The answer is – it depends.
Don’t worry we’ll get specific shortly, but first, it’s worth addressing the factors that affect storage container cost.
Here we’re talking about –
- Where you live (pricing and container availability vary by region)
- What time of the year you’ll be moving
- The size of the container (and how many containers you’ll need)
- How long you’ll need to store your items (container rental period)
- If the container(s) will be kept on your property or at a company facility
- Whether you’re moving locally or long-distance after your storage term
- Which insurance option do you choose
With these details out of the way, let’s take a look at how much storage containers cost, and how they compare to traditional storage facilities and professional movers.
But first, check out these helpful articles.
- Best Interstate Movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, it’s worth hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews.
- How much will your move cost? – Our moving cost calculator is a great resource. Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move, and the magic algorithms will do the rest.
- Consider moving containers – It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks. These are the best moving container companies.
Average storage container prices
Few industries are as competitive as the moving and storage business.
The sheer number of service providers can make the vetting process tedious and time-consuming, but all that competition keeps prices low.
The best moving container companies generally offer similar container sizes, services, and pricing, but you’ll definitely want to get two or three free quotes based on your specific needs.
That said, for pre-move budgeting purposes, we’ve compiled the following average storage costs using data from a number of container companies.
|Container size / storage (per container per month)||Low end||High end|
Just keep in mind that these are storage figures only, and don’t include optional services, insurance, or pick-up and delivery charges.
With PODS, for example, local pick-up and delivery may cost $74.99 each way, but these charges may be waived depending on how long you’ll be storing your items.
During the vetting process, you’ll also want to verify that various container sizes are available in all areas and that they can be used for both moving and storage.
Did you know?
PODS 12-foot containers are generally only available for local moving and storage, so they won’t work if you’re moving out of state.
The average cost of self-storage units
Marketing departments at self-storage companies are adept at making prices seem lower than they actually are.
Though some advertise small units for $29.99 a month or less, the cost can double when hidden fees like mandatory locks and insurance are added in.
Discovering you’ve been duped is a huge downer, but for savvy consumers who know where to find good deals, self-storage units can be convenient and cost-effective options.
The following average storage prices were calculated using data from various companies in different parts of the country.
|Unit size / storage type||Standard||Climate-controlled|
|5’ x 10’||$74||$90|
|10’ x 10’||$110||$139|
|10’ x 15’||$137||$179|
|> than 10’ x 15’||$181||$266|
Just remember that –
- These figures don’t include the aforementioned extra fees
- Ground-level units are the most expensive
- You’ll probably need to rent a moving truck to get your items moved into storage
- On DIY moves you’ll need to buy packing material too
Storage containers vs traditional storage units
Brick-and-mortar storage units used to be the only game in town when it came to downsizing and decluttering and storing household goods until a new home or apartment was ready for move-in.
They’re still great options if you need climate-controlled storage, but compared to portable storage containers they’re not nearly as flexible or convenient.
This is because instead of coming to you like portable containers, you’re on the hook for getting your “stuff” to the storage facility.
This equates to the additional effort, stress, and costs associated with renting and driving a moving van or making multiple trips in the family station wagon.
In addition –
- Most storage container companies allow three days each for loading and unloading
- All of the driving is handled by professionals
- If your container will be stored on your property, you’ll have round-the-clock access to your items
All told, storage containers are usually better options than traditional storage units.
When screening potential storage services providers, don’t forget to ask about discounts, promos, and price matching.
Storage containers vs full-service movers
If you’re considering using portable containers for moving, storage, or both, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons against hiring full-service movers.
The latter may make the most sense but be warned, moving scams are becoming increasingly common.
With so much at stake for your family, finances, and all-around mental health, working with experienced professional movers with verified customer reviews is imperative.
Professional movers have a number of advantages over storage container companies, largely because they provide-
- Loading and unloading labor
- Packing and unpacking services
- Accessorial services like crating, uncrating, and appliance disconnects/reconnects
- Automobile transportation
- Various valuation (“moving insurance”) options
On the downside, if you’ll be storing your items at a mover’s warehouse you won’t generally have access to them.
Movers can’t technically prohibit you from accessing your household goods while they’re in their possession, but you’ll probably pay a hefty fee to compensate them for retrieving your storage vaults warehouse, making them available to you, and putting them back when you’re done.
Other than cost and storage access, professional moving services have lots of pros with relatively few cons.
However, if your moving and storage budget are on the small side, you may be better off getting quotes from the cheapest moving container companies.
Shipping containers may be cost-effective long-term storage options
Aside from portable storage containers, professional movers, and self-storage facilities, there’s one option that often gets overlooked – shipping containers.
CONEX cargo containers were developed in the ‘50s as a way to move freight around the world cheaply and efficiently.
These days they’re more commonly known simply as overseas containers or shipping containers, and they’re the backbone of the intermodal transportation industry.
Most containers arrive in the United States from big manufacturing centers like China and Mexico, and more times than not there isn’t enough outbound freight to fill them for a return trip.
In fact, shipping containers are so cheap to manufacture that they’re often sold here instead of being sent back empty.
This all means that buying a new or “one-use” shipping container may make sense if you –
- Can afford to spend between $3,500 and $5,000
- Need more storage space than portable moving containers provide
- Need long-term onsite storage
- Have enough room for a 20 or 40-foot container (standard sizes) on your property, farm or Jobsite
Containers generally come in standard and high-cube varieties and are made of unpainted, weather-resistant Corten steel.
And better yet, since you’ll actually own the container you’re free to add custom roofing, windows, and/or interior shelving.
That said, the price usually doesn’t include delivery to your home or business.
By dealing with a local or regional wholesaler, you’ll be able to minimize transportation costs and actually check the condition of the container before buying it.
Frequently asked questions (faqs)
What are one-use shipping containers?
As their name implies, one-use shipping containers have only been used one time, like on a trip between Shanghai, China, and Long Beach, California. Most one-use containers are in new or like-new condition, which makes them great values since they’re technically “used.”
How much does a 40-foot shipping container cost?
According to the Container-xchange, 40-foot containers generally cost between about $2,700 and $4,100 depending on age, condition, and location.
Are PODS cheaper than renting a U-Haul?
Prices vary between markets, but PODS containers are generally more expensive than renting a truck from U-Haul or Penske on a DIY move.
How much will fit in a 16-foot POD?
According to PODS, their 16-foot containers have maximum cargo capacities of 4,200 pounds, which is actually less than their smaller units. When packed efficiently, 16-foot PODS containers are capable of holding the contents of three or four moderately furnished rooms.
What size shipping container do I need for a 3-bedroom house?
When packed floor to ceiling and front to back, 20-foot shipping containers can generally hold the contents of a 2 or 3-bedroom home. However, this can vary greatly depending on if your home has a basement, attic and garage, and whether you’re a minimalist or a card-carrying packrat.
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