How Much Do Shipping Containers Cost? [Full Guide]

The cost of a shipping container varies based on several factors, such as size, condition, location, and demand.

Based on the research for 20 random US states and several companies, the cost of a shipping container ranges from $2,800 to $7,500 for a new one and around $1,200 to $4,500 for a used one, on average. The size and condition are heavily affecting the price.

Usually, 20′ and 40′ storage containers are bought for storage or repurposed for living spaces. There are also other sizes, such as 12′ and 16′ tall, but these are uncommon.

Often, the price doesn’t correlate with the age as much, but with the condition of the container. General advice is that if you are buying shipping containers to build a home, it would be a good idea to get brand new containers, usually marked as “one trip”.

How Much Do Shipping Containers Cost?

On average, a new standard 20-foot shipping container can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000, while a used container can cost between $1,000 and $2,500. A 40-foot container can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 for a new one and $1,700 to $4,500 for a used one.

The prices may vary significantly depending on the container’s location, condition, and availability.

That’s usually 20ft or 40ft, standard or high cube, or perhaps 10ft size (slightly more expensive). The cheapest ones are yellow shipping containers (and sometimes gray ones).

What is the price of a 53-foot shipping container?

On average, a new 53-foot container can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $9,000, while a used container can cost between $2,500 and $6,000. These prices may vary significantly depending on the container’s location, condition, and availability.

Bear in mind that while 53-foot containers offer more storage space, their sheer size can present challenges in terms of placement, especially in residential areas with tight space constraints.

How much would 12′ and 16′ tall shipping containers cost?

On average, a new 12-foot tall container can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $3,500, while a used container can cost between $1,000 and $2,500. A new 16-foot tall container can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000, while a used container can cost between $1,500 and $4,000.

orange and grey shipping containers used as storage

The cost will not only depend on the condition and size but also your location. Depending on where you live and where the container will be delivered, the price may vary greatly depending on the state.

The cost isn’t especially high for a used (or even new) container. The real expense comes if you’re building a home out of containers to live in or rent. Additional costs can skyrocket with the insulation, plumbing, HVAC, etc.

I did some research and checked several companies, which sell shipping containers online. Then, used this data, for 20 randomly selected US states, and created a table.

Check it out below:

Shipping Container Cost

New20' Standard20' x 8' x 8'6"4,900 pounds$2,800 - $4,500
Used20' Standard20' x 8' x 8'6"4,900 pounds$1,500 - $2,200
Used - Yellow20' Standard20' x 8' x 8'6"4,900 pounds$1,200 - $1,500
New40' Standard40' x 8' x 8'6"8,200 pounds$4,200 - $7,000
Used40' Standard40' x 8' x 8'6"8,200 pounds$1,700 - $2,500
Used - Yellow40' Standard40' x 8' x 8'6"8,200 pounds$1,400 - $1,900
New40' High Cube40' x 8' x 9'6"8,400 pounds$4,300 - $7,500
Used40' High Cube40' x 8' x 9'6"8,400 pounds$1,900 - $2,600
Used - Yellow40' High Cube40' x 8' x 9'6"8,400 pounds$1,500 - $2,000
New45' High Cube45' x 8' x 9'6"8,600 pounds$7,700 - $8,200
Used45' High Cube45' x 8' x 9'6"8,600 pounds$2,200 - $4,500
Used - Yellow45' High Cube45' x 8' x 9'6"8,600 poundsnot available
New10 ft10' x 8' x 8'6"2,900 pounds$5,500 - $7,500
Used10 ft10' x 8' x 8'6"2,900 pounds$4,000 - $7,000
New - Yellow10 ft10' x 8' x 8'6"2,900 pounds$3,600 - $4,000
The average cost of shipping containers across 20 states in the US

As you can see, the cost of a shipping container varies greatly from state to state.

