You have seen tiny houses, dome homes, DIY vans, and campers – but the latest craze? Shipping container apartments and homes!
The Scandinavian, space-saving design, is perfect for those looking to downsize or for a vacation home. Surprisingly, a shipping container makes for quite a beautiful home with a little TLC. Whether you want a getaway in the woods or a seaside cottage, a shipping container is an affordable and stylish option.
Below are some of the most incredible shipping container apartments worldwide, why people love this new way of living, and how much it costs to create a shipping container apartment.
What Are Shipping Container Apartments?
Well, pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a shipping container apartment is built using repurposed containers with all of the standard features a traditional apartment would include such as a bathroom, bedroom(s), living room, and anything else you would expect in a standard apartment.
Since shipping containers are relatively small, these are not mansion-sized units. While they are usually more substantial than a tiny house, they are still petite compared to conventional residential homes.
Most builders stack containers to create a mid-rise structure with multiple floors. Shipping containers can be comfortably stacked up to eight stories high without structural challenges, but your typical container complex will only be around 3-4 containers high.
Pros of Building a Shipping Container Apartment
If you are interested in shipping container living, you are in luck. The positives outweigh the negatives by a longshot.
Pros of a shipping container apartment are:
- They take less time to build than a traditional home or apartment.
- Can be pre-fabricated off-site, drastically reducing delays and on-site costs like labor.
- Containers are naturally durable.
- No need to worry about changing locations – containers are easily moved by truck or boat.
Travelers love shipping container apartments for that last perk. Not all containers are portable, but moveable containers are not challenging to come by. You can move your apartment wherever life takes you.
Cons of Using a Shipping Container Apartment
As mentioned above, the negatives of shipping container apartments are generally subjective. Whether you think these are downsides or not depends on what you look for or need in a home.
A shipping container apartment may not be for you if you want high ceilings or expansive rooms, for example. Most containers have widths of about 7 feet after the insulation is added in.
What lures curious builders to look into shipping container homes? Cost.
Renting and purchasing a shipping container home is cheaper than renting a standard apartment or house. If you’re interested in building instead of buying, the cost may still be reduced. That said, there are a few factors to keep in mind when you are laying out blueprints.
First, consider where you want to put your shipping container apartment and how much you’ll need to pay for the land alone. If you choose an empty field in a rural area, you can expect to pay around $2,000 per acre. Urban areas get exceptionally costly, though – some metro areas in New York cost over $5 million.
On top of that, you can expect to pay at least tens of thousands of dollars to build your shipping container apartment.
If you want to rent a shipping container home, get ready to save some serious cash. The average rent price for a shipping container apartment is $75 – $200. Of course, these prices vary depending on the size and condition of the apartment, but still – quite a bit cheaper than a New York City studio, no?
For comparison, the average rent of a United States apartment is $1,124/month.
Typical Uses and Examples of Shipping Container Apartments from Around the World
You may have trouble visualizing what a shipping container apartment building looks like – check out the incredible apartments below for inspiration!
Containers on Grand – Phoenix, Arizona
Stark James LLC built Containers on Grand with affordable housing in mind. Each apartment is 740 sqft and has an industrial-chic vibe. The outside of each unit has the original container color and look, but the inside is modern and minimalist.
These apartments have amenities you may not expect to come with a shipping container, such as:
- Washer/dryer in-unit
- Built-in desks
- 8-foot ceilings
- Marine-grade wood floors
Located near downtown Phoenix, these apartments match or exceed the amenities offered in metropolitan locales.
Escape Den by River & Rain Ltd. – Dhaka, Bangladesh
This shipping container apartment is a private oasis. Lush greenery, industrial beams, and natural light make this apartment a work of art.
One of the more luxurious shipping container homes, this style will run more expensive than the bare-bones model. But if you want luxury and serenity, an apartment like this is the way to go.
The Escape Den is a single-family residence constructed with relaxation and simplicity in mind. The ground floor has a massive open-air deck, den, and kitchen, while the first floor hosts the bed and bath.
Palen Studio, EcoTech Architects – Joshua Tree, California
Breathtaking views, modern amenities, and a polished exterior make this Joshua Tree container apartment one of the most incredible in the world.
Designed by Walter Scott Perry with EcoTech Architects, this home is environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. Other details include:
- Palen Studio consists of 5 shipping containers
- The project took 3 hours to build
- Solar panels reduce glare by 75% and reduce the temperature by 25 degrees – no A/C is needed
- First container home approved for residency in San Bernadino County
Grillagh Water House, Patrick Bradley Architect – Grillagh, Northern Ireland
Nestled among the rolling hills of Northern Ireland, the Grillagh Water House is a shipping container apartment at its finest.
Floor-to-ceiling windows, industrial metal exterior, and a genuinely exceptional soaker tub bring opulent vibes at a shockingly low price. Also of note – this was the first shipping container apartment in Northern Ireland!
Grillagh consists of four shipping containers. Patrick Bradley wanted the home to blend in with its surroundings and feel like part of the natural landscape.
The floor plan is relatively simple. A galley kitchen, dining area, and living room are on the top floor, while the bedroom and bath are on the ground level for additional privacy.
