What’s a Moving Container? A Guide for Everything You Need to Know

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If you’re planning a move and have done the slightest bit of research, you might be wondering, “What’s a moving container?” Most of us can understand rental trucks, which we often see passing by us on the highway.

Well if you’re still confused, think of moving containers as the younger, hipper cousins to rental trucks.

Basically, moving containers are portable storage units. They are metal or wood containers in which you can store your stuff.

Because they are portable, they can be loaded onto a truck for transport down the block (or across the country!). Moving containers make it ultra-convenient for people to load, pack and transport their stuff.

They can be delivered to your home or office, where it remains on the grounds while someone loads it up with your stuff. When you’re ready to move, you can call the company to have a professional driver pick it up and deliver it to the next location. There, you unload the goods and move in! You might have seen them on the grounds of your neighbor’s home or local businesses.

Once you know what they are, you’ll start spotting them everywhere.

What Do They Look Like?

It varies, but by and large, moving containers just look like big boxes. Container sizes vary. Some are as big as 16 feet long, while others are as small as 7 feet long. Their heights differ, too. Some are skinny and taller to take advantage of the height to pack in more stuff. Others are shorter, which is really convenient for loading but, of course, might not allow you to fit as many things.

Where Do I Go to Get a Moving Container?

PODS claims to be the founder of this niche in the industry, and it is arguably the best known of the container companies. But there are other big names, including 1-800-PACK-RAT, Smartbox, and Go Mini’s, to name a few. Even U-Haul has gotten in on the act with U-Box.

What Are the Differences Between Companies?

PODS offer customers the chance to rent up to three different sized containers based on their needs. Others, such as Smartbox, rent out just one size container. (In their case, it’s 8 feet wide and 7 feet tall.) Containers are also made of different materials, depending on which company you choose. PODS are steel-framed. U-Pack’s containers are made of “weatherproof metal.” Some others are made of wood and usually include some weatherproof type of covering instead.

People frequently debate the merits of each type of container. Some say the metal containers – the likes of which can be found at PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT – are best because of their sturdy construction and ability to stand up to any kind of weather. Others argue they lack air circulation, which can potentially cause mold, mildew, or at the very least, musty smells. The wooden containers, such as the pressure treated plywood ones that U-Haul/U-Box rents, might allow for more ventilation, but they are not necessarily as weather resistant.

If you really want to dig into all the pros and cons of each company, including average prices, reviews, pictures and more, check out the moving container page at Moving101.

How Much Do Moving Containers Cost?

Moving containers can be pretty affordable relative to other moving services. They are especially good for those moving to and from smaller homes and apartments. 

Prices can range between around $500 (to move stuff to and from a small home or apartment in a local move) to $5,000 (for multiple containers making a long-distance move with many items from a large home). The cost really depends on the amount of stuff you plan on transporting and the distance the driver will be traveling.

How do you figure out exactly how much your containers would cost? These are the questions to ask:

How Big Is My Place I’m Moving Out From?

When you have a bigger home, you generally need to rent more containers, which of course elevates the price.

In addition, you have to be able to park these containers somewhere without violating local ordinances; with multiple large containers, you might have trouble—especially in a city where parking can be challenging. Sometimes, more containers also require more drivers or trucks. This all matters when gathering estimates.

Where Am I Moving To and From?

As you might imagine, the cost also depends on which company you choose, based on which container is better for your stuff and if they’re available in your area.

For example, PODS typically charges a little more than $600 for a local move and more than $3,000 for a long-distance move. On the other hand, Door to Door charges about $1,700 for local moves and more than $2,300 for a longer move. (UPDATE: Door to Door has been purchased by U-Haul and absorbed into their U-Box service.)

Moving101 Container Price Comparison

Clearly, all the prices are more than you would spend on a rental truck that you would drive yourself. That makes sense if you think about it. Companies are baking in the costs of the professional driver, their moving trucks, maintenance and fuel. (The cost will also rise the longer you keep the container for storage, as well as the more stuff you have to pack.)

Generally, moving containers remain economical for many of those planning a move and looking for a little more convenience and storage. It will cost more than a full-fledged DIY Move that includes renting a moving truck, but it won’t break the bank in the way a Full-Service Move would cost.

When Would I Use a Moving Container?

Moving containers are a good fit for people who want to conveniently load and unload their stuff in a specific location, on their own schedules. (There’s also no question it’s a better fit for those going a shorter distance and moving less stuff.) But there are plenty of times a portable storage is your best option.

Let’s say you can’t get the key to your place until the 25th of the month, but your lease ends on the 14th. What do you do? You call a moving container company.

