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3 Best Moving Container Companies 2021

A moving container company is an affordable alternative to traditional full-service movers. Learn what goes into the process of using the best moving container companies, as well as their pricing.

PODS container in a driveway in front of a house Courtesy PODS

If you’re planning an upcoming move, you’ve probably looked at a few options. Should you do it all on your own? Should you hire a full-service mover or should you split the difference with a moving container company?

With moving containers, you book and schedule your move with the company of your choice. The company drops off your moving container(s) at your home when you request it. You then load your belongings into the container(s) within the time frame provided. Once your belongings are loaded, you will notify the company to pick up your containers and transport them to your new home.

The This Old House Reviews team has researched and ranked some of the best moving companies on the market to help you figure out which company is right for you and your family.

We found the moving container companies on this list particularly impressive due to their cost, services, and additional benefits.

3 Best Moving Container Companies

Using our rigorous methodology paired with in-depth research, we found the following moving container companies to be the best in the industry:

1-800-PACK-RAT: Best Overall Self-Service Mover

1-800-PACK-RAT is our top pick for a moving container company thanks to its competitive pricing, high-quality portable storage units, and partnership with Hire-A-Helper. The company handles local and long-distance moves, sells moving supplies, and offers short- and long-term storage.

Pros & Cons

Compare the advantages and disadvantages of 1-800-PACK-RAT:

✔ Includes $10,000 moving protection for long-distance moves
✔ Portable storage units are weather-proof, sturdy, and well-protected
✔ Offers a price-matching policy for PODS

✘ Only has locations in 30 states
✘ No online booking option

Services

Like the other moving companies on this list, 1-800-PACK-RAT delivers portable storage units to your home. A move with 1-800-PACK-RAT includes 30 days worth of rental, but if you need more time for loading and unloading, you can extend the rental for another 30 days for an additional cost.

1-800-PACK-RAT offers three rental container sizes: 8 feet (suitable for 1–2 rooms), 12 feet (2–3 rooms), and 16 feet (3–4 rooms). Each of the company’s containers are high-quality, sturdy, and weatherproof. In fact, 1-800-PACK-RAT is the only portable storage company with all-steel containers.

In addition to its self-service moving service, 1-800-PACK-RAT offers a variety of other useful services. The company offers assistance with loading and unloading or packing and unpacking through Hire-A-Helper. The company offers long-term and short-term storage solutions at one of its many storage facilities.

1-800-PACK-RAT’s service options include:

  • Moving container moves
  • Moving labor via Hire-A-Helper
  • Auto transportation services
  • Storage solutions
  • Moving supplies

Cost of 1-800-PACK-RAT

We received a moving quote from 1-800-PACK-RAT for a three-bedroom home moving from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, using a 16-foot container for $3,678.68. This quote includes two 16-foot rental containers, a no-cut security lock, all transportation, delivery, and pickup, and $10,000 in contents protection.

1-800-PACK-RAT offers two different plans for contents protection. Its Basic Plan acts as a damage waiver plan that covers damage to the container when it’s in your possession. This means you are not responsible for any damage to the container itself, but it does not protect your belongings. This plan costs $9.99.

Its second plan, The Silver Plan, combines the Basic Plan with protection on your belongings within the container. Customers can have up to $75,000 of protection on their household goods and personal effects while their container is in 1-800-PACK-RAT’s possession or at their home. There is a $100 deductible for all losses.*

We suggest you get a more accurate idea of what 1-800-PACK-RAT moving container costs by filling out this online survey.

*There is a $2,500 deductible for losses caused by Names Storms, such as hurricanes

State Availability

1-800-PACK-RAT easily offers its services in Washington, D.C., and the following 30 states:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Why We Chose 1-800-PACK-RAT

1-800-PACK-RAT is our top pick for a moving container company due to its flexibility for long-distance and local moves, its high quality moving containers, vehicle transportation options, and partnership with Hire-A-Helper. It is a great choice for anyone looking for a DIY moving experience that can be customized with a variety of labor options.

We recommend you see what 1-800-PACK-RAT can bring to your move by completing this short form.


PODS: Most Convenient

We think PODS offers some of the most convenient time frames for moving when compared to other moving container companies. PODS also features top-tier storage facilities with features like climate-controlled storage units. The company also features the largest number of storage facilities compared to other companies on this list.

Pros & Cons

Compare the advantages and disadvantages of PODS:

✔ Available in all 50 states
✔ Transparent about pricing during its detailed quote process
✔ Offers a variety of insurance options

✘ Bookings must be finalized over the phone
✘ Bookings are required far in advance as time slots fill up often
✘ Quote process may be long for some customers

Services

PODS differentiates itself from other moving container companies by giving customers a generous 30-day window to load and unload their belongings from their containers. Extending your PODS rental for an additional 30 days is roughly $100 cheaper than 1-800-PACK-RAT, making the units great for both moving and short-term or long-term storage.

