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You load, they drive

Moving Containers

With no driving required and the option for open-ended storage, portable containers are the perfect solution if you’re waiting on a lease to start or staging a home.

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We did the research, combed through 100s of verified customer reviews, and found the best moving container companies of 2019.

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The basics

What is a portable moving container?

Moving containers are a simple concept. The container is dropped off, you cram everything into it, the company picks it up, and the container is stored until you’re ready for it to be delivered.

Moving with a container was originally created by the company PODS® in the late 90s. Container moving has continued to flourish since then, with over 30 companies now offering different containerized moving solutions.

You’ll need to consider things like parking access, delivery time frame, access to labor, insurance and more to determine if renting a container is the best way to move.

Luckily, we put together this container moving guide to provide all the answers.

Container Pros
  • No driving
  • Fast delivery
  • Great for storage
  • No double handling
Container Cons
  • Limited available sizes
  • Parking can be challenging
  • Insurance is limited
  • Labor not included
Weighing the costs

How much does a moving container cost?

Portable storage companies typically charge per container per month.

Prices can range from $150 for a small local move with one month storage up to $6,000+ for a larger, long distance move.

If your move requires storage, you can avoid the expense of moving everything in and out of a storage unit by using a moving container. This can save you a good bit on labor costs.

Containers are most affordable for 1-2 bedroom local moves, but can also make sense for larger moves or long distance moves if storage is required.

To get a more accurate idea on container costs use our moving container cost calculator.

Sample Pricing Table
1 Bedroom 2-3 Bedroom 4-5 Bedroom
<50 miles $100 – $300 $300 – $550 $800 – $1,100
250 miles $1,000 – $1,400 $1,500 – $2,000 $1,800 – $2,500
1,000 miles $1,700 – $2,300 $2,500 – $3,500 $3,200 – $4,300
2,500 miles $2,500 – $3,200 $3,900 – $4,900 $5,000 – $6,700+

3 insider tips for saving money

We went deep undercover with moving container insiders and got them to spill the beans on how you can save money when you use a portable moving container.

Use the storage location

You can eliminate expensive container delivery fees by dropping your items off at the container company’s location and then have them ship it to another location.

Sometimes this can result in significant savings. You’ll need to weigh the savings against the added cost of getting everything to their location.

This can make a lot of sense for smaller shipments where a cheap van could be used to shuttle items.

Move mid-month

Rental leases typically turnover at the end of the month causing spikes in demand on those last few days.

Avoiding the rush by moving in the middle of the month can often result in better pricing.

Local only

The closer a container company’s storage facility is to your residence the better pricing you can expect. If the company has to travel more than 50 miles to deliver your container the cost of the container will usually go up.

This can be a deal breaker for people moving long distance. You’ll need to make sure there is a location near your origin and destination locations.

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11 extra fees to watch out for

Container company pricing is pretty straightforward but there are still some fees you should be aware of.

Parking permits

Containers can require multiple parking spaces. Some municipalities require parking permits to place containers on the street. Check your city or HOA’s website for more details.

Sell, donate, trash items

Since you pay by the container, keeping your move to as few containers as possible will result in significant savings. However, there are no price breaks if you don’t fill up the entire container so make sure not to get rid of too much.

Moving equipment

Hand trucks and dollies are typically available to rent. Prices and availability vary.

Weekend pickup & delivery

Drivers don’t like to work weekends. Most container companies prefer to operate within Mon-Fri and charge extra for weekend drop-offs.


Portable storage containers are a great option for long-term storage. Rates are usually competitive with regular storage units and because the container is portable, you can avoid having to pay for an additional move when you’re ready for everything to be delivered.

Additional valuation coverage

Most companies offer options to increase coverage levels in the event of an accident at an additional cost. Note, damage due to the loading or unloading of items won’t be covered.

Container cleaning fee

Be sure to sweep clean the container before final pickup to avoid a cleaning fee.

Live load & unload

If you can’t leave an unattended container on your street, you may need to coordinate for the driver to stay during the loading. The driver is simply staying with the truck, he won’t provide any help loading. The first hour or two is usually free and then an hourly rate will apply. New York City and other urban areas typically require live loading.

Weight tickets

Military PPM(DITY) move? You can request weight tickets for an additional fee.

Blankets, straps, and pads

Some container companies offer free moving blankets and pads to sweeten the deal. Always ask to see if discounts or any free supplies are available.

Guaranteed delivery

Want your container delivered on a certain day at your destination? Most providers are willing to offer guaranteed delivery at an additional cost.

What you get

What’s included with a moving container?

There are over 30+ moving container companies nationwide and each company is slightly different.

Here’s typically what is included in the basic moving container package.

