moving container

Understanding the Average Moving Container Cost

So, you have planned to hire a container for your next move but are still unsure of the costs. Well, you are not alone. The question of how much does it costs to move is one of the most commonly asked ones.

Many families choose moving containers as a popular and cost-effective option for moving to a new location. Since the specific details of every move are different, estimating the cost involved is not a simple task.

To give you a clear idea, let’s take a closer look at moving container costs with a few real-world examples.

Moving Container Cost Based on Home Size

The size of moving containers available depends on the moving company that you choose. However, do not expect a customized container size based on your requirements.

It all depends on the size of your house and how much stuff you have in it. You do not want to overestimate and choose a container that is too large. Likewise, ending up with less space than you need is not an option.

Some companies offer a single container size to the customers and the approximate storage capacity of each container is 300 cubic feet. In general, these containers can hold a room and a half of items.

Here is a rough guideline about the number of such containers you will need for your home.

Size of the HouseNo. of Containers
Studio Apartment1
1-bedroom apartment1-2
2–3-bedroom apartment3
3–4-bedroom apartment4
5+ bedrooms5-6

Other companies like PODS offer multiple-size options for their customers, classified based on their length. Listed below are the three common types of moving containers available.

Container TypeContainer LengthContainer Capacity
Small Container8 feet100-375 cu. ft.
Medium Container12 feet375-750 cu. ft.
Large container16 feet750-1,000 cu. ft.

Beyond that, there are 20-foot and 27-foot moving containers. However, not all moving companies offer them.

Here is a quick look at these container sizes and how they can be used for different house sizes.

Size of the HouseContainer TypeNumber of Containers
Studio ApartmentSmall 1
1-or-2-bedroom apartmentSmall to Medium1
2–3-bedroom apartmentMedium or Large 1
3–4-bedroom apartmentMedium and Large2
5+ bedroomsLarge and Large2

While these numbers can give you a rough idea, the exact choice depends on the size of the items and how efficiently the containers are loaded. We suggest you talk to the company representatives to find out more about choosing the right container before making a decision.

Quite simply, larger containers will be more costly. The average price of moving containers is $3,870. In other words, for domestic moves, the charges will be between $2 and $5 per mile.

It goes without saying that international moves are more expensive as this is a more complex process. Long-distance container shipping is also affected by global trends in the shipping industry.

The ability to choose between container sizes not only helps you to optimize the price. In addition, you can also get an additional 5% discount from PODS by using our unique promo code.

Moving Container Cost Based on Distance 

First off, the cost will depend on how far you are moving the container. When you are estimating the cost to move cross country, pick a higher budget as fuel and maintenance costs will go up.

Considering the average cost of a moving container as $3 per domestic mile, a 1,000-mile move will cost you $3,000. While shorter moves are less expensive, the per-mile average is usually  higher.

Now, the cost is related to the size of the container as well. For example, moving a 16ft container for 2,000 miles can cost you around $3,500. Whereas, moving a 7 feet container over the same distance can cost around $2,800.

Factors that Impact Moving Container Cost

Beyond distance, there are a number of other factors that impact moving container prices. Take a look.

Size and Number of Containers

As we have already seen, larger containers and multiple containers will make the move more expensive. While the average cost of moving a 3-bedroom house is $3,200, that of a five-bedroom house can be more than $5,000.

Time of Year

Moving costs will be higher during the peak moving season, which is usually between March to August. During this period the availability of container space comes down due to high demand. Then again, shipping container moving costs are influenced by peak season surcharges on shipping and higher fuel prices.

Condition of the Container

The quality and age of moving containers also affect the price. New or “one trip” containers are the top grade and have the highest rates. In the next category, there are cargo-worthy containers that are old, but free from defects. The cheapest option includes containers with no guarantee and needing repairs. While it is necessary to stick to your budget, you should not end up with a condemned moving container.

How to Save Money on a Moving Container?

With so many factors to consider, saving money on moving containers may seem like a challenging task. Keeping in mind a few hidden costs of moving containers will help you to absorb any cost impacts.

Listed below are a few money-saving strategies that you can use to cut down the costs.

  • Collect multiple quotes from container companies and ask them to match the best price. Since the market is competitive, some brands even offer a price-match guarantee.
  • Host a yard sale to get rid of the items that you do not need. This will reduce the moving load and the amount of container space you need. Check out our unique promo code on dumpster rental to get 5% off from 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
  • Upon receiving an estimate enquire about taxes or any other hidden costs that will raise the costs. Some companies add storage fees that allow you to use the container for longer periods. But if you have planned to complete your move in time, you may not need that flexibility.
  • Planning an off-season move will help you to cut down the costs. Choose off-season over on-season and mid-month periods over the end of the month.
  • Make sure to pack strategically and make the best use of the box space. If you can pack more things into a single box, you will be able to manage the move with a smaller container.

What Companies Offer the Best Moving Container Cost? 

Here is our choice of the top five moving container companies you can choose from in terms of cost.

  1. PODS is our top choice as it is an industry leader in the moving space and a trustworthy option for both local and long-distance moving.
  2. 1-800-Pack-Rat has a limited network, but offers excellent container quality and offers multiple discount programs.
  3. Smartbox Portable Storage is a good choice when you need to move low-value items from a dorm room or a studio apartment at an affordable price.
  1. Moving Place is a good choice for long-distance moves and the brand offers excellent customer service combined with competitive pricing.
  2. U-Box by U-Haul combines the brand’s solid reputation with an affordable pricing policy and nationwide service.

Note, the quality of service and the reliability of a brand are two important points to consider before making the right choice. For example, PODS may not be the cheapest option for you, but the convenience factor that they offer makes it a worthwhile choice. With additional discounts through promo codes, PODS containers can be the best deal for your move

Final Thoughts 

Having a clear idea about moving container costs will help you to make an informed choice while moving. 

Using a moving container service is a more affordable option than going for a full-service moving company. At the same time, it relieves you from the hassles of a DIY move. Plus, you can optimize moving container costs to make the process more cost-effective.

A great way to compare moving prices is to use a reliable moving cost calculator that helps you figure out a ballpark estimate.

Bill Mulholland

Bill Mulholland is the owner of ARC Relocation, a company that relocates thousands of employees annually, to every state in the United States, and more than 90 foreign countries, for organizations like DHL,, GNC, and the U.S. Government. Bill also owns a real estate brokerage and title company in Virginia.