Portable Moving and Storage Review: U-Haul U-Box vs PODS

Edit: U-Box has changed a lot since I wrote this article. For my more recent experiences with U-Box, please see U-Box Review Part 2.

Edit: For those of you interested in sending your U-Box to Canada, check out Moving to Canada with U-Haul U-Box. Hopefully you can avoid the problems I ran into.


After graduating from college, I have been bouncing from one end of the country to the other as my beau and I peruse our graduate degrees. Having moved twice now in the past three years, and about to do it again come this summer, I’d like to think I’ve gotten it pretty much down.

When it comes to moving, the perpetually broke college/grad student generally has three options:

  1. Ship everything. This works best if you are leaving a dorm and have little to no furniture to take with you. It also works best if you have an intermediate location (ie parent, friend or relative) to hold your stuff and ship it to you once you have a new address. I did this as I moved out of my dorm in Portland, OR, and into my apartment for grad school in Pittsburgh, PA.
  2. Move it yourself. This generally requires a truck and some burly friends. I have steered clear of this generally because of long highway hours and gas prices. (Though now that I actually have a car to move cross-country anyway, I may be revisiting this option).


However, my favorite moving option so far has been option #3: portable moving and storage, made famous by PODS and, in my opinion, perfected by the U-Haul U-Box.

Here’s how it works: you call Moving Company and tell them that you’re moving and what size crate you want. Moving Company drops off a crate at your doorstep at your requested date. After you’ve filled the crate, you call them, and they take it away, store it for however long you need. When you arrive at your new home, you call up Moving Company and they drop off the crate at your new doorstep. You unload the crate, and they take their crate back. So easy. So convenient.

As my boyfriend and I prepared to leave Pittsburgh for St. Louis, we had originally planed to do option #1 again--ship everything--but despite getting all our furniture on Craig’s List, we came across a couple pieces we decided were worth keeping. This, of course, made option #1 unfeasible, and so began our research into on-demand storage and shipping.

PODS

Started in 1998, PODS is perhaps the most well-known on-demand storage company, if not the pioneer of the business.

Their containers come in three sizes: 8x7x7, 8x8x12, and 8x8x16, however only the smallest and biggest sizes are available for moving.  They also partner with packing services if you need a hand boxing and unboxing your precious items.

Despite PODS being well-known and well-established, I found them to be pricey and inflexible the more I looked.  First of all, they require your email address to give you a quote, and for most long distance moves you end up having to call them anyway.  I personally like to shop around a little more before dealing with a live person.

When I called them and requested a quote on their smallest container, the representative’s first question was not “Where are you moving to/from?” but “How much are you moving?”  Upon my response of “A 1 bedroom apartment,” she immediately answered “Oh, the 8x7x7 won’t be big enough.”  But of course the mid-size is not available for moving, so she proceeded to try to talk me into getting the 8x8x16 which would be ridiculous.  Besides this, I was rather miffed that she imply I didn’t know how much stuff I had in my own apartment.  Yes, on paper it was a 1 bedroom apartment, but it was so small it might as well have been a studio.  Plus all we were moving was a mattress, a sofa, a table and an assortment of boxes.  Even the 8x7x7 would have been spacious.

I finally got her to give me a quote for the 8x7x7, and, as a perpetually broke grad student, the price made my teeth grit:  $99 a month for storage (we would be storing for 2-3 months), and about $900 to ship from Pittsburgh to St. Louis.  With two people it was certainly doable in our budget, but it would still hurt.

U-Haul U-Box


At the time we were moving, spring of 2009, U-Haul had just started their U-Box program. We didn’t even know about it until my dad stumbled across it in a fortuitous web search.

Unlike PODS, U-Box has one container size that is a little smaller: 7.5x7x5 However they make it easy to get as many as you need. They have a convenient chart on their home page clearly showing approximately how much each box holds, and how many boxes you might need for any given number of rooms. If I recall correctly, you can even have them drop off an extra one if your not sure how many you need, and if you don’t use it, you don’t pay anything extra.

