Moving containers can be an excellent storage solution for home renovations, long-distance relocations, and even local moves. Moving containers are an affordable alternative to hiring one of the best interstate movers, but the self-service element requires you to accurately estimate how much you need…. or face the consequences.
Underestimating the space that you’ll need in a moving container can leave you scrambling on moving day to move some of your belongings. On the other hand, overestimating the space you need will mean your moving costs can be double what they have to be!
We’ve created a convenient guide to the sizes offered by the companies on our best moving container companies list, so you can be armed with the tools to make the best choice for your storage needs.
Comparing moving container sizes
Some companies only offer one size container, which requires ordering several containers. Others offer a range of sizes. While PODS is a popular choice, you may want to also check out these PODS competitors.
|Cubic footage available
|8, 12 and 16 feet
|5’10” Relocube, 27-foot trailers (only pay for the space you use)
|10 and 15 feet*
|12 and 16 feet
|Shipments as small as 4 feet and as large as a full tractor-trailer
|Approx. 2,700 cf
*The availability of ZippyShell’s 10-foot container is limited to certain areas
Moving container materials
Understanding container size is an important part of choosing the right portable storage container, but it’s not the only part. Material is another essential consideration.
Containers can be made of steel, steel and aluminum, plastic, or construction-grade wood. Container construction material can impact weight capacity and its weather resistance.
For example, an 8 x 7 x 7-foot moving container made of wood can handle up to 2,500 pounds of household goods. The same-sized container made from steel and aluminum can accommodate up to 5,000 pounds.
Storage containers made with an all-steel frame can carry even heavier loads.
Helpful terms to know
Here are some terms that can help you better understand your storage needs and the language used by portable container companies:
- Pod: Generic term for a portable storage container used to relocate or hold items during a home renovation
- Cargo: May also be referred to as container load, an all-encompassing term for the items in your shipment
- Standard container sizes: Typically, eight-, 12-, and 16-foot containers are used for temporary storage, local, and cross-country moves
- Container dimensions: Refers to the interior and external measurements of the storage container
- Storage facility: Can be self-storage or full-service. Portable containers may be stored here if they’re not kept onsite
- Full-service: A type of storage facility that loads, guards, and retrieves your items from the storage unit when you need them
- Household goods: Also referred to as household items, this is a catch-all term for the movable items within your home
- Square footage: A crucial part of understanding different sizes of containers, some providers describe the usable storage space in this two-dimensional measurement
- Cubic capacity: Another crucial part of understanding container size, some providers prefer to describe the usable storage space in 3D, so you can better visualize their storage solutions
- Weather-resistant: Used to describe additional features designed to mitigate damage to your belongings due to the elements
Moving container sizes by company
Moving companies are unique in their container size options. We’ve broken it down company by company, so you can make an informed decision.
POD’s three moving container sizes give options for every type of move, big or small. They are steel construction with an aluminum skin. Take a closer look at how much PODS cost.
Eight-foot moving container
With 385 cubic feet of packing space, the eight-foot PODS container is a good choice for smaller moves. This container is about the same as a 10-foot rental truck, making it good for studio apartments or college dorm moves.
PODS also recommends the eight-foot container for:
- Estate moves
- Moving items to a second home
- Moving items into storage temporarily during a remodeling project.
12-foot moving container
The 12-foot portable container is a better size option for slightly bigger moves. With 689 cubic feet of packing space, you can easily move a large apartment or small home with two to three bedrooms or relocate an office.
16-foot moving container
With 757 cubic feet of packing space, a 16-foot container works best for larger homes. You can easily pack a three- to four-bedroom home into this moving container for local or long-distance moves without requiring additional containers..
Read our full PODS review.
U-Haul’s answer to the growing moving container space is the U-Box. This small, but mighty container allows you to take the best parts of the DIY moving experience while forgoing the hard part of driving yourself.
One convenient container size
The standard-size U-Box fits about one and a half rooms’ worth of furniture and household items. Generally, this size is big enough for a king-size mattress and a few other items. So, you may need to order several moving containers if you’re moving more than a small studio apartment. Don’t worry about overordering in this case because U-Haul conveniently refunds any unused containers.
U-Box containers are made of pest-resistant plywood, and they can be stored onsite at a convenient U-haul facility of your choosing if you’re not moving into your new home immediately.
Read our full U-Haul U-Box review.
U-Pack takes a page from U-Haul’s book by offering one convenient container size, the ReloCube, which allows you to pick and choose exactly how much space you’ll need while still staying conscious of your budget.
