Moving Containers

A new moving option: Shipping container moving is one of the hottest trends in moving.

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Moving Container
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Moving container companies, one of the "you pack, they drive" moving options, are the babies of the D.I.Y. moving industry, but they're also one of the most popular options for a Hybrid™ Move. These newcomers have revolutionized the process by allowing people an easy, convenient way to pack, store, and move their stuff. Prices range from just under $500 for a local move (with the largest container) to more than $5,000 for a long-distance move (with two of the largest containers). In the rest of this guide, you can see average prices for each type of move, as well as get a quick intro to the companies who offer these moving services, learn the best tips for making a portable storage container move successful, and figure out what size container you might need using our container size guide.

How much would it cost to load my container?

Moving container companies, one of the "you pack, they drive" moving options, are the babies of the D.I.Y. moving industry, but they're also one of the most popular options for a Hybrid™ Move. These newcomers have revolutionized the process by allowing people an easy, convenient way to pack, store, and move their stuff. Clients reserve a date for the delivery of a shipping container (or two for larger homes), and then they pack up their stuff - on their own or with hired help - at their convenience. You lock up the container and you alone hang onto the key. Finally, you call the container company to send a driver, who will drive a truck out, pick up the container, and bring your stuff to a storage facility or your spiffy new address.

You can move locally or long distance, but moving containers are more affordably suited to local moves of small houses or apartments. But that's mostly because you need to rent out more than one container for larger homes, which raises the fee. And the costs associated with the company driving the container long distance (read: paying the driver, fuel, insurance, etc.) all piles onto your bill, but then again you're not driving that massive truck 2000 miles in 110 degree heat. Trade offs. Prices range from just under $500 for a local move (with the largest container) to more than $5,000 for a long-distance move (with two of the largest containers). In the rest of this guide, you can see average prices for each type of move, as well as get a quick intro to the companies who offer these moving services, learn the best tips for making a portable storage container move successful, and figure out what size container you might need using our container size guide.

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Price & Review Comparison


  • Avg. Review
    0
    5
    4.48
    Average Cost
    Local Move: $622
    Medium Move: Med. Move: $1,569
    Long Move: $3,267
    Positive Review

    Website super simple to navigate, giant online presence.

    Negative Review

    Requires lengthy scheduling notice for best results.

  • Avg. Review
    0
    5
    4.50
    Average Cost
    Local Move: $734
    Medium Move: Med. Move: $1,216
    Long Move: $3,437
    Positive Review

    Quick and easy booking, great customer service.

    Negative Review

    Delivery and pickup times are broadly assigned, not specific.

  • Avg. Review
    0
    5
    4.53
    Average Cost
    Local Move: N/A
    Medium Move: Med. Move: $1,542
    Long Move: $2,270
    Positive Review

    Knowledgable and responsive customer service.

    Negative Review

    Limited scheduling window for packing and unloading containers.

  • Avg. Review
    0
    5
    4.29
    Average Cost
    Local Move: $1,733
    Medium Move: Med. Move: N/A
    Long Move: $2,356
    Positive Review

    Delivery options offered, affordable pricing.

    Negative Review

    Wood containers are less sturdy, cancellation process a headache.

  • Avg. Review
    0
    5
    4.44
    Average Cost
    Local Move: $508
    Medium Move: Med. Move: N/A
    Long Move: N/A
    Positive Review

    Unparalleled customer service, lots of different container options.

    Negative Review

    Fewer long distance move options, total cost obscured until after move.

  • Avg. Review
    0
    5
    3.48
    Average Cost
    Local Move: N/A
    Medium Move: Med. Move: N/A
    Long Move: $2,777
    Positive Review

    Flexible billing based on actual containers used, online tracking.

    Negative Review

    Costliest option for large homes, container quality not as good as the competition.