The added benefit of these smaller boxes is that they take up a smaller footprint, which is really nice on narrow, downtown streets. While the smallest of the PODS is 7 feet wide, a U-Box fits neatly into a standard sized parking space without sticking out into the street. The standardizes size also lets U-Haul easily stack a bunch of these on a flatbed truck which probably helps them keep shipping costs down.

The cost for a U-Box was significantly cheaper than for the smallest of the PODS. One U-Box (which fit the contents of our tiny apartment perfectly) cost about $60 a month to store, and shipping from Pittsburgh to St. Louis was less than $500.

You can get a quote online without an email address or phone call, and can even book your U-Box online.

Conclusion

Whatever moving options you pick of course depends on your needs. U-Box may be cheaper, but their boxes are also smaller. If you’ve got an eight foot sofa, you’re probably going to have to go with PODS.

Needless to say, we chose U-Box for our last move, and will be considering them again in the future. In my experience, I found them much more convenient and cost-effective, and the personnel friendly and helpful. Plus the smaller box fit our small amount of furniture perfectly.

Of course, my experience with PODS ended with getting a quote. If you have had experience with them, or have discovered other lesser known portable storage companies, feel free to share!

More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

Thanks for the article - we are actually looking at doing a cross country move right now and are looking into the two options. We haven't gotten a quote from Ubox but the quote for the pods was $3000 from Wisconsin to Southern California. What a hike in price - and that is after talking them down about $1000 dollars. I am hoping ubox can give us a much better deal!


shastawriter 6 years ago from Kingston, ON Author

Thanks for the comment and the follow! I hope U-Box works out for you--I certainly found them much more accommodating. Good luck with the move!


micro_engineer 5 years ago

Thanks for the article as well.

I originally move from Atl, GA to Houston, TX and drove a U-Haul 17' truck with a two-wheel dolly for pulling my car.

The cost was around $900 as I recall, for both, and did provide one month free storage of one of their smaller storage rooms (I had to upgrade to a larger one).

However, by the time it was all said and done, the fuel costs were terrible and had I been able to fit the items I moved into a portable moving container, it would have been MUCH less hassle and faster.

The truck (and car trailer) bounces around a lot in the highway. Also, you can't back up with a trailer. I had to remove my car, the trailer, turn the truck around, then redo everything once when I ventured down into an alley where there was no outlet! Oof!

I'm hoping to follow a similar route and use a portable storage container, and just drive my car as that's SO much faster and I can enjoy my XM radio. :)


tabitha  5 years ago

My husband and I move a lot and we just got our uhaul containers delivered today. This is the first time we are doing it without a truck and with containers. My experience is as follows so far.

The Negatives

I have a paved large circular driveway I asked them to be placed on.I am guessing it is slightly uneven in parts ( like most pavement). Due to this the delivery guy wedged shims with a sledge hammer after delivering them. After putting in my lawnmower however the door no longer closes. This is a big issue because since it is a large wooden box basically, if you set weight in them the door no longer closes or latches since the weight settled the wooden box making the latches shift.

The other issue is that I am only 5'5". I had to get a pole to push up the tarp cover to even close the door and I can't pull the tarp down enough to close it all the way ( especially on the one where the door won't shut). It is currently raining and sleeting outside and although I only have my outdoor lawn stuff in the aforementioned box I am still worried something is getting ruined as we speak.( I suggest packing a step up stool and or ladder last)

there is a small step to get into the box so lawnmowers and stuff you have to have a board to wheel them up into the box. I luckily had a few boards laying around

there are only tie strap latches on 1 of my boxes

They aren't as big as you think and can only haul 2000 pounds each. I have no way of knowing how much weight is in each which presents the problem of shifting if you don't pack them tight enough (boxes aren't an issue but furniture and lawn equipment is)

They make a limited size and aren't really wide enough. To give you an idea I had about 6 inches to spare width wise and maybe 3 or 4 feet length wise after putting in my 40 inch riding lawnmower (sm to med size rissing lawnmower).

We had to fight to get the quoted price they tried to charge us twice as much during the confirmation call.

The positives

the tuck is the cheapest option for all of our moves so far (we have used uhaul in the past). what appealed to us was the time we would have to load and unload hopefully making it a lot less stressful of a move after doing the past moves in a day or two (unless you pay for more says with a truck but still you don't get it for a full month)

They take up less then a parking space. I have 4 in a row in a space to park 2 cars comfortably.

