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Moving Day: How to select the right truck to transport your stuff

On the fun scale, moving is up there with looking for a job, root canal, and shovelling snow off the driveway. It's worse if you don't have the right vehicle (not to mention friends who have suddenly all left town). Borrowing your buddy's hatchback and cramming it full of your stuff for multiple trips across the city gets old fast, and the ordeal can be made much easier by paying for a decent-sized van from the start.

But what to choose? If you're moving from one studio to another, you don't need a five-ton truck, and the contents of a two-bedroom apartment will require more than a minivan with the seats removed.

One-bedroom apartment/studio

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You can probably get by with a full-size pickup or the aforementioned minivan. But it'll take more than one load to do it. The advantage to using a pickup are that it takes tall and odd-shaped loads. On the other hand, it'll be open to the elements and everything will have to be tied down. Most rental companies have a fleet of single cab/longbed pickups available (usually Ford F-150s), and this is a more affordable option. That said, a minivan is more comfortable, tends to offer better fuel economy, and you can get a fair amount of stuff into one. The Dodge Ram Cargo Van, for example, has 144 cubic feet of space, which will take a big bite out of most studio apartments. Other choices here include the Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo (122 cubic feet), its twin, the Chevrolet City Express, Ford Transit long wheelbase (130 cubic feet), the short wheelbase Mercedes Sprinter (371 cubic feet), and the GMC Savana/Chev Express (239 cubic feet). The Sprinter is the most versatile, will accommodate the most stuff and is powered by a thrifty turbodiesel engine. Disadvantage: these are hard to find and not utilized by many rental companies.

Two/three-bedroom apartment

You must consider a cube van or Mercedes long wheelbase Sprinter. This latter vehicle has 600 cubic feet of cargo room with the high roof model and you can empty most 2-3 bedroom apartments into it. The extended wheelbase versions of the GMC/Chevrolet duo might also do in a pinch, as will the Ford E-series wagon; these feature some 300 cubic feet of cargo room. A couple of other pluses with the Mercedes, Ford, and GM products: they have side access doors and are comparatively easy to manoeuvre in city traffic.

Three/four-bedroom house

You will have to plump for that full-size truck. These will handle up to 1,000 cubic feet of cargo and you should be able to move everything in one trip. They usually have a rear loading ramp and some come with a hydraulic rear liftgate for heavy stuff. Almost all rental companies stock these in abundance, and they usually have a diesel engine. On the other hand, they're not the easiest rigs to manhandle around town and they take up a lot of room during loading/unloading.


U-Haul charges $19.95 a day plus 49 cents/kilometre for a typical cargo van (Savana, E-series, etc.) or Ford F-150, and you have to return the vehicle with a full tank of fuel.

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Ryder charges $150, plus 29 cents/kilometre for the daily use of a "city" van (a 585- to 900-cubic-foot van), and Budget want $59.86, plus 16 cents/kilometre for a 790-cubic-foot cube fan, with no charge for the first 100 kilometres. Toronto's Autoshare vehicle co-op starts at $11.25/hour, or $90 a day for a Nissan NV200 and $12.25/hour or $100 a day for a Chevy Express, with a $29 registration fee. It's also worth noting that most of the agencies mentioned here charge significantly more on weekends and holidays.

If you want to hire someone to handle everything, prices depend on how much stuff has to be shifted. The "two men with a truck" scenario can run from about $350 a day, and well-known outfits like United can go as high as $10,000 for a full home.

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