Moving In the City: Pickup Truck or Cargo Van?

Oct 19, 2013

As a city dweller, let me tell you something — city streets and alleys were most certainly not designed for 26′ moving trucks! And I think it would be quite the challenge to try and parallel park one of those bad boys as well. That’s why it’s recommended that you use either a pickup truck or a cargo van if you’re moving in and out of a major city like Chicago, New York, Boston or any other urban area.

But which vehicle is better for you? Both get the job done with ease and comfort, but each one is better suited for specific situations. Here at Moving Insider, we like to make sure that you have the right equipment for the job so we’ll help you decide — and even throw in a few extra tips along the way.

Pickup Trucks can be used to haul all sorts of items..even cows! (Although we hope you aren't moving a cow in the city!)

Pickup Trucks can be used to haul all sorts of items..even cows! (Although we hope you aren’t moving a cow in the city!)


The first question that will help you decide whether it’s going to be a pickup or a cargo van is weather. Since most rental companies rent their pickups without full coverage over the truck bed, a rainy or snow in the forecast could quickly ruin your moving day. If the weather calls for precipitation, a cargo van will be the better option since it’s completely enclosed and sealed to the elements.

If your items are outdoorsy and may be even water resistant a pickup truck could be used still in conjunction with a tarp or some sort of cover that you provide on your own.

Type of Cargo

The type of cargo you are hauling is going to be the next determining factor in whether a pickup truck or cargo van is right for you. If the items you plan on hauling won’t fit inside the cargo van, a pickup truck is the obvious choice. I will say however that most items will fit in a cargo van, even a queen size mattress with box spring — so this decision may not have that much of an impact to you.

The next question is how fragile your items are. If you’re moving items that can’t be exposed to the wind and sun, or need to be completely sealed, than a cargo van is the right choice for you.

Cargo Vans can fit in places with lower overhead clearance.

Cargo vans are not as tall as moving trucks and may fit in places with lower overhead clearance.

Where You Will Unload

This is one of the most important deciding factors in deciding which option is best for you. Do some research online or via phone calls to ensure your new home allows the use of cargo vans. Some apartment complexes may not allow certain types of vehicles in their loading zones — which could cause massive headaches for you.

Although the exterior dimensions of cargo vans and pickup trucks are similar, some parking spots or overhead clearance areas might not allow the use of one vehicle. If you find this out too late, say for example when you’ve already loaded up and have had a long stressful day, your moving day could become a disaster. A little bit of research and planning beforehand can save lots of time and headaches in the long run. This also goes the same for city streets and alley ways — while you should be ok in most situations, it always is helpful to check and plan ahead just in case.

Pack Smart

No matter the option you choose, remember to pack smart to have a successful move. Don’t forget the moving supplies like rope and boxes as well, which can help you greatly in a cargo van or pickup truck. Rope is extremely important for tying off the load — don’t want your valuable to break along the way, do you?

Have you ever used a cargo van to move in the city? What about a pickup truck? Have any tips to share with either one? Let us know in the comments below!


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