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Should You Rent or Buy a Shipping Container?

Buying a shipping container is not always more expensive than renting one. However, this depends on several factors, such as the condition of the container, what you intend to use it for, your customization requirements, how long you plan on using it, and so on.

Should you rent or buy a shipping container?

Renting or buying a shipping container can be equally beneficial, so the right choice will depend on your specific needs. Here are some things to consider before making your decision between shipping containers for sale and for rent:

Shipping Containers for Sale

The most common shipping container structures available for rent are storage and office units. An office, for instance, may come with finished walls, climate control, a window, and an extra personnel door. However, if you want more features such as a bathroom or kitchenette, or custom modifications such as multiple windows or special flooring, then purchasing a shipping container and having it modified will give you the most satisfaction and value for your money.

Considering that a shipping container has a lifespan of over 25 years, here are the main reasons to buy one:

1. Customization

The main reason why people purchase shipping containers is because of custom modifications. If you buy a shipping container, you can come up with a unique design for modifications to suit your specific application, whether it’s a house, office, workshop, kiosk, shop, beauty parlour, and so on. With their strong, non-corrosive steel material, combined with incredible robustness and safety features, shipping containers can be transformed into any kind of space you need with your exact specifications.

2. More vendor options

If you plan on renting a shipping container, your rental company will have to make arrangements for delivery and pick up at the end of your rental period. For convenience, you’ll probably have to shop for container providers around you, which could cause you to settle for a unit that may not necessarily be the best option for your needs. On the other hand, if you’re buying a unit, you can shop far and wide until you get exactly what you want, and then make arrangements to have it delivered to any location of your choice.

3. Option to amortize the cost

When buying a shipping container, you don’t necessarily have to make the full payment at once. Some companies allow you to make payments over a duration of time, so the cost won’t be a problem when shopping for the container you want. Generally, the break-even point for renting a shipping container is a minimum of three years. If you project that you’ll need the container for more than three years, then it’s more economical to buy it.

Shipping Containers for Rent

Many customers usually have a good idea of whether to buy or rent a shipping container based on whether their need is permanent or long term. Generally, you can choose to rent a container for:

1. Temporary storage solution

If you’re looking for a temporary storage solution for your residence or business, you should consider renting one. Depending on how long you plan on using it, you can opt for a short-term or long-term contract. The latter is more cost-effective, but you may choose monthly payments if you have short-term cash flow. For instance, business customers who handle short-term contracts from their clients typically choose short-term container rentals so that the monthly fee can be billed to the client as a project expense.

2. Size reassessment on changing needs

Containers come in a wide range of sizes, so finding the right size for your needs can be a challenge. Many people end up paying more money for a larger container because they think that they need more space than they actually do. By renting a storage container, you can determine whether you need more or less space, and then reassess your needs accordingly when you need to rent one again to avoid paying more for space you don’t need. Moreover, you can rent storage containers of various sizes at different times, depending on your changing space needs.

3. Trial period before purchasing

Some shipping container rental companies allow their clients to purchase their rental containers after completing their contract. This means that if you’re satisfied with your rental container and wish to keep it over the long term, you can simply request to purchase it rather than extend the rental contract’s duration. If you plan on eventually purchasing a container after renting, but are not sure about the correct size, you can try out different sizes for short rental periods until you find the right fit for your needs.

4. Attractive look with zero maintenance

Stainless steel containers are extremely durable. When exposed to the elements for a long time, their exterior can begin to look weathered and dated. Moreover, if your container is located in an open place, people are at risk of tagging it with graffiti, which is expensive to fix. Rental shipping containers come with vandalism protection to eliminate the risk of paying for any damages to the unit out-of-pocket and allow you to swap the unit for a newer one every time you rent again.


Both rental shipping containers and those for sale offer certain benefits for the user. If you’re sure about the type of container you want, need it to be uniquely customized, want it to be transported to a remote or distant location, or plan on using it for a very long time, then buying one should be the best option. Otherwise, renting may be the best choice if you’re unsure of your space requirements and need to try out your estimates, after which you can purchase the rental. Rental shipping containers are also ideal for short-term gigs so you don’t have to worry about storing or maintaining them when not in use, or when you need additional containers occasionally during bigger events or activities.

Keep in mind that long-term shipping container rentals are more cost-effective than short-term rentals. Make sure to consult a shipping container professional to determine the most cost-effective option between intermittent short-term rentals and long-term rentals, or simply purchasing a shipping container with the option to amortize the cost.

For more information on whether you should rent or buy a shipping container and the benefits of each, contact Secure Container Solutions.

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