  • Avg. Review
    0
    5
    3.43
    Average Cost
    Local Move: N/A
    Medium Move: Med. Move: N/A
    Long Move: N/A
    Positive Review

    Smaller company gives you a more intimate, direct feel.

    Negative Review

    Billing is rigid and strictly tied to a monthly billing cycle.

Moving Container Companies


PODS ® and 1-800-PACK-RAT ® are the most popular moving container options. These companies offer storage either on your property (you keep the container locked up in your driveway, for example) or at one of the company's facilities. Some people use the storage containers to store their stuff while completing a renovation project. Of course, you pay for the moving container rental by the month, so the more months you keep them, the more money you will spend.

You can usually purchase moving supplies, such as boxes, from the company's Web site. But you are limited and there are no supply rentals, which means you are on your own when it comes to getting hand trucks and furniture blankets, unless you want to buy them. In other words, you are better off seeking out supplies elsewhere, where they are gentler on your wallet. Still, the extra costs associated with moving container rental might just be worth it if you don't want to make like a truck driver.

PODS® Container

PODS® Moving & Storage


PODS® Container

Locations

  • 200+

Available Services

Sizes

  • Sizes: 7', 12', 16'
  • Equipement rental
  • Packing supplies

There's no question that PODS is the leader - and self-proclaimed founder - of the "you pack, they drive" moving options. The "Portable On-Demand Self-Storage" units, known as PODS containers (which are 7, 12, or 16-feet long) have a reputation for being durable. Their containers are composed of aluminum skin and steel frames, have a translucent top to let in light, and a lightweight steel, roll-up door that's designed to make them easy to open and close.

But PODS is also among the most expensive ways to hack a move, especially if you're hauling a larger home from a long distance. The convenience factor, however, can definitely make it worth it, considering their many locations. Plus, they have their operation nailed down, compared to a lot of the competition, which is reflected in their customer reviews. You can keep the moving containers for packing, unpacking and storage for as long as you want to pay for them, while someone else delivers them to your destination. You really call the shots when it comes to scheduling. However, this becomes a challenge in the busy summer season, as you might have a difficult time getting access to the containers you need. Plan far in advance. Again, however, PODS has more facilities across the country than 1-800-PACK-RAT, which gives consumers in most regions a better shot at getting what they need, when they need it.

For more information on PODS, visit its profile page.visit its profile page.

1800Packrat® Container

1-800-PACK-RAT® Moving + Portable Storage


1800Packrat® Container

Locations

  • 200+

Available Services

Sizes

  • Sizes: 12', 16'
  • Equipement rental
  • Packing supplies

The major differences between 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS are the sizes of their containers (as well as maybe the sizes of the companies). 1-800-PACK-RAT offers a great selection of containers. Both also have about the same number of facilities, but PODS wins out by being geographically spread out more, which means you are more likely to have a facility near you. This matters because a delivery driver is more likely to drop off and pick up moving containers much more quickly, thus, lowering the cost.

But on the other hand, your stuff might be considerably more secure and protected with this option. 1-800-PACK-RAT's containers are made entirely of steel, which makes them among the toughest containers around. Not to mention the company's partnership with Lowe's® means you can snag discounts on all sorts of stuff you might need as you move into a new home. Also, you can talk to a customer representative on the phone about their many discounts before committing.

For more information on the 1-800-PACK-RAT moving alternative, visit its profile page.visit its profile page.

Relocubes Container

ReloCubes® - U-Pack® Moving Container


Relocubes® Container

Locations

  • N/A

Available Services

Sizes

  • Size: 8'
  • Equipement rental
  • Packing supplies

ReloCubes® are a little different from the others in the portable storage containers category. These all-steel containers are brought to us by U-Pack® Moving, which is part of ABF® Freight Systems, Inc., a grandfather in the shipping industry. Unlike its competitors, ReloCubes come in one size, are offered for long-distance moves, and cannot be loaded or unloaded at the client's convenience. (You have 3 business days on either end for loading and unloading.) The price - at $2,494 for moving a studio apartment from New Jersey to Florida - is decent. And ABF has lots of experience - more than PODS or 1-800-PACK-RAT - hauling delicate stuff a lengthy distance. For more information on ReloCubes, visit its profile page.visit its profile page.