  • Door-to-door transportation
  • Fuel & tolls
  • 1 month storage
  • Security lock for container door
  • Option for long term storage (monthly rate applies)
Not included
  • Help loading or unloading (hire moving labor)
  • Parking permits, if necessary
  • Pads, straps, or blankets
  • Dolly or hand-truck (sometimes available to rent)
  • Insurance (coverage varies by company)
  • Packing supplies such as boxes, bubble wrap, etc.
  • Weekend pickup/delivery (sometimes available)
Best moving containers of 2019

How do I find a great moving container company?

We did the research and created a list of the best moving container companies in 2019.

Find a container company

How does a moving container move work?

Essentially, a large portable container is dropped off, you fill it up, and they’ll deliver it to another address or store it for you for a monthly fee until you’re ready to have it delivered.

45 days out

Hire a little help

If you don’t want to be the one loading the container now is the time to hire professional moving labor.

Don’t wait much longer or you may end up paying more!

14 days out

Two weeks before the big move

Make sure you have gathered, bought, or rented all of the moving supplies that you’ll need such as blankets, pads, straps, and moving boxes.

You don’t want to be left empty handed on moving day!

The big day

Moving day

The moving container company will need a place to drop off the moving container so make sure there is room for it!

You have up to three days to load it and request a pickup.

It’s up to you

Delivery or storage

You can have the moving container company deliver the container to the next address or have them hold on to it for a monthly fee if your new place isn’t ready yet.

Welcome home


When you’re ready to have the container delivered make sure you have plenty of room for it at your new place.

You’ll have 3 days to unload it so you don’t have to feel rushed!

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Compare and contrast

Moving containers are the most popular do-it-yourself option but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for your situation. Compare moving containers to professional movers, freight, containers, and rental trucks to see how they stack up.

Moving containers vs. professional movers

See how moving containers compare to professional movers.

Moving Containers Professional Movers
Storage Container companies have very competitive storage rates and the container can be delivered to your residence multiple times. Moving companies only offer storage-in-transit and it can get expensive if you need storage more than a few months.
Delivery Container companies tend to have much faster and more accurate delivery windows than professional movers. Moving companies tend to have less accurate delivery windows.
Prep Time Containers offer open-ended load time so you have more time to pack loose items. With movers you’ll need to be fully prepared before they arrive.
Pricing Container companies offer flat rates based on container sizes. Moving companies usually require in-home estimates and variable costs since their service offerings are more complex.
Labor Included Containers provide no labor although it’s not hard to hire some help. Movers will load and unload the truck including basic furniture assembly.
Insurance Container companies usually don’t offer more than basic valuation coverage. Moving companies tend to have more insurance options and better overall coverage for damages.
Materials Containers provide limited moving equipment. Professional movers will bring pads, blankets, dollies, and straps to make sure all items are properly secured.
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How much does a moving container cost?

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Moving containers vs. freight

See how moving containers stack up against freight moving companies.

Moving Containers Freight
Load/Unload Time Containers offer open-ended loading and unloading. Freight typically allows 3 days at loading and 3 days at unloading
Off-Site Storage Containers offer affordable, long-term storage with on demand access to items. Freight storage is costly, short-term and not easily accessible.
Loading Containers rest on the ground and tend to have lower ceilings making loading a little easier. Freight trailers require a loading ramp and have 9 foot ceilings making loading more difficult.
Partial Move Containers make it easy to leave half your items in storage. Freight trailers need to be fully unloaded at your destination.
Parking Containers are smaller and tend to be easier to fit in the driveway or on a city block. Freight trailers require around 40′ of parking space, clear of low hanging tree or power lines. Urban areas can be a challenge.
Space If you need more than 16′ of space you’ll need to get a second container. A single freight trailer can hold roughly the same as two and a half, 16′ storage containers.
Pay for What You Use With containers you are limited to two or three different sizes. With freight you only pay for the space you need.
Pricing Container companies usually require calling for quotes. Freight websites offer instant & transparent online pricing.
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Moving containers vs. moving truck rentals

Compare two of the most popular do-it-yourself moving options.

Moving Containers Rental Trucks
Driving Container companies offer door-to-door delivery so you can avoid doing any driving. Rental trucks require you do all the driving yourself.
Built-In Costs Containers include mileage, tolls, gas, etc. in their base price. With rental trucks you’ll need to estimate costs such as mileage, tolls, gas, etc.
Storage Containers offer great long-term storage options. With rental trucks you’ll have to unload into a storage unit.
Delivery You are reliant on the container company to deliver on time. With rental trucks you have complete control over delivery times since you’re driving.
Car Containers have no option for towing or shipping a car. With rental trucks you can typically rent a car hitch.
Parking Some areas have restrictions on leaving containers for extended periods. Rental trucks are generally street legal everywhere.
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