Updated On

May 15, 2023

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    Renting a portable moving container for storage or local or long-distance moving is a budget-friendly option to combat the high costs of moving. While the best affordable moving companies typically offer full-service moves, moving container companies allow clients to save money while avoiding the hassle of renting a moving truck.

    Here, we’ve listed the best moving container companies, their associated costs, and their size options. Read below to learn more about these top moving and storage companies.

    Comparing the 5 Cheapest Moving Container Companies

    Our cheapest moving container companies are listed below. This table’s costs reflect local and 500-mile moves for two-bedroom homes. See our container mover breakdowns for more detailed information on container needs for homes of different sizes.

    ProviderToday’s Homeowner Score*Container SizesMoving AvailabilityLocal Moving CostLong-Distance Moving Cost
    U-Pack7.18’ ReloCube & 27’ trailerLong-distance movingN/A$1,300–$2,400
    PODS78’, 12’, and 15’ mobile unitsLocal and long-distance moving$750–$1,400$1,450–$2,500
    1-800-PACK-RAT7.48’, 12’, and 16’ all-steel containersLocal and long-distance moving$900–$1,500$1,550–$2,600
    SMARTBOX6Single 8’ x 5’ x 7’ containerMoving service limited to certain urban areas$500–$1,500$2,400–$2,600
    U-Haul U-Box7Single 4’8” x 7’11” x 6’11” containerLocal and long-distance moving$800–$1,100$2,600–$2,900

    *We rate all moving companies on a 10-point scale. This takes into account transparency, company reputation, service offerings, and more. See our methodology at the end of this article.


    U-Pack is our list’s most widely available and cheapest semi-do-it-yourself moving solution. It offers moving and storage services via its 240 service centers throughout all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico, and it can service moving needs of almost any size. Whether you’re in the market for a small move via its eight-foot ReloCube, or a large relocation requiring its 27-foot trailer, U-Pack can assist with your long-distance moves.

    Why We Recommend U-Pack

    U-Pack’s pricing structure makes it especially popular among small and medium moving clients. While each moving container will come with a flat fee, its moving trailer is priced based on the total volume you use. With U-Pack, you’ll never have to pay for more than you need.

    Pros and Cons of U-Pack


    • 240 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada
    • Three-day window for loading and unloading
    • Only pay for what you use


    • Finding parking accommodations for units and trailers can be difficult
    • Storage for trailer contents not easily accessible

    U-Pack Services Offered

    U-Pack provides the following:

    • 8-foot ReloCubes and 27-foot moving trailers
    • Long-distance moving
    • Short and long-term storage

    How Much Does U-Pack Cost?

    U-Pack’s rates are low, even by the standards of other moving container providers. While it offers more limited container options, you’ll be treated to affordable rates, which are as follows:

    Home Size<250 mi500 mi1,000 mi2,000 mi
    2 BR$660–$1,750$1,300–$2,400$1,750–$2,850$2,300–$3,400
    4 BR$880–$2,000$2,000–$3,100$3,000–$4,100$4,500–$5,600

    Two-bedroom moves will typically require two U-Pack ReloCubes. Clients can book a trailer for larger relocations if they have enough parking space available. U-Pack’s trailer is the most cost-effective and efficient option for three- and four-bedroom homes.

    Availability: All 50 states

    Learn more: Read our full U-Pack review for more information on how to book.

    Get a quote: Begin your moving process with U-Pack here.


    PODS is the original portable storage container and has become synonymous with the service. It brings more than two decades of moving experience to the table and offers clients three distinct container moving options.

    Why We Recommend PODS

    PODS’ three container options and flexibility around client moving dates set it apart from the competition. Whether you’re planning a cross-country or local move or need on-site storage for a home remodel, a PODS container is a great option.