How Does Booking a Moving Container Work?

Then typically, you go online or get on the phone, pick out a container, then schedule a date to drop it off wherever your stuff is. A sales representative will help you schedule based on how long you plan to keep the container for loading. You might ask about keeping it longer for storage purposes, in which case you can keep it on the grounds of the old place, or have it transported to the new place if you can get permission from owners or those moving out. Or you could even keep the container in one of the company’s storage facilities if they offer one.

You might need the container a few days to load it up. This is one of the differentiating factors between moving containers and trucks (and sales reps love to point this out). After all, rental trucks usually lock you into a schedule with little to no wiggle room.  

But there’s a catch with that flexible schedule. Sure, you can keep the container for long periods of time. However, if you keep containers longer than one month, you will pay much more than the original estimate because moving container companies generally charge by the month.

That means you have one month to load your stuff, schedule a pickup and delivery at the next destination, unload, and finally plan for the final container pick up.

About that pickup: usually, the container company sends out a driver to load up your container onto a big truck and drive it to where it needs to go. Another reason people might find containers appealing is the fact they don’t have to drive a van or big rig themselves. You leave the driving to professionals. Anyone hesitant to maneuver one of those big trucks on a highway or a long distance could see this as a major selling point.

Can My Movers Help Me with Moving Containers Too?

Yes! Professionals can load and unload containers just as they would a rental truck. You just have to ask!

Moving containers can be a smart choice for people who are looking to make a Full-Service Move at a fraction of the cost, or especially to pull off a Hybrid Move. It’s also a great option for those who need storage. Getting professional help moving can make the move actually not stressful. If you want to save your back and your relationships (by not having to ask family and friends for help), then they’re worth consideration.  

Where Should I Start?

  • The first step is learning about the different companies and types of containers they have. Check out Moving101 for all the info you’d ever possibly need. Since every moving container company’s reviews and prices are gathered there in one spot, you can easily find your best option for you, based on your budget, availability and type of container.
  • The second step is to call up the sales representatives to get the low down on their availability, find the best fit for you, and book it!
  • The last step is to decide if you’re going to hire professionals to help you complete tasks like loading and unloading the container. Remember, don’t feel boxed in. You have the power to choose how long they work for and what items they move for you.

Get Help Loading Your Container

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

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Easily book your help online.

 

With a little planning, moving containers fit nicely into any Full-Service Moving hack or Hybrid Move. You can keep your stuff somewhere while you’re moving, or have someone drive your stuff to wherever you need it. If you’re moving, you’d be a little silly to not compare prices and see if a container could save you a lot of money, or if using one would just be way more convenient.

How to Store Garden Tools, Gas Tools and Backyard Barbecues (So They Don’t Break)

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Putting the lid on another barbeque season means more than polishing off the potato chips. Storing garden and gas tools, as well as your trusty barbecue, takes some know-how if you want them to be ready to go next spring.

Putting all your toys and tools into self-storage involves a bit of work as well. Slightly different work, since the rules in a self-storage facility are probably not the same as the rules in your garage. (Disclaimer: I’ve never seen your garage.)

So before you stash everything and shut those doors, properly prepare your items for the dark, coming months. When it’s time to let it all back out into the sun, you’ll be happy you did.

Garden Tools

Cleaning the blades of your shovels with a piece of burlap or an old rag before winter makes good sense. Sure, tools were made to get dirty, but leaving clumps of dirt on those metal surfaces and even any wooden handles can expose them to moisture, resin and sap, which is not good. There is also the chance that you’ll be allowing some creepy little critters to fester and incubate – not good for your garage, and certainly not endearing to self-storage facility management.

Making sure your tools are dry before you store them is a given. You might also spray a little WD-40 on those metal surfaces and wipe them off with a clean rag or a paper towel, to get them extra clean and rust-resistant. (Note: Avoid that lingering odor of oil; Go easy on the WD, go hard on wiping it off.)

Hedge clippers, pruners and other tools with moving parts will benefit from a little extra lubricant to keep those parts moving freely. If you spot any rust, it would be a great idea to get rid of it with a wire brush. Again, wipe clean and dry and let it all air out.

Before you close up shop, drain and dry out your garden hoses and lawn sprinklers. In your garage, water can do some damage to a hose when it freezes and expands. In your garage as well as in a climate-controlled facility, there’s the potential for rust, not to mention the minor hassle of having water leak out onto some of your other stuff. Get all of that taken care of before storing.

Gas-Powered Tools

Gasoline is like milk, not wine. It goes bad over time.