The cheapest ones are yellow, and the most expensive ones are the new 40’ and 45’ sizes, but also 10’. There are also other sizes such as 12’ and 16’ tall, which can hold one to four rooms of furniture for you to live in. These are difficult to find.

Some of these companies have major discounts for different sizes. Keep in mind that just because the container has rust and blemishes doesn’t mean it’s not waterproof and solid. For example, COR-TEN steel gets rusty, and this is normal.

How Much Are New and Used Shipping Containers?

A new shipping container (one trip) in excellent condition will usually cost $3,000 to $7,000, and $2,000 to $3,000 in a less-than-perfect condition, depending on the size and the delivery cost.

These are usually a one-trip container, meaning they only made one storage trip – they were manufactured (in Asia probably), then shipped directly to your country carrying their first cargo. They are still considered “new containers”, even with one trip on them.

One of the more popular ones is the ISO containers, which companies use for frequent transport of storage worldwide. ISO containers are the newest and most structurally sound units available.

But even the new shipping container can cost less than that. The price may drop considerably if it is damaged and has misaligned doors, dents, or holes.

The price of a shipping container will depend mostly on these factors:

  • size
  • condition
  • age
  • cost of delivery, and
  • permitting fees

Used shipping container costs anywhere between $1,500 to $2,500 on average (except the ‘cube’ ones), depending mostly on the size and the condition.

The CWO-marked ones are slightly more expensive than WWT ones (what are CWO and WWT).

A used shipping container doesn’t mean it can’t be in good condition. It’s generally still in good condition, just that it has been assigned a grade to mark that it is either cargo worthy, or no longer suitable for transport.

shipping container home architecture example

The standard size of the containers is 8ft by 8ft 6in. The standard size length is usually 20 feet and 40 feet.

But, there are many other sizes, such as cube-shaped containers (also called “High Cube”), which are 9ft 6in tall. The price will also vary, but they are generally slightly more expensive than the regular ones.

To save money when buying shipping containers, always check how much the delivery fee will be and whether there are any permits you need to take care of. When buying from Craigslist or eBay, you may need to buy high delivery fees, which may not be the optimal usage of your finances.

Always ask for any special or hidden fees, such as the cost of delivery and permitting fees.

Any extra tasks for the delivery drivers, longer distance covered, or difficulty in delivering the container would raise the delivery price, so you may want to keep that in mind.

How long do shipping containers last?

maintenance, they can last for many years. On average, a shipping container has a lifespan of around 20-25 years, although some containers can last longer if they are well-maintained and protected from the elements.

The actual lifespan of a container will depend on various factors, such as the frequency and intensity of use, the storage conditions, and the level of maintenance and repairs. With proper care, a container can last for several decades or longer.

What to Look for When Buying Shipping Containers?

As always, you can order a 40′ shipping container from Amazon. There are other companies online selling shipping containers across the US, such as Western Container Sales. But before you buy, familiarize yourself with the statuses of shipping containers based on their condition.

When buying a shipping container, you’ll usually see 3 types to buy:

  1. One Trip (basically new) shipping container
  2. Cargo Worthy (CWO) shipping container
  3. Wind & Water Tight (WWT) Shipping Container

One trip is considered new, even if it isn’t just created and delivered to your doorstep – it did one cargo run. But, it is still almost perfectly new, and the most expensive of these.

Usually, you can’t get a completely new shipping container that just came out of the factory and dropped on your doorstep because it needs to be delivered, and when it’s delivered it will be used for one cargo transport.

The 2nd one, CWO – Cargo Worthy, is much more affordable. As you can see from the table above, it’s usually several thousand dollars cheaper than the new one.

Whether you’re buying it for storage, transport, or new home, you probably need:

  • the doors to be aligned,
  • no holes in the floor,
  • the roof that doesn’t leak,

Generally, you need a container in decent condition that is cargo worthy or can be further reinforced for your home or storage.

