Guide to Renting Shipping Containers

Thinking of renting a shipping container, but not sure if it makes sense? A shipping container is a container that is used to transport heavy machinery and equipment across the sea. It has enough strength to withstand shipment, storage, and handling.

There are many factors you have to consider when renting a shipping container. So, are you considering using one? Keep reading for some vital information that might be the main difference between a successful shipping trip and an unsuccessful one when renting shipping containers.

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Is a Container Rental Better than Buying a Shipping Container?

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The major dilemma many people face with shipping containers is whether they should buy shipping containers or rent. There are some factors that will help you make that decision. These factors include:

  • Cost of Renting a Storage Container

When making this decision, you should be more concerned about the cost. First, ask yourself the duration for which you need the container. If it is just for a couple of months, then you should rent one. However, if the duration for which you need it is longer than a year, you should probably buy it. 

It’s wise to consider additional costs as well. When you rent, you have to pay for delivery and pickup, but that’s not the case with buying it, as you only have to pay the delivery fee.

  • Ease

Renting is the best option if you don’t want to be tied down to taking care of a container. Given their size, it can be a hassle to dispose of one, especially if there are no professional scrappers near your location. 

  • Condition

If you are concerned about whether the container is of the best quality, consider renting it. After all, you won’t be committing to ownership and thus won’t have to be concerned about repairing a container that is in less than stellar condition.

Cost of Renting a Storage Container 

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The most commonly preferred choices are the 20’ storage containers for rent as well as the 40’ storage containers for rent. On average, the cost of renting a 20’ shipping container is between $100 to $150. As for the 40’ container, it typically ranges between $150 to $250. 

Related: Check out our guide on leasing shipping containers!

Your contract will also contain the transportation container costs, which can be prepaid or paid at the end of the term. However, there are many factors that contribute to the full price of your container. These include:

  • Size

The size of the container is a big factor in determining the overall cost. It stands to reason that the larger a container you rent, the more expensive it will be. 

  • Age and Condition

The condition of the container, used, refurbished, or new, and its age determines the price of the container. The average lifespan of a container is 15 years. Knowing the extent of use and damage a container has undergone can keep you from overpaying, especially if you choose to buy a container rather than rent.

  • Rent or Buy

Renting allows you to pay small amounts periodically over an agreed period. Monthly rents can be anywhere from a low of $75 to a high of $250. An average rental period is usually 24 months, and you can choose to rent to own the container. 

Of course, buying may be more expensive initially but could be cheaper than renting in the long term as you might pay more over time. Moreover, owning your own container gives you the option of turning it into a sound unit or even a living space.

  • Location and Delivery

The delivery fees and the zip code of your supplier also determine the price of the container. You should inquire about these charges before you make your decision to rent or buy.

Typical Rental Periods

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The average rental period for a shipping container is 24 months. Depending on the contract, you can renew and extend the period accordingly. Moreover, once you find the right supply, you’ll be able to rent a shipping container anytime you need one.

Common Sizes of Containers

While containers can be as large as 53’, let’s take a closer look at three of the most common sizes. 

  • 10’ Container

These are the smallest-sized metal shipping containers. If you are looking to cut costs on shipping management, these containers are the least expensive option. The rent on a container of this size is about $50 and $100 per month.

  • 20’ Container

These containers are commonly found in shipyards, company lots, and on board cargo ships. On average, you can expect to pay between $100 to $150 per month. 

  • 40’ Container

Though a 40′ container costs about $150 to $250 per month, its sizes mean that you should be able to cover all your storage needs.

How to Know What Size of Container to Rent?

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If your goods do not consist predominantly of big pieces of furniture, then a 10’ container should be sufficient. For example, the contents of a studio apartment might fit, or about 2/3rds of a single bedroom apartment occupied by two people.

A 20’ container can hold twice that but is best used for heavy goods (think steel or large amounts of paper) or machinery.

However, if you need more than that, you might want to consider a 40’ or 53’ sized container. Bear in mind that while these containers are perfect for large quantities of goods, those goods should be relatively light. Otherwise, because the container is so large, it becomes too heavy to be manageable and cannot be moved.

Customization and Accessories 

Are you allowed to customize a rented shipping container? Yes, you are. There are many add-on features that you can choose to design your container. It will, however, increase the total price of your rental or purchase. Some features from which you can choose are:

  1. Doors 

You can have personal and/or roll-up doors. Personal doors can cost about $100- $400, and roll-up doors can cost about $600 and above. 

  1. Built-In Shelves

The cost depends on the number of shelves or brackets. It starts at around $85 per bracket.

  1. Locking Mechanisms

The costs of these mechanisms are about $90.

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  1. Awnings

They can run from about $100 to $1000 if they are permanent. For retractable awnings, you’ll likely find prices to be in the region of $1500 and above. 