They would be better for longer distance moves

The drop off was great ( deliver I am sure will be the same). It was quick and all I had to do was tell them where and sign on a digital device similar to UPS.

You can get as many as you want and for me they were so much cheaper then PODS. PODS wanted to charge me $1400 for a cross county move in MD where after fighting to get eh quoted price, the uhaul containers were a little over $600 ( a 26 ft truck would have only been $200 though but would have been more rushed)

Advice

watch out for hidden fees

pack your ladder last

make sure the spot is really level to avoid shifting after added weight


CanadianGirl 5 years ago

My experience with PODS also ended with getting a quote - a quote that was nearly 4 times as pricey as a UBox!!! Since I'm shipping across the border between Canada and the US, there are few options. I'm going to try a UBox - I hope it goes well!


JohnnyC 5 years ago

Wow, my experience with U-Box for a move has been an unmitigated disaster! I'm now two weeks into a move from Renton, WA to San Francisco, which U-Box estimated @ 7 days when I made the reservation with no end in sight. Apparently my box sat at their Auburn, WA facility for a full week after being picked up from my house before they even attempted to get it on a truck to SF. I'm told it left Auburn 4 days ago on a truck but won't arrive in SF for at least another 5 days. To top it off, no one at U-Box's national customer service (what a joke) line can give me a number of the facility it will be dropped off at in San Francisco. Apparently, U-Box thinks no one is concerned about arranging delivery (along with it's attendant hassles of reserving parking in front of their apartment building and moving help to unload) until their box is physically in the destination city!

I have been on the phone with U-Box numerous times and they are worthless, promising calls from supervisors etc. that never come. Clearly U-Box is not set up for long distance moves and has no interest in providing anything resembling customer service. They make the DMV look like a five star resort.


XCountryHaul 5 years ago

I too searched and pods gave me a quote for 4300 for a 8x8x16 because they say the small container is too small for my two rooms. I hung up there and then. Smart move quoted me at 2700 for 2 smart vaults which are 7x5'1-"x6'7" and ubox which is best by far was 1900 for the 7.5x7x5. The uhaul truck quote was 1600 and after gas and food would be more then 1900. Considering I have to fly back to CT to move to AZ the price for the flight back would still be cheaper then driving so UBox is by far the best and most wise choice.


XCountryHaul 5 years ago

I too searched and pods gave me a quote for 4300 for a 8x8x16 because they say the small container is too small for my two rooms. I hung up there and then. Smart move quoted me at 2700 for 2 smart vaults which are 7x5'1-"x6'7" and ubox which is best by far was 1900 for the 7.5x7x5. The uhaul truck quote was 1600 and after gas and food would be more then 1900. Considering I have to fly back to CT to move to AZ the price for the flight back would still be cheaper then driving so UBox is by far the best and most wise choice. :Addendum, I just received a call from Smartmove and reduced price $1763 door to door, now the dilemma ensues considering I cannot find any bad reviews for smartmove.


force of habit profile image

force of habit 5 years ago from the Cloud

Really helpful especially to those who have to move from state-to-state for one reason or another. Moving is quite expensive nowadays and this would be great way of exploring your options.

There was a time I was considering purchasing a 20 or 40-footer used container to serve as an extension of our house. More of a game room really... where I could also get some work done in privacy. This hub reminded me of just that...


Shellie 5 years ago

I read this article when I was trying to decide whether to get a quote from PODS for a move from Alabama to California. I had almost the exact same experiece; I didn't want to give PODS my email and deal with their pushy salespeople to get a quote, but I wanted to know the price comparison. They ended up being considerably more expensive than U-Boxes and we weren't even sure if a single POD would be sufficient.

We had 5 U-Boxes delivered to move from our 3 bedroom (3000 square foot house). We put a good 1/3 of our belongings into long term storage because we knew it wouldn't fit into our rental in Cali, but the 5 U-Boxes was a great fit for enough furniture to fill our 2300 sq foot rental house to the seams.

This was our FIRST MOVE EVER in which NOTHING was broken!!! We hired some local movers to help us pack up, at a rate of 3 people for 4 hours for $250, and cringed a few times when they were stacking things into the boxes in ways that we wouldn't have been comfortable doing....but it worked.

