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5 Best Moving Container Companies in 2021

Moving containers and pods are one of the most affordable ways to move, and they’re rapidly growing in popularity. With so many options available today, it can be difficult to choose the right provider for your needs. We’ve made it easy by doing the research for you. Here are the 5 best moving container companies in 2021.

Most Competitive Pricing

4.4
  • Long-Distance Moving Container Service
  • Portable Storage Service at U-Pack Warehouse
  • Negligence & Catastrophic Liability Coverage

Most Convenient Service

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving Services
  • Can Store PODS on Property or Storage Location
  • Customizable Moving Options Available

Best Long Distance Moving Container

4.5
  • 1-800-PACK-RAT is a Moving Container Company
  • 1-800-PACK-RAT Will Deliver a Portable Moving Container to Your Home
  • After You Load the Container, PACK-RAT Will Transport it To Your New Home
  • Available for Both Local and Long-Term Services

Best Moving Container Companies

  1. Best Overall: U-Pack
  2. Most Flexible: PODS
  3. Best for Long Distance: 1-800-PACK-RAT
  4. Best Protection Options: Zippy Shell
  5. Best for Small Moves: SMARTBOX

Quick Overview

The best moving pod companies we’ve listed here are all industry leaders. They all have wide availability, a solid reputation, and are much more affordable compared to hiring full-service moving companies. In this guide, we’ll take a close look at each company’s service levels, cost, customer reviews, and more.

Here’s a quick summary to help you find the best provider for your needs. Be sure to request quotes from multiple companies so you can find the best rate:

U-Pack

PODS 1-800-PACK-RAT ZippyShell

SMARTBOX

Quote

Free Quote Free Quote Free Quote Call for Quote Call for Quote
Superlative Best Overall Most Flexible Best for Long Distance Best Protection Options

Best for Small Moves

Average Cost

$1851-$2056 $2000-$3500 $2300-$2600 $2800-$3200

$3000-$3500

Move Types

Long Distance Only Local & Long Distance Local & Long Distance Local & Long Distance Local & Long Distance
Service Area All US States All US States + Canada All US States Except MT, ID, ND, SD, NE All US States

Select Cities Nationwide

Container Sizes

8-27 ft 7-16 ft 8-16 ft 8-15 ft

8 ft

*All prices listed above are based on a two-bedroom, 400-mile relocation. To find out what your specific move will cost, you should get quotes from providers before booking. These estimated rates are not a substitute for a personalized quote.

1. Best Overall: U-Pack

U-Pack is one of the best moving container services available today. With their “pay for what you use” pricing model and three-day loading and unloading windows, clients have greater flexibility with their moves. With nationwide availability and an enclosed trailer option for large moves, U-Pack has been a consistently popular choice.

Most Competitive Pricing

4.4
  • Long-Distance Moving Container Service
  • Portable Storage Service at U-Pack Warehouse
  • Negligence & Catastrophic Liability Coverage

Cost

Here’s a quick look at typical costs for U-Pack:

Studio Apartment 2-3 BR 4+ BR
< 200 Miles $950 – $1400 $1050 – $1650 $1200 – $1900
300+ Miles $1400 – $2500 $2400 – $3850 $3500 – $6600

We were able to get a preliminary estimate for a medium-sized move with U-Pack. The prices we were given reflect a two-bedroom, 400-mile move. Using two ReloCube units would cost $2,056, while equal space in a trailer would cost $1,851. Deciding between the two could ultimately come down to how much parking space you have available, as the ReloCubes take up less space.

Request a free quote to find out exactly what your move with U-Pack will cost.

Container Sizes

Here’s a quick look at U-Pack’s container size options:

Relocube Moving Trailer
Dimensions 5’10″x6’1″x7’9″ 27’x8’x9′
Home Size 1 Room 3+ bedroom home
Cubic Footage 305 cf 1,800 cf
Weight Limit 2,500 lbs 22,000 lbs
  • 8’ Relocube. The Relocube is a compact moving container designed to fit easily into a parking spot. It has a limited capacity, with enough space to pack a studio apartment or single room. That said, you can order multiple cubes depending on your needs.
  • 27’ Moving Trailer. 27 feet long and offering 1,800 cf of packing space, the U-Pack Moving Trailer is one of the largest pod type moving options available today. The enclosed trailer is perfect for 2+ bedroom homes when moving long distances.