CWO containers are still certified for overseas shipments. They are made from weathering steel (COR-TEN) for long-term durability. This type of steel is developed to eliminate the need for painting and form a stable rust-like appearance even after many years of exposure to weather. Another advantage of using COR-TEN steel containers is that they have anti-corrosive properties, meaning that the natural weathered look not only adds character but also serves as a protective layer against further rusting

CWO shipping containers are usually $200 to $300 more expensive than WWT – Wind & Water Tight.

WWT is similar to CWO in condition and slightly older, on average. They are refurbished and patched but also guaranteed not to leak or have holes. WWT might have more patches than CWO and are generally slightly cheaper. The biggest difference between WWT and CWO is that WWT doesn’t have the integrity to be stacked on a cargo ship and used as a cargo transport overseas.

Mall made out of shipping containers from New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand
By Christina Hendricks – Under CC BY-SA 4.0. No changes made

The cheapest shipping container you can buy is probably the yellow shipping container. They’re often $500 to $1000 cheaper than the regular ones. But it’s not just yellow. Sometimes you’ll find the grey ones to be just as cheap.

One of the good companies to buy from is Western Container Sales. They cover most of the states and have many sizes. If you’re buying from a reseller on eBay or Craigslist, they may have a 20-40% markup, depending on who you buy from.

It’s almost always better to skip the middleman and buy the containers directly from the wholesaler. Middlemen might try to push your containers that have been in stock for a long time, so beware and don’t let yourself be pressured to buy a container that is in worse shape than it appears.

It’s also beneficial to inquire about the container’s shipping history; containers that have been used more extensively in saltwater environments might show faster degradation due to the salt’s corrosive effects.

All newer shipping containers should have COR-TEN superior steel. Such a new container should last up to 30 years when reinforced. It all depends on how you use and take care of it.

How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost to Rent?

On average, the monthly rental cost for a standard 20-foot container can range from $100 to $250, while a 40-foot container can cost from $150 to $400 or more per month, depending mostly on the size and condition of the container.

If you want the containers delivered to you, then you need to include the cost of delivery and perhaps a few other types of costs.

There are 2 reasons why you would want to rent a storage container:

  1. For storage for your business needs
  2. To rent a home made out of shipping containers, to live in it

To rent a storage container for your business, expect to pay around $50 to $300 per month for the empty ones and up to $500 for the insulated ones. These generally come in sizes of 20’ and 40’ in height.

To rent a shipping container for a home, it would need to be insulated, have HVAC, and all other areas necessary for comfortable living. These would cost $200 to $300 per month to rent, though the price may vary.

How Much Do Shipping Container Homes Cost?

On average, a basic conversion of a 20-foot container into a simple living space can cost around $10,000 to $30,000, while a fully customized, multi-container home can cost upwards of $200,000 or more.

Cheaper single-family homes made out of one or two shipping containers cost around $20,000 to $40,000 on average. The more expensive ones, such as luxury container homes, made out of several 20’ or 40’ shipping containers, with a lot of work and materials put in, usually cost $50,000 to $100,000.

The uses of shipping containers are many. They can be used for creating luxury container homes, retail shops, malls and pretty much almost anything you can think of.

Here’s a nice video on one of the nicest-looking homes:

The price of shipping container houses that would last for 20 years would cost a lot because it takes a lot of investment to create a livable home.

How Much Would It Cost to Build a Shipping Container Home?

The cost can also be influenced by the materials used for insulation, flooring, electrical and plumbing systems, and other finishes.

Here’s a table of the main costs needed to build a shipping container home, based on 3 different companies I used for reference:

SizeFoundation CostsInsulation CostsOptional
(external cladding)
TypeCostTypeCost (per sq ft)TypeCost (per sq ft)
40 feetPier$500 - $550Blanket$0.3 - $0.45Timber$2 - $4
40 feetStrip (Trench)$5,200 - $5,400Panel$0.8 - $1.40Stucco$6 - $10
40 feetSlab$5800 - $6,000Spray foam$2 - $3

Any type of complex or custom work will add more to the project. Sometimes, for several containers, prices can go above $100k up to $150k. To know the cost of building a home out of shipping containers, you’ll need to know the size and condition of the containers, the materials you intend to use, and the project’s overall scope.

