Should I Get a Dolly For Moving? (It Depends)

Should I Rent the Dolly From U-Haul

There are many excellent, dedicated packing supplies out there designed to help movers get their items to their destination quickly and intact. These products can streamline the process and keep belongings safe and secure during transit. One of these supplies is a moving dolly.

Dollies can be helpful for many movers but may not actually be a good investment for some.

If the moving is mainly done on flat surfaces, ramps, or buildings with elevators, dollies are a fantastic investment. If a move will require a lot of stairs or steep inclines, a dolly would likely be a waste of money.

Let’s discuss whether a dolly is the right choice, or if a dolly may actually do you more harm than good.

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Table of Contents

What is a Dolly?

Though there are several different types of moving dollies, generally speaking, a moving dolly is a wheeled cart that can help you transport items more efficiently. It turns your moving boxes or appliances into something that can be pushed on wheels instead of lifted or carried.

Some dollies are narrow with a long base that allows for stacking boxes for easy moving or will allow you to lean a large appliance (like a fridge) against the dolly for transport (this is called an appliance dolly).

Hand trucks are similar to an appliance dolly but are specifically engineered for boxes and are a bit more narrow.

Furniture dollies have a short, broad base with a handle that allows furniture or bulky items to be placed on top and wheeled to the destination.

When is a Dolly Useful?

Moving dollies are incredibly useful for moves that have a lot of flat surfaces to cover. Boxes and bulky items can be stacked on the dolly and wheeled to the mover’s new home, saving a ton of energy and backache.

Dollies are exceptional for single-story apartments and homes, or apartments and condos that have an elevator lift. They can be great for moves that have ramp access if the ramp is a gentle gradient.

Using a Dolly
Look at this guy in this totally real, not at all a generic stock photo… he loves his dolly!

A dolly can be a great tool because it prevents a lot of damage or possible accidents from dropped boxes or even injury to the movers. Moving heavy and bulky items can put a great deal of strain on the mover if done improperly.

Moving an entire house of possessions is a tremendous undertaking, and anybody who is not in impeccable physical condition may suffer injury or pain.

Proper packing supplies like a moving dolly can help offset some of the strain and pressure of lots of heavy moving. The wheels on the dolly do most of the heavy lifting, allowing the mover to guide the items without the stress and strain of lifting and carrying.

When is a Dolly a Bad Idea?

Trying to move using a dolly when the move requires a ton of stairs is essentially a waste of time. Navigating a dolly on a staircase is more frustrating and possibly more dangerous. This is because the wheels cannot accommodate significant stair usage, and in this case, just carrying the items either individually or as a team lift will be ideal.

A dolly is also not a good idea if the move requires steep inclines or any surfaces where wheels are not safe. If the user runs the risk of losing control of the dolly on the walking surface, it would be better to carry those items.

Weather conditions are also a factor to consider. If you plan to move on thick ice, heavy snow, or any other sort of inclement weather that would render the dolly useless, consider bypassing the dolly.

Is a Dolly Worth the Cost?

Budget Charts and Graphs

While there are some budget-conscious dolly options, some of the more industrial versions can get a bit pricey. The cost may deter some people, especially those who don’t plan to move often.

However, for frequent movers, people with injuries requiring lifting assistance, or those who have a high volume of items to move, they could be an excellent investment.

For those not wanting to pay the total cost of a moving dolly, there are plenty of rental options available as well. Major retailers like Home Depot and U-Haul offer dolly rentals starting at only a couple of dollars per day.

If you’re not sure, I would suggest going ahead and getting one. When we compared moving truck rental companies like U-Haul and Penske, we found out that a dolly only costs an extra $10-$20. If you don’t end up needing it, you wasted a couple bucks. However, if you do end up needing one and you don’t have it, you’ll be willing to pay 10x that amount.

Additional Dolly Accessories

In addition to your helpful moving dolly, a few accessories may make your move even easier. Furniture pads are a great tool to prevent dings and damage while transporting goods with your dolly. They are pads of thick felt or denim that go around your boxes, appliances, or furniture to prevent damage in the event of a fall or a collision with a surface or wall.

Nylon straps are great for affixing items to the dolly. The narrow, tall structure of the dolly can often destabilize items or make them susceptible to falling over, but nylon straps will help prevent this from occurring.

Nylon straps can also come in handy for tying down furniture inside the moving truck.

Final Thoughts

There are several factors to consider before purchasing a moving dolly.

Type of move, frequency of moving, type of terrain, and weather are all factors to consider before investing in a dolly. Knowing the correct type of dolly for your moving needs will save you a ton of time and stress during your upcoming move.


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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