hand it in? Does it have to be at the depot where it was collected? You’ll want to consider all of this before you make your decision.

When you hire a vehicle always do a thorough check with the agent. Make sure any marks or existing damage is noted so they don’t try and pass the blame on to you on its return.


A van handles much differently to a car. It’s bigger, has reduced visibility and bigger blind spots, they’re taller, wider, clumsier and will take much longer to stop when you put the brakes on. Be vigilant for cyclists and small vehicles. There are a lot more hiding places for them to drift into.


Not to be taken for granted but if you’re moving in winter it’s going to have it’s own challenges. The cold and slippery surfaces will play their part just as the red-hot sunshine will dehydrate and tire you faster if your move is in July or August. It doesn’t seem like much to consider but if you can prepare for every eventuality then there’s one less thing to take you by surprise.