At a glance
Whether you’re relocating for a slick new job in the big city or to the country for a quieter life, portable moving and storage containers are a middle-ground moving option. They cost much less than a full-service mover and let you skip the inconvenience of hauling a truck. (Win-win!)
But figuring out the size, type, and number of moving containers you’ll need to transport your belongings is not always straightforward.
We’ll break down in exhaustive detail how much stuff you can cram into containers from top moving container companies—but here are rough estimates for a standard moving container (300 cubic feet):
Container sizing guide
|Home size||Containers needed|
|5+ bedroom house||5|
Keep reading to learn more about the container types we recommend, which companies offer them, and how to choose the right size.
The whole picture
Whether you’re a hoarder or KonMari Method minimalist, how much stuff you have is the most important factor in how many containers you’ll need. With moving storage companies offering an array of sizes, picking one is about as tough as choosing a single ice cream flavor at Baskin Robbins.
That’s where we come in. We’ve gathered data on our top moving container companies to help you choose the type, size, and price point that’s right for your move.
Use this guide to help pick a moving container from these trusted companies:
What type of storage container do you need?
Not all moving containers are created equal. And when you’re protecting your home goods, quality matters. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right type to safely stow and haul your belongings wherever you’re headed next.
Here are the types of containers you’ll find:
If your load is light—or if you’re packing items that aren’t easily broken—wood containers can be a fine choice. They’re less durable than steel, so they don’t offer as much protection or withstand weight as well.
Other reasons to consider a metal container: you’re storing items for a long time or your container will be exposed to bad weather (while sitting in your driveway during April showers, for example).
Standard wood containers (8 ft. x 7 ft. x 7 ft.) hold 2,000–2,500 pounds of home goods—about half what steel can tote.
Steel and aluminum
These combo containers are more durable and can hold double the weight of wood (about 5,000 pounds) in the same container size.
Extra strong and sturdy steel containers can handle even heavier loads than mixed materials. You’ll also get better tie-down and weatherproofing options than with wood containers.
Forget guessing! For a precise, in-depth guide to moving container sizing, use the PODS moving and storage calculator. You can add the entire contents of your home to get an accurate container number estimate.
What container size do you need?
If you’re moving with containers, the only thing worse than having too many stacked up outside your home is having too few to hold your stuff. That’s why it’s so important to assess the size of your space and how much furniture you have before you make a reservation.
Here’s a simple method for determining the number of containers you’ll need:
- Note your home’s square footage and number of bedrooms.
- Add on any storage rooms, including sheds, basements, and garages.
- Decide whether you need post-move storage. (Some companies include it with your container rental.)
- Check pricing and storage size offerings from our vetted list of container companies.
- Reserve your containers. When in doubt, choose a company that allows you to pay only for the containers you use (and to order more than you think you’ll need).
How to estimate your container size
|Container size||Home type||Home size (sq. ft.)||Container capacity (cu. ft.)||Weight limit (lbs.)|
|Small (7–8 ft.)||Studio apartment||400–600||100–375||2,000–5,000|
|Medium (12 ft.)||1- to 2-bedroom home||600–1,200||375–750||2,500–6,000|
|Large (16 ft.)||2- to 3-bedroom home||1,200–1,600||750–1,000||3,500–6,000|
|Moving trailer |
|4-bedroom home||> 1,600||2,000||22,500|
|Home type||Home size (sq. ft.)||Container capacity (cu. ft.)||Weight limit (lbs.)|
|1- to 2-bedroom home||600–1,200||375–750||2,500–6,000|
|2- to 3-bedroom home||1,200–1,600||750–1,000||3,500–6,000|
|4-bedroom home||> 1,600||2,000||22,500|
Moving Container Companies and Size Options
With so many container companies to choose from, you could spend all day googling and reading reviews to find the best option. Don’t.
We’ve done that research for you—here’s what you need to know about container sizing from our top five moving container companies.
