What to Expect When You Move with U-Haul’s U-Box

U-Haul U-Box is a container company that is especially known for its low prices and wide availability. Though the company doesn’t make it to our list of the best moving container companies, we wanted to learn more about it from first-hand experience. That’s why we asked one of Move.org’s moving grant recipients to use a U-Haul U-Box container and tell us about his experience.

Meet Zig

In August 2020, Zig, a bartender and musician, moved from Astoria, NY, to Durham, NC with his two cats and gecko.

Like many people who decided to move because of COVID-19, Zig was looking for a fresh start. In an interview with Move.org, Zig told us: “During my time in quarantine, it became clear that the universe was screaming at me, and I was being given a blank slate. So, I packed up my life for Durham!”

A man smiling in his car as he prepared to move
Zig and his cat as they prepare to relocate from New York to North Carolina in 2020. Photo credit: Zig
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MOVE.ORG MOVING GRANTS: THE 411

MOVE.ORG MOVING GRANTS: THE 411

At Move.org, we offer financial assistance to individuals and families who are moving in exchange for details about their experience. Their candid reviews help us provide unique, real-life perspectives about the moving process.

Visit our Moving Grant hub to find out which companies we’ve worked with and to apply for funding for your next move!

Our U-Box move at a glance

Moving companyU-Box
Move dateAugust 2020
Service typeMoving container
Start locationAstoria, NY
End locationDurham, NC
Quoted cost$2,340
Actual cost$2,460
Moving company
Move date
Service type
Start location
End location
Quoted cost
Actual cost
U-Box
August 2020
Moving container
Astoria, NY
Durham, NC
$2,340
$2,460

What to expect with U-Box—Pricing

U-Box has low prices. The company’s moving container is generally about $100 cheaper than the industry average, and Zig liked the affordable rates. U-Box quoted him approximately $2,340 to move a 700-square-foot home from Astoria, NY, to Durham, NC.

Zig contacted two other companies but didn’t find a cheaper option. PODS was about $660 more expensive than U-Box, and 1-800-PACK-RAT wasn’t available in Zig’s zip codes.

U-Box moving container prices

Moving companyInitial quote
U-Box$2,340
PODS$3,000
1-800-PACK-RATNot available in Zig’s zip codes
Moving company
U-Box
PODS
1-800-PACK-RAT
Initial quote
$2,340
$3,000
Not available in Zig’s zip codes

Data as of 7/9/2020. Initial quotes are estimates to move one 700-foot apartment from Astoria, NY, to Durham, NC.

Zig used two U-Box containers (95” in length x 56” in width x 83.5” in height for a total of 257 cubic feet of space). He was impressed with how much he could fit into the U-Boxes—in fact, he still had room left over in the second box. “I regretted selling my bike earlier in the week!” Zig said.

U-Box has a reputation for charging more than its initial quotes. Zig experienced this firsthand when his final bill included an additional $119 delivery fee. “This probably shouldn’t have been a surprise,” he said, “but I feel it could have been made a little bit more clear from the get-go that this charge was not included with the shipping rate.”

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CHEAPER THAN U-BOX?

CHEAPER THAN U-BOX?

If you’re looking for rates even lower than U-Box’s try U-Pack—our pick for the most affordable moving container company.

What to expect with U-Box—Customer service

Zig’s customer service experience with U-Box was mixed because he worked with both U-Haul representatives and movers he hired through U-Haul’s third-party service, Moving Help. He didn’t have any strong feelings about U-Haul’s customer service but was so impressed with the Moving Help staff that he plans to leave them a positive online review.

A truck driving with a load of two orange U-Box moving containers
Zig’s U-Box containers on a U-Haul transport truck. Photo credit: Zig

Zig did experience significant delays, however, which affected his plans for his going-away party with friends. The movers were four hours late in New York and two hours late in North Carolina.

Although Zig was understanding about the situation, he has this advice if you choose to move with U-Box: “Don’t plan your going-away party for the same night as your move.”

U-Box’s customer service is sub-par compared to other moving container companies. Its average customer review rating of 2.8 out of 5 stars is nearly a full star lower than the industry average.

What to expect with U-Box—Pro tips

There are tricks of the trade you can only learn through first-hand experience. It’s one reason Move.org pays people to move in exchange for their feedback. In Zig’s case, we learned two things you should know about U-Box:

  1. Don’t place containers too close together. Zig noticed that you need at least one foot of clearance on the side of the U-Box to open it. If the boxes are placed too close to each other, you might not be able to open one of them.
Two U-Box moving containers sitting next to each other with the doors open showing the contents inside
It’s important that there is enough clearance between your U-Box containers. Photo credit: Zig
  1. Double check your email if you use Moving Help. When you hire U-Haul’s Moving Help to load your U-Box, U-Haul will send you a payment code for you to give to the workers—but it’s easy to overlook. In Zig’s experience, he only received one email with the code, and it was not accessible in his main U-Haul account. “It was a bit of a nightmare to track down,” he told us.

What surprised us about U-Box

We’ve reviewed U-Box and are familiar with its overall strengths (low costs and online quotes) and weaknesses (surprise fees and poor customer service). But Zig’s story surprised us in two ways:

  1. The U-Box does well in a storm. U-Haul says that the U-Box comes with a weather-resistant cover, but the plywood construction can be a turnoff—especially when some companies use steel. But it wasn’t a problem for Zig. “The boxes were left for two days outside my new place and even weathered a severe rainstorm,” he said. “I didn’t experience any weather-related damages.”
  1. U-Haul disclosed one of two shipping fees. We’ve collected dozens of quotes for U-Haul’s U-Box, but the company never included mandatory shipping fees that can increase the cost of your move by hundreds of dollars. Zig dealt with one surprise fee (an extra $120), but U-Haul was up front about another. We haven’t seen that before, and appreciate U-Haul’s progress towards transparent pricing.

Our take

We wouldn’t recommend U-Box over one of our best moving container companies. Zig’s experience confirms a lot of what we already knew: U-Haul has surprise fees and below-average customer service. While we admire Zig’s forgiving attitude about his movers’ tardiness, we still believe that customers like him deserve better than U-Haul’s delays and extra costs.

About Kurt Manwaring

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, Country Living, Good Housekeeping, Heavy, Slate, and Yahoo! Lifestyle. He would love to hear about your moving experiences and questions at kurt@move.org.