Moving containers are a popular solution for homeowners seeking a cost-effective, flexible, DIY option for upcoming relocations. With this service, a moving container company delivers a storage unit to your home, you pack it up, and the company picks up and transports the container to your new home. If you need time to travel between moves or get settled, the company can store your items securely until you’re ready to have them brought back.
With dozens of national, regional, and local moving container companies in the market, you may be unsure which one to choose. Read through our list to learn about some of the best moving container options and why one might be right for your 2023 move.
Who Are the Top-Rated Companies for Renting Moving Containers?
The list below includes our picks for the five best moving container companies. These companies have proven track records of reliable service, quality containers, and convenient storage. We’ve also awarded them the following superlatives to help you determine which options might best suit your move:
Compare the Best Moving Container Companies
Assess the features and services of portable moving container companies to help choose the best one for your budget and moving needs. We’ve outlined specifics of our top picks in the table below.
Not listed on the website
Not available for local moves (150-mile minimum)
50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada
44 states, Canada
50 states, Canada
Allied Van Lines is one of the longest-standing and most-trusted brands in the household moving industry. With more than 90 years of providing comprehensive moving services to homeowners across the country, Allied is a convenient choice for local, intrastate, regional and cross-country moves.
Allied completes its full suite of moving products with Allied Express, a container service designed to simplify small-scale moves. At this time, Allied is the only full-service mover offering shipping containers with packing and unpacking services. This feature makes it a smart choice for homeowners seeking the convenience of professional movers with the affordability of moving containers.
Allied connects you with a certified move representative to calculate the number of containers you’ll need. You’ll pay for exactly what you need and receive the right storage space on moving day.
Allied doesn’t list its container sizes on its website, and customer service representatives directed us to call a local moving representative for answers. However, the site notes that its containers are smaller than a moving van, making it a good option for small moves like studio apartments and one-bedroom homes. Regardless of how much you need to pack, your Allied Express container rental comes with a two- to four-person crew to pack your loads securely to prevent shifting and breakage during transport.
Allied is an excellent choice for people seeking full-service moving with container rental and storage. If this sounds like your move, consider booking the following additional services with Allied:
- Car and boat transport
- Furniture assembly and disassembly
- Full-service moving for local, interstate, cross-country, and some international needs
- Packing and unpacking
- Storage at an Allied facility
- Third-party services for disconnection, re-connection, and household cleaning
- Truck loading and unloading
For container services, U-Pack is one of the most well-known brands in the industry. It launched in 1997 with an aim to redefine the self-service moving process. When you hire U-Pack, it delivers one of its ReloCube moving containers to your home. You load it up, and the company moves it to your new location.
U-Pack is high on our list of the best container moving services because of its robust availability in the United States and beyond. It boasts 240 service centers across the country and performs moves in all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico. For this reason, U-Pack is an excellent choice for homeowners seeking affordable DIY moves to U.S. locations and beyond.
Each U-Pack moving container has the following specifications:
- External dimensions: 6’3” x 7’0” x 8’4” (LxWxH)
- Internal dimensions: 5’10” x 6’10” x 7’9” (LxWxH)
- Volume capacity: 308 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: 2,500 pounds
The company suggests renting one ReloCube per room in your home. Or, you can use these simple square footage estimates to determine the approximate number of cubes you’ll need:
|Home Square Footage||Number of ReloCubes Needed|
|Under 600 square feet||1–2|
U-Pack isn’t a full-service moving company. It doesn’t provide resources like packing, loading, and furniture assembly that you’ll find with other movers. But U-Pack is transparent about its mission to provide hassle-free container delivery and storage while you handle the rest.
U-Pack provides the following services to simplify your DIY move:
- Container storage in a moving trailer for up to 120 days
- Door-to-door or service center delivery
- Long-distance container moving
- Moving trailer rental
Founded in 1998, PODS started as a disrupter in the self-storage world. The company began as Personal On Demand Storage, aiming to provide customers with a way to store belongings conveniently in their driveways. Since then, PODS developed into a self-service moving company that helps homeowners load, store, and deliver their belongings throughout the moving process.
PODS’ easy-to-navigate quote process earned it our superlative for Best Solution for Local Moves. When retrieving price estimates, we found PODS generates instant online quotes for local moves under 40 miles. This quick pricing tool and the ability for customers to book online makes PODS an ideal choice for homeowners moving across town or a bit further.
PODS offers three container sizes, and they’re similar to those of 1-800-PACK-RAT, though the latter has slightly more competitive pricing. However, we like that PODs offers pay-as-you-go pricing for each container size, making any move a more manageable investment.
