There’s no denying that moving hasn’t eluded anyone. In one way or the other, almost everyone gets a taste of it at least once in their life. Spending thousands of dollars on a full-service move might make you think twice, but you might not want to take on the burden of DIY-ing your move. If that’s the case, renting some moving containers could very well make your move fun, as opposed to the move becoming a nightmarish reminder.

With moving containers, if you underestimate the size, you might end up struggling to fit everything inside. On the other hand, if you overestimate the size, you will be feeling guilty about spending so much money on space that you didn’t even use. Which is why you have all the reasons in the world to find answers to the question – what size moving container do you need. But before we answer that, let’s understand the type of storage container you need.

What Type of Moving Container will you Need?

It’s very important for you to know that moving containers are made up of different materials. Different companies use different types of containers. If you want to figure out the size of the container needed by you, knowing the type of containers you are dealing with will help you make your decision in an efficient manner.

1. Construction Grade Wood

If you are planning to go for a lightweight move in which you own inexpensive and sturdy built stuff, boxes made from construction grade wood should suffice for you. Wooden containers allow your contents to breath and prevent the growth of mold or rust. Wooden containers often come with a layer of weather resistant covering. But, if you plan to use wooden containers during bad weather (for instance, heavy rains), there is always a risk of your belongings getting damaged.

Wooden containers are less durable than metal containers and they generally come in one standard size. These containers generally give you around 280 cubic feet of space to store your items and can carry around 2,500 pounds worth of your belongings. Reputable companies like U-Pack, U-Haul and SMARTBOX provide their customers with wooden containers.

2. Steel And Aluminum

Containers made from the combination of aluminum and steel tend to be stronger and more weather resistant than wooden containers. They can carry up to 5,000 pounds worth of your belongings at one time. Companies like PODS use moving containers made from the combination of steel and aluminum.

3. Steel

Steel containers are currently the strongest containers in the business. These containers can carry the heaviest of objects. To add to that, they can support up to or even more than 6,000 pounds worth of your belongings too. Steel containers are totally weather resistant, which means that all your containers remain safe and dry all points of time.

See also: Top-Rated Moving Container Companies

What Size Container do you Need?

Luckily for you, there’s definitely choices available with the size of containers and the decision is all yours. It so happens that there are companies that offer their customers just one standard size of container. These containers give you roughly 300 cubic feet of space and the weight they can support depends on the material used to make that container. Most commonly, these containers are 7-8 feet long. Based on the dimensions and the space available, you definitely fit 1-1.5 rooms worth of belongings in one container. Here is the rough estimate of how many standard sized containers you will need.

Size of the HouseNo. of Containers
Studio Apartment1
1 Bedroom Apartment1-2
2 Bedrooms Apartment2-3
3 Bedrooms Apartment3-4
4 Bedrooms Apartment4-5

Companies like SMARTBOX and U-Haul let you order as many as containers as you may need. In case you don’t end up using any of the containers, you don’t have to pay for them. This pay-per-use policy is helpful for people who sometimes can’t gauge the number of containers they will be needing for their move.

Most of the other companies offer its customers with containers of three different sizes: small, medium and large. On the flipside though, sometimes the size you need isn’t available with the company you want to hire. To add to that, the dimensions of the container for each size tend to vary a bit. Now that’s why it’s good to ask your company for precise dimensions of the container before you rent one. Here is a size chart that is roughly followed by most of the companies.

  • Studio Apartment: Small Container (7 ft x 7 ft x 8ft) with capacity 100-375 cu.ft.
  • 1 to 2-bedroom: Medium Container (12 ft. x 8 ft. x 8 ft.) with capacity 375-750 cu.ft.
  • 2 to 3-bedroom: Large Container (16 ft. x 8 ft. x 8 ft.) with capacity 750-1,000 cu.ft.
  • 3 to 4-bedroom: Moving Trailer (27 ft) with capacity 2,000 cu.ft.

Moving Container Companies and the Sizes Offered by them

Different moving companies offer containers with varied dimensions. It might get frustrating to search and read up on the containers provided by different companies. In order to make your life easier, we have listed down a couple of moving container companies that are the best in the business. You also get to discover the container sizes offered by them.

1. U-Pack, U-Haul and SMARTBOX

These three companies offer their customers with a standard sized container. While U-Haul and SMARTBOX containers are made of wood, U-pack containers are made up of steel. U-Pack containers can support up to 2500 pounds worth of your objects. Meanwhile, SMARTBOX can carry 3000 pounds of weight and U-Haul U-Box can carry 2000 pounds of weight.

See also: U-Haul’s U-Box Review – Services and Pricing

All the three companies offer their customers a pay-per-use policy which allows their customers to not pay for the unused boxes. U-Haul and SMARTBOX include 30 days of free storage in their per container price. But U-Pack gives you three days to load and unload your items.

CompanyDimensionsMaterial TypeWeight Limit
U-Haul’s U-Box8′ x 5′ x 7’6″Wood2,000 lbs.
SMARTBOX8′ x 5′ x 7′Wood3,000 lbs.
U-Pack6’3″ x 7′ x 8’4″Metal2,500 lbs.

Note: You won’t be able to get local moves through U-Pack as it’s not a part of their service offering. Interestingly, with U-Pack, you can also choose to rent moving trailers that are 28 feet long and can carry 22,500 pounds of weight.

Also Read: SMARTBOX Moving and Storage Review

2. 1-800-PACK-RAT

Pack Rat knows that every customer needs a different size of container depending on the number of belongings the person wants to move. Keeping that in mind, they offer their customers with three different sizes of containers namely: small, medium and large. With each of their containers being made of steel, your belongings will always be dry and safe.