Services

U-Pack is only available for long-distance moves. The company will drop a container off at your home, allowing you three days to load it. They will then pick up the container and ship it to your new destination, where you will unload it.

  • Labor: They partner with Moving Staffersfor labor help, if you need it. You are also free to do the labor yourself or hire another third-party labor company.
  • Storage: You can store your belongings in one of U-Pack’s containers for as long as you’d like. Just note that it will be stored at one of their facilities, and you will not have access to your belongings while stored.
  • Delivery Options: U-Pack offers three delivery options with varying costs, including Door Delivery, Service Center Delivery, Guaranteed Delivery

Availability

U-Pack’s 240-plus facilities serve the entire US, Puerto Rico, and Canada. U-Pack is only available for long-distance moves. They have a minimum mileage requirement of 150 miles, and your move must cross state lines.

Why We Like U-Pack

U-Pack’s transparent pricing model keeps costs low, and their wide availability enables them to service a wide range of clients in different locations. They are one of the most-recognizable names in the business today.

More Information: Read our full U-Pack Review

2. Most Flexible: PODS

PODS has become synonymous with mobile storage and moving containers. In fact, many people call all moving containers “PODS” out of familiarity. In just a little more than two decades in the business, PODS has become one of the best moving pod options, hands down. It is an especially popular option for those on a tighter budget.

Most Convenient Service

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving Services
  • Can Store PODS on Property or Storage Location
  • Customizable Moving Options Available

Cost

Here’s a quick look at typical PODS cost:

Studio Apartment 2-3 BR 4+ BR
Local $200 – $450 $350 – $650 $300 – $800
< 200 Miles $450 – $800 $750 – $1,950 $900 – $2,100
300+ Miles $2,100 – $4,100 $3,000 – $5,000 $5,500 – $7,700

Based on an estimate we received, a two-bedroom move of 400 miles would cost between $2,000 and $3,500 with PODS. The more things you have to move and the longer the distance of your move, the higher your cost. There is also some fluctuation depending on the areas you are moving to/from.

Request a free quote to get a price that is tailored to your inventory and needs.

Container Sizes

Here’s a quick look at PODS container size options:

7 ft 12 ft 16 ft
Dimensions 6’6″x6’x7’6″ 11’6″x7’x7’6″ 15’6″x7’6″
Home Size 1 Room 2-3 BR 4+ BR
Cubic Footage 390 cf 749 cf 1,008 cf
Weight Limit 4,200 lbs 4,700 lbs 5,200 lbs

Services

PODS is available nationwide for local and long-distance moving. They provide three container sizes: 8, 12, and 16 feet long. The 12-foot containers are often only rented for local moves. All containers are weatherproof, with a steel frame. In addition, all container rentals come with a month of storage, either on-site, or in one of their facilities. They don’t offer moving help directly, but they do recommend several third-party services for this, including

  • Labor: If you want help packing or loading the pod, PODS partners with Hire a Helper, Moving Staffers and Pack & Load Services, Inc. You can also do it yourself or hire another company of your choice.
  • Storage: If you require storage, your first month comes with your initial quote, with subsequent months beginning at $149 per month.

Availability

PODS serves moving needs in 46 states, including Washington DC and Hawaii. They also serve some territories in Canada. They provide both local and long-distance moving services. Click here to find a PODS location near you.

Why We Like PODS

With a one-month rental included in all quotes with PODS, you have plenty of flexibility to plan your load-up, unload, shipment and delivery. The steel construction on all units also provides security and stability in your move. And finally, PODS is one of the most reputable and well-known moving container services today.

More Information: Read our full PODS Review

3. Best for Long-Distance: 1-800-PACK-RAT

With plenty of discounts and all-steel containers, 1-800-PACK-RAT is one of the best moving container companies. With both local and long-distance moving available, this provider has you covered.

