5 Moving Container Options If You Don't Want to Pay for a Full-Service Mover

Our top pick, PODS, offers a variety of container sizes and flexible plans.

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best moving container companies

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Whether you’re moving across the country or just down the street, transporting your belongings is stressful and expensive. Renting moving containers can be a good option for your budget—and your peace of mind. The best moving container companies don’t just offer several different unit sizes at affordable prices but also allow you to pack at your convenience. They can then pick up the containers and drive them to your next address or store them in a secure, climate-controlled location between destinations or during home improvement projects. In addition, many companies offer add-ons like supplies and connections to third-party moving services to make the transition to your new residence as seamless as possible.

Before choosing a moving container rental company, it’s important to do your homework. Units take up one or two parking spaces and may require special permits from your local government or homeowners association. Container sizes, materials, prices, loading and moving times, storage facilities, and customer support vary from provider to provider, so we’ve done the hard work of sorting through them for you. Use this list of the top moving and storage container companies to choose the best option for your move and budget.

RELATED: For Cheaper Moving Options, Check Out These 9 Companies

Best Moving Container Companies of 2023

Best Overall: PODS

Best for Storage: 1-800-Pack-Rat

Best Availability: U-Box from U-Haul

Best on a Budget: Zippy Shell

Best for Quick Moves: U-Pack

Best Overall: PODS

Pods Moving logo

Pods Moving

Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 44 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Base Price: $149 per month
  • Container Sizes: 3

Pros & Cons

  • Flexible rental time periods

  • Units can be used for both moving and storage

  • Sells moving supplies on its website

  • Customers aren’t permitted to transport containers

  • More expensive than competitors

Why It Made the List

When it comes to the best moving container companies, PODS comes out on top for its flexible storage units, affordability, nationwide availability, and add-on services like moving supplies and packing assistance. Containers are available in three sizes—small (8 feet), medium (12 feet), and large (16 feet)—and are delivered straight to your doorstep.

PODS rents its units for 30 days at a time, allowing you to pack and load at your own pace. Rates start at $149 per month, but the final price depends on your location, the size and number of units needed, where you store them, and how long you keep them. Plan to spend an additional $75 on pickup and delivery fees and more for any boxes or moving supplies you may need. Need help packing and loading? PODS can connect you to local third-party vendors that will provide those services and can also help procure any permits you might need to have a container delivered.

When you’re done loading your units, PODS will transport your belongings to your new residence or to a secure storage center, a service that’s available for both local and long-distance moves. While PODS’ prices are a bit higher than those of its competitors, you may be able to secure a better rate by scheduling a weekday or off-season move. The company offers both container-only and contents protection—from $5,000 up to $300,000, with a $100 per claim deductible for all rates—giving you peace of mind in case items are lost or damaged during your move.

Best for Storage: 1-800-Pack-Rat

1-800-Pack-Rat logo


Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: nearly all 50 states (31 states have storage options)
  • Base Price: about $150 per month
  • Container Sizes: 3

Pros & Cons

  • Weatherproof steel containers

  • Online storage space calculator

  • Secure, climate-controlled storage facilities

  • Several tiers of content protection plans (up to $75,000)

  • No online booking option

  • Storage facilities only available in 31 states and Washington, D.C.

  • $500 deposit required for long-distance moves

Why It Made the List

1-800-Pack-Rat is a great option if you need affordable long-term storage. The company provides durable steel containers in three sizes and secure, temperature-controlled storage facilities. It also has an online space calculator to help you determine the number and size of containers you should rent.

1-800-Pack-Rat’s weatherproof containers are available in three sizes: 8, 12, and 16 feet. Prices start at about $150 per month and go up depending on container size and location. If you need assistance with packing or loading, the company can connect you to Hire a Helper movers in your area. Once your containers are packed, a driver will pick them up and deliver them to a ground-level, temperature-controlled facility with 24/7 security and customer access. Storage is on the pricier side—an average of about $380 per month—but you can check the Current Offers page on the company’s website for deals that may help you maximize your moving budget.

