What Is the Average Cost of Moving Containers?

Kurt Manwaring
Researcher & Writer
Read More
May 31, 2022
6 min read

At a glance

The average cost of moving containers is about $3 per mile—or approximately $3,870. We calculated this average by analyzing more than 100 quotes from the best moving container companies. Pricing varies based on how much stuff you have, where your new home is, and when you need to move. That means you could get the job done for around $1,210 if you need to move a small apartment across town—or more than $7,500 if your move involves transporting a five-bedroom home across the country.

3 factors that affect the average cost of moving containers

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Size

The impact of home size on the average cost of moving containers

The average cost of moving containers for a one-room apartment is about $2,700. Each additional room costs around $1,000 extra. However, don’t look at these average costs as the gospel truth. If you move during peak season or cross a few time zones, your price will also go up. But this is a helpful tool to see how renting a storage unit or having a garage sale could trim your moving costs by lowering your total number of rooms.

Average cost of moving containers by home size

Approximate home size
Average moving container cost
1-bedroom apartment
$2700
2-bedroom apartment
$3260
3-bedroom home
$3480
5-bedroom home
$6050

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.

Prices vary by the company because container sizes aren’t the same across the board. For example, 1-800-PACK-RAT’s 16-foot container can often fit your entire home. On the other hand, it might take four or five U-Haul U-Boxes to do the same job.

Note: Don’t stress too much about which container size you need. Once you pick a company, its telephone reps will make a recommendation after asking a few questions about your household belongings. For now, it’s helpful just to be aware that sizes vary by company.

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Distance

The impact of distance on the average cost of moving containers

The average cost of a moving container is about $3 per mile. If you look only at distance, a move of 1,000 miles would cost about $3,000 (1,000 miles x $3). We don’t recommend you do that, though. An average cost per mile stat is a helpful tool for ballparking budgets. But you also need to factor in seasonality and home size. For example, our “average” includes four different home sizes across six distances. We use that approach to identify trends, but it isn’t a substitute for getting a quote.

However, the general principle holds true: long-distance moves cost more than local moves.

Our analysis of nearly 140 moving container quotes suggests that you get the biggest bang for your buck with a long-distance move greater than 1,000 miles. For example, the price jump from 100 to 1,000 miles is around $2,750. But the jump from 1,000 to 2,000 miles is only about $270.

Average cost of moving containers by distance

Approximate moving distance
Average moving container cost
100 miles
$1680
450 miles
$2650
1,000 miles
$4430
1,750 miles
$4540
2,050 miles
$4700

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.

U-Pack is available in all 50 states.


Seasonality

The impact of seasonality on the average cost of moving containers

It costs more to rent a moving container during the moving season. Typically, that means prices are at their peak from March to August. We agree with what many moving container company reps tell us when we pose as customers: “Place your reservation as soon as possible. Prices go up every day.”

Unfortunately, prices have also gone up because of COVID-19. Combine moving during the pandemic with the worst inflation rates in 40 years,1 and the prices are hard to swallow. Moving containers cost about $800 more now than two years ago.

Average moving container cost by year

Description20202022
Average moving container cost
$3030
$3870

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.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Companies like PODS can often save you hundreds of dollars compared to the competition. But we thought you’d appreciate the heads-up that moving will be expensive for a while.

While COVID-19 had a big impact on the moving industry, PODs kept up with demand.

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Things you should know about moving containers

Moving containers can save you money on your move. Still, you want to know what to expect going in. Our portable storage container tutorial walks you through basics like size, cost, insurance, and more.


Recap

The best moving container companies charge around $3,870 for the average move. However, prices vary widely depending upon size, distance, and seasonality:

  • Size. Costs start around $2,700 for a single room and jump about $1,000 for each additional room.
  • Distance. The average moving container move is about $3 per mile. You should get a quote to learn how much your move will cost, but this is a helpful starting point.
  • Seasonality. It costs more to move during the peak season (March to August). It also costs more no matter when you move due to factors like COVID-19 and inflation.

Average cost of moving containers FAQ

How much does a PODS container cost?

