How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost for Storage?

If you are looking for a flexible and cost-effective way to store your things, one option you might consider is renting or purchasing a shipping container.

In this guide, you will learn how much a storage container costs to rent or buy and what factors can impact pricing.

Before we dive in, however, let’s talk a little bit about traditional storage units and how much they run.

What Does It Cost to Store Your Stuff in a Regular Storage Unit?

The cost to rent a traditional storage unit depends on that unit’s location, size, and other factors.

According to Pods, here are typical monthly rental costs for traditional self-storage units:

Size of UnitMonthly Cost to Rent
(without climate control)* 
Monthly Cost to Rent
(with climate control)* 
5’x10′$67.94$84.46
10’x10′$107.11$132.66
10’x15′$132.97$173.32
10’x20′ $156.41$222.49

Shipping containers are generally 20 feet long or 40 feet long. So, presumably if you are weighing this option, you have a lot of stuff to store. If you were going to get a regular storage unit, you would likely be choosing the largest size, and you might even need two of them.

So, right off the top, even without climate control, you are looking at pricing between $150 and $300.

Plus, if you are in an urban area, monthly storage costs at a traditional self-storage facility can easily exceed the averages we are looking at above.

Something else you might not realize if you have never used self-storage for a lengthy period of time is that many storage facility owners habitually raise pricing on a regular schedule for tenants.

If you are dealing with rent hikes every year, it may not take long before you are paying substantially more than you were originally.

Self-storage units can easily turn into a financial black hole that just keeps growing, devouring more and more money.

Given that reality, it makes a lot of sense to look into alternatives like renting or purchasing a shipping container.

Shipping Container Rental Cost

storage containers for sale
Mobile Mini Rental Unit

How much does it cost to rent a storage container? The answer to this question likewise depends on the size of the unit, and the company you decide to go with.

A typical range that is given for renting a storage container is anywhere from $75 to $200 a month.

Costs for some larger storage containers from some companies may run in excess of $200 a month.

Also, note that if you are going to rent a storage container, that container will need to go somewhere. If you have room on your own property, you might be able to keep it there.

But if you do not, you might need to pay an additional fee to store the container at the company’s own location.

The pricier storage container rental options also typically are for services that are aimed are people who are relocating.

Even so, the cost to rent a storage container for a month or two plus the cost of pickup and delivery fees usually comes in far lower than what you would pay for a traditional moving truck.


Shipping Container Purchase Cost

If you are interested in long-term storage, it could be that the best way to save on costs is to buy a storage container outright, especially if you have a place to put it on your own property.

Typically, the cost to buy a 20-foot shipping container starts at around $1,400. It might range as high as about $7,000.

If you are wanting a 40-foot shipping container, pricing tends to start out at around $2,500 and range upward from there.

It only takes a quick mathematical example to demonstrate why it is cost-effective to buy your own shipping container for storage.

Say you are renting a 10’ x 20’ self-storage unit for $150 a month. That adds up to $1,800 over the course of a year.

That already exceeds the cost you would pay at the lower end to purchase a 20-foot shipping container.

Now imagine that you need that storage space for a much longer period of time—for example, the next decade. Over the course of 10 years, your rental fees for that self-storage unit would add up to at least $18,000.

Chances are good that the amount would actually be quite a bit higher than that because of the rental rate hikes you can expect over that entire span of time.

Regardless, you could clearly save a huge amount of money by purchasing your own storage container. That would even be true if you bought a relatively expensive shipping container!

Another Option: Rent to Own

If you are not sure how long you will need the storage container and you cannot decide whether it makes more sense to rent or purchase, one more option is to rent to own.

This is a smart way to hedge. If you only end up needing the container for a few months, all you will have paid are the monthly rental fees. But if you end up needing it for longer, you will not need to keep paying rent indefinitely. Once you have paid enough rent to purchase it outright, it will be yours.

Factors that Influence Shipping Container Storage Costs

You probably noticed that there is quite a broad range in shipping container costs if you are buying your own unit. Below, we go over some factors that can impact the cost to purchase a container.

1. Size

As we already discussed, size has an impact on shipping container costs. You will pay more for a 40’ unit than you would for a 20’ unit.

2. New or Used

You can find shipping containers for sale new or used. Hypothetically, you can save quite a bit of money by purchasing a used container rather than a new one.