Door to Door Container

Door to Door Moving & Storage


Door to Door Container

Locations

  • Closed/Acquired by U-Haul

Available Services

Sizes

  • Size: 8'
  • Shipping/Delivery
  • Storage
  • Boxes and Supplies

A fixture of college dorm move-ins for over two decades, Door to Door boasts high customer satisfaction in their tightly clustered network of locations. They also claim great affordability, as the college students who are a major component of their demographic can attest. Like much of the competition, there are also delivery options for your moving container, as well as readily available (but offline) customer service agents.

Door to Door gains a lot of their financial affordability from the fact that they offer one-size-fits all option (56"x 93"x 77"), which is about the size of one bedroom. Not to mention the fact that the container is made of wood, and the company offers no insurance options, unlike the competition. But if you're in a (mostly) west coast location and have a small scale move in mind, check out their site to see their options.

Go Mini's Container

Go Mini's Moving & Portable Storage


Go Mini's Container

Locations

  • 200+

Available Services

Sizes

  • Sizes: 12', 16', 20'
  • Local Moving
  • Long-distance Moving
  • Storage
  • Moving and Packing Supplies

If you're in an area that is serviced by any of their 200+ locations, Go Mini's can be an attractive option. Like many of the more prolific storage container options on the market, Go Mini's offers delivery services and competitive storage pricing. Where this company vastly flexes their muscles is in unparalleled customer service. Because they deal in local moving, you are likely to be assigned a personal, friendly agent with lightning quick response times for any of your questions, which is the sure sign of a smaller, more nimble company. Go Mini's also lays claim to being the only company on the market that offers a 20-foot container, which fits about five to six rooms worth of stuff.

However, don't count on Go Mini's for long distance moves, as they yet do not offer long distance storage or deliveries. Upfront pricing is also a bit of an issue, as your grand total won't be shown to you until after your storage needs are completed. Check their site to see if Go Mini's is an option in your area.

U-Haul U-Box Container

U-Haul® U-Box® Moving Container


U-Haul U-Box Container

Locations

  • 15,000+ in U.S. & Can.

Available Services

Sizes

  • Size: 8'
  • One-Size Container
  • Delivery/Shipping
  • Storage
  • Packing supplies
  • Local Movers

Branching out from their famous (and orange) parent company, "U-Box" is the latest among U-Haul's relocation offerings. This time, the company is aiming to stake a claim in the container industry, claiming quick and affordable moving container options.

Positive features include a massive customer service presence, huge name recognition, and even live box tracking. In tandem with their online price estimator and the fact that they can deliver your container wherever you need it, U-Box can be an appealing option.

As with any large, corporate entity, however, there are issues. Unlike the competition, U-Box offers only a one-size-fits-all option for its containers (96" x 60" x 90"). The quality of this container is also a bit suspect, as they are made of plywood and come with a "weatherproof" cover, which depending on your location may not survive long stretches of storage. Plus, customer service is less than stellar, with potentially long wait periods between online and phone interactions, not to mention that all-too-familiar, cold reception to any issues you may encounter.

Check out U-Box's website to see if their prices are worth the potential downsides for your own move.

Smartbox Container

SMARTBOX® Moving Container


Smartbox Container

Locations

  • 36

Available Services

Sizes

  • Size: 8'x7'x5'
  • One-Size Container
  • Delivery/Shipping
  • Storage

Like some other storage options, SMARTBOX is the closest thing you can get to a Full Service Move transportation experience, except with containers.

