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What Everybody Needs to Know About Container Moving

May 21st, 2013 - 2:40 PM
Container Moving 101

If you have an upcoming move and want to use a container, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. There are so many different container moving options out there—how do you know which is right for you? Figuring it out becomes a little easier when you know how each service works, what types of equipment and services they offer, and of course, how much they cost.

How does moving in a container work?

Container moving is a great do-it-yourself moving option, because compared to other DIY options (like truck rental), you don’t have to drive. See, the moving service brings the container right to your home. You load your stuff inside, and they transport it to your new place. It’s a super-convenient way to move. And if you need storage, it’s even more perfect.

Container Size: What Do You Need?

If you’ve looked around, you’ve probably seen that the popular container companies offer containers in different sizes—some small, some large. And, of course, the size and number of containers you need depends on the size of your residence. When you’re trying to figure out which to reserve, it’s important to consider how much you’re moving. If a container is too large, you’ll end up paying for wasted space, and nobody wants that! Try these moving space estimators to get a better idea of how much space you need.  

Some popular container moving companies are PODS®, Pack Rat®, U-Haul’s U-Box®, and U-Pack’s ReloCube®. Let’s compare those.

PODS® offers containers in three sizes: 7’x 7’x 8’, 12’x 8’x 8’, and 16’x 8’x 8’ (the 7-foot container is not available in all markets). These containers are constructed of metal.

Pack Rat®offers 12-foot and 16-foot metal containers.  

U-Haul’s U-Box® is 8’ x 5’ x 7’6” container constructed of wood and covered with a vinyl covering.

U-Pack’s ReloCube® is 6’ x 7’ x 8’ metal container.

While each of these companies allow you to reserve multiple containers, PODS® and Pack-Rat® charge for all containers delivered, regardless of whether you use them or not. U-Pack and U-Haul, on the other hand, only charge for the containers you actually use. However, U-Haul charges a delivery fee if a U-Box® is delivered but not used. U-Pack charges only for the Cubes you use, regardless of how many are reserved, and there are no delivery fees for unused Cubes®.

Loading and Transport Time: The Rest of the Story

Here is the real deal when it comes to loading: it’s a process. And while it may take you a little longer than a few hours, most people don’t need weeks to load a container. PODS®, Pack-Rat®, and U-Haul® all allow a month total for loading, transportation, and unloading. The transit time averages 7-10 business days, so basically you would get a week to load, and a week to unload.  U-Pack tightens the time frame up a bit, with 3 business days to load, 2-5 business days (on average) for transportation, and then 3 business days to unload. If you need extra time for loading, you can have it delivered on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and get the weekend, too. You don’t have to drag your move out for a whole month if you chose a little more succinct service. It’s up to you.

Service Areas for Moving Container Companies

Most of the container companies I’ve mentioned service the major metro areas. However, depending on where you are moving to/from, you may be limited in terms of your choices. For example, with PODS®, some states just have one service center (Nebraska, Maine, Utah for example). Pack-Rat® is a little more limited as several states don’t have Pack-Rat® locations (Arkansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska for example). U-Haul® and U-Pack® both offer nationwide coverage. Before you get set on a container moving company, make sure they can service your origin and destination.

Compare Prices!

As you do your research and get quotes, you may be surprised at the vast differences between prices for the container moving options. You’ll find that prices can vary greatly from company to company, based on where you’re located, when you’re moving and what size/how many containers you need. So get quotes from each service and compare. Here’s a little tip: U-Pack®and U-Haul® offer online quotes, but you’ll need to call PODS® and Pack-Rat®.

The Choice is Yours!

Make sure you ask lots of questions and are familiar with the service you will be receiving before you book your move. Read reviews (epinions.com is a great review site!), ask friends for recommendations, and call and speak to a representative. You can talk to a U-Pack rep at 1-800-413-4799. If you have questions about container moving, just leave a comment below—I’m happy to help!  

More Container Moving Resources:

Portable Storage Containers
Money Saving Moving Tips
Self-Moving: Cheap Options
Moving Checklist