Renting a U-Haul Cargo Van Was Among the Best $50 I’ve Ever Spent

Last week, I shared an update on how my recent move from one apartment to another was going while highlighting what I did right and what I, well, screwed up. At the time, we still had a fair amount of our stuff waiting for us at the old apartment after having the professional movers we hired take only the heavy furniture items we couldn’t transport ourselves. Well, over the past weekend, we rented a cargo van from U-Haul to complete our move — and it could not have gone smoother! What’s more, the rental cost us a tenth of what the movers did. Given this experience, I wanted to take a closer look at the process of renting a cargo van from U-Haul and why I ended up being such a fan.

First, let’s start with the financial breakdown of this rental. The base rate for the van (as advertised on its paint job) was $19.99 and then we paid $10 for the Collision Damage Waiver. Perhaps we’re suckers going for that extra insurance but, at $10, I honestly didn’t really care about just adding it. Then, on top of those fees, you do pay 59¢ per mile you drive. Luckily, since our two apartments aren’t far from each other and the U-Haul rental location is only a mile or so from our old place, we ended up coming under the 20 miles we estimated. Finally, you are required to put enough gas into the van as to bring the gauge back to where it was when you picked up the vehicle. According to U-Haul’s estimate, the van gets around 18 miles per gallon, so we probably would have been okay with just a gallon — but we went ahead and put in two just to be safe. By the way, should you fail to put gas in it, they’ll of course do it for you… at an inflated price. Anyway, our final bill (after taxes) at U-Haul came to $43 and something cents while the gas we put in was under $5, so our grand total was still sub-$50.

Next, as someone who’s only ever driven a sedan, the idea of getting behind the wheel of a box truck has always freaked me out. Plus, I feel like maneuvering such a vehicle and parking it at each of our apartment complexes would be a hassle. Meanwhile, although U-Haul also rents pick-up trucks, we didn’t want to worry about tying things down or blocking our view out the back window. Thus, we landed on the cargo van idea. Now, I’ll admit that I didn’t actually drive the van (I left that to my wife who had previous experience driving her family’s conversion van). Still, I could appreciate that it was easier to handle than a box truck. Plus, it fits comfortably into a normal-sized parking space and offered access on both the side and back, meaning we had no issues making do with whatever parking situation was thrown at us.

As I mentioned, we already had all of our furniture taken for us, so we didn’t have any oversized items to put in the van. Still, U-Haul advises that a queen-sized bed can actually fit in the van. I’d believe it, but I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with such a task. There are also hooks in the van you can use to tie down items you worry will shift in transit. Again, we basically kept things at just one level, so we also didn’t need to worry about these. In all, we made just two trips between the apartments without having to “Jenga” our stuff in or out of the van. By contrast, I suspect we would have needed to make around 10 back-and-forth trips if we just relied on our car — and even then some items may have been too large to fit easily.

If there was any disappointment with our U-Haul experience it was that the mobile check-in and pick-up feature that had been advertised didn’t seem to work. Instead, after a few tries, we just went inside and waited a few minutes for an available team member to help get us on our way. I’m very thankful that we were picking up our van during business hours as I’m not sure what we would have done had we tried to show up when they weren’t open and the mobile option wasn’t working.

Overall, I think our hybrid strategy of hiring movers for the furniture and utilizing a U-Haul cargo van for the rest was perfect for our in-town move. Not only was the van roomy enough to handle our needs yet small enough to be driven by relative newbies but it was also quite a value thanks to our low-mileage requirements. So, if you’re planning an in-town move, I’d recommend checking out this affordable option.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and the founder of

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