Your experience with PODS, storage, relocation services, etc. Need answer fastish.

My wife and I are moving from our 3200-square-foot house into her mother’s 1400 sf house, where most of the existing furniture will remain, except for our bedroom, into which we will be able to put our existing bedroom furniture.

We are divesting ourselves of as much of our stuff as possible, but will still have a lot of stuff that won’t fit and will have to go into storage until we are able to move into our own place.

A fairly significant portion of that property is books. We own over 2,000 books, which filled more than 50 boxes when we moved here. We plan to cut that perhaps by as much as 50%, and in the next few days I’m going to make as accurate an inventory as possible of what we are actually going to take.

But I’m struggling to figure out how to strategize and plan the move, since I’m not particularly conversant with the various storage options open to us. Based on vaguely remembered discussions here, I’ve looked into PODS and other containerized options, which may offer some advantages, but they seem rather expensive for long-term storage. So I was also considering renting a regular storage space near the new location, and arranging for part of the load to be delivered there. Then a friend mentioned that long-term storage provided by moving companies is probably cheaper.

Another friend recommended looking into a relocation service to handle all the planning for us.

So what experiences can you share on these points:

  • PODS, containerized moving/storage
  • Various storage options
  • Relocation services
  • Recommended moving companies (we had a nightmare move with Colonial three years ago, so don’t even mention that name!).

It’s not clear how often we’ll need access to the stuff in storage; the less access, the cheaper the cost, I presume.

If it matters, we’re moving from the Atlanta area to the Boston area, leaving here at the end of May. So I’d like to book whoever we’re using within the next week to lock in our move-out date.


One thing I’ve heard over and over again is that people who use long-distance or long-term storage almost never get their things out. Just get rid of whatever you might otherwise store.

Actually, I’ve been using my off-site storage unit to rotate my summer and winter stuff according to the season. As well as some things I don’t currently have room for but will in a year or two if my plant to increase my square footage pans out.

But YMMV. Certainly, a LOT of stuff gets stashed then never touched again.

Are you moving to a house? Can you keep a POD or other type of storage container on your property?

ETA: Sorry for what’s going to happen to your cost of living and the amount of time you’ll spend in traffic.

I would steer clear of the PODS option unless you are certain you know exactly what service you want - where to, how long. And get all pricing clearly stated in writing. The ostensible flexibility does not work out that way in practice. Bear in mind that if your plans change, they have your stuff in storage, and you are now a captive customer - they can and will charge you an outrageous price for any service that was not part of the original contract.

A few years ago, I did a cross-country move using a POD, or whatever U-Haul’s equivalent of them is. It worked, but it took a few weeks longer than they said it would. Which wasn’t quite, but very easily could have been, an issue, because it got very close to the end of the first month of storage (after which, of course, they’d have wanted payment for another month). Hopefully, their customer service department would have recognized that the customer shouldn’t be charged more for the company’s slowness… but I’m not sure.

I’ve got no advice… we had to downsize for a move… to our first 1200 sf house! So we gave away a ton of stuff, but nothing on your scale. We did use U-Haul’s box, and it worked flawlessly…

So I’ll comment on this instead:

I’m in “pare down so I don’t become a hoarder” mode. So I like this idea… put half my stuff in storage, see if I go to the trouble of getting any of it out in the next few months, then toss it.

Or maybe my kids’ll help me fill up a truck, and they’ll tell me they’re taking it to storage, but the storage is a landfill…

On using the moving company warehouse to store your stuff, certainly that’s one option. might even seem less expensive, but any time you want to access your stuff, you will probably have to make an appointment and will be charged for it because of how your stuff is stored. Most moving companies ise big wood boxes and your stuff is packed and stacked inside them high and tight. when you want to access your stuff, you have to schedule it in advanced so that they can pull your vaults(wood boxes) and have someone pull all your stuff out so you can find that winter/summer wardrobe or Gramma’s secret birthday cake recipe or whatever it is. Nope, your stuff doesn’t get vaulted by any logic other than what fits best in the space with the least waste space possible.
My company has one customer who stores her outdoor furniture with us, because we deliver and set it up every spring and take it down and return it to storage every fall(plus put her halloween decor in her attic and bring down her christmas decor). But that’s all she stores with us.