    Pros and Cons of Moving with PODS


    • Available across 44 states
    • Highly recommended, with numerous positive reviews
    • Three container size options available


    • No online booking option for long-distance moves
    • Pricing can quickly increase for large moves

    PODS Services Offered

    PODS provides 8-, 12 and 15-foot containers for local and long-distance moving, plus the following:

    • Added insurance for container contents, starting at $34.95 per unit
    • Car shipping via ACERTUS and Mr. Car Shipper
    • Long and short-term storage options

    Twelve-foot moving containers are exclusive to local moves; only 8- and 15-foot containers are available for long-distance moves.

    How Much Does PODS Cost?

    PODS container rentals include 30 days of storage, with pickup and delivery added in if you need it. Its price points average out to the following:

    Home Size<250 mi500 mi1,000 mi2,000 mi
    2 BR$750–$1,900$1,450–$2,500$1,900–$3,000$2,400–$3,500
    4 BR$1,000–$2,100$2,100–$3,200$3,200–$4,300$4,600–$5,700

    One 15-foot PODS unit would fit most small or medium-sized two-bedroom homes. Three and four-bedroom homes would require renting two or more of this provider’s largest container option.

    Availability: 46 states

    Learn more: Read our PODS review for more information on this nationally-known mover.


    1-800-PACK-RAT brings more than 20 years of experience to every moving and storage need it assists with. It now operates 61 locations across the country, each providing multiple sizes of premium all-steel containers.

    Why We Recommend 1-800-PACK-RAT

    1-800-PACK-RAT’s primary selling point is the sturdy construction of its mobile storage units. With all-steel exteriors and barn-door-style openings, you’ll be assured of maximum space and protection from the elements for all goods. Similar to many of its competitors, 1-800-PACK-RAT also offers three distinctly sized containers for you to choose from.

    Pros and Cons of Pack Rat


    • $10,000 in contents protection offered for all long-distance moves
    • All-steel moving containers are functionally weatherproof
    • Offers flexible delivery and pickup dates
    • Provides a space calculator to help customers determine storage needs


    • No online booking option
    • Lengthy claims process

    1-800-PACK-RAT Services Offered

    1-800-PACK-RAT provides the following:

    • Free space calculator on its website
    • Local and long-distance moving
    • Moving supplies (as a retailer)
    • Protection plans
    • Storage services
    • Your choice of eight, 12, and 16-foot containers

    How Much Does 1-800-PACK-RAT Cost?

    Your costs with 1-800-PACK-RAT will be determined by the container size, move distance, and length of time storage is required. All 1-800-PACK-RAT rentals come with 30 days of storage, with additional monthly costs beginning at $250. You’ll also be able to purchase insurance coverage for your move, beginning at $34.95 for $5,000.

    Here are some costs for moves of varying distances:

    Home Size<250 mi500 mi1,000 mi2,000 mi
    2 BR$900–$2,200$1,550–$2,600$2,000–$3,300$2,500–$3,800
    4 BR$1,100–$2,300$2,400–$3,500$3,500–$4,600$4,900–$6,000

    1-800-PACK-RAT’s large 16-foot container can accommodate most two-bedroom homes. You’ll have to rent at least two of these units for most three or four-bedroom homes, which could lead to significant pricing increases.

    Availability: 30 states

    Learn more: Read our 1-800-PACK-RAT review for more information.


    SMARTBOX is a container service that largely markets itself as a solution for college students and small moves. It only provides a single container size, which measures 7’8” x 4’8” x 6’6”. This means this self-storage solution is not a viable option for intermediate or large moves, as costs increase quickly with added units rented.

    Why We Recommend SMARTBOX

    SMARTBOX is only available in major urban areas. As a result, it is tailored to work as a moving solution for urban and college renters. It is an affordable moving solution for a single container move within the same city. However, as move distance and size increase, so do associated costs.

    Pros and Cons of SMARTBOX


    • Great option for college students or single-room moves
    • Pricing is fairly transparent


    • Only one container size is available
    • Wood construction makes it more susceptible to the elements

    Services Offered

    SMARTBOX provides one size of shipping container for the following:

    • Local and long-distance moving
    • Short and long-term storage

    How Much Does SMARTBOX Cost?