Use Cases

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Shipping containers can be valuable assets for a variety of businesses and organizations, such as hotels, restaurants, emergency hospitals, offices, and even schools. Moreover, these containers can also be used effectively as portable toilets, saunas, disaster shelters, and cafes, among other applications. 

What you use a container for will influence its design and how it is populated. Take, for instance, the office. A standard office would need a chair, a table, a shelf, lights, air conditioning, and adequate ventilation. Yet, thanks to the spaciousness afforded by a container, you’ll be able to add whatever you’d want in a workspace. 

If you are looking to convert it into accommodation, you’ll likely want to sectionalize the space and may need to perform a lot of renovations to make it a viable living space. Depending on your preferred design, you could have your own bedroom, kitchen, dining, bathroom, and more. You can be as creative as you want with storage containers, limited only by the bounds of your budget and imagination.

Rent a Shipping Container for Storage

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Most businesses prefer to rent shipping containers instead of buying since it is more affordable and convenient. However, before you rent a container to store your goods, you should read these tips first: 

  • Check and Get All Necessary Documents and Permits

Your permit requirements will vary by state and even city. For instance, you might need a temporary use permit, while sometimes, you might not need one at all. Nevertheless, you should always check to establish what kind of permits you’re expected to obtain.

Other documents may also be needed to ensure that your rental is fully legal. As with permits, your legal requirements are going to reflect where you plan to place and use your container. So, if your container is going to be close to a residential area, you’re more likely to find stricter requirements than would be the case elsewhere.

  • Check for a Delivery Fee

Hidden fees can rack up a bill and make your purchase expensive. The fee is determined by how far the delivery point is from the supplier’s place. You should always get the delivery quote before you sign any contract.

  • Know the Container’s Duration of Use

If you sign up for a long-term contract, you might get better rates. In fact, some suppliers offer a rent-to-purchase option for long-term users. If you are not sure how long you will use the container, ask the supplier for a periodic contract.

You should also find out how much it will take for you to end a contract. 

  • Figure Out the Size of the Container You Need

If you need to keep the contents of a three-bedroom home stored, then a 10’ storage container will not be big enough. So, make sure that your choice can accommodate both your existing needs and has the capacity to meet any future storage requirements.

  • Know the Features You Want

When it comes to choosing add-ons, a good starting place is to consider the goods you want to store, the doors you want, the type of locking mechanism, and the design of the container. Does it need ventilation? Do you need shelving for boxes?

You should also make sure to talk to multiple suppliers before you pick a container. Ask them questions that range from their rates to their terms of contract. Doing this will help you pick the most reputable of all of them and find you the best deal.

Rent a Shipping Container for Moving

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Shipping containers are excellent alternatives to moving trucks. Moving trucks are fine for short distances, but if you plan to transport goods overseas or for an extended distance, then a shipping container is a better option. If you want a container for moving, you should make sure to:

  • Know Your Size Requirements

If your belongings are very large, like several California king beds, you might not be able to use the 10’ container. 

Take an inventory of what you want to pack, measure space and furniture, and note the appliances you need. 

  • Compare Containers and Suppliers

It’s a good idea to take advantage of the internet by comparing companies and seeing what deals they have to offer. By taking this approach, you may find discounts or container sizes that are more affordable than they might have been. As an added precaution, it’s also prudent to establish a company’s reliability by checking reviews through the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trustpilot.

  • Ask for References and Security

You should never enter a contract without asking for references. Having quality references from a broad scope of clients can show that the supplier is reliable and can be trusted. Additionally, make sure to visit the container site and inquire about security. 

How Do Steel Containers Compare to Pods? 

People compare steel containers to pods frequently. Pods and steel containers are similar in that they are both used for storing and transporting cargo or items from one location to another. However, pods are typically smaller in size, and they tend to be less secure as they have roll-up doors. 

Pods also aren’t water-tight, and they are more difficult to protect from rodents and other vermin. If you want to ensure that your goods are kept dry, mildew- and pest-free, then a steel container is the better option.

Lastly, pods may come with semi-transparent tops. If your belongings are not sensitive to light, this may not matter. Still, if you’re worried about privacy or you have possessions that are photosensitive, choosing a steel container is the best choice.

Conclusion

Renting a container is ideal if you are looking for short-term use. Of course, you may be able to buy it later if you are interested or find that using a storage container is just too convenient. You can also reach out to us for help when you want to rent a shipping container for storage, moving, or when you have any other needs.

Ryan Stetson

Ryan Stetson

Currently own two 20' and 40' containers converted into an office/workshop. Having worked in the shipping industry for 6 years, my goal is to share my personal experiences as well as connect potential container buyers with suppliers around the US.

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