The gas you leave in your lawn mower or your chainsaw can turn into something like varnish over the winter, potentially corroding the engine’s lines and clogging up the carburetor. If you’re not savvy with tools, I’ll translate that for you: that’s not good.

Luckily, prevention is simple. Experts like our friends at Popular Mechanics advise pouring some stabilizer into a gas can, mixing in some fresh gas, and pouring the mixture into the tank. Let the engine run a couple of minutes to work it through the system and you are good to go (for about three months). Check the manual for your mower (or chainsaw, or leaf blower or weed whacker), but generally, for longer-term storage, it’s advisable to run the tank–which is exactly what you’ll need to do if you are putting these things into self-storage, or onto a moving truck for that matter.

5 Sweet Garage Upgrades That Up Your Home’s Value

Garage additions and upgrades like the five in this list can produce an estimated 65 percent return-on-investment.

You might also consider changing the oil in your mower if you’re storing it in your garage for the winter. For a self-storage facility, you’ll want to drain (and properly recycle) that old oil. And be sure to also check and clean the underside of your mower. All the grass, dirt and gunk under there does your mower no favors over time. Give that blade a good cleaning too, in the same manner as with your garden tools.

Warning: Disconnect the mower’s spark plug before putting your hands anywhere near the underside of your mower!

Barbecue Grills

All you hardcore winter grillers up north and year-round barbecue fans down south can skip this part. The rest of us have more work to do.

Outdoor grills should be cleaned well before storing for three reasons:

  • Mice and other critters looking for a warm, dry place to hunker down can be lured in by leftover bits of food stuck to the grill and sitting at the bottom of the grill’s interior.
  • Mold can and will grow on any organic matter over time, even if you totally burned those Labor Day burgers. Cleaning out any food and greasy residue in the Fall will minimize the chances of a tougher cleaning job in the run-up to Memorial Day.
  • Moisture can lead to corrosion and oxidation, not only of the wire grill but all your big bad barbecue’s components. Cleaning out all those food remnants will reduce the chances of moisture collecting over the winter. This includes any drip pans, ash catchers and charcoal grates.

And yes, disconnect the propane or LP gas tanks from your grill and leave them outside. They shouldn’t be stored in your garage and your self-storage facility people won’t let you keep them in your unit. To keep them protected from the elements and potential rust they should be placed on cement or brick, or even some metal grating, not on the ground where they could end up with wet feet for three months straight. Covering them up with a nylon tarp or some durable plastic will help keep the nozzles and valves from rusting as well.

Remember, no matter how incredibly smart you are about cleaning your things, self-storage facilities ultimately have their own policies for storage. Old Man Winter plays by his own rules. Either way, taking a little time now can save you some trouble down the road, when it’s time to bring your backyard back to life. 

Want Your Stuff in Self-Storage to Be Safe? Here’s What You Need to Ask

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Imagine you’re standing outside a self-storage facility. What do you see in front of you? Thick-walled buildings with metal doors bolted and locked up tight? Security cameras? Access code keypads? A tall fence with iron spikes? Heavy front gates and a sign warning would-be burglars about the 24-hour surveillance system?

All self-storage facilities have … some of this stuff. Some places have all of it and even more, providing maybe some peace of mind to anyone storing there.

That’s the idea anyway. But that’s not how it always works.

Colorado’s KDVR News tells us that a certain Denver-area self-storage facility has been burglarized at least fifteen times since January of 2017. That’s right, fifteen! (Which is exactly how many games the Cleveland Browns have won since January of 2013.) From the report,

“In many of the cases, the locks had been cut off and people renting the units weren’t aware their things had been stolen until Public Storage alerted them.

One renter told us he lost everything from leather chairs to sports equipment in February while another renter even lost her deceased parents ashes.

Another man lost $8,000 in items.”

The facility in question? They have iron gates that will not open without the required code. They have surveillance cameras in place. Some of the units are located along the interior corridors of the restricted-access building, providing an even extra layer of security.

So how does even one theft occur, let alone fifteen thefts?

For starters, in at least one instance the facility’s security cameras were, according to the police reports, “not plugged in.” In many instances, the locks on the doors to the burglarized units had been cut, which requires nothing more sophisticated than a stout pair of bolt cutters.

But come on … fifteen times?

We see two possible explanations. Someone who is renting a unit, and therefore has the necessary codes to get into the place, is going in at night (or maybe even the middle of the day) and popping other people’s locks. Assuming the facility’s management is interested in putting a stop to things, they would have checked their security footage and shared what they saw with the authorities.