Floating Community by Urban Rigger – Copenhagen, Denmark
Urban Rigger designed one of the first shipping container apartment communities focusing on sustainable, affordable housing.
The Floating Community was the first built on a waterway. They kept the exterior design of the shipping containers as-is, giving them an industrial-but-stylish look.
You might also like: 4 Cool Shipping Container Homes with a Courtyard
Scandinavian architecture has a reputation for making the most of a small space, and these apartments are no exception. Each unit measures either 30 square meters or 23 square meters. Rooftop gardens and outdoor amenities like bike racks and BBQs encourage residents to mingle and coexist.
Sustainability is one of the essential factors with the Urban Rigger community, and each apartment features:
- Hydro source heating
- Low energy pumps
- Solar power
Crossbox by 2A Design – Pont Pean, France
Known for their innovative and jaw-dropping designs, the Crossbox shipping container apartment is one of the finest by 2A Designs. Whimsical, colorful-yet-refined, this apartment has French elegance blended with a youthful feel.
The home is 104 square meters total and costs €150,000 to build. Prominent features include the outdoor rope swing (for adults and kids!) and the simple open floor plan. The bottom floor hosts floor-to-ceiling windows and a living area, and the top floor consists of three bedrooms and bathrooms.
Port-a-Bach, Atelier Workshop – Wellington, New Zealand
World travelers, this is for you. The Port-a-Bach shipping container apartment is easily transported anywhere and holds two adults and two children.
Port-a-Bach came to life with the environment in mind, and this apartment is full of unique touches that make it a tiny oasis, such as:
- Fold-out lounging areas for open-air living
- Power, sewer, and water independent – but can connect to another source
- Open shower, sink, & composting toilet
Squirrel Park, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Tiny-but-mighty shipping containers make for a seriously secure and durable home. The durability becomes more critical if you live in an area known as Tornado Alley.
This shipping container apartment complex by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris is sturdy enough on its own, but the complex also has an additional tornado bunker on the property.
Bright white with vibrant pops of yellow, the Squirrel Park apartment buildings have four units per building, and each has a full kitchen, bed, and bath.
The architect built Squirrel Park to create affordable housing in a high-crime area. The goal is to establish a sense of community and encourage sustainability practices. Squirrel Hill cost a total of $1.1 million to build.
Shipping Container House, H.T. Studio – Nederland, Colorado
Cozy-yet-industrial, this shipping container house/apartment is one of a kind. Using bohemian decor and warm tones, H.T. Studio took two used shipping containers and gave them new life.
The containers are office and bedroom space, while the center column includes the kitchen, dining room, and loft. The entrance is in the center column. There is also a garage attached to the apartment.
One reason people are switching to container living is to go off-grid. This home has solar power, a green roof for natural A/C, and photovoltaic electricity – making it self-sustainable and ideal for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle.
Freedom, by Minimalist Homes – Milford, Michigan
If the standard 8-foot ceiling of a shipping container does not sound quite enough for you, the Freedom apartment might be your top pick. With 9.5-foot ceilings and a minimalist layout, this shipping container apartment is an affordable option and can be shipped anywhere!
Minimalist Homes decided to call the unit Freedom because it frees its inhabitants from conforming to traditional living styles and locations. The Freedom is versatile, durable, and offers killer views no matter where you are.
- 300 sq ft
- Priced at $70,000
- One bed, one bath
Although this home is no-frills, it still looks classy and modern – perfect for a weekend getaway or permanent apartment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you still on the fence about storage container apartments? Read on for questions from curious builders just like you.
Which States Allow Shipping Container Homes?
Unfortunately, not all states have gotten on the shipping container bandwagon. As of January 2022, a few states that allow shipping homes are Texas, California, Alaska, Tennessee, Louisiana, Missouri, and Oregon.
Some states are deliberating on the topic – Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Montana are currently deciding whether or not they will allow shipping containers to be residential homes.
Are Shipping Containers Toxic to Live in?
Not necessarily, but it is not entirely unheard of for some to have toxic materials inside them. If you purchase a brand-new shipping container specifically made for residential purposes, you do not have to worry about poisonous gasses.
However, previously used containers may have toxic chemicals – up to 20% of containers have an unhealthy amount of harmful materials. If you choose to purchase a used container, ensure that it has been thoroughly inspected and cleaned before you move in.
Are Shipping Container Apartments Worth it?
Whether or not a shipping container home is worth it depends on what you want out of a home. For the most part, container-apartment-buyers love their new way of living. If you want a sustainable, affordable, and minimalist home – the shipping container life is for you. And, even if you appreciate the finer things in life, you can build a full-size residential home with containers.
Shipping container apartment complexes, homes, and tiny houses are getting more popular by the day.
Homebuyers looking to downsize or have a less expensive mortgage find that container life is the way to go, although plenty of container homes end up becoming rental properties or guest houses.
Either way, shipping container homes are the way of the future, and it truly is incredible what you can do to these seemingly simple hunks of metal. From the tornado-ridden weather of Oklahoma City to the mild and chilly climate of France, you cannot go wrong with a shipping container apartment.