Around 30 million Americans relocate annually, a third of whom hire professional services to help them. Among these, portable storage is one of the most popular choices because it makes moving convenient while keeping prices low. Small business owners can take advantage of container services for hauling tons of furniture and equipment to a new home or operating base.

In this blog, we talk about the best portable storage services of 2021 that can help small businesses move on a budget.

Portable Storage Units for Moving

Why Choose Portable Storage Units for Moving?

Americans move an average of 11.7 times in their lifetime, according to the US Census Bureau. Relocation is a potentially life-altering event that can stress people out, not only because of the effort it requires but also its possible costs. Portable storage containers have become a popular alternative to hiring professional moving companies in the last few years because it addresses both challenges.

Portable storage units are large rentable containers that can be transported to distant places and kept in a storage facility or the customer’s property for a set period. Many small business owners use them for item storage during relocation or as temporary job site repositories. Container sizes and lease terms vary.

The scope of services can range from strictly transport and storage to full-scale packing and moving, so there are many opportunities to save costs. Additionally, many providers offer military discounts.

Essentially, the biggest reasons for using storage cubes for moving are the following:

  • Saving costs on professional movers’ hourly rates.
  • The convenience and safety of having professional drivers pick up one’s belongings from their old place and deliver it to their destination.
  • For additional storage time, in case a problem arises during relocation, e. g. moving to a rental place still occupied by tenants or a unit that is not move-in ready.
  • For people who just want a flexible moving schedule
  • Portable storage costs are cheaper compared to moving companies’ extra storage fees.
  • Customers can retain access to their belongings during transport, which moving companies do not allow.
  • It has recently become a health-protective moving option, enabling contactless loading of storage cubes amid the Coronavirus pandemic. People can haul their belongings on their own inside the container, and they don’t have to be present during the pickup or drop-off.

Small business owners usually have a lot of stuff to haul during relocation, including personal belongings and business equipment. A deeper knowledge of the industry leaders should let them maximize their relocation funds.

Below are the best portable storage services that offer small business owners and other moving Americans the most bang for every buck.

The Best Value for Local Moves: U-Haul U-Box

portable storage cube service
Screenshot of U-Box's home page

U-Box is a portable storage cube service that rental trucking giant U-Haul has been providing since 2007. For moves less than 50 miles, it offers the lowest rates starting at $80 for studio apartments and $560 for five-bedroom homes. Its closest competitor, SMARTBOX, offers similar rates, but U-Haul locations are far greater in number. U-Box can reach rural areas and offers local, interstate and international transport. Leases are renewable every month.

The advantages of using U-Box are the following:

  • Lower rates compared to other national names, like PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT.
  • Multiple insurance options are provided.
  • Customers can keep the container on their property or in a U-Haul facility.
  • Offers loading services, in case you have not found loaders of your own.
  • Flexible loading schedule—you can load and unload anytime within the rental period.
  • Pay only for the cubes you use. You can return any extras you order free of charge.
  • Available in plenty of locations nationwide, even in rural places.
  • Also offers interstate and international transport services.
  • User-friendly website—has a moving cost estimator and convenient online booking features.
  • Great customer service.

However, U-Box also has the following drawbacks:

  • The containers are available in only one size, and they are smaller compared to most competitors. Extra-large furniture is sometimes difficult to place inside them. 
  • The storage cubes are made of wood. They can protect your things against various elements for a few weeks but may not hold up long in rainy or flood-prone locations.

The Best Value for Cross-Country Moves: MovingPlace

Storage Unit for Cross-Country Moves
Screenshot of MovingPlace's home page

MovingPlace is not the typical storage unit service, but rather, it rents flexible-size freight trailers. Its containers are, therefore, bigger than those of its competitors. It is dedicated to self-service moving, so customers will have to make separate arrangements for packing and loading the trailers.

MovingPlace offers only long-distance transport, but it is the most cost-effective option for big home relocations greater than 250 miles. You can ship your car along with your other belongings. Trailer sizes available are 28” and 52”, but increments are allowed for pricing flexibility—you pay only for the space you use. The company offers international moves through its affiliate, UPakWeShip, which can transport to Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Customers are typically given no more than 3 days to load or unload their containers, although they can ask for an extension. Longer rental periods are allowed but limited only to a few months. MovingPlace does not offer loading services, but it can get you in touch with moving coordinators who can help manage your belongings during your relocation. Cross-country move prices start at $1,000 for studio units and $3,000 for 5-bedroom homes.

The following are the benefits of using MovingPlace freight trailers:

  • It has the best pricing for large hybrid DIY moves.
  • Offers several insurance options.
  • The containers have ISO specs, made of metal and weatherproof.
  • Moving coordinators can help you with various packing needs.
  • Payment adjusts to your load. DIY packing and loading lessen moving costs further.
  • No need to ship your car separately.
  • Quick long-distance transport.
  • International relocation is offered.

