Benefits of a Moving Trailer Rental vs. a Moving Truck Rental

California’s Population Continues to Dwindle in 2023

California is estimated to have the highest demand of any state in the nation for outbound moving truck rentals according to Scholar & Economist Mark Perry.  With this demand comes skyrocketing prices as many moves involve one-way rentals and truck rental companies struggle with depleted inventory.

We wanted to compare do-it-yourself moving options between a moving truck rental and a moving trailer rental to find out if there is a compelling advantage in renting one over the other.  Our research is based on a truck or trailer big enough to accommodate the average family household of 3 to 4 bedrooms.

What if you don’t own a truck?  It’s a common assumption that you need to own a pickup truck to rent a moving trailer.  This is not true.  There are rental companies that will rent out a pickup truck at a very reasonable price.  Is it still cost effect if you have to rent a pickup and a trailer?  Let’s find out now.

Cost Assessment

There are cost variables that must be considered with renting a moving truck and moving trailer.  These include: Base Rate, Mileage Rate, and Fuel Economy.

Rental Base Rate

There’s a catch when renting a moving truck.  The daily or weekly rate may be very inexpensive, but almost all moving truck rentals will have a mileage charge of between $0.49 to $1.09 per mile plus a base rate of about $40 per day.  Using an example of a 3,000 mile trip, we have estimated the math for you using an average of $0.79 per mile.

Moving Truck – A 26 foot moving truck rental will cost an average of about $2,650 for a one week rental.

Moving Trailer – 28 foot moving trailer rental in Temecula with unlimited miles averages about $1200.00 for a one week rental and unlimited mileage.

Fuel Economy

It’s no secret that big trucks have big engines that consume a lot of fuel.  But, here’s something you may not know.  A moving truck is designed to haul twice the amount of weight the average person will load in it.  A 26 foot moving truck has a GVWR of 26,000 lb and a capacity of about 10,000 lb.  It’s estimated that you can load it with a 3-4 bedroom house.  The weight of a room is calculated at 1,000 lb per room.  For example, 3 bedrooms + kitchen + living room = 5,000 lb.  The bottom line is twice the weight capacity does not equal twice the space or cubic feet, but it does equate two or three times more fuel consumption.  

    Moving Truck – The fuel consumption of a loaded moving truck is alarming.  The average loaded moving truck over 20 feet long gets 4 to 6 MPG [Source:] This means even the cheapest moving truck rental will be considerably more expensive to drive than an average pickup truck.

    Pickup Truck – The average pick-up truck pulling a loaded 28 foot enclosed trailer will get 12 to 14 MPG.  Here’s how we did the math: A typical 28 foot moving trailer + load will weigh between 5,000 to 10,000 lb.  A typical pickup truck pulling 5,000 lb or more will get 25 to 35 percent less MPG than it does without pulling a trailer [source:]  For example, if your truck gets 22 MPG with city and highway miles combined, it’s estimated that you will get at least 14.3 MPG pulling a loaded 28′ moving trailer.

    Loading Ramp

    Moving requires good balance, strength and a large area to maneuver heavy furniture.  Going up a steep narrow ramp with a fridge on a dolly can quickly turn into a disaster without enough people lifting, pushing and pulling.  Unfortunately, in many cases there is not enough room on a narrow ramp for multiple people to stand without falling or getting injured.  A lift gate on a moving truck is ideal but there may be an additional charge.

    Moving Truck Ramp – The average moving truck has a loading ramp width of 22 to 31 inches.  The average height of the loading deck is 35 inches and some are as high as 52 inches.

    Moving Trailer Ramp – The average moving trailer rental in Murrieta has a loading ramp width of 93 inches.  The average height from the ground is 14 inches.

    If you towing a vehicle during your move, you won’t be able to load a vehicle in a moving truck.  Loading an ATV or motorcycle in a moving truck can be challenging to say the least.  Some moving truck rental companies prohibit pulling a trailer or dolly behind their truck.

    Moving trailers are designed with the convenience and flexibility to load a vehicle, ATV, motorcycle, or just about anything without restriction.  A cargo trailer rental ramp will support the weight of 4,000 rolling pounds.



    Moving truck and trailer rental features are as different as night and day.

    Moving Truck Rental

    • Space – A 26 foot moving truck has approximately 1700 cubic feet.
    • Clearance – Overhead exterior clearance is about 13 feet in height.  This can be an issue with low hanging power lines, trees, or roof overhangs and structures.
    • Weight Concerns – The weight of a moving truck is a concern with cracking a driveway.  However, this depends entirely on how your driveway was constructed.
    • E-track – Most trucks do have e-track on the walls, but not usually on the floor.
    • Spare Tires – Most truck rentals have one spare tire
    • Side Service Door – None
    • Special License Required – A CDL is required only if the truck is more than 26,000 GVWR.  Some 26′ moving trucks are over this limit, but you should ask your rental company prior to renting.
    • Seating – Most moving trucks have a bench seat or bucket seats that can accommodate 2 to 3 people including the driver.
    • One-Way Rental – Most moving truck rental one-way trips are permitted by rental companies.

    Moving Trailer Rental

    • Space – A 28 foot moving trailer has slightly less space at approximately 1600 cubic feet.
    • Clearance – The overhead exterior clearance of most trailers is only about 99 inches or 8.25 feet.
    • Weight Concerns – The average weight of an enclosed trailer rental is about the same as the weight of a car.
    • E-Track – Big Trailer Rentals has e-track on the walls and floor.
    • Spare Tires – Big Trailer Rentals has two spare tires on every moving trailer.
    • Side Service Door – Trailers do have a side service door near the front of the trailer makes it convenient to access items during your trip that would otherwise be impossible without unpacking the entire trailer.
    • Special License Required – No
    • Seating – Most pickup trucks can accommodate 6 people including the driver.
    • One-Way Rental – Trailer rentals are always round trip.  Many people need to make more than one trip to complete their move.  As an alternative, a driver can be hired to return the trailer at a reasonable cost.


    With so many California residents fleeing the state, moving companies have raised their rates as a result of more outbound than inbound rentals.  The exorbitant shift in moving truck rental cost has customers seeking alternative means to move to their dream state.  When weighing the various moving options, there’s no doubt that although a moving truck has a couple advantages, a moving trailer rental has far greater advantages. Not only is there a more cost effect way to move but a more efficient way to move in 2023 and beyond.

    Cargo Trailer Rental and Truck Rental Locations:

    Here are some great resources to find the closest rental locations in your local area: 

    Big Trailer Rentals

    Neighbors Trailer

    Rent A Cargo Trailer

    This article has been updated on October 15, 2023 to improve accuracy.

    Disclaimer: This information is provided as a consumer resource.  This information is based on the opinion of the author and research provided by reliable sources.  The factual information contained on this page may change over time and not be accurate as products and services change.  As a consumer, you should do your own research and not rely entirely on this information.