A diagram of a PODS container with its dimensions outlined. Length 16 feet, width 8 feet, height 8 feet

Getting the most out of portable moving containers: Which size is right for you?

Moving and Storage Container Guides

by LB Gabriel Posted on January 19, 2023

We all know the childhood story about the three bears and the curious little home invader who just wanted to find a good meal and a cozy place to snooze. Our girl Goldilocks had to try a few wrong options before she found her perfect fit. Unfortunately, when you’re moving, you don’t have the luxury of ordering three different sizes of moving containers to find the one that’s just right for holding the contents of your home.

Need more info on the ideal portable moving and storage container size for you? See how much each container can hold.

So, if you’re considering ordering a portable moving and storage container and wondering what size is best for your needs, here’s our advice.

Why should I use storage moving containers?

If you’re moving to a new home, you’ve got options when it comes to storing and transporting your stuff.

Full-service movers will handle the entire job for you — from loading and driving to unloading and storing. Sounds great, right? Well, consider the drawbacks. Full-service moving comes with a full-service price tag. And the longer the haul, the larger the final bill. (Thinking a couple thousand? Try more like $10,000!) Also, your things may be combined with other households’. The moving company does this to make the most out of its trips, but it can result in lost items and other mixups.

Rental trucks come in handy if you’re looking to DIY. They’re affordable and you can choose from multiple sizes. But remember, DIY has heavy emphasis on the “Y” — you’re responsible for every part of your move. Packing, loading, unloading, gas costs, driving — consider everything you have to handle by yourself. Plus, if you need to store your things, you’ll have to get a self-storage unit in addition to the rental truck.

PODS portable moving and storage containers give you the best of both worlds. You have the professional assistance you need to get the job done right with the time to load and unload at your own pace. You don’t have to drive, your stuff isn’t mixed with anyone else’s, and you have all-in-one moving and storage. The best part? You get to work around your schedule, not a time and date dictated by a full-service moving company. Load when you want, store as needed, and unload when you’re ready.

Q: Is it better to use PODS or a moving company?
A: In our humble opinion, PODS is the superior option — especially if you need flexibility built into your move. Moving with PODS versus a traditional moving company means you move on your own schedule and that you are the only person with access to your things. And generally less expensive, to boot.
A man and his son opening the door on their PODS moving and storage container

Which size portable moving containers do I need?

Again, we revisit our childhood fable theme — you have three options.

  • Large, 16-foot: About the length of a standard parking spot, this size is comparable to a 10x15-foot storage unit or a 20-foot truck.
  • Medium, 12-foot: This option is great for a few rooms, and the size is similar to a 10x10-foot storage unit or 15-foot truck.
  • Small, 8-foot: A popular choice for college students, this small container is comparable to a 5x10-foot storage unit or 10-foot truck.

PODS is constantly upgrading its container fleet, and container sizes may vary slightly from one model to another. Therefore, container sizes are estimates.

You can choose one or multiple storage containers to handle your move. Mix and match to find the fit that works for you. You can even stagger your container deliveries to prevent overcrowding your driveway. And if it turns out you don’t need as many containers as you thought, PODS is flexible with changes. Easy peasy.

Let’s break down some common home sizes and the PODS portable moving and storage container needed for each type:

Size of HomeRecommended Container Size
Small studio apartmentSmall
Studio or 1 bedroom apartmentSmall or medium
1–2 Bedroom apartmentMedium or large
2–3 Bedroom apartment or homeLarge or large and medium
3 Bedroom homeLarge and medium or large and large
4 Bedroom homeOne large container for every 1,000 square feet
Suggested container sizes are for guidance only. Larger items and how efficiently containers are loaded can significantly impact the size and quantity of containers you’ll need. 

How much will fit in a 16-foot PODS container?

What fits inside each container size?

  • Large container: King-size bed, 2 twin beds, 2 dressers, 2 bookshelves, dining table with 6 chairs, sofa, coffee table, 2 end tables, entertainment center, TV, desk with chair, several lamps, several pictures, washer, dryer, 2 bikes, and up to 60 boxes in a range of sizes.
  • Medium container: King-size bed, twin bed, 2 dressers, 2 bookshelves, dining table with 4 chairs, small sofa, arm chair, coffee table, entertainment center, TV, small desk, chair, a few lamps, a few pictures, a few mirrors, 1 bike, and multiple boxes of household contents.  
  • Small container: King-size bed, dresser, bookshelf, dining table with 4 chairs, small sofa, a few lamps, a few pictures, a few mirrors, TV, bike, and multiple boxes of household contents.

Deciding what size container you need is part art and part science. Certain variables, like how much stuff you have and what type, affect which size is right for you. Our moving and storage calculator can help give you a better idea of which size or combination of sizes will work best for your home. When you’re using the calculator, be sure to include the contents of all rooms. And don't forget spaces like the garage, attic, basement, and closets.

Fitting large furniture into a small PODS moving and storage container
(Source: Michele of )

How can I maximize container space?

Calling all Tetris fans! It’s time to put your skills to the test. Not only will a make the best use of your space, but it’ll help keep your stuff from shifting during the duration of your move.

  • Do some prep work: It doesn’t matter how well you load if your things are packed poorly to begin with. Make sure you’re using the right boxes, packing by weight, and applying best practices.
  • Pack as much as you can into boxes: This will provide greater protection for your belongings and will make loading your PODS container easier. 
  • Build a base: Load your heaviest items on the bottom of the container and the lighter ones on top. Distribute the weight evenly across your container. Don’t stack all of your heavy items in the back.
  • Secure your belongings: Use ratchet straps or ropes to keep things tied down and in place. When you’re done, use a large sheet of cardboard, or tape four large, flattened boxes together to make a barrier between your things and the door. This keeps the door from jamming and objects from falling against the door during transit to your new home.
A truck driving a PODS container to its new location

Is PODS a good way to move across the country?

Indeed. Moving cross-country with PODS frees you up to fly, road trip, canoe, marathon, roller-blade, or transport yourself by any other means, unencumbered from lugging all your stuff. You’ll save a pretty penny by sending your things across the U.S. with PODS rather than a full-service mover, too.

Are my things safe inside PODS moving containers?

PODS portable moving containers are designed for protection. They’re built with a steel frame and are weather-resistant to keep your things protected from the elements. For extra security, they have impact-resistant, high-tech polymer wall panels or sturdy wood reinforced with an aluminum exterior sheet.

Not only are they tough on the outside, they keep what's inside protected, as well. And loading with an innovative ground-level lift (PODZILLA®) instead of a ramp means less chance of damage. The best part? You, the PODS customer, own your container’s lock and key, so no one else has access to your belongings.

How Much Time Do I Need to Move with a PODS Moving Container?

Container delivery is depending on container availability and open dates on the PODS calender, so the best way to check is to fill out a quote form on PODS.com or call (855) 706-4758. But oftentimes, the moving process begins weeks, if not months, in advance. You can get a step-by-step walkthrough of how to move with with PODS with their moving checklist here.

Looking for more packing and loading tips? Check out the PODS blog for all-things moving related. From knowing how to avoid moving scams to learning how to get the kids involved in the moving process, we’ve covered it all!

LB Gabriel is a freelance writer and frequent PODS blog contributor. When she’s not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.

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What a great introduction to Houston! I was continuously drawn in and interested the entire time while reading. I can’t wait to visit the city and check out some of these neighborhoods soon!
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