Moving pods and rental trucks are more budget-friendly than professional movers but which is the best option for your move?
Well, there’s a lot more to consider than just cost.
Here’s how moving with a container company compares to moving with a rental truck, from services to prices to availability and more, so you can make the best decision possible for your moving needs.
Also, if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out our list of the best moving container companies to see how we rate a number of different container moving solutions.
First, let’s do a broad comparison between the two options.
|Driving||PODS does all the driving door-to-door||You drive the rental truck|
|Pricing||PODS includes gas and tolls in their base price||Gas, tolls, mileage, etc. are all in addition to the base price|
|Storage||30 days of storage included in base price with option for long term||No storage options except unloading into a storage unit|
|Sizing||PODS has 3 sizes: 7′, 12′, & 16′ containers||Rental truck companies usually have more size options|
|Moving Labor||Can hire loaders separately||Can hire loaders separately|
|Delivery||Delivery scheduling is requires and PODS has weekend restrictions||You control when your items arrive|
|Car||PODS allow motorcycles to be shipped inside the container but not larger vehicles||Rental trucks usually offer car towing options|
|Parking||PODS can be challenging to park||Rental trucks are street legal almost everywhere|
Here’s how moving containers generally work:
- You book your move and schedule a date and time to have your containers dropped off at your old address. You have to do all the packing yourself, and then load all your belongings into the containers yourself.
- Then, the container company sends a professional driver to pick up the containers and transport them to your new address, with the option to leave them at a storage facility in between if you need to.
- Once they get dropped off, you do all the unloading and unpacking, then schedule a date and time to have the company pick the containers back up.
Truck rentals are similar, but with one big, key difference in services: You have to do all the driving and/or towing yourself.
- You book your move and schedule a date and time to pick up your rental truck, which you then drive to your home yourself.
- You do all the packing and loading. Then you have to drive to your new home, do all the unloading and unpacking, and drive the rental truck to an agency to return it.
There are pros and cons to both types of services, so let’s take a look at those.
Moving With a Container Company: Pros and Cons
What we love about container companies: You don’t have to tow a trailer or drive a giant moving truck — one of the most stressful parts of moving for many people. A professional driver handles transporting all your belongings, so you know they’re in safe hands from Point A to Point B.
What we don’t love about container companies: PODS cost is not necessarily what all container companies will cost — or even close. Container companies’ prices are pretty variable, so you’ll want to do a lot of research on different companies and get lots of quotes from each of PODS competitors.
|Container Company Pros||Container Company Cons|
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Moving With a Rental Truck: Pros and Cons
What we love about rental truck companies: This is hands-down the most affordable way to move. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll almost certainly be able to find a rental truck company that can accommodate your move for less than any other type of mover.
What we don’t love about rental truck companies: These companies have a real reputation for burying hidden fees in their bills. You have to read all the fine print and make sure you ask a ton of questions so you don’t get hit with surprise costs at the end of your move.
|Truck Rental Pros||Truck Rental Cons|
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When it comes to whether you live in the service area for both of these options, the answer is likely yes. There are many large, nationwide companies that offer container moves, and the same can be said for rental trucks.
What may impact which option has better availability for you is the type of property you’re moving to or from — if you’re in an urban setting or somewhere that only has street parking, a larger moving container or rental truck may be hard to navigate. But both container companies and rental truck companies generally offer smaller vehicles to help with that problem.
The situation where one option may be better than the other is if you live somewhere extremely rural. It may be costly or impossible to have a container delivered to a rural location, but as long as you can pick up a moving truck and drive it, you can theoretically take it anywhere. Just be mindful of mileage fees if you have to go a long way from the rental agency.
The short answer? Yes.
While it ultimately depends on the company what options you’ll have, both container companies and moving truck rental agencies generally offer a variety of sizes so you can choose what will work best for you.
Among container companies, the average company offers 2-3 container sizes, and you can book more than one container if you need it.
Among truck rental agencies, it’s pretty average for a company to have seven truck sizes available, ranging from cargo vans all the way to 26-foot moving trucks, so it’s extremely likely you’ll be able to find a size that works for you.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and some companies have more limited size selections than others. Offerings can also vary by location, so make sure to check with local companies near you to see what’s available.
Estimating what a move can cost is extremely tricky because every move is different. How much stuff you have, how far you’re moving, your starting and ending ZIP codes, the day of the week and time of year — there are tons of factors that go into the estimate you’ll get from a moving company.
With container moving companies, there are also drop-off and pickup fees, transportation fees, storage fees (when applicable), and sometimes fuel surcharges or per-mile fees.
With truck rental companies, there are often base day rates, mileage fees, gas fees, environmental fees, and late-return fees if your move takes longer than you expect.
The bottom line? You won’t know how much your move will cost until you get a personalized quote.
With that said, though, renting a truck is generally more affordable than booking a container company — at first look. It’s important to carefully compare all the different factors at play in your move when comparing prices. For example, the time it’ll take you to drive a moving truck could add to the cost significantly if you have to take several days off work to do so. If mileage isn’t included in your price quote, that could be a huge added cost if you’re moving a long way, whereas with container moves, the mileage is almost always included in the estimate.
Keep all that in mind when you’re looking at these price averages for both services, and get your own, accurate quotes before making any decisions based on price.
Cost for a Local Move
|Container Company||Rental Truck|
|1 bedroom||$150 – $600||$20 – $200 (plus per-mile rate)|
|2-3 bedrooms||$200 – $700||$20 – $50 (plus per-mile rate)|
|4-5 bedrooms||$300 – $800||$40 – $100 (plus per-mile rate)|
Cost for a Move < 250 Miles
|Container Company||Rental Truck|
|1 bedroom||$450 – $1,300||$289 – $350 plus fuel costs|
|2-3 bedrooms||$660 – $2,000||$289 – $350 plus fuel costs|
|4-5 bedrooms||$800 – $3,400||$300 – $600 plus fuel costs|
Cost for a Cross-Country Move
|Container Company||Rental Truck|
|1 bedroom||$1,200 – $4,000||$800 – $1,900 plus fuel costs|
|2-3 bedrooms||$2,400 – $4,900||$1,200 – $2,850 plus fuel costs|
|4-5 bedrooms||$3,500 – $7,600||$1,800 – $3,100 plus fuel costs|
Also, have a look at our moving estimate calculator for a better idea on pricing.
If cost is the most important factor for you, going with a fully DIY move by renting a moving truck will be appealing, since it’s almost always cheaper than a container company. But before you make any U-Haul reservations, make sure you’re comfortable with what that means: Doing all the packing, loading, and unloading, plus driving a large, unwieldy truck to your new home.
If you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and doing some (literal) heavy lifting, but you don’t want to drive or tow anything, a container company is probably the better choice for you.
Before you make any decision about why type of moving company is right for you, compare instant price quotes from a ton of reputable moving companies all in one place with moveBuddha.