In terms of that place in Denver, according to KDVR’s report, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Which leads us to our second possibility: the series of thefts could just be an inside job by anyone from a low paid employee to a corrupt head of the company.

No, we don’t have proof of either of these happening at the facility in question, and we aren’t making any direct accusations here. Maybe there are a couple of guys out there who are really good at hopping fences and slipping into locked buildings – and then slipping back out and hopping back over the fence carrying their loot which, in one of those cases, included leather chairs. I’m just saying.

So how can we protect our stored belongings when we don’t even know who we’re protecting it from?

The simple answer to how to best protect yourself is to eliminate as many potential culprits as humanly possible. Look for these things in mass in a self-storage facility:

  • Serious exterior security
  • High fences with iron spikes
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Code-controlled gates and doorways

But even these offer varying degrees of security. Questions to consider include: Do the cameras record grainy still-shots of moving objects or HD video resolution? Is the footage monitored in real time by a human being (who is not sleeping) or does it just get stored somewhere until a theft has already occurred? Are the codes for the gates and doorways changed regularly? Is each customer assigned a unique code to detail who has come and gone when?

You should even ask if a facility records the license plates of vehicles entering and exiting the premises, or whether they check photo IDs of people on their way in. Also, is there is a backup power supply for all those codes and cameras in case of an outage? Don’t be shy about asking such questions. These are things you are paying money for and need to know.

What else should I know?

Other important variables (which you don’t even have to ask about) include

  • If the facility is well-lit at night
  • If the facility is located in a higher-crime area
  • What the surrounding environment consists of, such as, does it stand in developed suburbia or out in a landscape of abandoned lots and industrial parks?

There are also things you can do yourself to decrease your chances of being victimized. Using a lock the facility provides may be convenient, but your better bet is to get your own lock. Law enforcement types and criminals alike will tell you that a padlock is no match for the well-equipped thief. A disc lock or a cylinder lock (if the facility can accommodate one) is much more difficult to cut.

While we don’t recommend it, if you must put certain valuable or irreplaceable items into storage, put them in the rear of your unit to make them less visible and thus less vulnerable. And for the protection of everything you are storing, be aware that while a self-storage provider may offer some kind of coverage against fire, flood or catastrophe, they are under no legal obligation to do so. What’s more, they will, by and large, refuse to be held accountable for any loss due to theft. Most facilities will require renters to have their own insurance policy for their belongings, but your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, even if it covers stored items, may not allow for reimbursement for items damaged by mold, mildew or infestation, regardless of who may be at fault.

And finally, do a little searching at home.

A quick Internet query may turn up some bad news about the self-storage facility that looked so good in person. Now, whether one incident at this or that place may not be grounds for outright rejection in your book. That’s your call. But fifteen thefts in ten months?

You might want to keep on searching.

Questions About Portable Self-Storage (That Customers Don’t Know to Ask)

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It’s no secret that the portable self-storage business is booming. What might not be so well-known is how differently the many players out there operate.

Some (if not many) of your container-renting customers will already have their container, their box or their cube already lined up when they call you for help loading it up. If not, they may need some help choosing the right company for their situation. In this spirit, we offer some answers to the questions they may or may not know to ask.

If a meteor pulverizes a PODS container, who is liable for the damage? Will the customer be reimbursed?

It depends. Regardless whether it was a meteor or something less drastic, if you didn’t purchase coverage (sometimes incorrectly called “insurance”), you may not be covered for anything – and that includes the container. You might think that a meteor qualifies as an Act of God and is one of those things you’ll be covered for no matter what. But tell that to the couple from Houston who found out a little too late that the portable storage company they used didn’t offer flood insurance.

It is critical that your customer ask their portable storage provider about coverage against loss and damage. They may have to purchase coverage for both their stuff and for the container itself if they don’t want things left to the whim of floods. Or meteors.

Can the customer arrange to keep their storage container on their property until they are able to load it up?

PODS, like many companies, will tell you that you can keep it there on the driveway as long as the customer wants, as long as they pay. The municipal authorities, however, might not be so accommodating. So make sure they double-check. 

Are portable storage containers weatherproof?

PODS containers aren’t, though they will say their containers are weather-resistant. Barring a Harvey-sized flood, however, they might hold up. On the other hand, Packrat and ABF (with their ReloCube) claim their containers are weatherproof. (Anyone who has owned both water-resistant and waterproof boots will understand that the distinction is important to make.)

Whether containers are fireproof or fire-resistant is another point the customer should ask about. Especially if they live in fire country. Many containers are made of galvanized steel, though some can be aluminum or even plastic. As for SmartBox, they incorporate wood into the interior.