U-Box’s wood containers are perfect for college kids, apartment dwellers, and anyone moving IKEA furniture. (They’re not ideal for high-end furnishings and antique goods thanks to their less sturdy construction.)
We’ve found U-Box to be among the most affordable moving container options.
U-Box container sizing
|Dimensions||8′ x 5′ x 7′6″|
|Home size (rooms of furniture)||1|
|Weight limit (lbs.)||2,000|
|8′ x 5′ x 7′6″|
A flexible pay-for-what-you-use policy makes U-Pack a winner if you’re not sure how much space your belongings will take up. The company offers small moving containers (ReloCubes) as well as trailer space, so they can handle any size load.
(Note: U-Pack doesn’t do local moves.)
U-Pack container sizing
|Dimensions||6′3″ x 7′ x 8′4″||28′ x 8′ x 9′|
|Home size (rooms of furniture)||1||4+|
|Weight limit (lbs.)||2,500||22,500|
|6′3″ x 7′ x 8′4″||28′ x 8′ x 9′|
Learn more about U-Pack’s moving containers in our full U-Pack review.
SMARTBOX isn’t available in every state, but it is a favorite of budget-conscious customers thanks to its price-matching policies.
Each container holds just one room of furniture—and SMARTBOX can deliver up to eight containers at one time.
One thing we don’t love? SMARTBOX requires a lot of personal information before providing a quote.
SMARTBOX container sizing
|Dimensions||8′ x 5′ x 7′|
|Home size (rooms of furniture)||1|
|Weight limit (lbs.)||3,000|
|8′ x 5′ x 7′|
Want more details about SMARTBOX? Read our full review.
Portable On Demand Storage (often called PODS) is a well-known name in the moving container industry. The company offers three different container sizes to fit everything for your local or long-distance move.
They’re larger than other cube-style containers, which means you can load your belongings in one space instead of splitting things up.
PODS includes 30 days of storage in your quote, so you can keep everything stashed until you’re ready to move into your new home.
PODS has an online quote form, but once you’ve provided your information you still have to call to finalize your quote.
PODS container sizing
|Container||7-ft.||12-ft. (local moves only)||16-ft.|
|Dimensions||7′ x 7′ x 8′||12′ x 8′ x 8′||16′ x 8′ x 8′|
|Home size (rooms of furniture)||1||2–3||3–4|
|Weight limit (lbs.)||5,200||4,700||4,200|
|7-ft.||12-ft. (local moves only)||16-ft.|
|7′ x 7′ x 8′||12′ x 8′ x 8′||16′ x 8′ x 8′|
Learn more about what PODS has to offer in our full review.
You can trust that your goods are safe during transit with 1-800-PACK-RAT’s strong, steel containers. We also like that every quote includes 30 days of storage.
While 1-800-PACK-RAT offers discounts and promo codes online, obtaining a quote isn’t simple. You must provide your pickup and delivery locations, phone number, and email to receive an estimate of any kind.
Even then, final estimates require a phone call or email to the company. One perk: if you lock in your moving dates with 1-800-PACK-RAT, it also locks in your price. So you’ll never have to worry about paying more than expected.
1-800-PACK-RAT container sizing
|Dimensions||8′6″ x 8′ x 8′||12′ x 8′ x 8′||16′ x 8′ x 8′|
|Home size (rooms of furniture)||1–2||2–3||3–4|
|Weight limit (lbs.)||4,000||6,000||6,000|
|8′6″ x 8′ x 8′||12′ x 8′ x 8′||16′ x 8′ x 8′|
Interested in 1-800-PACK RAT? Learn more about the company’s services in our full review.
Still not sure which container company to use? Use our Best Moving and Storage Container Companies guide to pick a winner. Our reputable list features five vetted container companies with perks like reasonable rates, nationwide availability, and complimentary post-move storage.
And if you feel clueless about how to safely pack your container, read our moving container packing guide to ready your belongings for transit.