A small container is about 8 feet long and can carry objects weighing up to 4,000 lbs. The medium container is 12 feet long and the large container is 16 feet long. Both the medium and large containers can carry items weighing up to 6,000 lbs. Small containers are suitable for homes with 1-2 rooms; medium containers are suitable to store stuff from 2-3 rooms and a large container can hold 3-4 rooms worth of belongings.

Note: You can use the 12 feet long containers only for local moves. Meanwhile, the small and the large containers can be used for both local and long-distance moves.

See also: 1-800-PACK-RAT Review


A name that’s synonymous with moving containers, PODS arguably has an unrivalled reputation with their ability to handle all kinds of moves, be it local or long distance. Their containers are constructed from steel and topped with an aluminum skin. Let us look at the three sizes of containers offered by Pods.

A small container is about 7 feet long and can carry objects weighing up to 5,200 lbs. The medium container is 12 feet long and the large container is 16 feet long. The medium and large containers can carry items weighing up to 4,700 lbs. and 4,200 lbs. respectively. Small containers are suitable for homes with 1-2 rooms; medium containers are suitable to store stuff from 2-3 rooms and a large container can hold 3-4 rooms worth of belongings.

See also: PODS Review

Note: You can use the 12 feet long containers only for local moves. Meanwhile, the small and the large containers can be used for both local and long-distance moves.

4. Zippy Shell

Zippy Shell can boast of something which most moving container companies would be envious of. While not as huge a company as some of the industry stalwarts, they’re small nature helps them snugly fit into a single parking space. Which means you won’t have to worry about parking tickets anymore. Another thing for them to flex about is their steel cage construction. Of course, let’s not forget the steel bars inside which help tie all of your stuff together. Zippy Shells offers its customers with two sizes of containers.

Their smaller container is 10 feet long and around 6 feet in height and width. Smaller container can fit 1- 1.5 rooms worth of your belongings inside of it. It is most popularly used for local moves. On top of that, it can carry 4,500 pounds of your belongings at one time. Their larger container is 15 feet long and around 6 feet in height and width. The small Zippy Shell container can fit a 2-3 bedroom apartment worth of your belongings inside of it. It is most popularly used for local and long-distance moves, with the ability to carry 4,500 pounds of your belongings at one time.

Zippy Shell also allows you to save your money by opting for staggering delivery. This means that you can split your delivery of containers. Say that you think that you need 2 containers but your job gets done in one. You can ask them to drop off one container on one day and next on some other day. If your job gets done in one container, you can immediately cancel the delivery of the next one. In this way you end up saving a lot of money.

How to Decide on a Container Size?

The answer to this question is fairly simple. Are you someone who loves accumulating stuff or do you abide by the laws of frugal living? The size of container you need depends on how big your house is and how much stuff you own. You don’t want to end up ordering less containers and struggling to fit your stuff into it. Neither do you want to order bigger containers and end up realizing that you paid for extra space just because you overestimated the size of container you needed.

Here are some tips that will allow you to determine the size and the number of containers you will be needing for your move.

1) Go around your house and determine the per square footage area of the house. Count the number of bedrooms in your house. Don’t forget to account for extra storage spaces like attics and garages or basements.

2) Think about whether you need the containers for only moving or for storage as well. Thinking about storage will help you decide on a container on the basis of the material from which the container is made.

3) Check the sizes of containers offered by different companies. Select a size while you take into account the container type (wooden or metal), amount of storage space and the weight limit of the container.

4) Talk to the company representative and ask about their containers in detail in order to make the right decision for yourself.

See also: The Average Cost of Moving Containers

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a king-size bed fit in a pod?

A standard-size mattress will easily slip down into a POD.

How many PODS do I need for a 5 bedroom house?

For a 5+ bedroom house, you’ll need about five pods.

What does it cost to rent a POD container?

For a local move, renting a PODS portable container is usually between $349-$549. For long-distance moves, it can cost anywhere from 999 dollars and up!

How do you pack a pod efficiently?

Packing a pod efficiently is not always easy, but if you know what to do, the task won’t seem daunting. First off, distribute weight evenly throughout your container and use all available space inside it to pack belongings; this includes wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling!

Can electronics go in a pod?

Electronics should be placed at the back of any pod, where they are less likely to get stolen, which can also reduce cooling costs! Avoid stacking anything on top of each other as well; it’s important that you have enough space between items, or they might affect one another.

Can you move guns in a pod?

The Contents Protection Option only applies to items stored inside your rental pod, which are not prohibited by our agreement. These include money, jewelry, and furs, as well as firearms.

How do you secure a pod?

Moving pods are equipped with hooks and anchors so that they can be secured tightly. Start at the back of your moving container, make some floor-to-ceiling walls or tiers using heavy boxes as well as lighter ones for extra support in between each layer (heavy on bottom), then lash everything down securely!

How early can PODS be delivered?

PODS containers are delivered and picked up at any time after 7:00 am local time. The customer is responsible for ensuring there’s adequate clearance to get the container off of their truck.


The task of choosing the right company and the right containers for you is undeniably very tedious and frustrating. But there is nothing that you can’t make easier with a little bit of research. Make sure that you go through the size guides for containers of different companies and also talk with the customer service representatives if you need more details on the container. Being well prepared and getting all the information beforehand will help you to plan your move efficiently.

Also read: All That You Should Know About Moving Containers | Cheapest Moving Container Companies