How it all works is you pack your SMARTBOX, then someone drives your stuff locally or long distance to their new location, or to one of their temperature controlled storage units. Afterwards, you pay for using SMARTBOX by the month, giving you flexibility. (This is provided you don’t go over by even one day, or else it’ll be a bill for two months.) If you’re in the market for a way to store your things while you move, it’s definitely worth checking out their rates if one of their 30+ locations are near you.

Check out SMARTBOX's Moving101 profileSMARTBOX's Moving101 profile for more info.

Container Size Guide


  • Small 7-8 ft.
    Studio Apt. 400-600 sq. ft.

    Ideal For:

    • Fits: 1-2,500 lbs.
    • 100-375 cubic feet
    • 1-5 Furniture items
    • Up to 120 medium boxes

    Not Ideal For:

    • King size bed
    • Pianos
    • Pool tables
    • Refridgerators
    • Gun safes
    • 2+ Bedroom homes
  • Medium 12 ft.
    1-2 Bedrooms 600-1,200 sq. ft.

    Ideal For:

    • Fits: 1 - 3,500 lbs.
    • 375-750 cubic feet
    • 1-10 Furniture items
    • Up to 225 medium boxes

    Not Ideal For:

    • Grand / Baby grand pianos
    • 3+ Bedroom homes
  • Large 16 ft.
    2-3 Bedrooms 1,200-1,600 sq. ft.

    Ideal For:

    • Fits: 3,500-6,000 lbs.
    • 750-1,000 cubic feet
    • 1-10 Furniture items
    • Up to 300 medium boxes

    Not Ideal For:

    • 3+ Bedroom homes
  • Multiple 16 ft.+
    3-4 Bedrooms 1,600-2,400+ sq. ft.

    Ideal For:

    • Fits: 6,000 lbs.
    • 1,000+ cubic feet
    • 10+ Furniture items
    • 600+ Medium Boxes

    Not Ideal For:

    • Small apartments
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Moving Container Tips


Each company has its own positives and negatives, but there are some universal tips when renting portable storage containers. We've learned the in's and out's of booking, dropping off, storage and even delivery. So read below to be prepared for when you rent your next portable storage unit.

Evaluate

Consider the value based on the type of move you're making.


These containers are best suited to those who are moving and need storage. If that's you, then this could be a really convenient and affordable way to move. On the other hand, you'll pay more than you would with a rental truck for a long-distance move of a larger home, but then again you don't have to drive. If you need to store your stuff for long periods of time (especially if you can and prefer storing it on your own property), these are really a fantastic option.

Negotiate

Ask about discounts.


Often these companies do seasonal promotions, so be on the lookout for those. Also, you might be able to do a bit of negotiating. PODS wasn't as willing to negotiate price for my imaginary move, but 1-800-PACK-RAT was. Simply by asking to make sure you're getting all the discounts which you are eligible can help you pay less. So, don't be shy.

Plan Ahead

Plan ahead of time.


Truck rental companies have thousands of facilities each. As a result, they have more rentals available, so you have more access to them when you need them. This is not the case with these newer and smaller portable storage units. This means you need to think about the future now. Weekends, for example, might need to be secured a year ahead of time, according to a PODS representative. If you need to move unexpectedly or within a quick time frame, then these containers might not be right for you, but check first. Then again, if you can plan your move months ahead of time, these units could be perfect.

Set a Budget

Budget for additional storage if you'll need it.


The first month of storage is factored into the price for most companies, so you can feel free to take your time loading, getting the driver, and unloading. Once you pass that first month, however, you are going to have to pay a monthly fee for storage. While it's true that you can take all the time you need to load, have your stuff moved, and unload, you maximize the value of the service by doing it all within one month's time. Procrastinating will suck the dollars right out of your wallet.

Parking Sign

You are responsible for container parking at both locations.


This means that you must find out if it's legal to park the container on the street, and for how long. You should check with the local city hall for details on parking containers in your town (both where you're living now and where you're moving to). For example, in Seattle you need to get a permit that will allow you to leave the container on the street for 120 days. Keep in mind that you'll have to pay any parking violations incurred by the container while in your possession for loading and unloading. Most moving container companies will inform you of your city's regulations for parking containers at the time of booking as well. As a kind gesture, you should also inform your neighbors that this big boy is going to be visiting for a while.