You put your own lock onto the outside of the box & they crimp an ID tag as well, so we were sure no one had been tampering with our stuff. Again, literally the first time I had the peace of mind of knowing that movers weren't shifting my things around to make room for someone else's things in their truck.

I'll go with them for my next move too, I'm sure!


kim 5 years ago

Thanks so much for your advice.. U-box it is


Nicole 5 years ago

So will a couch and lovseat and kitchen table and four chairs plus about 6 boxes fit? I have one scheduled for next week and am staring to think everything won't fit.


Hanna  5 years ago

U-pack with ABF is the cheapest by far, but you have to be pretty flexible about pick up and delivery. My family used them on our move from Texas to Florida and it all worked out great!


Bruce 5 years ago

I got snookered by PODS on a move from LA to Seattle last year. I didn't have time to do a lot of research and I was accepting a job offer after 8 months unemployment. The PODS bill really hurt when all was said and done (2 months extra storage didn't help).

Now I'm moving back to LA, I've got some time to research and I'm pretty sure U-Boxes from U-Haul will fill the bill and save me some dough.


dee 5 years ago

Thanks for the Ubox information, moving from NY to Florida and we have been searching for options from various moving companies


Michaela 4 years ago

I recently moved from Omaha, Nebraska to San Diego, CA and I wasn't sure how to proceed in brining all my items. For one, I didn't even bring half of my stuff because moving from a 800 sq ft one bedroom to a 460 sq ft studio I knew I could only bring a few things.

I ended up getting a hitch put on my new jeep and opted to take a uhaul trailer cross country. Boy, was that an adventure. Not only did it suck to travel only going 55 mph, having to maneuver the trailer when we parked or wanted to stop somewhere was a pain in the butt.

Now moving back home, I have decided to get a pod instead. I just made a call to PODS and they quoted me for 2,666!! And the only reason I called is because my friend said it would be about 1,000. Still, 1000 is a bit steep but I would rather pay for less hassle. Then, I decided well maybe I will do the trailer thing again because it's only $200 for a trailer, but then I saw Uhaul had Pods. They quoted me at 1,400. A difference of $ 1,200 between PODS and U-BOX. I don't have a lot of things that I am packing but I do have a small couch and tons of boxes because my wardrobe is quite extensive. I am thinking the U-Box should be more than enough.

Thank you all for the reviews. I really want to make a fun roadtrip out of my move back and actually stop in Vegas or Denver, as opposed to having a trailer on my car which didn't allow me to enough much but a headache!


Jason 4 years ago

I've moved seven or eight times over the last 15 years and have moved every way you can think of. I used to do everything myself in the name of cost savings. Renting a moving truck and using traditional self storage is the cheapest way to go, but it's also a real hassle. The last two moves I started using portable self storage units (Pods and Pack Rat). These units are definitely the way to go if you can afford them. They are more expensive but it's so nice being able to load and unload your belongings at your own pace instead of a mad dash on moving day. I haven't tried the other companies yet but Pods and Pack Rat both worked out great. Pods was a bit more expensive, so I'll probably stick with Pack Rat next time. Either way, be sure to pack your stuff carefully as it will be picked up and moved down the road on the back of a truck. Also use a promo code when you reserve to save - I found some at http://easystoragesearch.com.