Use the table below to plan your move with PODS:
|PODS Moving Container Sizes||What You Can Move|
|8-foot||400-square foot studio apartment|
|12-foot||600-sf studio apartment or asmall 1-BR apartment|
|16-foot||1- to 2-BR apartment|
|2 12-foot containers||2- to 3-BR home|
|2 16-foot containers and one 8-foot container||4-BR home|
|3 16-foot containers||5- to 6-BR home|
PODS’ services have become so popular that many people refer to all moving containers as “pods.” But portable storage isn’t all the company offers. Besides its containers, the brand provides moving, storage, shipment services, and financing to simplify your move. Among the services are:
- Local and long-distance container moving
- Move-in services
- Moving loans through Acorn Finance
- Moving supply kit delivery
- On-site self-storage units
- Resources for car shipping
- Resources for packing and unpacking services
- Secure storage facilities
U-Haul is a pioneer in the self-service moving industry, notably for its full suite of moving truck rental products. In 2008, the company launched U-Box, a portable storage container solution designed to make DIY moving hassle-free. U-Box has grown to be one of the most popular moving container options. One of its most notable features is its international moving service, which can be hard to find in the moving container niche.
We like that U-Haul offers flexible pickup, delivery, and storage, catering to every customer. The company’s expansive national network of pickup and drop-off locations means you can access a U-Box nearly anywhere in the country. You can even rent a U-Haul truck to haul the U-Box to your new location if your vehicle lacks towing capacity.
Don’t want to handle the hassle of picking up, toting, and dropping off your storage container? No problem. Hire a U-Haul partner to handle the heavy lifting for you.
U-Box containers come in one standard size with the following specifications:
- External dimensions: 8’0” x 5’0 x 7’6” (LxWxH)
- Internal dimensions: 7’11” x 4’8″ x 7’0” (LxWxH)
- Volume capacity: 257 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: Up to 2,000 pounds
The company provides the following guidelines for selecting the number of U-Boxes you’ll need. It suggests renting one or two extra U-Boxes if you have “more than average” items to move and guarantees a refund for any containers you don’t use.
|U-Box Container Size||What You Can Move|
|1 U-Box||Studio apartment|
|2 U-Boxes||1-BR home|
|3 U-Boxes||2-BR home|
|4 U-Boxes||3-BR home|
|5 U-Boxes||4-BR home|
|8 U-Boxes||5-BR home|
U-Haul’s product suite contains much more than its well-known truck rental services. The company offers several other resources to help you tackle every step of your move.
Additional U-Haul services include:
- Boxes and packing supply provisions
- Local, long-distance, and international moving container services
- Moving help resources
- Moving supplies
- Moving truck rental
- RV and boat storage services
- Self-storage, climate-controlled storage, and drive-up storage facility access
- Vehicle towing equipment and accessory rental
1-800-PACK RAT is a highly rated moving and storage container company with two decades of experience in the industry. Within two years of operation, the company expanded to more than 50 locations nationwide. It has a solid reputation for its proprietary lifting system and durable containers.
1-800-PACK-RAT earns our superlative for Highest Quality Containers for its solid steel storage crates with lockable barn doors and superior weatherproofing. This benefit is necessary for homeowners moving fragile items, high-end furniture, and precious keepsakes. We also like that 1-800-PACK-RAT allows customers access to items in storage. Simply provide the company a couple of days’ notice, and a team will transport your container from the warehouse to an easily accessible facility.
1-800-PACK-RAT provides convenient, personalized moving containers. It has three sizes for large-, medium-, and small-scale moves. It also has this handy Storage Space Calculator Tool to remove some of the guesswork about what you need as a customer.
The table below shows the specifications and potential storage capacities for 1-800-PACK-RAT’s units:
|Container Size||Specifications||What You Can Move|
|8-foot||External dimensions: 8’6” x 7’2” x 7’9” (LxWxH)|
Volume capacity: 404 cubic feet
Weight capacity: 4,000 pounds
|Small studio apartment or 1–2 rooms’ worth of furniture|
|12-foot||External dimensions: 12’0” x 7’9” x 7’6” (LxWxH)|
Volume capacity: 620 cubic feet
Weight capacity: 6,000 pounds
|2–3 room’s worth of furniture|
|16-foot||External dimensions: 16’0” x 7’9” x 7’6” (LxWxH)|
Volume capacity: 830 cubic feet
Weight capacity: 6,000 pounds
|3–4 rooms’ worth of furniture|
1-800-PACK-RAT offers a solid suite of services, covering every step of your DIY move. Whether you need help locating moving supplies or finding a place to store your belongings, this company is a trusted choice.