But one thing to note is that you might have to clean a used shipping container before you can use it. This can be quite involved, and may entail additional costs. In some situations, you might even have to make repairs (see below).

3. Condition

A well-used shipping container may not be in perfect condition. Naturally, the worse shape it is in, the less expensive it will be to purchase. But you will need to run some calculations to factor in the repair costs. In some scenarios, it might make sense to spend more money to get a storage container that is in better shape and requires less work.

Indeed, if you need to get your stuff into storage, you could also be on a tight schedule. So, you will want to account for the time that avoiding repairs could save you as well.

Speaking of repair work, something else to investigate before purchasing a container is what repairs have been made to it previously. These, too, may impact what it costs to purchase. The type and quality of repairs could also have an effect on future maintenance requirements.

4. Extra Features

There are quite a few extra features that some shipping containers come with. Each of these will add to the cost. But they also add functional value to your storage solution. Here are some examples:

  • Doors. Having more than one door might be helpful by making it easier to access items in the back of your storage container. Every door on the container will add between $100 and $400 or so to the price.
  • Shelves. These can be built right into the walls of the shipping container. Expect to pay about $85 for every bracket. Be sure to make some diagrams first to figure out whether shelves will be a convenience or a hindrance for stacking your items.
  • Locks. Naturally, you are going to want some security for your storage container. Expect to pay around $90 at a minimum.
  • Awnings. Some people get awnings installed on their storage containers. These may be either retractable or permanent. As you might guess, you will pay significantly more for a retractable awning—around $1,500, compared with a range of $100-$1,000 for regular, non-retractable awnings.
  • Insulation. If the area where you will be storing your things is subject to large fluctuations in temperature, it may be worthwhile to spend extra to install quality insulation in the container. In some cases, you might even want to go so far as to incorporate full climate control.
  • Build to custom dimensions. When buying a storage container, you may sometimes be allowed to specify a custom size. You will pay around 30% more for this option.

5. Cost to Deliver

One more consideration whether you are renting or buying a shipping container for storage is the cost for delivery.

If you are renting a storage container, the delivery fee may be minimal. It might even be under $100.

But if you are purchasing a shipping container and having it delivered to your site, the delivery fees could add up to a lot more than you expect. If you are buying locally, it should be under $1,000. But if you are purchasing it from elsewhere, it would not be unusual to pay thousands of dollars just to receive it.

The farther the shipping container needs to be transported, the more expensive the delivery cost will be. The cost may also depend on any challenging terrain the delivery team needs to navigate to reach you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is a shipping container good for storage?

A: Yes, a shipping container can be an excellent choice for storage. They are fire-resistant, durable, pest-resistant, weather-resistant, and offer great longevity. That means they can provide superior protection for your items. As discussed in this post, they also can be a cost-effective alternative to traditional storage units.

Q: How long do shipping containers last?

A: A shipping container can last for more than 25 years. This assumes regular use and no maintenance. If you are willing to put some effort into maintenance, you might be able to get your shipping container to last significantly longer than that. So, it can be a good investment for long-term storage.

Q: Can I find a shipping container to use for storage for under $1,000?

A: Hypothetically, you might be able to find a shipping container for storage available for under $1,000. But if you do, you should exercise caution. This price is below the minimum for the standard price bracket. There is a chance that something is wrong with the container, and that you will need to spend money to repair it.

Make sure you find out why the container is being priced so low before you move forward with your purchase.

Q: What can’t you store in a shipping container?

A: If you are buying your own shipping container, theoretically, you can store whatever you want in it. Nonetheless, there are certainly some items that you should not store in it.

If you are renting a shipping container for storage, you will need to check in with the rental company to find out what their list of restricted items includes. Obtaining one of these lists also can give you some good guidance for what you should not store in a shipping container that you own.

Some common examples of items that you should not store in a shipping container include plants or animals, chemicals, ammunition or fireworks, lighter fluid, or anything combustible or flammable. Use your common sense, and you should avoid most problems.

Get Free Quotes Now for Shipping Container Storage Units

You now have a feel for what you can expect regarding shipping container prices whether you are renting, buying, or renting to own.

With so much variation in costs, it pays to plan ahead and also do your homework by comparing quotes from different companies.

To make that process fast and easy, we can connect you with quotes from multiple shipping container storage companies, helping you find the most competitive deal.