While containers can be delivered nationwide, storage facilities are only available in 31 states and Washington, D.C. Contact the company directly to see if it can provide storage for your exact location. Note that 1-800-Pack-Rat provides quotes by phone and online, though you need to input some specific details, which makes gathering quick quotes to compare moving container companies a bit more difficult.

Best Availability: U-Box from U-Haul

U-Haul logo


Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Base Price: about $100 per month
  • Container Sizes: 1

Pros & Cons

  • Local, national, and international availability

  • Affordable prices

  • Streamlined online quote process

  • Secure storage facilities

  • Containers are small and only available in one size

  • Units are plywood, not steel

  • Does not automatically offer insurance

Why It Made the List

Available in all 50 states, U-Haul's moving container business, U-Box, is one of the most affordable options, with container rentals averaging $100 per month and no cancellation fees. Combine these features with a convenient online quote process and the ability to ship containers both domestically and internationally, and you have a great option for last-minute moves on a budget. 

Unlike other container delivery services, U-Box gives you a guaranteed delivery date, taking some of the guesswork out of moving. It also includes 24 free furniture pads with containers and provides optional add-ons like moving boxes, packing tape, packing material, and storage at a secure warehouse that you can access during normal business hours. U-Haul can also connect you to workers to help with packing and heavy lifting, and you can keep the containers for as long as you need them.

If you rent with U-Haul, be aware of the company’s hidden fees. There’s a $99 delivery fee for every additional box you add beyond your initial order. It’s also worth noting that U-Boxes are made of plywood and only come in one size, 7 feet 11 inches by 4 feet 8 inches, making them smaller and less durable than competitors’ boxes.

Best on a Budget: Zippy Shell

Zippy Shell logo

Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 32 states
  • Base Price: around $100 per month
  • Container Sizes: 1 for storage, 2 for moving

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable rates

  • Secure, temperature-controlled storage facilities

  • Containers come on a wheeled trailer with license plate

  • Limited availability

  • Containers aren’t fully enclosed

Why It Made the List

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly moving container company, Zippy Shell fits the bill, as its base price is around $100 per month. While affordable, the containers are only available in 32 states, so make sure there are locations near both your current and new addresses before booking. Another limitation is that Zippy Shell containers come in just two sizes: 15 feet, which can be used for moving or storage, and 10 feet, which can only be used for moving. Unlike your standard fully enclosed containers, Zippy Shell’s containers are metal cages. This means they may not be the best choice for storing or moving fragile items, but they do make it easier to tie down furniture and allow for air circulation, which limits the risk of mold and mildew.

Zippy Shell containers come attached to wheeled trailers with license plates, so there’s no need to obtain a special permit to store them wherever parking is available. Just note that the units take up two spaces. The trailers have pull-out ramps, making loading and unloading easier. If you’re using your container for storage, you’ll find that all of Zippy Shell’s storage facilities are temperature-controlled.

You’ll have to be quick about getting things in and out; you’re given a three-day loading period at the beginning of your rental, and a three-day unloading period at the end. Zippy Shell offers protection plans for your belongings that will provide full replacement value. Contact the local operator for more details.

Best for Quick Moves: U-Pack



Key Specs

  • Nationwide Availability: 50 states
  • Base Price: $150 per month
  • Container Sizes: 1

Pros & Cons

  • Transport in three to six days

  • Doesn’t require an initial deposit

  • 24/7 customer support with reservations

  • Available nationwide

  • Only three days for loading and unloading

  • Moves must be at least 50 miles

  • No access to containers while in storage

Why It Made the List

For last-minute moves, U-Pack’s quality customer service and transport time of three to six days make it tough to beat. Quotes and reservations can be handled either online or over the phone, with a small discount offered for the former. U-Pack’s containers only come in one size, 6 x 7 x 8 feet, so they might not be the best choice for packing and moving larger items, but the company does offer an online calculator to help you determine the number of units you’ll need. Rental fees include catastrophic liability insurance, which covers items at $3 per pound to a maximum of $7,500 per unit in the event of fire, theft, or collision during transit.