Take advantage of the following services from 1-800-PACK-RAT:
- Local and long-distance moving container service
- Moving supply kits and resources
- Third-party packing and unloading help services
- Storage at secure facilities
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Moving Container?
Moving container companies aren’t one-size-fits-all. Container sizes and services that work for one homeowner might create headaches and roadblocks for another. The key to choosing the right container service is assessing the specialities of each company and matching them to your needs before signing off. The overall experience depends on fulfilling your desires in four key areas:
- Container durability
- Availability in your area
- Company reputation (customer service)
The sections below cover each of these factors to help you make an informed decision come moving time.
Moving Container Company Pricing
When deciding which container company to select, get price quotes from at least three companies. This takes extra time, but it provides an understanding of average industry costs. The bonus: you can shop for discounts and coupons to save money.
Factors That Affect Moving Container Company Costs
Your bottom-line price with any moving container company depends on multiple factors. When you quote shop, try to get estimates that encompass as many of these elements as possible. Some you will know, others the moving company will have to help you with. Among them:
- Additional plans and services you’d like to add
- Date and time of your move
- Distance the container must travel between locations
- Size and weight of your load
- Types of items you need to move
Choosing a company with durable, weather-resistant containers is a must for homeowners in severe weather climates or for those who need to ship fragile items. You’ll want a high-quality, reliable container to store and transport your expensive furniture, electronics, linens, and keepsakes.
Nationwide availability isn’t a given with all moving and storage container companies. Even some of the top picks on our list have limited service areas. Before setting your heart on a specific company, make sure it operates in your current and future destinations.
Unfortunately, moving company scams are a real threat. Researching the reputation of your potential moving container company is essential to ensure you’re choosing a trustworthy, reliable provider. A trustworthy company will provide transparent pricing, timely deliveries and pickups, and high-quality services. Poorly rated companies make false promises, mistreat your belongings, and often surprise you with hidden fees.
Moving Container Companies Vs. Hiring Movers: Which Is Better?
Moving yourself instead of hiring professional movers can seem like an easy decision — especially if you’re determined to pack and load everything by yourself. But consider the pros and cons of both options before making a final decision. Self-service moves have some benefits that make them well worth the hassle for some homeowners. But other homeowners prefer the convenience of hired movers worth the cost.
Read more as we parse the benefits and drawbacks of self-service vs. hired moves.
Pros and Cons of Moving Containers
- Ability to move on your own schedule
- More affordable than full-service movers
- Storage capabilities while you travel and get settled
- Must do the packing and loading on your own
- You handle belongings damaged during packing and loading
Advantages of Using Moving Containers
Money-saving potential is the most notable benefit of choosing a moving container. Full-service movers usually charge for packing, loading, driving, unloading, and unpacking. Moving container companies charge for the unit delivery, pickup, and any storage time you accrue. That makes costs far lower for self-service container moves.
Flexibility is another benefit of using a container for your move. Moving is stressful. The last thing you need is a rushed and sloppy process that leaves your belongings disorganized and your head spinning. Renting a moving container allows you to pack and load at your own pace instead of letting a moving crew run the show. Plus, you can keep the container handy at home or transfer it to a secure storage location until you’re ready to move.
Drawbacks of Using Moving Containers
The biggest drawback of using a moving container is that you’re responsible for packing and loading. If manual labor isn’t a barrier for you, you might not mind this part of the process. You can organize and load your items to your liking without maneuvering around bustling moving crews.
One more thing to consider before renting a moving container is that you’re responsible for any damage from improper packing and loading. Many container companies offer add-on insurance coverage for damages and losses while your items are in storage or transport. However, you’ll be liable for losses that occur because you failed to pack and load carefully.
Pros and Cons of Full-service Movers
- Moving crew handles the heavy lifting
- Professional movers have more experience packing, loading, and lifting
- You can add contents protection plans to insure your items every step of the way
- Your belongings are moved directly to your new home
- Less timeline flexibility
- More expensive
- Your belongings will be out of your hands for longer
Advantages of Using Full-Service Movers
The clear advantage of hiring movers is that a crew of experienced professionals will handle each part of your move. Relocating is stressful enough. Some homeowners find the higher price point worth the convenience and peace of mind that comes with having a moving company handling the hard labor.
Unlike moving containers, which you can store outside your home or in a facility for extended periods, full-service moves take place on a scheduled day, and the load is immediately transported to your new home. Although this setup removes some of the timeline flexibility of a container move, it speeds up the moving process.
