Not-Quite-Minimalist Moving: Cargo Van Or Box Truck For Moving A Small Studio

If you're trying to arrange a house move and are transporting the equivalent of a small studio's worth of stuff, you know it will likely be a lot cheaper to just rent a moving truck or van yourself. But which one to get can be a difficult decision, especially when you don't have that much stuff. Look at these factors to decide which vehicle is best for you.

Fuel Use

Because of the additional materials that go into making a box truck, you're likely going to spend more on fuel if you rent one of those instead of a cargo van. For local moves, this doesn't really mean much, but for long-distance moves, the difference can be substantial. Because mileage can vary so much between different models -- and that's before you add in the weight of your belongings -- this factor is fairly individual. But take a good look at the average mileage of the models before you decide. Chances are the cargo van will be a little better.

Horizontal Space

The box truck often wins this factor. If you don't want to stack items up too high, a box truck may give you more horizontal space so you can have lower piles that just spread out more. If you prefer to keep your packing compact, though, a cargo van may be better.

Ease of Use

Box trucks may be more awkward for new users (those who have never driven them before) to park and put in reverse. However, the side mirrors may offer a better view of spots that are normally considered blind. At the same time, a cargo van will have a lower profile -- good for trips on windy days and when you have to pass under bridges or parking garage entryways that have a low clearance.


The cargo sections of box trucks have only one door, and the materials that make up the truck are tough. Cargo vans are tough, too, but they often have additional windows that can be broken. So if protecting your stuff is important, a box truck may work for you.

Freeway Travel

Taking a rental truck on the freeway creates a special situation when you happen upon truck scales. Small box trucks used for moving household goods often aren't required to stop at truck scales, but some scales do require it. For example, in a review of California weigh station requirements, the website Coops Are Open notes, "Many California weigh station locations have signs on the roadway leading up to them that rental and delivery trucks must enter open weigh stations." This time at the scales can extend your trip by quite a bit if the scales are busy. Cargo vans do not have to stop at the scales.

If you want to know more about mileage, weigh stations in your state, and other factors that trucks and vans have to deal with, talk to truck rental companies. The staff there should be up to date on what's happening on the roads in the area and what issues other users have had with trucks vs. vans. Contact a business, such as Allard Rentals, to book your next moving vehicle.