Best Long Distance Moving Container

4.5
  • 1-800-PACK-RAT is a Moving Container Company
  • 1-800-PACK-RAT Will Deliver a Portable Moving Container to Your Home
  • After You Load the Container, PACK-RAT Will Transport it To Your New Home
  • Available for Both Local and Long-Term Services

Cost

Here’s a quick look at typical costs for 1-800-PACK-RAT:

Studio Apartment 2-3 BR 4+ BR
Local $175 – $550 $200 – $650 $350 – $850
< 200 Miles $500- $950 $700 – $1,950 $1,050 – $3,500
300+ Miles $1,200 – $3,800 $2,400 – $4,650 $5,100 – $6,900

When we requested an estimate for a two-bedroom move of around 400 miles with 1-800-PACK-RAT, we were quoted $2,300 – $2,600. This assumes that the move involves a typical amount of inventory for a home of that size. Storage, should you require it, will cost between $280 and $290 per month after your initial month.

Request a free quote to get an estimate customized to your exact needs.

Container Sizes

Here’s a quick look at 1-800-PACK-RAT container size options:

8 ft 12 ft 16 ft
Dimensions 8’3″x7’3″x6’10” 11’10″x6’11″x7’7″ 15’10″x6’11″x7’7″
Home Size 1 Room 2-3 BR 4+ BR
Cubic Footage 404 cf 620 cf 830 cf
Weight Limit 4,000 lbs 6,000 lbs 6,000 lbs

Their Services

Offering both local and long-distance moving, their moving container options are similar to their main competitor, PODS. With 8-foot, 12-foot, and 16-foot sizes, clients have plenty of flexibility. While 1-800-PACK-RAT doesn’t provide other services like labor help directly, they do have resources available on their site.

  • Labor: If you don’t want to load the pod on your own, you can work with their partner Hire a Helper or choose another company on your own.
  • Storage: You can use a PACK RAT container for storage either on your own property or at one of their facilities.
  • Moving Supplies: If you need supplies from your move, you can order it from 1-800-PACK-RAT, though you will likely save money by sourcing it elsewhere.

Availability

PackRat has 60 locations across the US, which can service local and long-distance moving needs within 50-100 miles of each service center. If you are outside of their service area, they can still serve you but will act as a broker, contracting you with one of their partners. For a full breakdown of their locations, go here.

Why We Like 1-800-PACK-RAT

1-800-PACK-RAT prices may be a little high compared to other moving pod options, but their discounts more than make up for it. Don’t forget to ask about their Best Price Guarantee when booking. With a wide network storage warehouses servicing moving needs, and their all-steel containers with coverage options, this provider ensures the ease and safety of your relocation.

More Information: Read our full 1-800-PACK-RAT Review

4. Best Protection Options: Zippy Shell

Zippy Shell is relatively new to the industry, but they have quickly become one of the best pod moving companies. Originally headquartered in Australia, the company is now available in 28 US states. Though you’ll only be able to move with them if you’re near one of these facilities, they’re a solid option if available.

Cost

Here’s a quick look at typical costs for Zippy Shell:

Studio Apartment 2-3 BR 4+ BR
Local $200 – $250 $300 – $650 $350 – $750
< 200 Miles $500 – $950 $750 – $1,700 $1,100 – $3,100
300+ Miles $1,800 – $3,900 $2,850 – $4,600 $5,200 – $7,100

We received an estimate of $2,800-$3,200 when we requested a quote for a two-bedroom, 400-mile move. Storage will cost an extra $159 per month, per unit. To get your own estimate, you should contact them. Estimated prices are never a viable substitute for personalized moving quotes.

Container Sizes

Here’s a quick look at Zippy Shell container size options:

8 ft 15 ft
Dimensions 9’7”x6’4”x6’4” 15’7″x6’4″x6’4″
Home Size 1 Room 2-3 BR
Cubic Footage 385 cf 625 cf
Weight Limit 4,500 lbs 4,500 lbs

Their Services

Zippy Shell provides many of the same service options as its competitors do. They offer both local and long-distance moving, and storage is available as well. They also offer a range of insurance options for all moves.

Availability

Zippy Shell is currently only available in 28 states. If you’re near one of their service centers, however, they provide excellent service. Click here to find out if there is a location near you.

Why We Like ZippyShell

Even with a limited service range, Zippy Shell has a solid reputation for quality service. Plus, their excellent insurance options will give you the same protection during your moves that full-service movers offer.