The average cost of a PODS container is approximately $3,810, according to Move.org. PODS pricing has increased only 20% over the last two years—compared to 30% for the average container company.

Is 1-800-PACK-RAT or PODS cheaper?

1-800-PACK-RAT and PODS have virtually identical prices. While PODS has slightly cheaper initial rates, both companies aggressively compete with each other. So, if you get a quote from one, the other one often matches it.

What is the cheapest way to move long distance?

The cheapest way to move long distance is typically to rent a moving container. The prices are often lower than rental trucks. Plus, you save money on travel costs such as food, lodging, and gas.

Are moving containers charged by weight?

No, moving containers aren’t charged by weight. While professional moving companies bill you for each pound, moving containers have a structural weight limit that allows for more consistent pricing.

How much does it cost to move 1,000 miles?

The average cost to move 1,000 miles with a moving container is approximately $4,430, according to Move.org. Prices range from around $3,200 to $6,600, depending on the size of your home.

Average costs for a 1,000-mile container move

Home size
Average cost
1-bedroom apartment
$3170
2-bedroom apartment
$3900
3-bedroom home
$4050
5-bedroom home
$6620

Data as of 3/7/2022. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

What is the best long-distance moving container company?

The best long-distance moving container company is U-Pack, according to Move.org. The company’s prices are above average, but U-Pack is one of the only container shipping companies available in all 50 states.

Is a moving container cheaper than a professional mover?

Yes, a moving container is usually cheaper than a professional mover. The only drawback is that you do much of the work yourself, while a professional moving service like American Van Lines takes care of everything from packing to unloading.

Does steel construction affect my container price?

Not all moving containers use the same materials. Companies with high-quality steel containers like 1-800-PACK-RAT often cost more than U-Haul’s U-Box (made out of plywood).

What’s the average moving cost for a cross-country trip?

The average moving cost for a cross-country trip using a moving container company is about $6,050, according to Move.org. Zippy Shell has this year’s best rates, with prices almost $1,000 below the industry average.

Can I use my moving container as a storage container?

Yes. Moving containers (also called portable storage containers) double as storage containers. However, the type, length, and cost of storage options vary by company. PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT have the nation’s most extensive storage container options.

Is a moving truck the best option for a local move?

A moving truck is the cheapest option for a local move. Whether it is the best option depends on if you also can load, unload, and drive the truck yourself.

How much does a truck rental cost?

A truck rental costs about $130 for a local move or $1,780 for a long-distance move, according to Move.org. Costs vary widely depending on home size, time of year, and move distance.

Do multiple containers cost more?

Yes and no. It costs more to rent two moving containers than one, but moving companies like 1-800-PACK-RAT include steep discounts for multiple containers.

Can I store my household goods at a PODS storage facility?

Yes, you can store your household goods at a PODS storage facility. The storage container company includes a certain amount of storage in your initial moving quote. However, you can purchase more storage time for an additional cost (around $150 per month)

Exclamation
Feeling tapped out?

Moving containers can save you money and stress. Not only does someone else do the driving, but the prices often beat even rental trucks for cross-country moves.


Methodology

Move.org follows a six-step process to identify the nation’s best moving container companies:

  1. Compare quotes. We obtained and analyzed nearly 300 quotes from 7 of the nation’s largest moving container companies over 3 years.
  2. Mystery shopping. We do a top-to-bottom analysis of each company’s website and even call posing as customers. It helps us get a feel for what real-life customers experience.
  3. Analyze reviews. We read dozens of reviews for each company to see what most impresses (and turns off) customers. We also conducted a meta-analysis of more than 16,000 reviews to calculate an industry customer review average.
  4. Pay real-life customers for honest feedback. Move.org routinely gives away $500 moving grants in exchange for candid feedback about using moving container companies.
  5. Site visits. We invite industry experts and company executives to visit our headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT. We grill them on everything from pricing and customer reviews to insurance coverage and the latest industry trends.
  6. Annual review. Every year, we repeat the process to ensure that our list of the best moving container companies stays current. That means our top recommendations and industry prices may change each year.

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.