5 Ways Moving Containers Can Save You Money and Stress

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
Read More
April 26, 2022
5 min read

At a glance

The best moving container companies are cheaper than professional movers. For long-distance moves, they’re also more affordable than moving trucks (plus, you don’t have to drive). You can increase your savings by ordering containers one at a time and not paying for full-service moving perks like packing and loading. Moving containers also double as portable storage, so you don’t have to rent a separate storage unit. 

  1. You can save money.
  2. You don’t have to drive.
  3. You can order containers one at a time.
  4. You don’t pay for services you don’t need.
  5. You can use containers as portable storage.
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The whole picture

You can save money

It’s thousands of dollars cheaper to use moving containers than to hire movers. Professional moving services can cost upwards of $12,000. On the other hand, the average moving container price tag is less than $4,000. That makes sense when considering that many people use moving containers for DIY moves.

Surprisingly, moving containers are often more affordable than moving trucks for long-distance moves. That’s because you don’t pay for things like food and hotels as you travel to your new home at the same pace as your rental truck.

You can also trim moving costs by following three simple tips:

  1. Reserve in advance. Moving containers can cost more if you order at the last minute. Plus, moving demand is so high that you may not be able to find containers on short notice. Save yourself some money and stress by placing a reservation one month in advance.
  2. Compare companies. You can save more than $1,000 by comparing costs across the cheapest moving container companies.
  3. Ask for price matching. Get the company you like and the price you want by asking moving companies to match each other’s prices.

Average moving container costs by company

Data as of 3/7/2022. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Average cost calculated by comparing moving costs for four home sizes across six distances.

You don’t have to drive

Driving a moving truck can be stressful—even if you aren’t traveling very far. Moving container companies take that mental load off your plate. They drop off the containers and let you load them. Then, the moving companies pick up your shipping containers and transport them to your new home. You don’t spend a single second behind the wheel.

Of course, if you feel comfortable driving a 17-foot moving truck, we also have a list of the cheapest truck rental companies.

Be prepared for moving day

Don’t forget critical steps like grabbing your garage door opener or setting up utilities in advance. Our printable moving checklist helps you approach moving day with confidence.

You can order containers one at a time

Moving container companies save you money by letting you order one container at a time. That allows you to see if all your belongings fit in the container. If you need another one, the container company will deliver it. If you don’t, you save money by not ordering more containers than you need.

Many moving container companies offer multiple sizes of containers to match different home sizes. For example, 1-800-PACK-RAT has three container sizes (8, 12, and 16 feet). That means you can pick a container that matches the size of your home. The end result is that you don’t pay for unused space or extra containers.

Just be aware that container sizes and materials differ by company. For example, 1-800-PACK-RAT has three all-steel containers. On the opposite side of things, you have a company like U-Haul. The U-Box container comes in only one size that’s barely big enough for most couches. And it’s made of low-quality plywood.

Find a container big enough for your household goods and strong enough to keep your belongings safe. Then, if money’s tight, you can place a minimum order and request additional containers if you need more space. Company reps can walk you through an inventory of your belongings to recommend the ideal size for your move.

Moving container options by company

Container materials
# of containers
Largest container size
Learn more
All steel316’ x 8’ x 8’
Steel frame316’ x 8’ x 8’
Steel frame115’ x 7’ x 7’
Metal16’ x 7’ x 8’
Plywood17’ x 5’ x 7’

Data as of 4/7/2022.

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Why we like U-Pack

U-Pack charges by how much space your belongings take up. You can order as many U-Pack ReloCubes as you want but pay for only those you use.

You don’t pay for services you don’t need

Moving containers save you money by not making you pay for services you don’t need. For example, professional moving companies do all the work for you—but they also charge a lot. Moving containers require you to put in some legwork. But since you’re the one packing and loading your belongings, you don’t have to pay someone else.

What if you need a little help but can’t afford a professional moving company? Moving containers save you so much money that you can put some cash towards moving labor companies. They charge by the hour, so you keep the workers only as long as you want to pay them.

You can use containers as portable storage

Moving containers save you money by eliminating the need for a storage unit. Normally, you pay extra if you need storage space after you move. Most moving container companies include one month of free storage with your containers. So, if your home isn’t quite move-in ready, you can store your moving container at your home or a company storage facility.

The savings add up quickly when you consider that storage unit costs go as high as $300 per month. Most moving container companies also offer monthly storage, so you have extra options if you need more than temporary storage.


Moving containers are a hybrid between a DIY move and a professional mover. The unique setup often saves you money and stress. Costs are thousands of dollars lower than full-service moving companies. Sometimes, prices are even more affordable than renting a moving truck. You can squeeze additional savings by ordering one container at a time. Moving containers also double as portable storage, so you don’t fork out cash for a separate storage unit.

PODS is our top-rated moving container company

How to save on moving containers FAQ

Are moving containers worth it?

Moving containers are more affordable than professional moving companies. They can also be cheaper than rental trucks for cross-country trips and double as portable storage units.

What is the best moving container company?

The best moving container company is PODS. The portage storage industry leader has competitive rates, multiple size options, and strong containers.

What is the best storage unit company?

Extra Space Storage is the best storage unit company. It has nearly 2,000 locations, provides excellent storage unit security, and receives great customer reviews.

How big is a moving storage container?

A moving storage container ranges in size from 7 to 16 feet long. Sizes vary widely depending on your needs and the moving container company.

How much is a PODS container?

The average PODS container costs approximately $3,810. Prices range from $850 to move a one-room apartment 100 miles to $6,520 to transport belongings from a five-bedroom home across the country.

Kurt Manwaring
Written by
Kurt Manwaring
Kurt Manwaring brings nearly a decade’s worth of research experience as a business consultant to the Move.org team. He specializes in taking complicated issues (like moving) and presenting them in a way that everyone can understand. His writing has been featured in hundreds of publications, including USA Today, Martha Stewart Living, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He brings a BS in sociology and an MPA (masters of public administration) to the Move team. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.