Meanwhile, MovingPlace has the following disadvantages:

  • Strictly for moving and temporary storage, not indefinite storage.
  • Shorter period (3 days) for loading and unloading the container.
  • Its website has no price estimator. However, quotes are emailed at no extra cost.
  • It serves more than 400 domestic locations, which do not include Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Does not offer local moves.

The Best Value for Mid-Range Moves: PODS

Storage containers for Mid-Range Moves
Screenshot: PODS home page

PODS is one of the first in the US to provide moving services using portable storage units. It has one of the widest networks in the industry, and it offers both local and long-distance moves. PODS containers are made of metal and available in three standard sizes: 7”, 12” and 16”. 

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Loading and unloading times for PODS storage units are flexible. Customers can keep them on their property or in a PODS center anytime during the lease. PODS offers long-term rentals, renewable monthly, making them perfect for homes and businesses needing extra storage space indefinitely. Prices start at $450 for studio units and $900 for five-bedroom homes for moves within 100-250 miles.

The upsides of using PODS containers for moving are the following:

  • Indefinite storage is offered.
  • Multiple insurance options are available.
  • PODS containers are weatherproof. 
  • Offers to connect you with local packing and loading services.
  • Flexible loading and unloading schedule.
  • Containers sit low on the ground, so they are easy to load.
  • Offers both local and long-distance moves.
  • Wide availability.
  • Its user-friendly website has a moving estimator and convenient booking features. Quotations for long-distance moves are sent by email.
  • Customer service is superb.
  • Provides online shipment tracking.

Meanwhile, below are the downsides of using PODS services.

  • Customers have to pay for extra containers requested even if they are not used.
  • Services tend to be pricier than the competition for shorter or longer distances.

The Best Portable Storage Service for Intercity Moves: Zippy Shell

Portable Storage Service for Intercity Moves

Zippy Shell containers, or “shells,” are unique in that they have license plates and wheels. They are also narrow enough to fit in tight spaces. These shells can be parked legally, making them best for urban places without a driveway.

Zippy Shell storage units are metallic, and therefore, weatherproof. They are also designed to let some air circulate within. They stand low on the ground, so they are easy to load. They are available in two sizes: 10” and 15”. Leases are at least one month long. Local move prices start at $200 for studio apartments and $350 for five-bedroom homes.

The advantages of renting Zippy Shell storage for moving are the following:

  • Street-legal cubes.
  • Shells are weatherproof. Airflow prevents the accumulation of odors.
  • Loading and unloading assistance is available if needed.
  • Its barn-style doors and low set make the shells easy to load.
  • Local and long-distance moves are offered.
  • Excellent customer service.
  • Offers expedited transport and on-site storage options.

The following are the downsides of using Zippy Shell containers for moving:

  • Prices can be a little higher than the competition.
  • Charges a delivery fee for container home delivery.
  • Storage units are smaller than those offered by PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT.
  • Only 3 days are allowed for loading and another 3 for unloading.
  • Limited availability in the West Coast and Midwest. City dwellers wishing to move in these areas must check for availability.
  • No price estimator on the website, but quotes are sent by email.

The Best Portable Container Service for Price Matching: 1-800-PACK-RAT

Portable Container Service for Price Matching
Photo from the website of 1800packrat

1-800-PACK-RAT is the closest competitor of PODS because it has similar services. It offers indefinite storage and local and long-distance container transport. Its metal containers are available in three sizes: 8”, 12” and 16”.

1-800-PACK-RAT may seem costly at first glance, but its perks are plenty. It offers high insurance coverage, special discounts and price matching with PODS and other competitors. Leases are at least one month long.

The benefits of using 1-800-PACK-RAT are the following:

  • Offers long-term storage.
  • Provides $10,000 free insurance and options to add more.
  • Portable containers are weatherproof and extremely durable. Multiple sizes are available.
  • Cubes are bigger than most competitors.
  • Flexible loading and unloading times.
  • Containers sit low on the ground and have barn-style doors, so they are easy to load.
  • Each cube has a free lock.
  • Offers both local and long-distance moves.
  • Its website is user-friendly because it has a moving estimator and convenient booking features. 
  • Customer service is great.
  • It matches PODS prices and most services.

However, 1-800-PACK-RAT has the following drawbacks:

  • Hidden surcharges are common.
  • It is available nationwide but has fewer locations than PODS and U-Haul.
  • Container delivery may be delayed. It is best to schedule it at least a day before your planned loading or unloading.

What Other Actions Can You Take to Cut Moving Costs?

Finally, if you want to move without breaking the bank, you can check out our article about reducing relocating expenses. Some of the cost-saving steps you can take are the following:

portable storage services to cut moving costs

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Portable storage services provide a cheaper alternative to hiring full-service movers. They also present a contactless method for hauling and moving, making them a great option while the Coronavirus pandemic has not been fully resolved. Small business owners can take advantage of the flexibilities and perks offered by different providers. Consider using these transportable cubes if you want your relocation to be trouble-free, safe and affordable.

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