Moving in Chicago can be stressful, exciting and potentially costly all at the same time. Many renters and homebuyers underestimate the time and money involved with sorting, packing and transferring both furniture and personal belongings to a new apartment or home.

Around half of all people in the U.S. who move hire professionals, according to Zillow. Costs vary depending on travel distance and location, but the average bill for a local move (under 100 miles) with two movers and a truck is around $80 to $100 per hour. This doesn’t take into account the cost of packing if you decide to outsource and save yourself the trouble.

Consider the following typical types of moves to determine where you might be able to cut back (and splurge) when relocating to a new home or rental in Chicago.

Small, Local Apartment Moves

  1. U-Haul Rental

The go-to budget move involves a truck rental and some muscle. Packing, loading, transporting, unloading and unpacking yourself is a simple way to save when moving in Chicago. If you’re moving from a small studio apartment and the trek is manageable, renting a U-Haul is a cost-effective and realistic alternative to hiring a professional moving company. The flat fee for a day truck rental costs around $20 per day, plus the cost of gas and mileage tracked during your trip. And, since small spaces can only accommodate so much furniture, any heavy lifting should be manageable. It’s important to estimate the truck-sized needed so you can reserve your vehicle ahead of time, especially during the spring and summer when many U-Haul locations book up quickly. Don’t forget any additional necessary equipment, including furniture dollies and hand trucks, to avoid injury or overexertion.

  1. Dolly

The Dolly app (i.e. “the Uber for moving”) is a service aimed at making small apartment moves significantly easier, also offering assistance with Craigslist pick-ups and donation hauls. Request a Dolly at a certain time, fill out your move details and receive a quote for both a truck and labor or labor alone, contingent on your situation. Depending on the number of items to move, you may have one or two helpers ready to assist, lift and transport large items like beds, dressers, couches and tables. All payments are made electronically through the app, including gratuity. Keep in mind, there are some items Dolly won’t move, which include large safes, kegs pianos and pool tables.

Transportation for Larger or Interstate Moves

Need a full-service professional team to wipe away those moving woes? Expect a bill between $800 and $4,000+, depending on the square footage of your current house, condo or apartment. Use Unpakt to compare moving company rates based on your move date, distance and inventory. The app claims to help users save up to 45 percent on moving costs, but the exact savings ultimately depend on your alternative options. Always ask about insurance and liability, especially if you own valuable antiques or items prone to damage. If your apartment or condo complex lacks a private loading dock, you or your moving company may have to obtain a residential truck parking permit from the city of Chicago to reserve space at your current and/or new address. Permits should be requested a few days in advance and have a fee of about $30 per truck. The fee is higher if you need to reserve space in an otherwise metered area.


The cost of professional packers is around $60 per hour per packer, possibly less if you negotiate or search for a bargain. Packing labor on a one-bedroom apartment could set you back around $300 to $450 for three to four hours of work, plus $100 to $150 for packing supplies. Meanwhile, packing up a three-bedroom house will cost closer to $750 for labor, plus $250 to $350 for packing materials. Professional packers might also charge a travel fee to cover fuel charges to get to and from your home or apartment. Any specialty or large items such as a baby grand piano that requires careful disassembly will likely add to your bill. Aside from the financial burden, hiring professional packers is a mostly personal and situational. You might prefer to sort and pack yourself to motivate spring cleaning to donate or toss any unused items. Or, you see the time spent focusing on work as more valuable than the expense of hiring professionals. Either way, purchasing your own packing materials via Amazon is usually cheaper and nearly as stress-free as having packers or movers provide their own.   

Storage Rental

Downsizing? If you’re not quite ready to part with some personal mementos and furnishings, consider storing them instead. You can go the traditional route and arrange for movers (or a U-Haul) to bring your lesser-used items to a self-serve storage locker. Being that it’s 2018, there are also several on-demand apps to ease your stowage concerns. MakeSpace is a popular full-service app that claims to cost less than self-storage with some enticing perks. You pick your storage based on term – three or 12 months – and square footage. Keep in mind, some sizes have lease term minimums. All plans include pickup, delivery, durable storage bins, wardrobe boxes, Goodwill donation bags, customer support and a basic protection plan.

If you’re planning an upcoming move, you’ve probably already factored in any potential rent increases, or if you’re buying, the cost of your down payment and closing costs. But, failing to account for the cost of the move itself can cause some financial distress. Err on the safe side by creating a comprehensive budget with few financial setbacks or surprises. Just don’t forget to keep your receipts, especially if you plan on making any moving-related tax deductions.