Moving services have been modernized and transformed in recent years, leading to much simpler, easier ways of transporting and storing your belongings during even long-distance moves. One of the best examples of how the process has been streamlined is the emergence of moving companies with portable storage units that can be brought to your driveway, allowing you to then either keep the unit on-site, or move it to a facility. From there, you can choose if/when you want to have the unit transported to its eventual destination, and you′re done! These services provide a greater amount of flexibility and eliminate the need for repeat loading/unloading sessions at a storage facility. Here, we will break down the benefits and features of three of the largest companies providing similar moving and storage solutions—PODS, 1-800-Pack-Rat, and U-Pack—and the differences between them. Because we′re pretty sure you′d rather spend more time in your new home than inside a storage space.

The Three Players

PODS

Perhaps the most widely known of the three, PODS′s name recognition has been well earned. The company pioneered the use of portable containers for moving and storage.  The basic idea behind PODS is that the company brings a unit to your home or business, which you can then load at your convenience, and subsequently have moved, either to a secure PODS Storage Center or to your destination. If you′re looking for a trusted name, PODS is your go-to. Their innovative service has inspired a number of other companies, including 1-800-Pack-Rat and UPack, to create a similar model.

PODS operates in 46 states, as well as D.C., and parts of Canada, meaning that no matter where you live or are moving to, they can likely provide moving solutions. PODS units come in 7-foot, 12-foot, and 16-foot sizes, so you have plenty of options, no matter how many rooms you need moved. A huge plus for PODS users is the ability to cancel or modify up to 24 hours before your scheduled move date. PODS can also connect you with hourly professional packing and loading help if you need a helping hand. One potential issue with PODS is that the name recognition and excellent service often leads to the units being sold out during the summertime, the busiest time for moving; so, be sure to book well ahead of time to ensure you are able to reserve a container.

1-800-Pack-Rat

The smallest of the three companies, 1-800-Pack-Rat, is certainly a solid option for those with a smaller moving budget. Pack-Rat′s model is very similar to PODS, allowing customers to pack and unpack on their own schedule, and only transport their units when they are ready. One major benefit is that just like PODS, Pack-Rat gives you the flexibility to either load the unit yourself, or they can connect you with professional hourly help for a seamless full-service-like experience.

Pack-Rat also prides itself on having some of the most sturdy and weatherproof units in its fleet. The containers are made of a steel frame, and come with barn-style doors, which are less prone to jamming. Its 3 different units are similar to those offered by PODS, with 8-foot, 12-foot, and 16-foot sizes. Another plus is Pack-Rat users are able to cancel or modify their moves up to 48 hours before their scheduled move.  PODS containers are also steel-frame, sturdy, and weather-resistant. Unlike swing doors, PODS containers have roll-up doors and don′t require as much space to open. This means you have more room in your driveway.

One issue with 1-800-Pack-Rat is that it only operates in 29 states currently. So, while Pack-Rat offers the flexibility of long- and short-distance moves, you may end up paying more if you′re not within its current service area.

U-Pack

Part of shipping company ABF, U-Pack specializes in long-distance moves. This bodes well for those looking for a service with long-haul moving experience, but means that if you′re moving locally (less than 100 miles), you′ll have to go with someone else. U-Pack recommends PODS for moves like these. While it doesn′t yet enjoy the amount of popularity that PODS does, U-Pack actually operates in all 50 states, Canada, and Puerto Rico, making it the most widely available service. When you′re ready to load, U-Pack will bring either a loadable container, called a ReloCube, or one of their extremely spacious moving trailers.

In terms of price flexibility, U-Pack is an excellent option, as you only pay for the space (in the moving trailer) you need. Their ReloCubes are economy-sized, perfect for 1-room apartments, while the 27′ moving trailer can move homes of any other size. And at a maximum capacity of 1,944 cubic feet, the trailers are by far the largest of any other company′s units.

As is the case with Pack-Rat and PODS, U-Pack offers a loading service as an optional add-on, so you can avoid using a 3rd-party mover. Another U-Pack benefit is, unlike PODS or Pack-Rat, insurance is included with every rental. However, contents protection coverage is available from PODS at a competitive rate. Take note, however: U-Pack does not allow on-site storage; so, unlike with the other services, you won′t be able to keep a ReloCube or trailer for more than three business days.

Comparing the Costs

Moving and storage costs will vary depending on your location, distance, space needs, and a number of other factors, but the following estimates from movebuddha.com will give you an idea of the three service′s prices. Get a quote for PODS here, 1-800-Pack-Rat here, and UPack here, to find out exactly how much you can expect to spend.

PODS

7-Foot Container: Local move (<100 miles) – $200-$400; Intermediate move (100-250 miles) – $450-$800; Long-distance move (250+ miles) – $2,000-$4,000

12-Foot Container: Local – $300-$650; Intermediate – $750-$1,900; Long-distance – $3,000-$4,900

16-Foot Container: Local – $300-$800; Intermediate – $900-$2,100; Long-distance – $5,500-$7,600

Tip: Using our promo code will save you 5% off these prices.

1-800-Pack-Rat

8-Foot Container: Local move (<100 miles) – $150-$500; Intermediate move (100-250 miles) – $660-$1,900; Long-distance move (250+ miles) – $1,200-$3,800

12-Foot Container: Local – $200-$630; Intermediate – $660-$1,900; Long-distance – $2,400-$4,600

16-Foot Container: Local – $340-$790; Intermediate – $1,000-$3,400; Long-distance – $3,500-$6,600

UPack

ReloCube: Local move (<100 miles) – N/A; Intermediate move (100-250 miles) – $900-$1,300; Long-distance move (250+ miles) – $1,500-$2,500

Moving Trailer: Local – N/A; Intermediate – $1,100-$1,900; Long-distance – $1,500-$6,600

Comparing the Units

PODS

7-Foot Container: 385 cubic feet; 1 room of furniture; 5,200 lbs. capacity; dimensions: 7′W x 8′H x 7′L

12-Foot Container: 689 cubic feet; 2-3 rooms of furniture; 4,700 lbs. capacity; dimensions: 8′W x 8′H x 12′L

16-Foot Container: 835 cubic feet; 3-4 rooms of furniture; 4,200 lbs. capacity; dimensions: 8′W x 8′H x 16′L

1-800-Pack-Rat

8-Foot Container: 404 cubic feet; 1-2 rooms of furniture; 4,000 lbs. capacity; dimensions: 7.2′W x 7.8′H x 8.5′L

12-Foot Container: 620 cubic feet; 2-3 rooms of furniture; 6,000 lbs. capacity; dimensions: 7.75′W x 7.5′H x 12′L

16-Foot Container: 830 cubic feet; 3-4 rooms of furniture; 6,000 lbs. capacity; dimensions: 7.75′W x 7.5′H x 16′L

UPack

ReloCube: 305 cubic feet; 1 room of furniture; 2,500 lbs. capacity; dimensions: 7′W x 8.33′H x 6.25′L

Moving Trailer: 1,944 cubic feet; 3-4 rooms of furniture; 22,500 lbs. capacity; 8′W x 9′H x 27′L

The Bottom Line

All three of these portable storage services offer convenience, reliability, and excellent customer service. Overall, PODS is great for storage and cancellation flexibility as well as their large network which allows them to service people who are moving locally as well as long-distance. Pack-Rat is a good choice for price, and U-Pack excels at providing long-distance moves and having a large coverage area. Which company you go with, however, is going to depend on the details of your specific move. Obtain a quote from each to find out which service is going to fit your needs—and revel in the knowledge that, for once, you won′t have to ice your shoulders and knees after moving.