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.

What is included with a 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)
  • 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)

Compare to the competition

Compare moving containers to professional movers, freight trailers, and moving truck rentals.

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 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.
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. 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.
Containers Rental Trucks
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.

Using Containers Efficiently

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.

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 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.

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.

Avoid Hidden Fees

Learn how to reduce your overall costs and avoid hidden fees.

Parking permits

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.

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, 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.

Instantly compare prices on moving containers!

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