Portable Containers Moving Option

Hiring a pro are portable storage containers, often known as pods, which stands for “portable on-demand storage.”

Here’s how they work. The mover delivers the container to your home. You then have several days before the move to fill it with your household goods. The filled container is then delivered to your new home by a professional trucker. You are allowed several days to unload it. In short, you do the lifting and save some money, but still have the security of a professional driver. For an additional fee you can usually store your container in the company’s facilities for as long as necessary.

How it works

The container is delivered to your house on a moving truck and lowered to the ground. Since it sits roughly 4 inches off the ground, there’s no need for a ramp. But perhaps the biggest advantage is the several days you have to load the container. The panic of trying to get everything packed—and packed safely-is eased. You can schedule your helpers over a few days and evenings and finish up on a Saturday or Sunday.

Unlike a rental truck, which has to be back to the yard within a certain number of days, a container gives you the option of storing what you move for an unlimited amount of time for a fee.

You have access to the containers and their contents, which are usually stored in a large warehouse. Because they are in a warehouse, however, you won’t have the same access you would at a self storage warehouse. You’ll have to call a day or more in advance so that your container can be pulled out of storage.

Once the container is delivered to your new house, you usually have another five days (depending on the company) to unload it.

If necessary you can get more time, but there is an extra charge.

Figuring the cost

The cost will depend on the distance you’re moving and the size of the container you’re using. You can usually get an estimate at a container mover’s website; but remember, it’s only an estimate. Where you are moving, how many bedrooms you have, and whether you need storage are all variables that affect the cost. Some companies simply tell you how much a standard container can hold and let you figure out what size you need. One company projects that their 12-foot-long, 8-foot-high, 8-foot- wide container can hold the contents of a 1,200-square-foot house. Their 16-foot version can hold the contents of a 1,500-square-foot house.

Containers are made of before you strike any deals with container movers. Containers may be aluminum, aluminum and plastic, or plywood. Choose a company with durable, weather-resistant containers.

Get three estimates. Compare the cost with that of moving it yourself, not forgetting gas, tolls, meals, and motels. You’ll have to add in the cost of packing materials for both pods and moving it yourself. Also check against the cost of a full-service mover and a self-service mover.

Try to get prices for all three kinds of service so that you can compare prices directly for the same levels of service. If one company’s price is dramatically lower than the others, be wary.

A company quoting an unusually low price may charge for other services at the time of delivery.

Making an international move

If you’re moving abroad, what you need to do and how you need to do it depend on where you’re going. While one country may allow you to import certain items, another may not. The best place to start your international move is to find a company with experience in moving to your destination. Most van lines have an international division. Find out where the company is most experienced. You should also contact your future home’s nearest consulate or their embassy in Washington, D. C. to review regulations with them. (See page 35 for more about finding an international mover.)

You’ll need a visa to move wherever you’re going: Work on it in advance. Arriving as a tourist and then changing your status to that of a resident can be difficult, if not impossible, in many countries.

Your host country will generally let you import your household goods, including clothing, duty-free. Rules are likely to require that you haven’t been a resident of the country for the last year and that you will be a full-time resident rather than a seasonal resident.

You generally can import your car duty-free too, as long as you will be living in the country a given period of time (often 12 months). The vehicle usually has to be private, rather than commercial, and generally has to be at least a few months old. You may have to convert it to meet safety, antipollution, or other standards in the country you’re moving to.

You can often import food duty-free, but only as much as you could normally have on the shelves at home. Alcohol and tobacco are not duty-free.

Firearms regulations are complicated and vary widely. Check with the consulate well in advance. Transportation of ammunition by private parties is generally not allowed because of the danger of explosion.

Find out in advance what you’ll need to open bank accounts; have all the necessary papers ready when you arrive.


At some point in getting ready for the move, you’re going to look at a crystal vase, an heirloom teapot, or an antique muzzle loader and wonder: What’s the best way to move this?

The first part of the question is really “How do I move this without breaking it?” The other part of the question is sometimes more difficult to voice: “How do I move this without it getting stolen?”

Small valuables such as jewelry, coins, or stamps are easy to pack and take with you. Pack with tissue paper, rather than newspaper, so the ink won’t smudge whatever it comes in contact with. Repair anything that’s broken or loose before the move.

Beyond whatever you can pack and carry yourself, your valuables are in the hands of the movers. Most movers won’t insure items they haven’t packed, so it’s best to let them do the packing. Small pictures and paintings should be wrapped, placed on edge, and put in heavy cardboard containers. Large paintings may require a custom-built wooden case. Large valuable antiques should be shipped in a custom-built wooden crate.

When the moving company representative comes to the house to give you an estimate, point out the pieces you think need special care. Ask the mover to separately quote the price of having the items carefully crated. If you decide in favor of crating, let the movers know well in advance. Ask what kind of insurance the company can provide and ask the company that insures your home about additional insurance you can buy to cover art and valuables in transit. If your items are rare or extremely valuable, contact a company that specializes in moving art and antiques to move them.

The Internet is a great way to compare prices, but provides no guarantee of good service. You will get what you pay for, and if somebody is going to charge you considerably less than the going rate, expect them to provide considerably less service too. Many Internet movers are really brokers who turn your shipment over to any available carrier. If you’re pricing over the web, ask to know exactly who is handling your move.

A legitimate mover will come to your home, examine what you’re moving, and give you an estimate. Scam movers may try to give you an estimate over the phone or over the Internet without seeing your household furnishings.

If legitimate movers ask for a deposit, it will be a small one. If someone asks for a large deposit, it’s probably a scam.

Legitimate movers charge by weight, as verified on a state- inspected scale. Scam movers will charge by the square foot or cubic foot, which you cannot easily verify.