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How Moving Pods Can Save Money and Stress (2024 Guide)

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Default Author Icon Written by This Old House Reviews Team Updated 04/17/2024

Moving pods can be a savvy choice for those seeking to balance cost and convenience. These portable storage containers give you more control over your moving experience, paving the way for a less stressful transition. They are also more affordable than hiring traditional movers. In this article, we’ll explore how moving pods can save money and stress compared to full-service moving companies, so you can decide if this option is right for you.

What Are Moving Pods?

Moving pods are portable storage containers that offer a middle ground between renting a moving truck and hiring full-service movers. The first company to offer this moving and storage solution was Portable on Demand Storage, or PODS, in 1998. Today, customers can rent moving pods from any of the following companies:

Container sizes differ by company, as do the designs and materials used. However, these portable storage containers are generally sturdy and weather-resistant, making them useful for moving. PODS containers have a steel frame with wooden beams and polymer or aluminum wall panels. Pricing varies by company and container size, but you can expect quotes to include delivery, transportation, pickup fees, and monthly rental fees if applicable.

When you rent a moving pod, the company will drop off the container at your home. Most companies allow you to load at your own pace, with no predetermined pickup date. (Two notable exceptions are Zippy Shell and U-Pack, which typically give you a three-day window for loading.) When you’re done, the company will pick up the container and deliver it to your new home or a secure storage facility, depending on your needs.

Self-Service Moving vs. Full-Service Moving

Full-service moving companies offer a comprehensive suite of services, including packing, loading, transporting, unloading, and even unpacking at your new home. Professional movers handle the heavy lifting and logistics, which reduces the physical and mental strain of moving. 

Self-service moving puts the entire burden of packing, loading, and unloading on your shoulders. When you rent a moving container or truck from a company like PODS or U-Haul, the rental company does not provide any moving services. However, these DIY options cost less and give you more control over the timing of your move.

Both options come with pros and cons. Full-service moving is more expensive but also more convenient. The efficiency and expertise of professional movers support the higher price tag. A DIY move can save you money but requires more time and effort. The best option for you will depend on your needs, budget, and priorities.

Moving Pods vs. Moving Trucks

Moving containers and trucks require you to rent equipment you load and unload yourself. However, renting a moving pod allows you to accomplish these tasks at your own pace and enables a seamless transition to temporary storage if needed. It also relieves the stress of driving a large rental truck along unfamiliar roads.

Renting a moving truck is almost always cheaper up-front than a portable storage container. The downside is the added responsibility and time pressure. Not only are you in charge of loading and unloading the truck, but also you have to pick it up, drive it to your destination, and return it within a specific time frame. When you rent moving pods, the rental company handles all of the transportation.

Saving Money With Moving Pods

Moving costs will vary depending on the size and distance of your move and any extra services you require. However, on average, renting a moving container costs much less than hiring a full-service moving company. 

The average cost of moving in 2022 ranged from less than $4,000 for small households to nearly $17,000 for large households moving 2,500 miles or more. The cheapest moving container companies quoted us prices ranging from $2,381–$7,885 for a two-bedroom move from Nashville, Tennessee, to Buffalo, New York. (Note that these prices did not include monthly storage fees ranging from $149–$280 per month.)

Depending on your move’s specifics, your costs may be lower or higher, but here are a few tips to help you maximize your savings.

Pack, Load, and Unload Yourself

Moving container companies may offer to connect you with professional movers who offer packing, loading, and unloading services. However, self-packing for a move gives you more control over your belongings while reducing expenses.  Bribing friends and family with a free meal will cost you much less than hiring professional movers. You can even source free or inexpensive moving boxes from online marketplaces and local businesses.

Negotiate and Ask About Price-Matching

You can save money on your move by gathering multiple quotes and comparing prices. Many moving container companies are open to negotiation—especially if you have quotes from their competitors. Asking companies about their price-matching policy can lead to more favorable rates. Don’t hesitate to discuss your needs and budget. Many companies are willing to offer a discount to secure your business.

Book Your Pod in Advance

Reserving your moving pod well in advance ensures availability for your preferred dates and can lock in lower rates. Many companies offer better rates to advance customers. Booking early allows you to take advantage of early-bird discounts and seasonal promotions. It also gives you more time to shop around and save up.

Choose Off-Peak Moving Dates

You can save money with some strategic planning if you have some flexibility in the timing of your move. Summer is the most popular time to move, so prices often spike during that season. Moving during winter tends to be cheapest, with early spring and late fall close behind. You may also see lower prices and more options if you plan your move for a weekday or in the middle of the month.

