Ultimate Moving Containers Guide
Moving containers are a relatively new "do-it-yourself" option that doesn't require any driving. Portable storage containers popularity has grown with over 30+ companies now offering a containerized moving option.
Use this guide to compare moving containers to alternative options like truck rental and freight trailers. Our moving cost calculator can help you estimate costs and find the best moving container companies in your area.
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)
- 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 per company)
- Packing supplies such as boxes, bubble, wrap, etc.
- Weekend pickup/delivery (sometimes available)
|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 calling and in-home estimates 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.|
|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.||Freight storage is costly.|
|Packing||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 slightly trickier.|
|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 may have parking issues, but they 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.|
|Driving||Container companies offer door-to-door delivery so you can avoid doing any driving.||Lots of driving required.|
|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||Since you aren't driving the container you have slightly less control over when your items arrive.||With rental trucks you have complete control.|
|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.|
Save Money by Controlling Costs
When it comes to moving with freight you need to be aware of the associated costs.
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.
The closer a container company’s storage facility is to your residence the better pricing you can expect. If the company has to travel far to deliver your container your price will increase. If you're moving long distance, you'll need to make sure there is a location nearby at your destination as well. Use our moving cost calculator to find moving container companies with locations nearby.
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.
Avoid Hidden Fees
Learn how to reduce your overall costs and avoid hidden fees.
Containers can require multiple parking spaces. Some municipalities require parking permits to place containers on the street. Check your city'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’s no price breaks if you don’t fill up the entire container so make sure to not get rid of too much.
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.
Military PPM(DITY) move? You can request weight tickets for an additional fee.
Blankets, straps, 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.
Want your container delivered on a certain day at your destination? Most providers are willing to offer guaranteed delivery at an additional cost.
Instantly compare prices on moving containers!
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