You could create a home out of 1 or 2 of them, but you would need to invest a lot if you intend for a family to live in.

You can probably build a home with $20,000, but how often will you spend time in it? What are the temperatures? Do you have proper insulation and HVAC? You could cut down on these costs a bit if you don’t need some of these elements.

Shipping Container Cost Rundown

Here’s the cost rundown based on data from 3 different companies :

Type of CostCost
2x New 40' Standard
Shipping Containers
$8,000 - $14,000
Site preparation$6,000 - $10,000
Insulation$3,000 - $6,000
Flooring$3,000 - $6,000
Roofing$2,000 - $4,000
Plumbing$4,000 - $8,000
HVAC$4,000 - $8,000
Assembly$2,000 - $3,000
Electrical$4,000 - $8,000
Windows$3,000 - $5,000
Doors and hardware$1,500 - $2,000
Shelves and closets$2,000 - $3,000
Finishes and painting$4,000 - $7,000
TOTAL:$46,500 - $84,000

Creating livable homes out of shipping containers is expensive but cheaper than regular homes.  Once you buy a 20’, 40’, or 45’ shipping container, the next step is to find and hire a commercial developer to convert it into a livable space.

What are the drawbacks of shipping container houses?

  1. Limited space. Shipping containers are limited in size, making it challenging to create a spacious and comfortable living environment, especially if the container is used as a standalone home.
  2. Insulation. Shipping containers are made of metal and can be prone to temperature fluctuations, making it important to insulate them properly to ensure a comfortable living environment.
  3. Building codes and regulations. Depending on the location, there may be strict building codes and regulations that need to be followed when constructing a shipping container home, which can increase the cost and complexity of the project.
  4. Resale value. While shipping container homes can hold their value, they may be less attractive to some buyers and harder to sell than traditional homes.
  5. Structural integrity. Shipping containers were designed for transportation, not for permanent living. Modifying them for this purpose can reduce their structural integrity and make them more prone to damage from natural elements such as strong winds, heavy snow, and earthquakes.
  6. Cost of modifications. Modifying shipping containers into homes often requires significant investments in insulation, electrical and plumbing systems, and other customizations, which can significantly increase the project’s overall cost.


Can you build a shipping container home on your own?

Do you have any experience as a home builder? Then, maybe. If not, then without the insight and help from an architect and commercial developer, it may not be possible.

The cost will naturally go down depending on how much work you did by yourself and how much you paid to builders. The best advice when buying containers to build a home is to find a good and experienced architect and builder to consult, if not to finish it completely.

Can two automobiles fit within a 20-foot container?

Typically, two small automobiles can fit within a 20-foot shipping container. However, the exact number and size of vehicles that can be stored in a container will depend on the size and configuration of the vehicles themselves.

Do shipping containers require planning permission?

Yes, shipping containers often require planning permission, especially if they are used as homes or other types of permanent structures. The specific requirements will vary depending on the location and the local building codes and regulations. Two small automobiles can typically fit within a 20-foot shipping container.

Do banks provide financing for shipping container homes?

Yes, banks and other financial institutions may provide financing for shipping container homes, although the exact terms and conditions will depend on the lender and the project’s specifics. Some lenders may offer mortgages or home equity loans specifically for container homes, while others may consider them under traditional construction loans.

Do container homes hold their value?

In general, container homes can hold their value well, especially if they are well-built and well-maintained. For example, a well-built and well-maintained container home in a desirable location may retain its value over time and even appreciate in value, much like a traditional stick-built home.

Credits: Cover photo (Copper & Kings Brandy Distillery retail shop) by Copper & Kings. File on, CC BY-SA 4.0

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!