    SMARTBOX’s transparency on pricing is one area where it excels. Although costs are fairly high, clients will not typically be shocked by the final price tag. A local one-room move will cost between $500 and $1,500, while a two-room, 500-mile relocation will cost between $2,400 and $2,600.

    Availability: 51 metro areas in 23 states

    U-Haul U-Box

    U-Haul is one of the biggest names in the moving industry. Although most of its work is done in the truck rental space for DIY moves, it does market a line of moving containers ideal for simplifying the moving process for small move clients.

    Many reviews mention poor customer service and hidden fees once moves and storage have been booked. You should be wary of this when booking.

    Why We Recommend U-Box

    While not quite as spacious as PODS or a U-Pack ReloCube, U-Box storage units offer a widely available alternative for certain moving and storage needs. This provider has locations in all 50 states, making it a favorite among college students for moving and storage over summer breaks and for smaller clients.

    Pros and Cons of U-Box


    • Numerous locations throughout every state make this a convenient option
    • Lower pricing than many competitors


    • Only one small container size is available
    • Hidden delivery fee

    U-Haul U-Box Services Offered

    U-Haul U-Box containers are each 4’8” x 7’11” x 6’11”, which is big enough for a small room’s worth of goods when well-packed. These are available, along with the following:

    • Local and long-distance moving
    • Moving labor provided in-house through Moving Help
    • Pickup and delivery of U-Box mobile storage units
    • Short and long-term storage at U-Haul locations

    How Much Does U-Box Cost?

    U-Haul charges pickup and delivery fees for all U-Boxes it rents out. These fees typically amount to $99. Unfortunately, many customers report not being fully informed of this moving cost during the booking process. As with many DIY moving services, free quotes will depend on how many units you book for your move.

    Expect to pay around $100 per month for renting each U-Box you require. Reviews show that a local move requiring two U-Box containers would cost between $800 and $1,100. A long-distance move with the same spatial requirements would cost upwards of $2,500.

    Availability: All 50 states

    What To Look For in Moving Container Companies

    Vetting moving companies can be confusing. Here are a few basic features to look for when booking a container for your moving or storage needs:

    Customer Reviews

    Customer reviews are your most important resource to consult when vetting any moving company—or storage facility, for that matter. To ensure safe transportation and handling of your goods at all points during your relocation or an extended stint in storage, you’ll want to be sure that your container company has the customers’ best interests in mind.

    Customer Service

    It is a good sign if you can easily get in touch with an actual person when you call or contact a container provider. Many companies—especially larger nationwide providers—may make this difficult due to call volume or other factors.


    Ideally, you’ll want a container company to work with you during your transition to your new home. Whether it provides easy-to-understand loading and unloading windows with straightforward delivery fees at either end of your move or offers other complimentary services like furniture pads or basic insurance, you should book with a company that works to provide a positive moving experience.

    Insurance Coverage

    Most container providers will offer separate insurance policies for the well-being of the container itself and for protecting your goods inside. The best container companies will offer added coverage for more valuable goods. If you’re renting for a longer move or plan on storing your goods for an extended period, you should consider purchasing added protection. Before signing, you should pay attention to the wording of any proposed rental contracts and ask your container company representative what each potential insurance policy covers.

    Transparent Pricing

    Container providers should provide fairly transparent pricing for the units they provide. Even if you can’t get clear rates for moving via an online quote, then flat storage, and container rental fees should be easy to find.

    How Much Does a Moving Container Cost?

    On average, a local move with such a moving container company will cost between $350 and $800. A long-distance or interstate move will cost anywhere from $800 to $5,000 by comparison.

    Keep in mind that if you opt for this type of relocation, you’ll have to handle your packing, unpacking, loading, and unloading.

    Factors That Affect the Cost of Moving Containers

    Budgeting for any move is a major initial step in the moving process. Here are a few things to consider when setting funds aside for a DIY move.

    Move Distance

    As with any moving company or service, your move distance will greatly impact your overall cost. Moving across town will come at a far lower price than a cross-country move from New York to Los Angeles.

