Should You Rent Or Buy A Shipping Container?

May 16, 2022

Shipping containers are mainly used for transport and storage purposes. Containers can also be converted into cost-effective offices and eco-friendly homes. When it comes to shipping containers, one of the crucial decisions business owners have to make is whether to buy or rent the container. Both options have pros and cons, and the right choice depends on your specific needs.

Stacked cargo containers in storage area of freight sea port terminal

Before deciding whether to buy or rent a container, consider the following factors:

1. How long are You Planning to Use it?

Owning a container means you have it forever. This is best for businesses that have and get ongoing long-term projects. Also, if you intend to install your container in one spot permanently, you'll need to buy it. Buying a container allows you to use the structure for different projects over a long period and can even last up to 25 years with proper maintenance.

On the other hand, it's better to opt for shipping containers for hire if you need one for shorter periods, like weeks, months up to a year, or on project-based dealings, and you are unsure if it will get extended or not.

2. What Kind of Container Structure do You Need

Most rental companies offer two types of container structures, storage units and offices. If you need something different, you'll have to buy a shipping container. If you're unsure which container fits your business, renting one may be better, as renting makes it easier to upgrade or exchange the container when the need arises.

Conversely, buying a container is a great option for businesses that remain the same even in the future. If you purchase and later want to upgrade or modify, you'll need to sell or dispose of your current model.

3. What's Your Budget

The cost of buying and renting a container differs greatly depending on its age, size, and modifications. A new, large container with modifications is more expensive than an old, small, unmodified container.

The rental prices range from USD$50 to USD$500 per month based on your needs. On the other hand, the cost of a shipping container is based on the structure and ranges from USD$4,000 to USD$ 50,000.

Comparing the cost of renting a container for several years to the price of purchase, it makes more sense to rent the containers you need for a short time. But, if you plan to use it for over a year, purchasing it may cost less over time.

4. The Size of the Container

Shipping sizes vary greatly and range from under 10 feet in length to over 50 feet. Large containers are suitable for large cargo quantities but have their issues. They require more space and planning, and the transportation cost is high. If you don't have enough space in your warehouse or business, large containers can bring stress and unwanted expenses. Small shipping containers can be ideal if your property is small, as they can even fit in the parking lot.

On the other hand, the size of the container won't be an issue if you hire them. The shipping container provider will do all the work for you.

Purchasing a Shipping Container

Buying a shipping container is ideal if you need the container for an extended period or want substantial modifications to the container. Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a shipping container.


  • Buying a shipping container is more cost-effective if you require permanent or long-term use of a container.
  • After purchasing a shipping container, you can modify it to meet your desired requirements; for instance, you can add extra insulation or shelves depending on the product you are transporting.
  • You can potentially get most of your money back after selling the container.


  • Buying a shipping counter can be a considerable expense. You have to make sure that your finances cover upfront fees and maintenance costs.
  • After maximizing the use of your container, you'll be required to dispose of it, which can be expensive and labor-intensive.

Renting a Shipping Container

If you only need a shipping container for a short period, renting it is more cost-effective. Renting a container means you can use it for storage, shipping, or conversion needs and then return it after you're done. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of renting a container.


  • If you require a container for a short period, renting may come out cheaper.
  • After using the container, you can arrange for the company to pick it up. You don't have to worry about storage issues and have any other liabilities aside from those stated in your contract.


  • Many rentals come pre-modified; thus, you can't modify a rented shipping container. So, if you're planning to use it as an office container, you're better off buying one than renting one.
  • Renting a shipping container can be expensive if you use it long-term.
  • Some shipping container companies require monthly payments. If you cannot settle those on time, they will have the final say if they will extend the service or not.

The Bottom Line

Both rental shipping containers and those for sale offer various benefits to the user. Buying or renting a shipping container narrows down to your unique situation and business needs. Before deciding, consider multiple factors and weigh the pros and cons of each decision.




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