Drawbacks of Using Full-Service Movers
The cost of full-service movers is the biggest deterrent for cost-conscious homeowners. According to our research, moving container rental and transport can be as low as $300 and rarely exceeds $5,000. Meanwhile, hiring full-service movers can easily race past $8,000 for long-distance moves. If saving money is your highest priority, we suggest renting a moving container.
One potential drawback of a full-service move is that your belongings will be out of your possession for longer. While this can be a positive thing, you lose access to your stuff while it’s in transport. If you hire an untrustworthy professional mover, this is a major drawback. On the other hand, leaving your move in the hands of a reliable mover makes them more likely to arrive safely at your new location — and you won’t be liable for losses and damages that occur throughout the entire process.
Still not sure which option to choose? Explore our list of the best moving companies to determine if professional movers are right for you.
So, What Is the Best Moving Container Company?
A container service move is ideal if you’re on a tight budget and flexible timeline.
If you’d like the savings of a moving container with the convenience of a full-service moving company, we suggest Allied Express. Otherwise, U-Pack is an excellent choice if you’re ready to tackle a DIY move and just need a high-quality storage container to make it happen.
Although moving containers cost less than full-service movers, prices still vary a lot among companies. Retrieving quotes from multiple vendors is essential to getting the most cost-effective, personalized service possible.
Click your state to find the best company for your move:
FAQs About Moving Container Companies
What cannot be moved in a moving container?
What moving companies allow and don’t allow in a moving container varies by mover. But the following items are almost always prohibited from storage and transportation in a moving container:
- Anything corrosive or flammable
- Frozen foods or refrigerated items
- Glass jars, antiques, or specialty artwork
- Hazardous materials like toxic chemicals, gas, and waste
- Lawn mowers or motorized vehicles
- Pesticides and weed killers
Is a moving container cheaper than a moving company?
Renting a moving container is considerably cheaper than hiring a full-service moving company. This is because you forego the packing, loading, and white-glove transport services you’d get with a hired crew. While the exact price of your moving container depends on the size, move distance, and rental duration you need, you’ll almost certainly pay less for a self-service move.
How long can I rent a moving container?
Your rental timeline ultimately depends on the moving container company you choose and the contract you sign. And there is an array of options. U-Pack gives a three-day window to load and unload ReloCubes at each destination. PODS gives customers 30 days to load and unload their belongings on the front and tail ends of their move.
Regardless of the timeframe you have for loading and unloading, you can typically send your moving container to a secure facility for long-term storage if needed.
What is a gypsy moth inspection, and why does my move require one?
While researching moving companies, you might see notices for gypsy moth inspections. Gypsy moths are an invasive species of leaf-eating insect that’s detrimental to native plant life.
People moving to and from certain areas must inspect their belongings for gypsy moth infestation before moving; failure to do so violates U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations and can incur serious penalties. Check if you live in a Gypsy moth quarantine area before moving via full-service crew or container. Then follow the instructions provided by the USDA to avoid bringing a harmful pest to your new home.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Moving Container Companies
At Today’s Homeowner, we know that moving can be overwhelming. For this reason, we strive to bring you the most transparent reviews and accurate information to support your move. Our moving container company ratings emphasize what matters most to you — reputable, affordable companies providing an array of worthwhile services.
Our ratings are based on publicly available information about each company, secret shopping online and over the phone, customer-review analysis, and interviews with former and current professional movers.
A company can earn 100 points across four categories converted to a five-star scale. We researched and analyzed dozens of moving container companies and developed the following formula:
- Transparency (30 Points): We awarded top points to companies that supplied quotes quickly and provided easy-to-read contracts. We used the availability of sample pricing and quick quote features, GPS tracking, and clear customer service hours to determine this metric. We also added points for up-front communication regarding policies, licensing, insurance options, and add-on fees.
- Basic Service Options (20 Points): While this may seem like a given for most movers, a strong basic service profile means more than just high-quality moving containers. The best moving container providers offer local, long-distance, and international moving, while providing resources to help customers find the packing and loading help they need.
- Customization Options (30 Points): Aside from basic services, a comprehensive list of added services indicates a mover’s quality. Moving supply resources, contents protection coverage, secure storage, and similar add-ons indicate that a moving container company puts customer service first.
- Reputation (20 Points): We assessed each mover’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile. We weighed BBB ratings and the company’s complaint response rate to calculate this metric.
We monitor company data on an ongoing basis to keep rankings and information up to date.