If you go with U-Pack, their Relocube is a standard 5’10” deep x 6’10” wide x 7’9″ high. Like U-Box, the size constraints may require you to order more containers for bigger moves. For small moves, one container will be enough as their 2,500-pound capacity makes them ideal for moving a studio apartment.
The Relocube is a metal weatherproof container, which also makes it a decent option for home renovations or other activities where you may want to temporarily store your belongings outside your home but still within the comfort of your property lines.
Zippy Shell containers are also made of metal — galvanized steel, to be exact. Its portable storage containers are available in two sizes, but its 15-foot container is the more widely available option.
10-foot moving container
Zippy Shell offers a smaller container size in select regions, but you won’t know if it’s available until you call. The 10-foot galvanized steel mesh container is approximately seven feet high, seven feet wide, and 10 feet long for a total of 420 cubic feet of space.
The company recommends it for small apartments with one to two rooms of furniture, as it has a maximum capacity of roughly 3,500 pounds.
15-foot container moving container
While the 10-foot container is limited by region, the 15-foot container is readily available for easy moving anywhere. At seven feet high, seven feet wide, and 15 feet long with 680 square feet of space, the 15-footer can comfortably hold two to three furnished rooms of furniture and boxes, or roughly 5,500 pounds of belongings.
Read our full Zippy Shell review.
1-800-Pack-Rat offers steel moving containers and features embedded skids for ground clearance, so your belongings stay dry in all weather. Pack Rat offers two sizes of moving containers:12-foot and 16-foot.
12-foot moving container
The 12-foot container holds about one to two rooms of furniture and belongings, so it’s perfect for a dorm, studio, or one-bedroom apartment move.
16-foot moving container
For larger moves, the 16-foot container holds between three and four bedrooms of furniture and belongings. One 16-foot container would work perfectly for a single-family home move. Compared to other moving container companies, you wouldn’t require more than one container in your driveway to get the job done.
Read our full 1-800-Pack-Rat review.
MovingYourself is new to the moving container space, and it is a bit of a disruptor. Rather than deliver a compact storage container to your home or split hairs over exact container sizes, MovingYourself delivers a 52-foot professional moving truck complete with tie-down straps and loading ramps that you can load yourself.
52-foot freight truck
Because the company delivers a truck, you can use as much or as little space as you need. Prior to your delivery, you’ll request a moving quote based on the items you intend to pack. After pickup, the company will confirm how much space you’ve actually used and adjust your final invoice accordingly. All other moving services are up to you to arrange.
Read our full MovingYourself review.
Smartbox delivers containers for local and long-distance moves of all sizes, but it offers only one size of moving container. The container measures eight feet long by seven feet tall by five feet wide and can hold up to 3,000 pounds.
The moving container can also be easily stored in one of their storage facilities. Smartbox containers are made of wood, which makes them light and cost-effective, but not as protective as weather-resistant or steel-reinforced containers if you intend to keep them on your property for any period of time.
Read our full Smartbox review.
How many moving containers do I need?
When you work with a moving container company, you’ll need to decide on the number of containers necessary for your move. Here is an easy guide for gauging how many moving containers you need to order for your move size.
|Number of containers
|5+ bedroom house
Before you choose one of the best moving container companies, calculate all the factors that will impact cost. The distance of your move, the size of your move, and the seasonality of your move all matter when you get the quote.
Use our moving cost calculator to get a free quote for your moving container move.
Other helpful resources:
FAQs about moving container sizes
What sizes do moving containers come in?
Moving containers typically come in eight-, 12-, or 16-foot options, but it can vary from company to company. It’s a good idea to review the square footage allowances for each container you’re interested in.
How much stuff fits in a 16-foot pod?
A 16-foot pod has approximately 1,200 square feet of storage space — enough space to hold belongings from a one- to two-bedroom apartment with three to four total rooms.
How big is an eight-foot pod?
An eight-foot pod has about 402 cubic feet of storage space, or enough to hold a studio or small two-bedroom apartment.
Can a 20-foot moving container hold the contents of a three-bedroom house?
Yes, a 20-foot moving container can hold the contents of a three-bedroom house — including furniture, appliances, and moving boxes — but they can be hard to find. If you can’t find a 20-foot moving container, consider getting more than one moving container in a smaller size.
What is the largest size available for a portable moving container?
The 16-foot portable storage container is the largest size typically available. Some international relocation companies offer 20- and 40-foot shipping containers, but they’re not the same as the portable storage containers offered by PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT.
Not what you were looking for?
Check out other categories that can help you find the information you need!