No Parking

Find out if you can even park the container in the first place.


Cities, such as New York City, require a live load/unload, which means that certain locations do not permit overnight parking of the container. So, you have to allow the driver to wait for you while you load or unload the truck. Each company has its own rules of live load/unloads. Another option is to rent a truck and shuttle your belongings to a portable storage container warehouse where you can unload them into a container, but at that point, a lot of the convenience has been lost unfortunately.

Recent Customer Reviews


  •   Santa Clara, CA

    4/23/2018

    - Moving Container Review

      Santa Clara, CA

    4/23/2018

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    Nice POD. Very clean except it had to be sweeped out. First POD was delivered and picked up on time, however second POD's delivery was delayed by one day due to truck problems. Comoany staye din communacation with me throughout the process and worked with me to ensure that I received the best possib;le deal they could offer. Company did underestimate number of PODs I would require even after I sent them pictures of items to be moved. Based on what I have seen so far I would use them again.

    Move Details

    Distance 200 mi
    Cost $2,000
    Per. Mile $10.00
    SqFt. Moved 1,145

  •   Oklahoma City, OK

    4/4/2018

    - Moving Container Review

      Oklahoma City, OK

    4/4/2018

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    John called to say he was on his way and arrived early. He gave us his number and asked us to let him know when we were finished. John returned soon after we called to pick up the container. He was a great help!

    Move Details

    Distance 1,000 mi
    Cost $2,500
    Per. Mile $2.50
    SqFt. Moved 1,000

  •   Sun City West, AZ

    4/2/2018

    - Moving Container Review

      Sun City West, AZ

    4/2/2018

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    This was a good choice for me. Start to finish has been a good experience. My long distance move was made a little easier with this method. I am grateful.

    Move Details

    Distance 1,000 mi
    Cost $5,000
    Per. Mile $5.00
    SqFt. Moved 3,000

  •   Covina, CA

    3/19/2018

    - Moving Container Review

      Covina, CA

    3/19/2018

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    Although I am at the start of my POD rental, to date I am pleased with the service received thus far from 1 800 PACK-RAT. Everyone has been very professional, helpful, and customer service has been great.

    Move Details

    Distance 1,700 mi
    Cost $4,800
    Per. Mile $2.82
    SqFt. Moved 1,600

  •   Clover, SC

    3/11/2018

    - Moving Container Review

      Clover, SC

    3/11/2018

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    Everything with PODS went extremely smoothly until I attempted to schedule pick-up of the PODS after delivery to our final destination. I called on February 26th to schedule pick-up for March 2nd or that weekend, and was told the next available day for pick-up wasn't until March 8th! The PODS were delivered on March 1st, so that meant they would sit in our driveway for a full week, completely empty. I had to ask if there was any sort of waiting list for sooner pick-up (this was not offered to me) and I was told yes, PODS would contact the local manager and they would get back to me. I did not hear anything, so called again on February 28th, and was told they would not call me unless something opens and they can add me for an early pick-up. The PODS were delivered March 1st, emptied by that evening, and sat completely empty in our driveway until March 8th. I never received a call for an earlier pick-up.

    Move Details

    Distance 683 mi
    Cost $6,000
    Per. Mile $8.78
    SqFt. Moved 2,200

  •   West Linn, OR

    3/2/2018

    - Moving Container Review

      West Linn, OR

    3/2/2018

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    The 16' POD arrived in good condition and the driver was courteous and friendly. Answered questions about the best location to spot the POD. The drop was smooth and efficient.