Can a portable storage container be locked?

Of course. It sounds like a silly question – BUT – the customer may have to provide their own padlock. So checking beforehand is anything but silly.

Are portable storage container facilities climate controlled?

It depends. PODS says “many” of their storage facilities are climate controlled. U-Haul says climate-controlled storage is available. Some companies may store their containers outdoors, so tell them to call and make sure! American Portable Mini Storage is one company that offers climate-controlled portable storage containers as a mainstay feature.

Can the customer access their container while it is in storage?

Once again, it depends. PODS says yes, but an appointment is necessary. U-Haul offers 24-hour access to their storage facilities.

Finally, there are a few solid bets a customer will likely know to inquire about before deciding on a portable storage company: size of their containers, delivery window, and price are the most obvious. But our customers aren’t usually moving experts. Mention the above points and you’ll be helping your customer out with more than just the heavy lifting.

It’s Moving Day on Capitol Hill: AMSA to Meet with Congress

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Let’s be honest… in recent months, several people have moved – or been removed – from Capitol Hill. But this September a whole pack of people will be moving in a much more traditional way.

On September 5-7 at the Washington Court Hotel, the American Moving & Storage Association members from all over the country will travel to our nation’s capital to meet with congressional leaders to discuss the policy and legislation that impact our $85 billion industry. AMSA will also be conducting committee meetings, offering advocacy and communications training sessions, and hosting networking events for both industry colleagues and elected officials and their staff. In short, this is a rare chance to get up close and personal with the people who shape the laws of the land – and our own industry.

And guess what? You could be there too.

For more information, check out AMSA’s event announcement. If you are interested in attending, there is a registration link right there on the page. (Note: This is an AMSA members-only event.)

Even if you can’t go, you don’t have to miss out! AMSA will be posting a summary of events once the conference has concluded. (Don’t worry we’ll be giving you a heads up when it’s out.)

Autonomous Cars May Be Coming, but Self-Driving Trucks Are Already Here

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What are your thoughts on the concept of self-driving cars? Cool? Freaky? Totally unnerving?

(more…)

Burglaries Inside Storage Units Are Becoming Common, but Can Be Avoided

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[Synopsis: In developing business relationships, quality is just as important as quantity.]

In our very first HireAHelper newsletter (Anyone out there remember?) we raised the idea of making friends with the folks at your local self-storage facility to develop a mutually beneficial business relationship. At any time of the year (and particularly during the busy season when so many people are coming and going) having a solid working situation with your industry colleagues can pay huge dividends.

But it also pays to know who you are shaking hands with. In any industry and profession, you are going to run across some bad eggs. The moving industry is certainly no exception. And neither is the self-storage sector.

Recent events in Independence, MO and Santa Cruz, CA remind us of this.

There in Independence, multiple break-ins of storage units left several customers feeling shaken and unsure of the industry.

“I always thought that if you put your things in something like that you are trusting those people to have security and watch over your stuff,” Hall said. “They just don’t.”

The situation repeated itself in Santa Cruz, CA. Dozens of customers had their valuables rummaged through and stolen, and multiple people were found living inside the storage units. That storage unit was eventually inspected by the city Planning Department and declared a public nuisance, but not before plenty of people got burned.

disclockTips such as not storing more than $5,000 in goods, purchasing insurance and using disc locks are offered when people get victimized. But the onus should ultimately fall on us within the industry for referring quality and safe services, as opposed to consistently pushing for maximum quantity. The latter is how we destroy our brand as an industry.

Business is all about relationships. And success in business is all about successful relationships. Successful relationships, in turn, require integrity and clarity from both sides of that handshake. If you hear there have been issues with a storage area, if you are dubious of your local storage units after seeing them, or if you are simply cramming as many customers into one place of business as possible, consider finding more alternatives.

As we continue down the roads of our own success, picking up people along the way, it’s important to remember to choose our friends – and our allies and business associates – wisely.

How Do I Load My PODS Moving Container?

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So you reserved a portable storage container (also called moving containers or shipping containers and/or ‘PODS’ containers – which is actually the brand that reserves the containers, not a name for a container) what do you do next? How do you actually load a PODS moving container?

(more…)

Moving 101 is a Finalist in the 2015 Contently Content Marketing Awards

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Contently Content Marketing Awards Finalist - HireAHelper

What’s the biggest project you’ve ever worked on? How long did it take? How many people were involved? For the HireAHelper marketing team, ours was Moving 101.

Now, imagine getting one of the highest of fives for that project from someone who knows even more than you do about the medium you’re working in. (more…)

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