5. Best for Small Moves: SMARTBOX

Though SMARTBOX is more expensive than some of its competitors, its pricing is fairly easy to understand. Fewer hidden fees and a “pay for what you use” billing structure feature highly in positive reviews of this moving container company.

Cost

Here’s a quick look at typical costs for SMARTBOX:

Studio Apartment 2-3 BR 4+ BR
Local $100 – $250 $200 – $400 $350 – $750
< 200 Miles $1000 – $1,800 $1,600 – $2,400 $2,100 – $3,000
300+ Miles $1,500 – $2,500 $2,100 – $3,100 $2,900 – $4,300

When we requested a quote for a two-bedroom, 400-mile move, we received an estimate of $3,000-$3,500 from SMARTBOX. To get a quote that is optimized for your needs and inventory, you should contact SMARTBOX today.

Container Sizes

SMARTBOX only offers one container size option:

8 ft
Dimensions 7’8” x 4’8” x 6’6”
Home Size One Room
Cubic Footage 233 cf
Weight Limit 3,000 lbs

Their Services

With only one container size available, you will have to use multiple units for all but the smallest of moves. With such small containers, the fact that SMARTBOX limits its services to only certain cities makes sense. They offer a standard range of moving and storage services, in line with other container providers.

Availability

SMARTBOX’s moving container services are only available to limited range of customers. Currently, they only serve large metropolitan areas in 23 states. To see if they serve your area, click here.

Why We Like SMARTBOX

With their small containers and urban-only availability, SMARTBOX is an ideal choice for college students and those in smaller homes. Of course, this provider can provide service to clients with larger homes, but their strong point is definitely in aiding those with more modest accommodations.

Request A Quote

The 5 best moving container companies we’ve outlined above are all excellent options. If you’re planning a DIY or semi-DIY move, then one of these companies will be readily able to provide the services you need.

Be sure to request quotes from multiple movers, so you can get the best price with a provider who will be able to fulfill your exact needs:

Most Competitive Pricing

4.4
  • Long-Distance Moving Container Service
  • Portable Storage Service at U-Pack Warehouse
  • Negligence & Catastrophic Liability Coverage

Most Convenient Service

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving Services
  • Can Store PODS on Property or Storage Location
  • Customizable Moving Options Available

Best Long Distance Moving Container

4.5
  • 1-800-PACK-RAT is a Moving Container Company
  • 1-800-PACK-RAT Will Deliver a Portable Moving Container to Your Home
  • After You Load the Container, PACK-RAT Will Transport it To Your New Home
  • Available for Both Local and Long-Term Services

Moving Container Buying Guide

Whether you’re planning a cross country move or just moving across town, moving pods are a great option to consider. Moving containers are designed to give clients some measure of autonomy in planning and carrying out their move. With most providers, you will have the ability to add services and coverage as you see fit.

How Do Moving Containers Work?

Most moving container services follow the same general process:

  • Drop-Off: Your container will either be dropped off at your property, or you will need to schedule a time to load your belongings at the company’s facility. The latter may help you to save some money, but it is far less convenient.
  • Load: You will be given some amount of time to load your belongings in the container. This time period varies between companies. You can either load it yourself, work with a company’s preferred packing/loading partner, or hire your own third-party help.
  • Pick-Up & Ship: Once loaded, the company will pick up the moving pod from your home and ship it to your new destination.
  • Unload: Again, you are responsible for unloading your belongings once the container arrives at your new home. Do it yourself, or consider hiring labor to help out.

Pricing

Moving pods are one of the most affordable moving companies, especially compared to full-service movers. Still, rates do vary from company to company and from location to location. Look through the cost data we’ve provided above to quickly compare the top providers, and be sure to request a quote from multiple providers before booking.

Storage Options

Most moving pod companies will include 30 days of free storage within the base price of a move. There are a few exceptions however, so you should always check storage details before booking. Within that 30-day window, you will have a set loading and unloading time frame. This is usually somewhere around three days, whether you are renting a container or trailer. While loaded, you should always be given the option to store your goods on-property or at a facility, if you aren’t shipping them to a new location. This flexibility is standard.