Sam 3 years ago

Uh, no. I've learned that you literally get what you pay for. Cheaper is not always better, especially since when it comes Pods of any sort? You're usually not the one transporting your items or deciding how they are getting to your destination. I did U-Box out've desperation because it was literally quite a bit cheaper than renting a U-Haul truck. It was an emergency move that was going to hurt the wallet no matter what, so I jumped on it. It was a Terrible idea. Your U-Boxes are all wood, with only outside liners to protect the inside from damn conditions. The boxes themselves are not that sturdy, being made entirely of wood (as I stated) they are only rated at 2,000 lbs max. I need as much as a mid-to-large size truck square footage wise, so two Boxes were needed (which was still under) but mind you, with the truck you are allowed a much higher weight limit. Once the move was under way, disaster struck. My boxes sat in the old drive way for over 5 days even though we were alerted AND charged for the pick up on day two. After constant calling to try and get updates, we were hung up on three times as no one could give any information as to the status of our belongings. U haul promises 10 day delievery max (7 to 10 days) and so we packed for 10 days. 14 days later, we hear something. They've arrived supposedly at the chosen U Haul facility I selected when reserving the service. I go there and find out... they are not there. After a few more days, I discovered that all of my belongings was shipped to ANOTHER facility. I go there to retrieve them; only to find there is no trailer to bring them home. Guess what, the trailer was left at the ORIGINAL destination. Once I DO get the trailer to take them home, I start to unpack and notice something odd... my rear U Box has its door facing the forward U Box. Seriously? Now I can't even unload anything. ANOTHER day passes, they come out and fix it for me. I unload, and I hope the night mare is over. 2 WHOLE MONTHS LATER (now going on three as I write this) I note that my credit card's interest charge is obscenely high. It's above my budget. I inquire from my credit card company and discover I have TWO (one per Box) $81 (totaling $161 a month) charges for the past two months, because apparently my stuff is still in storage at a facility some where. So, yeah. No. U Box is not worth it. The customer service has been their only saving grace as U Box Customer support has tried all they can, but alas - it's practically nothing. While they send as many notes and emails as they can to people I need to talk to in order to resolve my problems, even THEY are ignored and forgotten. No one has power to do anything. One time, I was checking my account them with due to the Storage Fees I was receiving (which mind you, you are supposed to sign a receipt for so these charges were without authorization; I manage to get the Customer Service Rep to mail the recepits I was suppose to get to me) I couldn't log on nor the Rep I was talking to. Some U Haul agent was in my account, locking every one else out. Supposedly even the IT guy had "no authority" to boot off the account. Which rubbed me the wrong way even worse because now I know the are aware of these bogus charges but still will not contact me despite me calling them over and over. If you do dare to use U Haul, use them through a franchise location. AKA, the ones where it's a tow truck place who happens to have a U Haul dealer's license. If you go through corporate? It's a terrible mess of customer service, failed promises, lies and disorganization you wouldn't believe. You get what you pay for. Seriously.


Susan 3 years ago

We went to a Uhaul storefront yesterday to compare a "live" Ubox with the advertised size. Advertised: 8' long x 5' wide x 7.5' high. Actual interior: 92-3/16" long x 56" wide x 81-3/4" high.


Bruce 3 years ago

I have used UNITS Moving and Storage several times. They have the best portable storage container in the industry. More affordable than PODS, PackRat or Door-To-Door

http://unitsstorage.com


jbmuhs 3 years ago

so i read about a billion horrible reviews, but after much research, came to realize that the ubox was an affordable and stress free option. so we took our chances. we didn't need our stuff immediately (we hadn't even secured a place to live yet). they told us our boxes would get to our destination in 9-11 business days. perfect for our situation. we dropped our boxes off on a tuesday. they said they would schedule a pickup for wednesday but it would probably be friday before the truck got to our stuff. we got a call on monday afternoon that our stuff had arrived 1600 miles from it's starting point, exactly where we needed it to be, 5-7 days ahead of schedule. everyone was very very helpful. i would definitely, beyond a doubt, recommend the u haul ubox. thanks uhaul!


JohnWarren 3 years ago

I had been reluctant to deal again with U-Haul because my previous experiences with renting vehicles and accessories from them was so bad, but the U-Pod seemed to be straightforward.

I was wrong. If I hadn't been suspicious and kept asking questions, I would have been in deep trouble.

I ordered a Pod to be brought to my house in Florida and delivered directly to my summer place in Vermont. The order was accepted, but I noticed it was routed through a U-Haul office three hours from the Vermont location. When I pressed on the matter, they admitted that the box would not be shipped to my home, but would be held at the office for me to pick it up. (This would have been a matter of twelve hours driving over mountainous terrain (get pod, take pod to house, return truck, return home).

They only disclosed this after intensive questioning. It was my strong feeling that they were planning to send me the "come get it" message only after they had the Pod in their possession and in effect holding it hostage.

They have effectively RUINED my summer vacation as there isn't sufficient time to find a moving company now to move the equipment and furniture.