Similar to 1-800-PACK-RAT, PODS offers three sizes of moving containers: seven feet, 12 feet, and 16 feet. These weather-resistant containers feature roll-up doors that don’t require as much space to open in your driveway, as well as ramp-free loading.

PODS offers the following services:

  • Moving containers moves for local and long-distance moves
  • Long-term and short-term storage solutions
  • Moving supplies
  • Packing and unpacking assistance (via third-party)
  • Loading and unloading assistance (via third-party)
  • Insurance plans
  • Commercial moving solutions

Cost of PODS

PODS provided a quote for moving a three-bedroom home going from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, using two 16-foot rental containers for $4,301. This quote includes taxes, gas, mileage, and $10,000 in contents protection. PODS is also a pay-as-you-go service, so this cost is not due all at once.

PODS calculates the value of your belongings when you place an order with the company. When you book with PODS, you can increase or lower the amount of coverage or remove it entirely. Often, PODS includes $10,000 in contents protection in your quote. Each contents protection plan has a $100 deductible.

The company also offers its Container Only Option. This option would be significantly cheaper according to the amount of containers you order, and it covers any loss or damage to your PODS container. It does not cover any damage to your belongings.

If you want a detailed breakdown of what PODS storage would cost you, fill out this easy-to-use questionnaire.

State Availability

PODS helps with both local moves and cross-country moves in all 50 states. However, the company does not have a location in every state. PODS does not feature branches in:

  • Alaska
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

Why We Chose PODS

If you value having the most convenience possible, then PODS is a great choice for you. The company offers excellent storage services. The overall quality of PODS’ units are not as sturdy as 1-800-PACK-RAT, but PODS makes it easy and affordable to extend your unit rental to accommodate complex moves. PODS also features competitive pricing that avoids large upfront payments and great customer reviews online.

Learn what the moving process is like with PODS and get a free quote by filling out this short survey.


U-Pack: Most Affordable

U-Pack functions in a similar manner to 1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS, but it focuses exclusively on long-distance moving. If you’re move is less than 150 miles away, you should look to another moving container company.

The company has fewer size options for its moving containers, but it offers a unique pay-for-what-you-use policy for moving trailers. This policy allows you to adjust space used according to your budget. In fact, we found that U-Pack can be as much as 60% cheaper than other moving container companies.

Pros & Cons

Compare the advantages and disadvantages of U-Pack:

✔ Affordable rates compared to competitors
✔ Pay-for-what-you-use policy provides flexibility in pricing and space
✔ Available in all 50 states

✘ 150-mile minimum for moves
✘ No access to on-site storage
✘ Customers must purchase additional services to receive U-Pack’s service guarantee

Services

Like other moving container companies, U-Pack drops off either its shipping containers or a moving trailer at your original home when you request it. U-Pack’s ReloCubes come in only one size, a 70” x 82” x 93” container. You then have three business days to pack the container with your belongings. This window is shorter than both PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT’s 30 days for loading.

U-Pack offers customers the option to purchase Guaranteed Delivery, which gives access to U-Pack’s 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee. This guarantee states that if your shipment doesn’t arrive on the guaranteed date, U-Pack reduces your transportation charges by up to 100%.

A standout feature of the company is its pay-for-what-you-use policy. This allows customers to pay per footage of a moving trailer from ABF Freights. This feature is useful if you’re uncertain about how much space you require for your belongings.

U-Pack offers these services:

  • Moving container moves
  • Pay-for-what-you-use moving trailer moves
  • Moving labor via third-party companies
  • GPS tracking
  • Insurance plans

Cost of U-Pack

We received an estimate from U-Pack for two ReloCubes going from Tampa, Florida, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in roughly a month for $2,713. This quote is all-inclusive and features no hidden fees.

For a better idea of what U-Pack might cost you, get an instant quote by completing this online form.

State Availability

U-Pack helps long-distance moves in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico. However, U-Pack requires a minimum mileage of 150 miles to provide its services. Make sure your overall distance is 150 miles or more if you want U-Pack’s help.

Why We Chose U-Pack

U-Pack is an excellent option for anyone interested in a moving container company on a budget. U-Pack offers less flexibility than some of its competitors, but proper planning can alleviate any problems caused by the company’s narrow time frame.

We find U-Pack’s pay-for-what-you-use policy an excellent budget-friendly approach to using a large moving trailer. U-Pack is also the only company on this list that offers access to an entire trailer of a moving truck and not just portable moving containers.

To get a better idea of U-Pack’s offerings, fill out this easy-to-use survey.

What Impacts a Moving Container Company’s Cost

Most moving container companies have the same factors that affect the overall cost. Here are some of the major factors that impact the cost of renting a moving container:

  • Origin of your move
  • Date and time of your move
  • Overall distance of the move
  • Number of moving containers used
  • Overall size/weight of your move
  • Parking and drop-off access
  • Additional protection plans you purchase
  • Additional services you purchase

What Is the Difference Between Moving Container Moves and Full-Service Moves?

