I live in what is considered a "historic" part of my city of Houston, Texas. Many of the homes here are also "historic" (although here the term is used less as a compliment and more as a statement of fact). In the last couple of years, many young families and upwardly mobile professional singles have begun moving into the area. In the process, they have been renovating what they can and rebuilding the rest. This also means it is not uncommon for me to see three or four (or more) self-storage units, or "pods," as I drive up one street or down another. If you are headed towards a move, a remodel or a rebuild, here are several pod-based self-storage options you can consider.

"Pods" defined

Pods is a cool acronym for "portable on demand storage." Many companies that provide pods also offer moving services and supplies, and on-site self-storage facilities.

Pods vs. traditional self-storage

Here are some tips to decide if pods are the right self-storage choice for your needs.

  • Pods can come to you – you go to a self-storage facility.
  • Pods are not temperature controlled – self-storage units can be.
  • Pods offer a greater selection of sizes – self-storage unit sizes are more limited.
  • Pods offer on-site moving of storage items – self-storage units require use of a truck and/or paying movers for two moves, not one.
  • Pods offer one type of security (lock and key) – self-storage units often have more security measures in place (alarm, gated entry, entry codes, etc.).

8 Tips for choosing your pods provider 

Experts recommend choosing a pod storage provider who can meet each of these requirements.

  • Extremely secure: Because pods are often left in a semi-public area (out on the driveway, in a parking lot, on the lawn) you want to be sure they are theft-proof.
  • Sized appropriately: Make a list before you shop and be sure to determine whether the pod size you select can accommodate all of your items.
  • Protection from the elements: Mold, mildew, heat, condensation and other issues can damage stored goods. Ask about weather-resistant options.
  • Easy to load and unload: Ease of loading/unloading is a key advantage for self-storage pods, so be sure your choice offers this.
  • Full storage capacity: The design of the pod is the key to maximizing storage space. Be sure entry doors are wide enough to fit larger items through and that doors swing out to allow for greater capacity within.
  • Flexible renting: Typically pods are a shorter-term storage option, so be sure options are flexible enough to accommodate your dates.
  • Handson customer service: The best pod storage companies are as well known for their service as for their storage. If you are not happy with the service, look elsewhere.
  • Don't forget about insurance: Be sure to price out insurance options before you rent.

A unique hybrid option: Zippy Shell

A small number of moving companies are hybridizing the "self-storage vs. pods" debate by offering a flexible alternative. Here’s one example you can use as a go-by.

1. Zippy Shell

Zippy Shell is both a pod and a moving truck in one. The movers come with a pod-on-wheels (trailer), load up your items and move them off site. If you need stored items during your rental dates, the movers bring them back to you.

4 Great pods companies

These four companies are perhaps the best known in this competitive market—plus, each offers nationwide coverage. But you may find better pricing by checking with local-only self-storage companies—so just use these four companies as a point of reference.


PODS is "the" name in personal on demand storage solutions.

  • Website: http://www.pods.com
  • Sizes: PODS offers three sizes. The 7 ft. PODS hold one room's worth of items; the 12 ft. PODS hold 2-3 rooms' worth of items, and the 16 ft. PODS hold 3-4 rooms' worth of items.
  • Price: $99/30 days for the 7 ft., $135/30 days for the 12 ft. and $170/30 days for the 16 ft. pod (plus $99 initial delivery charge for each).
  • Insurance: $10/month for insurance
  • Features: Three sizes gives you more storage options, and PODS has a handy calculator to help you figure out the right size. However, you only get the PODS unit for the monthly fee—no extras come with that.

2. U-Haul U-Box

U-Haul is best known for its orange and white self-moving storage trucks. But now U-Haul offers self-storage U-boxes as well.

  • Website: http://www.uhaul.com/UBox
  • Size: The U-box is one size (8' X 5' X 7'6") and can hold 1.5 rooms' worth of items. You can order as many U-boxes as you need.
  • Price: Essentially, each U-box costs $99.95 per 30-day rental period.
  • Insurance: Safestor insurance starts at just $12/month for $1,000 coverage.
  • Features: You can choose to pick up and return your U-box or have it dropped off and picked up by U-Haul. You get 12 free furniture pads along with your U-box rental. You can choose from multiple transportation options.

3. 1-800-Pack Rat

Pack Rat is a newer entrant into the self-storage pods market and it aims to give PODS a run for its money.

  • Website: http://www.1800packrat.com
  • Size: Two sizes: 12 ft. and 16 ft.
  • Price: $159.99 and $189.99 (plus $79.99 delivery fee for each).
  • Insurance: You can get just a monthly damage waiver for $9.99/month, or insurance plans start at $24.99/month for $5,000 coverage.
  • Features: One perk could be the pod itself, which is made of corrugated steel with no interior beams. This maximizes storage space.

4. Door to Door Storage & Moving

Door to Door Storage & Moving is another company that has taken on pods—they offer a variety of storage and moving options.

  • Website: http://www.doortodoor.com/storage/portable-storage-containers/
  • Size: The storage pod is one size (8' X 5' X 7') and can hold 1.5 rooms' worth of items. You can order as many pods as you need.
  • Price: The website requires you to call to get a quote, but Door to Door recently announced a new price match guarantee that should make getting the best price much easier!
  • Insurance: Prices are not listed on the website.
  • Features: Pods are very maneuverable and are made of construction-grade wood with a raised floor (4" off the ground). Weather-proofing is included with the pod. You can also take advantage of online account management and auto-pay options.


Portable Self-Storage Options: What You Need to Know