That's it! I will no longer have anything to do with U-Haul.


Brandon Rice 3 years ago

Thank you for writing this article. I am planning to move again and had no idea about U-Haul U-Box. I've moved more than 17 times in my life. My parents always seemed to use U-Haul, but I had no idea about their U-Box offering. Your article had real ballpark dollar figures in it and container dimensions. Very informative. I am on my way to check out U-Box. Thank you so much! I think the price will fit into my http://www.LibertyBudget.com


marshel456 3 years ago

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and adore finding out additional on this topic. If feasible, as you acquire expertise, would you thoughts updating your blog with much more details? It is extremely useful for me. We are also Provide Removals and Storage service namely removals containers. http://www.melbourneselfmove.com.au/


Daniel 3 years ago

We are moving from Orlando to Nashville. PODS quoted us at 1820 and UBox is 1880, I was hoping that they would be cheaper, but no luck. Maybe next time.


Kelly 3 years ago

NEVER NEVER use UBOX. Worst experience moving I have ever had and I am a seasoned mover. TERRIBLE customer service, they will LIE LIE LIE to you. The dates are wrong and the process to get a hold of a manager or someone who can actually HELP you is impossible.

HEED THIS WARNING - NEVER USE UBOX!


Steve707 3 years ago

I used a company www.ship2storage.com that was a little different. You can move and store one box or multiple boxes of items. You pay only for the boxes you send. Fedex comes to your front door for "pick-up". For a lot less than a whole "POD" this made a lot of sense us and they were very helpful.


Mariah 3 years ago

Last year I used Ship2Storage.com to move from college for 4 boxes of clothes and books.


chris 3 years ago

I had a a terrible experience with U-box.

I was originally given a quote of $1600.00 for two U-boxes to move across country. it actually came out to $1800.00. 200 bucks sint a whole lot. It was the hidden fees that came after that really made me mad.

I was charged 75.00 for each U-box to be delivered to my apartment. The U-haul place was 3 miles down the road. on top of that the lady that delivered mine couldn't drive with a trailer. she eventually had to drop my u-box at the end of the road and I had to pull it up to my apartment by hand. This was also after the box fell off of the truck once because she hadn't secured it properly.

So i moved across the country and when it came time to have my boxes delivered the representative at the U-haul location told me that not only would I have to go and get my boxes weighed my self but that he couldn't deliver my boxes till the following week.

So, I had to rent a truck to go and pick up my U-boxes in the next town over. this cost me an extra $150.00. then I had to rent a trailer to pull my U-boxes back.

another 100.00.

then, I couldn't find an available truck to rent and was forced to have the guy from U-haul come out to my house and pick up the boxes.

that cost another 250.00.

All the extra costs associated with this move came with a higher price tag than it would have been if I had just rented a moving truck and done all the work my self. It also would have been a lot less hassle.

I would never recommend this service to anyone. Unless you have plenty of money to just throw away.


Xavier 2 years ago

To ad to what Mariah said we use ship2storage for items for trade shows and they are a lot cheaper than PODS or Moving companies. It is nice to be able to store only five or ten boxes of items at a time.


Tracey 2 years ago

I used a pods when I remodeled my basement. it was big enough to store all of my furniture and it just stayed out in the drive until the project was done. also found pods coupon at podspromocode.tumblr.com. thanks for the review.


watchdogservice 2 years ago

I have never used PODS, partically because the rate they quoted me was much higher than uhaul. Now that it is all said and done, I wish I would have gone with PODS. Uhaul has hands down the worst costumer service. They repeatedly messed up my order and my movers and gave me the absolute worst "discount" for the hours and hours of my life they stole. Be savvy--choose someone else!!!!


rachelelong 4 months ago

Our U box experience has been a disaster. We were "guaranteed" to get our boxes days ago. They still cannot tell us when they will arrive. I have scheduled and canceled moving help 3 times now because of Uhaul's incompetence.


RRoobbeerrtt 2 months ago

Worst business experience ever! Wouldnt let me have my u-boxes for over a week because they were "too busy". When I finaly was able to able to pick up my box, it had been opened, and many things were missing. Legal action pending.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working