While available in all 50 states, U-Pack requires your final destination to be at least 50 miles from where it delivers your container, so it’s not an option for local moves. It also doesn’t offer assistance with packing, so unless you asked to be connected with third-party movers in advance, you’re on your own once the containers arrive at your home. Note that you’ll be on a tight schedule—only three days—to load and unload your belongings. Storage is not climate-controlled, and you can’t access stored items, so U-Pack might not be the best option if you need more time to pack or require longer-term storage during a home renovation, for example. But with its streamlined, affordable services and 24/7 customer support for help with quotes and reservations, U-Pack is a solid choice if you need a quick storage container solution.

Final Verdict

When it comes to the best moving container companies, PODS stands out for its wide availability, variety of storage unit sizes, and flexible moving plans. Its ability to arrange help with packing and the fact that you can easily buy moving supplies on its website are great features as well. We also like that PODS offers protection for both the container and its contents, which helps ease worries related to moving.

Compare the Best Moving Container Companies 

Company Base Price Container Sizes Loading Assistance? Nationwide Availability Additional Services
Best Overall PODS $149 per month 8 feet, 12 feet, 16 feet Yes 44 states Packing assistance, boxes and moving supplies, vehicle shipping, storage facilities
Best for Storage 1-800-Pack-Rat $150 per month 8 feet, 12 feet, 16 feet Yes nearly all 50 states (30 states for storage) Moving supplies, packing and loading assistance, long-term storage
Best Availability U-Box from U-Haul $169 per month 7 feet 11 inches x 4 feet 8 inches No 50 states Moving supplies, storage facilities, connection to packing assistance
Best on a Budget Zippy Shell $100 per month 10 feet, 15 feet Yes 32 states Full-service moving, long-term storage
Best for Quick Moves U-Pack $150 per month 6 x 7 x 8 feet Yes 50 states Connection to packing and loading assistance, moving supplies, moving trailers

Moving Container Companies vs. Traditional Moving Companies

When deciding whether to use moving and storage containers or hire professional movers, there are several factors to consider, including cost, convenience, timeline, storage needs, current location, and final destination. If you want to pack your own belongings at your own pace and can store a unit on your property or in a nearby warehouse, a moving container company is a more flexible and convenient choice. But if you’re looking to save time, want to avoid lifting heavy objects, and have a fixed moving date, a full-service moving company is a better option. Here are the pros and cons for each type of service.

Moving Container Companies

  • Less expensive than a full-service moving company

  • Can load and unload your own belongings

  • Units can be used for long-term storage

  • Access to secure, temperature-controlled storage facilities

  • Flexibility with packing and moving timeline

  • Difficult to park and may require a permit to store on your property

  • Labor-intensive

  • Can be pricey if used long-term

  • Must reserve storage space and units in advance

Traditional Moving Companies

  • Saves time and labor

  • Full-service options include packing and unpacking services

  • Don’t need space or permits to store containers

  • More experience moving heavy and fragile items

  • Lower risk of personal injury

  • More expensive

  • Less flexibility with moving date

  • May not have storage facilities

  • Time-consuming to vet companies and obtain quotes

Factors to Consider When Picking a Moving Container Company

When choosing a moving container company, there are a lot of things to consider: the company’s service area, the containers’ material and size, storage options, loading and shipping times, availability of packing and moving assistance, customer service, and insurance plans. These factors, combined with your relocation timeline and budget, will determine the best moving container rental for your relocation or home renovation.

Service Area

When selecting a moving container company, consider your current location and final destination. While the moving container companies we’ve profiled here are available in most parts of the country, it’s essential to contact them directly to ensure they can deliver units to both your current and future addresses. Before renting any containers, ensure you have enough space for them and permission to leave or park them at your home. Many government entities and homeowners associations require permits for containers, so be sure to obtain the proper papers.

