In the last decade or so, a new option has emerged for storing and transporting your possessions. You may have seen one sitting in your neighbor's driveway: a stainless-steel container that looks like a dumpster. It's called a portable moving container and it's a new moving service a few companies offer.
The idea is simple: Instead of forcing customers with a DIY bent to rent a moving van or truck at a high daily rate, pack it in a hurry, unload it in a rush, and return the truck, why not separate the actual storage device from the transportation itself and allow the customer to fill it on their own schedule?
How it works
After you sign up, a truck delivers one or more empty, rectangular stainless-steel containers to your home. Containers come in a variety of sizes - 7 feet, 12 feet, or 16 feet - depending on how much stuff you're moving. The containers rest flat on the ground, so unlike a moving van, there's no ramp you have to walk up and down as you pack.
One of the great advantages of portable containers is that they come with no built-in time limit so you can move at your own pace. Additional fees only begin to kick in after 30 days.
Wondering about the safety of your possessions if they're spending all that time outside? Different companies have different approaches to security. Some allow you to use your own locks; some require you to use theirs. All portable containers have tough, stainless-steel skeletons and are locked up tightly.
Time to go
Once you've packed the container, the next step is to contact the company and request a pickup. And remember: Your possessions don't have to go straight to your new residence. Say you're moving, but you're heading out of the country for a couple of months first. No problem. Pack the container, and send your valuables off to deep storage; when you get back, log into the website and tell the company where to send your stuff. It'll be there in less than a week.
What about insurance?
Most of these services require customers to insure their property. You can satisfy the requirement if your homeowner's protection extends to possessions in storage and in transit. Contact your insurance agent to find out to what extent your insurance covers your possessions once they leave your home.
Generally, these services will run you less money than a professional moving service, and will be competitive with a rented van or truck. One company quotes a move from within Chicago out to Elk Grove, Illinois - a Chicago suburb - at a couple of hundred dollars. Remember: There's no timetable for filling your container, and going this route means no gas and no mileage charges.
For longer-distance moves or moves across the country, you'll need to talk directly to the company.