Moving Container Moves

A moving container company can add more affordability, flexibility, and control over your move. Though you can save money by packing and loading on your own, a moving container company will handle the transportation for you, allowing you to avoid driving a rental truck. In short, a moving container company can be a happy medium for the moving experience.

Often, a moving container company can hold your belongings at a local storage facility until you request it to deliver them to your new home. This allows you to prepare the new house for your belongings. You then unload the container(s) at your own pace.

Full-Service Moves

A full-service moving company can handle every aspect of your move for you. This includes furniture disassembly, wrapping, packing, loading, transportation, unloading, unpacking, and reassembly.

If this hands-free approach interests you, check out some of our top suggestions for full-service movers below.

International Van Lines

We find International Van Lines to be the ‘Best Overall Full-Service Mover.’ The company provides industry-standard full-service options like disassembly and reassembly, packing and unpacking, and loading and unloading services. International Van Lines also supplies specialty services for difficult items like pianos and antiques. If you require help with transporting a recreational vehicle or one of your cars, International Van Lines supplies car shipping services.

The estimated cost for moving a three-bedroom home from Tampa to Philadelphia with International Van Lines is $4,200–$6,150.

We suggest you get more details on how International Van Lines can make your move more stress-free by completing this short questionnaire.

American Van Lines

If you’re concerned about fluctuating pricing, then American Van Lines is a great choice for you. American Van Lines offers fixed rates at the end of its quote process. This means no matter what happens during your move, you pay the price quoted to you.

The company is also a great option if you have challenging or difficult items that you are worried about having handled. This is because American Van Lines provides full-time employees, as opposed to contract workers, that hold on average 10 years of moving experience. This means you receive knowledgeable and consistent moving labor with American Van Lines

American Van Lines estimates that a move from Miami to New York City for a three-bedroom home (or 10,000 pounds) would cost around $8,182. This is the average cost of previous conducted for this move, so this would include a collection of services like packing and loading.

We suggest you get a better understanding of what fixed-price American Van Lines can give you by filling out this short survey.

How To Prepare for a Move

It can be a challenge to keep everything in order leading up to moving day. There are many important steps to take when going through a move of any size or distance. To help you keep in mind some major steps, we’ve listed some in detail below:

Determine Which Type of Move You Need

Though you are researching moving container companies, you want to consider if a self-service or full-service move appeals to you more. If you have plenty of help from friends and family, want to save money, and prefer doing things from a DIY approach, then a self-service moving company might be better for you.

Cut Down Your Inventory

Moving is a great moment to get rid of any underused or unwanted belongings. To do so efficiently, we suggest you create two piles of items as you pack and organize for the move. You should create one pile for items to donate and one pile of items to throw away. A few days before moving day, take some time to take these piles to their respective drop-off locations.

Tell People Who Need to Know About It

You are most likely telling your friends and family about your move, but there are some other significant individuals and organizations you need to notify. Inform insurance companies, tax agencies, utility companies, the post office, the Social Security administration, and your Internet service provider about your move.

Check That Your Moving Company Is Licensed and Insured

All of our recommended moving container companies listed above are licensed, bonded, and insured. However, if you decide to use another moving company, you might want to make sure they are properly licensed and insured. To do so, you obtain the company’s USDOT number and visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website to search for them.

Create a Detailed Inventory

Many moving companies can help with this step. Some companies will provide a tool to help create an inventory of your belongings. When you create an inventory, make note of the condition of your items and take pictures of them. These photos and notes will come in handy if you have to file a damage claim for reimbursement.

Moving Containers FAQs

What is the cheapest moving container company?

Based on our research, we found U-Pack offers the most affordable pricing for moving container moves.

Does PODS damage driveways?

Typically, PODS’ portable storage containers do not damage driveways.

Do movers disassemble cribs?

You’ll want to check with your moving company and see if it can disassemble difficult items like cribs. For the most part, if the moving company offers furniture disassembly and reassembly, then the movers can properly handle the disassembly and transportation of cribs.

Our Rating Methodology

The This Old House Reviews team is committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparent reviews and having the data to back up our ratings and recommendations. Our rating system for moving service providers is on a 100-point scale based on 7 factors:

  • Moving Services (30): Does the company offer its services for local, long-distance, and or international moves?
  • Additional Services (29): What additional services does the company provide, such as packing and unpacking or loading and unloading?
  • Coverage (10): Does the company offer any additional insurance plans, such as full-value coverage?
  • Scheduling (7): Are customers able to schedule online, over the phone, or on both platforms?
  • Trailers/containers (7): How many trailer or container sizes does the company offer?
  • Additional Benefits (12): What additional benefits does the company provide, such as storage options, moving truck rentals, and financing?
  • Reputation (5): What rating does the company feature on popular reviews sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

Our Reviews Team reviews reputable companies from all across the nation, and we have a full-time researcher who collects (and regularly updates) more than 100 specific data points from each company. We perform in-depth research and compare each company on key factors such as cost, services, availability, and trustworthiness.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.