Container Material and Size

Depending on the number, size, and weight of the items you’re moving, you may need a mix of containers. Most moving container companies offer a variety of sizes. Eight-foot units can hold approximately one to two rooms of furniture and up to 4,000 pounds. Sixteen-foot units can hold about three to four rooms of furniture and up to 6,000 pounds. Moving containers are typically made of steel or plywood. Steel containers are more secure, weatherproof, and can hold more weight than their plywood counterparts.

Storage Options

When selecting a moving container rental company, it’s important to consider the storage options in both your current location and your final destination. If you need short-term storage on your property during a renovation or remodeling, some companies will let you keep containers on-site indefinitely, while others permit just a two- or three-day rental period. If your items require a more secure, climate-controlled location or your relocation takes longer than expected, many container companies offer storage for an additional fee. Contact the company directly before booking to see if storage is available in your location and to reserve space in advance. While some companies give you access to containers in storage, others store them in inaccessible warehouse facilities, so pack and plan accordingly.

Loading and Shipping Times

The flexibility to pack and load containers at your own pace is one of the biggest advantages of using a storage container company. But while some companies require loading to be completed in a short time frame, others let you keep the containers for as long as you want. Depending on the distance you’re moving, the amount of time from pickup to delivery can vary—some companies provide a guaranteed delivery date, while others only give an estimate. A same-city move can be completed in a day, while a cross-country move may take up to a week. Schedule your container delivery in advance to avoid delays and to make sure your belongings arrive at your new place at the same time you do.

Packing and Moving Assistance

Using a shipping container company cuts down on moving costs because you pack and load items yourself. But if you need supplies or assistance, most companies can sell you boxes, blankets, and packing material and can connect you with third-party services that will help pack, load, and unload your boxes. This hybrid approach can keep the move affordable while easing the burden of packing your entire dwelling by yourself.

Customer Service

From the time you request a quote until your container reaches its final destination, access to quality customer support can make a difference in how smoothly your move goes. Some moving container companies only give quotes over the phone, while others offer instant online estimates, taking the guesswork out of budgeting. Many provide 24/7 customer care, including online space calculators, packing checklists, delivery tracking, and access to live chats with experienced agents. Others have more limited hours, so if you have questions or concerns, you may not have instant access to customer support.


Nothing’s worse than your personal belongings being lost or damaged during a move. Before using a moving container company, contact your renters or homeowners insurance provider to see if your items will be covered in the unit, during transit, and at storage facilities, or if you need to purchase additional coverage. Some moving container companies provide basic insurance in their rental rates, while others offer it for an additional fee. Be sure to photograph and estimate the value of your belongings and factor the correct amount of protection into your budget before you move.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What type of move is a moving container best for?

    A moving container is a great choice if you want flexibility in packing and unpacking your items or if you don’t want to spend money on a full-service mover. Containers work best if you have somewhere to store or park them at or near your current residence and don’t mind lifting and moving furniture and heavy items. They’re also a good option for storing items during a home staging or renovation, especially if the rental company offers secure, temperature-controlled facilities.

  • What fits in a typical moving container?

    Moving container sizes vary, but the smallest containers are typically around 8 feet—perfect for moving items from a small space, like a 500-square-foot studio apartment, dorm room, or kitchen/dining area during a home renovation. This size container can typically fit the following goods:

    • Twin-, full-, or queen-size bed
    • Refrigerator
    • Small dining room table and chairs
    • Bookcases and appliances like televisions and microwaves
    • Personal items such as books, bedding, towels, clothing, pots, and pans

    A 12-foot container has around 690 cubic feet of packing space, usually enough to hold the contents of a three-bedroom home. Sixteen-foot units can accommodate belongings from a four-bedroom home.

  • How do you know how many moving containers to get?

    Knowing the square footage of your home, office, or apartment can help you determine the number of moving containers you’ll need to rent. Many of the best moving container companies have online space calculators to help you estimate the correct number for your belongings, and others can offer similar guidance via email or over the phone. Of course, the number of containers you’ll need will also vary by what sizes are available.