    Storage Requirements and Move Size

    Since many rent from moving and storage companies for storing goods and staging moves, these two factors go hand-in-hand. The overall volume will affect how many mobile storage units you rent, influencing storage and moving costs.

    Final Thoughts: The Cheapest Moving Containers

    Renting a moving container company is cheaper for any move you plan to carry out. When all factors are considered, U-Pack is the cheapest and best container provider for such relocations. Its pricing structure lends itself to low rates, while the three-day loading and unloading periods provided allow clients to conduct most of their moves at their own pace.

    We recommend getting storage and moving quotes from multiple providers before booking any such service. Still, U-Pack’s ReloCubes and moving trailers, along with its nearly unmatched availability, make it a top choice.

    Moving Companies Rating Methodology

    At Today’s Homeowner, our primary goal is to be a transparent and reliable information source for our readers. We researched and analyzed dozens of full- and self-service moving companies and developed the following formula to render objective ratings—on a scale of 10 points—for the companies we review.

    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.

    We monitor company data on an ongoing basis to keep rankings and information up to date.

    • Transparency (3.0): We awarded top points to companies that supplied quotes quickly and provided easy-to-read moving contracts. We used the availability of sample pricing and quick quote features, GPS tracking, and clear customer service hours to determine this metric. Points were also awarded for up-front communication regarding policies, licensing, insurance, and the clear listing of added fees.
    • Basic Service Options (2.0): While this may seem like a given for most movers, a strong basic service profile is not guaranteed when you book your move. Movers that offer local, long-distance, and international moving, while providing packing and loading with their basic service packages rate highly here.
    • Customization Options (3.0): Aside from basic services, a comprehensive list of added services indicates a mover’s quality. Assembly and disassembly, valuation coverage, piano moving, car shipping, and similar add-ons indicate a mover that puts customer service first.
    • Reputation (2.0): 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.

    Read our detailed methodology for more information.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Does moving labor come with a storage container rental?

    Storage container rental does not include moving labor. However, most moving container companies will partner with local labor providers. This could be a local moving company or a nationwide labor service like HireAHelper or TaskRabbit.

    When you book these services, the container provider does not insure the labor you get. In addition, you’ll also likely have to pay a two- to four-hour minimum charge. This means that no matter how little work you have for your movers, you’ll have to pay for a set minimum amount of labor.

    What can’t I put in a moving container?

    Most moving container providers have a “no-go” list that tells you what you can’t put in the containers. These include the following:

    • Batteries
    • Fertilizer
    • Flammable or toxic chemicals
    • Food
    • Fuel sources of any kind
    • Important or identifying documents
    • Live plants
    • Money
    • “Priceless” items

    What is climate-controlled storage?

    Climate-controlled storage is a term that is used interchangeably with indoor storage. When a mobile storage unit provider advertises this option, your unit(s) will be kept indoors and out of the elements. Whether or not your storage units are weatherproof, this is always a plus.


    Will I pay more for a last-minute booking?

    You won’t have to pay a premium or added fee for booking at the last minute. That said, storage unit availability could vary greatly between providers. You may not be able to book a container of your desired size or specifications if you wait too long to book.


    Should I hire full-service movers instead of renting a container?

    Whether you should hire a full-service mover or rent a container will depend entirely on your moving requirements. Storage containers are best for small to mid-sized moves, even if providers like U-Pack can accommodate larger three or four-bedroom homes. If need be, take a full inventory of your home before deciding. If you feel comfortable packing and moving all your possessions and can fit them into an available unit size in your area, consider a container move.

    Editorial Contributors
    Sean Donnelly

    Sean Donnelly

    Staff Writer

    Sean Donnelly works to inform, engage, and motivate homeowners to take the reigns in making key decisions concerning homeownership and relocation. He is a content producer covering provider reviews, the homeownership and rental experience, real estate, and all things moving for Today’s Homeowner. Sean leverages his own experience within the moving industry to improve the consumer experience. He studied English literature and creative writing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

    Learn More

    Lora Novak

    Senior Editor

    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

    Learn More

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