    Move Details

    Distance 2,000 mi
    Cost $4,500
    Per. Mile $2.25
    SqFt. Moved 1,200

  •   San Francisco, CA

    1/5/2018

    - Moving Container Review

      San Francisco, CA

    1/5/2018

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    Good value for the money. Even after upgrading insurance (which I ended up not needing) and paying extra for a confirmed 3 day delivery date, Upack was significantly cheaper than the competition. Our stuff arrived quickly and in fine condition.

    Move Details

    Distance 650 mi
    Cost $1,300
    Per. Mile $2.00
    SqFt. Moved 1,200

  •   Camden, TN

    11/2/2017

    - Moving Container Review

      Camden, TN

    11/2/2017

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    Had a long distance move with 4 containers. All containers made it to my new home in a timely fashion. I would use them again as the total cost was approximately 2000 dollars less than the moving company estimates I received.

    Move Details

    Distance 1,300 mi
    Cost $12,000
    Per. Mile $9.23
    SqFt. Moved 1,700

  •   Hamden, CT

    10/29/2017

    - Moving Container Review

      Hamden, CT

    10/29/2017

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    From start to finish, my experience with 1-800-PACKRAT was positive. Their prices were the best I found and their ability to accommodate my moving needs were excellent. I was impressed both with the phone service staff and the actual delivery people. All were pleasant and responsive to any questions or concerns. I would not hesitate to use them again or to recommend them to others.

    Move Details

    Distance 250 mi
    Cost $1,600
    Per. Mile $6.40
    SqFt. Moved 1,500

  •   Saint Louis, MO

    12/24/2016

    - Moving Container Review

      Saint Louis, MO

    12/24/2016

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    Truck arrived when advised. The only complaint I have is that the company removed the bulk head and used my matress as the bulk head. Matress was wet and black from road slush upon arrival. If I had less stuff and were able to get the bulk head up correctly, I would rate the experience as excellent. Just not sure why ABF opted to take the bulk head out?

    Move Details

    Distance 750 mi
    Cost $2,000
    Per. Mile $2.67
    SqFt. Moved 2,300

  •   San Mateo, CA

    6/27/2016

    - Moving Container Review

      San Mateo, CA

    6/27/2016

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    This was our second time using Upack relocubes. Since we didn't have a home yet at our new location the extra paid storage option was a plus. Delivery driver was excellent and put the cubes on our street right where we asked. Only downside was some confusion on picking up the full cubes so I would recommend following up on scheduling the pickup.

    Move Details

    Distance 2,300 mi
    Cost $5,000
    Per. Mile $2.17
    SqFt. Moved 1,000

  •   Mesquite, TX

    6/19/2016

    - Moving Container Review

      Mesquite, TX

    6/19/2016

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    Great company, easy to use and very friendly. The truck was 28 ft. I didn't think we'd use it all but we did! The guys that dropped off and picked up the trailer were friendly and nice, answered my questions and were very professional. Customer service was great and so was dispatch. I would definitely use them again and would recommend them to anyone. The cost was less than half of what PODS offered! Highly recommended!

    Move Details

    Distance 1,200 mi
    Cost $1,550
    Per. Mile $1.29
    SqFt. Moved 2,400

  •   Bellwood, IL

    9/11/2014

    - Moving Container Review

      Bellwood, IL

    9/11/2014

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    The individual who delivered my container was courteous, caring, professional and skilled. I can say the same for the person who helped me with my rental. I would (will) use them again.

    Move Details

    Distance 1 mi
    Cost $167
    Per. Mile $167
    SqFt. Moved 200

  •   Annandale, VA

    6/26/2014

    - Moving Container Review

      Annandale, VA

    6/26/2014

    - Moving Container Review

    Rating:

    0 1 2 3 4 5

    D2D was fine. I was lucky that the truck didn't come to pick up the pod exactly at 7am. May be better to pack the pod overnight as opposed to the morning of the pick up date.

    Move Details

    Distance 3,000 mi
    Cost $2,700
    Per. Mile $0.90
    SqFt. Moved 900

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