  • Is there a difference between a moving container and a moving pod?

    There’s no difference between a moving container and a moving pod. Both terms refer to enclosed metal or plywood structures designed to store personal goods. Pods and moving containers are sturdier and more secure than traditional moving boxes while also doubling as storage units and shipping containers.

  • How long can you keep a moving container?

    The length of time you can keep a moving container varies by company. Some, like Zippy Shell and U-Pack, only give you a few days to load and unload your items. Others, like 1-800-Pack-Rat, offer more flexibility, letting you hold on to containers indefinitely—ideal if you have the space to store them on your property and are in the middle of a big home improvement project or remodeling. Naturally, the longer you keep the container, the higher your bill, so be sure to factor that into your budget before committing to a company.

  • Can you move a moving container by yourself?

    Many companies, including PODS, 1-800-Pack-Rat, Zippy Shell, and U-Pack, don’t allow customers to move their own containers. Instead, the companies’ qualified drivers will come to your location to safely load the units and drive them to either a storage facility or your next destination. With U-Box from U-Haul, you can opt to move containers by renting a U-Haul trailer or using a personal vehicle. If moving heavy units without professional assistance, use a tilt-bed truck or ramp to avoid the need for a forklift or other machinery.

  • Do you need insurance for a moving container?

    If you’re using containers to store and move low-value items like towels and books, or if you’re keeping the units in a secure place at or near your home, you may not need to purchase insurance for your items. However, if the units contain furniture, antiques, or anything else that would be costly to replace, or if you have to keep the units in a high-visibility area, it’s worth getting insurance to ensure that you’ll be reimbursed in case of theft, loss, or damage. Most moving container companies include basic insurance coverage in their packages, and your existing homeowners or renters insurance may cover your belongings. If not, these companies give you the option of purchasing additional protection. Whichever coverage you choose, take a full inventory of your belongings and make sure you have supplemental coverage for high-value items.

  • What cannot be moved in a moving container?

    Just as with traditional moving services, items that are hazardous, flammable, perishable, and/or alive cannot be moved in a storage container. Plan to pack the following items yourself:

    • Money
    • Jewelry
    • High-value electronics like cellphones and computers
    • Important documents like birth certificates and passports
    • Photo albums and sentimental goods
    • Fertilizer
    • Paints and paint thinners
    • Matches
    • Aerosols and nail polish removers
    • Batteries and gasoline
    • Charcoal, lighter fluid, and propane tanks
    • Firearms
    • Plants
    • Opened food and beverages
    • Frozen foods like ice cream
    • Refrigerated items like milk and butter

  • Do moving containers have weight limits?

    Yes, moving containers have weight limits to ensure that items stay safe and secure during transport and storage. Belongings can shift during a move, and overloading units can damage personal items, the moving truck, or the container itself. A container’s exact weight limit depends on its size and construction material and on the type of facility it will be stored in. Generally, 8-foot containers have a limit of 4,000 pounds, while 16-foot containers can hold up to 6,000 pounds. Wooden units typically have half the capacity of their metal counterparts.

  • What is the largest size moving container you can rent?

    Both PODS and 1-800-Pack-Rat offer 16-foot moving containers, which is the largest option on our list. This size container holds approximately three to four rooms of furniture. Depending on the container’s design and construction materials, it can hold up to 6,000 pounds of goods.


This list of the best moving container companies was compiled using more than 500 data points collected over a two-month span. Our research team reviewed more than 20 companies, looking at services provided, customer support channels, quote processes, online tools, and more.

Weights were assigned to each piece of criteria evaluated, then used to calculate an overall score. To receive a high rating, companies had to perform well in a handful of categories, including but not limited to:

  • Types of services offered (10%)
  • Nationwide availability (10%)
  • Company reputation (6%)
  • Additional costs and fees (5%)
  • Online quote system (5%)

The information presented here was accurate at the time of publication and confirmed by at least two data collectors. Verification was completed through customer service calls and live chat or email exchanges.

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