When we moved here, we put stuff in storage for 5 years, which the company paid for. When the 5 years were up, we went through the list of boxes and told them which boxes were to be shipped to Switzerland and which ones would be shipped to my in-laws. We never had the chance to actually go to the storage place and sort things out by hand. It would have been rather inconvenient, as it was in a warehouse outside Newark.

I have a coworker who stored stuff in a storage unit, and he visited approximately once a month, until he got it emptied out. He could visit as much as he wanted, as long as it was during normal hours. But that’s Switzerland. 24-hour is not normal here, and there’s no access on Sundays and holidays as well.

The other issue is weather, especially for books. PODs does not offer climate controlled storage.

I would look for storage options near the Boston area first and then decide the moving part.

Relocation services are expensive. I’m very happy our employer paid for all of it. But it may be worth every penny, especially if there are other contraints.

I did something similar about 10 years ago: moved across country and lived with my folks for a few months until I could find an apartment I liked. I used one of the POD companies and had no complaints. I don’t remember if there were any delays but it likely wouldn’t have mattered since I didn’t need anything in them for a few months.

It has been quite a while, but a neighbor used a POD for storage at their house (it was being rebuilt after Katrina) and was unpleasantly surprised by the plastic roof of the POD. It let in enough light that over several months clothes exposed to the light faded noticeably. An easy problem to avoid-once you know about it.

We are moving cross-country and downsizing. Mostly we are getting rid of stuff, rather than pay to move it - followed by buying new at the other end. Our strategy is - give away what we can, donate what we can, sell what we can, throw away what we must. We are being fairly diligent about getting rid of a lifetime of accumulated schtuph (kid’s spelling tests from 1st through 5th grade - why did we keep those? Into the trash!)

We have a garage currently (townhouse), and will not have one where we are moving (apartment), so we are getting a storage unit (U-Haul or Public Storage). We plan on regular access, and need climate control.

Damn, you’re my role model. Congrats on being able to do that!

I’ve been looking around, because of this thread. U-Haul has both climate controlled ($$$$) and crazy-temperature-swings ($$) storage.

The other thing that surprised me is that many places have odd hours, some very restrictive (noon to 4 MWF, and 4 to 9pm Th… why? There’s no personnel on site, why do they care?).

Maybe to prevent a storage area from being used as a place to stash stolen goods?

Oh, I have no problem with telling my fence that I can only move “Sanrio Six-Foot Stuffies with Dubious Provenance” on Thursday evenings…

Or maybe their insurance company gave them a better rate if they have restricted hours. Only open 4 hours a day? Well, that’s only 4 hours when a customer can injure themselves.

We’ve used PODS twice. The first time when we were getting extensive renovations done to our house - new carpet in all the rooms, etc. We moved my 5,000 books (piker!) into the POD as well as most of our furniture etc. It sat in our driveway. It was for a limited time, so it worked. We used them to move my father-in-laws good furniture to our house when he moved to a senior residence. It worked because our daughter and her husband packed it there, and we unpacked it here - no moving company involved. We used a U-Haul type pod for that one.
In 1980 we stored some stuff at the movers, but I wouldn’t recommend it. And we have a not too big storage locker for Christmas stuff and some furniture. I think a POD would be way expensive for long term storage.
If we moved (Og forbid) I’d go with a POD because you don’t have to frantically pack everything in a day, and then unpack in a day.

Just speculating - perhaps they are doing it as a way to prevent people from using the storage units as dwellings?

That would be my guess.

The company I use has access for 14 hours a day, but after that the gates lock and if you’re inside you’re locked in. Also, no heat and no plumbing. You could camp out in one of their units, but there would be some difficulty in doing so, especially in winter.

The agreement you sign explicitly rules out living in one of those places, but I’m sure people have tried it.

FYI, I’ve tentatively decided that the best course is to clean out the garage at the new house (a nearly Herculean task) and store our stuff there, at least temporarily, rather than rent storage. This means it will be a conventional move, without PODS or splitting the job, etc.

If you have any recommendations for moving companies, or thoughts about whether to use a company that charges by weight or flat rate, please post here. (I decided that that question was different enough from this one that a new thread would be preferable.)

Thanks again for all the advice on this topic.

I’m guessing that the owner has another job, and that’s the only time they can staff it.