Packing & Loading Help

Should you need moving help, most companies will gladly book labor help from local movers for you. A quick look through most container company websites will tell you if they work as brokers for these services.

Most of the movers hired through these services will charge a 2 or 3-hour minimum for their work, even if you only need them to lift a single piece of furniture. The benefits, however, can be well worth your money. Back injuries are as debilitating as they are common during DIY moves. You should take any measure possible to avoid them.

You can save money by doing the packing and loading on your own, or you are free to hire labor from other third-party sources.

Insurance Coverage

No matter how far you’re moving or what your container provider’s safety record may be, purchasing insurance is always a good idea. Most companies offer some form of basic insurance policies for your items inside their units. Coverage levels do vary, so be sure to compare policies if you will be moving valuable items.

Some companies include full valuation coverage in their base price, but this is not the norm. Others, like 1-800-PACK-RAT, will offer full-value coverage at an additional price. Still, others will require you to go through your homeowners’ insurance policy or another third party.

No matter the case, this facet of your move should be discussed upfront when getting a quote or soon thereafter.

Move Distance

Moving containers are offer one of the cheapest ways to move cross country or locally. But not all providers offer local and long-distance services, and many only serve certain geographic areas around their facilities. When researching providers, look for a “Locations” page that notes their service area, or call a representative for details.

License & Registration

Finally, all companies transporting household goods must be registered on a federal and state level. Moving container companies are no different from their larger, full-service mover competitors in this regard.

Registrations will vary from state to state. Depending on your location, your state may not have any governing body or requirements for its household movers. However, since most container companies have locations in multiple states, they will be registered with the FMCSA and should have a valid USDOT number. You can look up the registration details of the companies you’re interested here.

Book in Advance

May through September is peak moving season. If you’re planning on relocating to a new home during this time, then you may run into limited availability when looking for containers to transport your household goods.

Your best bet is to book at least six to eight weeks in advance. If you’re lucky enough to know your move date that early, then you should take full advantage of it. Moving will always be a stressful process, but waiting until the last minute will make it exponentially more so.

Plan ahead, and get quotes from each of the best moving container companies listed here:

Most Competitive Pricing

4.4
  • Long-Distance Moving Container Service
  • Portable Storage Service at U-Pack Warehouse
  • Negligence & Catastrophic Liability Coverage

Most Convenient Service

4.7
  • Local & Long-Distance Moving Services
  • Can Store PODS on Property or Storage Location
  • Customizable Moving Options Available

Best Long Distance Moving Container

4.5
  • 1-800-PACK-RAT is a Moving Container Company
  • 1-800-PACK-RAT Will Deliver a Portable Moving Container to Your Home
  • After You Load the Container, PACK-RAT Will Transport it To Your New Home
  • Available for Both Local and Long-Term Services

Moving Container FAQ

What if I need more than one moving container?

Your moving container provider will be able to supply extra containers at an additional cost. This will greatly inflate your move price, but it may still be cheaper than using a full-service moving company. If you had originally planned on renting one 16-foot unit, and you end up needing two of these, you can expect your cost to roughly double.

What if I'm unsure of my move-in date at my new home?

Most moving containers will come with one month of storage, which will be included in your base price. This storage option is ideal, from a convenience perspective. Most companies who provide these containers have several locations around the US where you will be able to warehouse your unit until move-in day. This can be done without paying for labor to have your belongings taken off a moving truck.

Is there anything I can't transport in a moving container?

Moving containers have many of the same restrictions which moving trucks do. You should not pack any toxic, caustic, or flammable chemicals during any move. The vessels they are stored in could rupture, or heat inside a container could cause a reaction with more volatile compounds. Moving companies do not have adequate licensing to carry such materials under DOT guidelines.

Can I use my moving container for on-property storage?

Moving containers are a perfect option for people doing a home remodel as well. Larger units can fit a few rooms’ worth of furniture in them, which makes container services popular for this purpose.

What should I do if I need help loading or unloading my unit?

Most moving companies offer labor-only help for loading or unloading moving trucks or storage containers. Whether you’re moving locally or cross-country, you will be able to find laborers to help with this. Sites such as Hire A Helper are great places to start. Keep in mind that most companies who provide such services will charge a two or three-hour minimum price for their workers, regardless of how long a job actually takes.