Take Advantage of Storage Options

One of the biggest benefits of moving pods is that they often double as storage containers. In fact, most quotes include a full month of storage. That means you can load your pod and store it at your home or a storage facility for up to 30 days without incurring any extra fees.

This option is convenient and cost-effective for those planning a staggered move. A high-quality moving pod will keep your belongings secure and accessible during the gap between your move-out and move-in dates. It also reduces your storage costs compared to renting space from a separate storage company.

How Moving Pods Reduce Stress

The logistics and emotional toll of leaving a familiar place for a new location can be overwhelming. Moving involves countless tasks and decisions, from the early planning phases to settling into your new home. Moving on a budget adds additional stress as you weigh the convenience of various services against their cost.

This is another area where moving pods shine. The moving company handles drop-off, pickup, and transport. In most cases, you also have the freedom to pack and load the container at your own pace. All of this allows for a more organized and less frantic packing process.

Control Over Pace

You need to be ready when the moving crew shows up if you’re planning a full-service move, and you’ll likely need to return any moving trucks by a certain date and time. This time crunch is one of the most stressful aspects of moving day.

In contrast, moving pods give you considerable control over the pace of your move. You can set the delivery date for your pod, and most companies let you take as much time as you need to load or unload it. You can pack room by room, taking your time to carefully wrap and load your belongings.

Professional Transportation

Driving any kind of rental vehicle can be stressful. That stress increases exponentially when the vehicle is a 15- to 26-foot moving truck. Even the smallest 10-foot box trucks are larger than what most people are used to, and moving often requires driving on busy interstates or cramped city streets.

Professional drivers handle all of the transportation with moving pods, eliminating the hassle of driving a large truck and ensuring a more comfortable journey to your new home. They will drop off the pod at point A and take it to point B when you’re ready—whether it’s across the city or the country. 

Less Risk of Damage

When packing your moving pod, you have complete control over the organization and security of your items. This hands-on approach makes damage and loss less likely. You can take extra care with fragile and precious items. You can use your preferred packing materials and methods, and you’ll know exactly where everything is. The odds of an accident en route to your new home will also be lower with a professional driver behind the wheel.

Loading a pod is easier than loading a rental truck, too. PODS containers and others like them offer ground-level access, eliminating the need for a loading ramp. These companies can also lift and move your pod without disturbing its contents. PODS uses its PODZILLA hydraulic lift system to pick up and place your container where it needs to go seamlessly.

Safety and Security

Moving pods offer a secure alternative to leaving a loaded rental truck parked outside your home overnight, as pods tend to be tamper-resistant. You can also lock them to keep your possessions safe from theft. If you cannot move into your new home immediately, you can send your pod to a secure storage center, which provides an extra layer of protection.

Staggered Delivery and Storage Period

Moving pods provide a convenient solution if you have a gap between your move-out and move-in dates. You can send your container to a PODS storage center (or the equivalent offered by other companies) until your new home is move-in ready. Then, you can contact the company to schedule your final container delivery, unload your moving pod, and schedule a pickup.

These portable containers can also provide extra space for homeowners while they organize or remodel their new homes. Because you can keep them on-site, moving pods are a more convenient solution than self-storage units.

Is DIY Moving With Pods Right for You?

DIY moving with pods is ideal for those who value flexibility and control, as it allows you to pack and load on your own timetable. This method also tends to be more cost-effective than hiring full-service movers and more convenient than renting a truck.

Moving containers do have some drawbacks, though. Packing, loading, and unloading can be a physically demanding and time-consuming process—especially if you have a lot of stuff. It’s also up to you to secure and cushion your belongings. If you have a large home or mobility issues, hiring full-service movers may be worth the extra cost.

Our Conclusion

PODS moving and storage containers are an attractive solution for budget-conscious homeowners who can handle the heavy lifting themselves. Moving pods cost less than hiring full-service movers, and they cause less stress than a truck rental. You can load and unload at your own pace and let a professional handle the driving.

You can save even more money by booking your move early and looking for discounts. We recommend requesting a free quote from multiple companies to find the best deal.

FAQ About Moving Pods

Are moving pods good for long-distance moves?

Yes, moving pods are good for long-distance moves. They offer a secure and cost-effective way to transport your belongings without needing to pay for moving labor or drive a rental truck.

What is the right size moving container for me?

The right size moving container for you depends on the company you choose and what you need to move. Different companies offer different sizes, so it’s best to shop around. Most companies have helpful guides or calculators to help you determine what size moving container you need, as well as how many.

What is not allowed in a moving container?

You cannot place toxic, flammable, explosive, corrosive, or otherwise dangerous items in a moving container. Companies also discourage customers from packing highly valuable or perishable items in a moving container.

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