How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost? A Detailed Guide

how much does a shipping container cost

Shipping containers have gained popularity in recent years for their versatile uses. It’s amazing to think that these large steel boxes could be transformed into beautiful, affordable residences fit for occupancy.

The cost-effectiveness of container housing naturally brings up the question, “how much does a shipping container cost?” 

When you’re in the market for a shipping container, you have two factors to consider, the price and condition of the shipping container. These two factors go hand in hand, but not always.

In this article, we'll look at what you should expect to pay for a shipping container the next time you need one. That way, you don’t pay too much for it and also get suspicious when a container sells for way less than it should.


How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost?

On average, a shipping container costs anywhere between $2000 and $5000, depending on the size, condition, and the seller.  As you’d expect, new containers sell for much more than used containers. 

Sometimes you may find an “almost new” or “like new” category that sells for only slightly lower than a new container.


Approximate Container Costs

Here are some guideline figures on what you should expect to pay when you’re buying shipping containers


Used Containers

1. 20-foot freight container costs around $180,000 to $200,000
2. 40-foot shipping container cost about  $220,000 to $250,000

New Containers

1. 20-foot shipping container costs around $2200 to $2500
2. 40-foot shipping container costs around $4200 to $4500

These are just approximate figures to give you a rough idea of what shipping containers sell for. Actual prices may be different from these figures but not by much. Before you start your container shopping, it’s important to know what factors will determine the cost of a shipping container.


What Determines the Cost of a Shipping Container?

You might find containers of the same size selling for different prices. Apart from the size, other factors impact the cost of the containers.  So keep these factors in mind when buying your container, they might dramatically impact its cost. 

Size of the Container

Unsurprisingly, large containers cost more than smaller ones. However, the itching question is, what size of containers are available?

You can group containers into standard and high-cube containers. Standard containers usually measure 8 feet by width and about 8.6 feet high. Lengthwise, they are either 20 feet or 40 feet long.

High cube containers are not as common as standard containers, but you can still get your hand on them. These containers measure 8 feet by width and 9.6 feet in height. They have lengths of 20 and 40 feet, just like standard containers.

The Condition of the Container

Over time, these shipping containers wear and tear. So you should brace yourself for at least a little wear if you’re getting a used container.

You should consider one-trip containers if you’re looking for containers with minimal wear. As the name suggests, these containers only have one trip back and forth before getting into your hands.

Since age typically correlates with the container's condition, newer containers are more expensive than older ones. The higher price tag is justified because the one-trip containers last longer than older ones. There’s also less likelihood of chemical contamination with these single-trip containers.

However, you don’t need a single-trip container to get a container that’s in tip-top shape. Age isn’t the only thing that determines the condition of a container. Things like the goods the container carried and the transportation conditions during freight will also determine the container’s condition.


How to Inspect a Used Container

A container is considered used once it has outlived its condition to be fit for freight. It’s, however, still viable for a variety of other uses, including structural and storage use. 

Just because they’ve outlived their freight purpose, it doesn’t mean the containers are in terrible shape. Most of these used containers are labeled either “lightly damaged,” or ISO approved. These terms are used to describe the condition of the containers.

When you finally settle on a used container, be sure to check on the following:

Rusts and dents- A little rust and a bit of denting is okay. It’s also advisable to ask for any previous repairs done on the container. Try avoiding containers with large dents or widespread rusting.

Condition of the doors- Make sure the doors are easy to open and close. You don’t want a container with creaky doors or doors that don’t open. Fortunately, repairing a container door is easy and inexpensive.

Floorboards- The floorboards must be firm and in their proper place. Steer clear of containers with loose floorboards. It means you have to repair or replace the floorboards, which will cost you extra.

Check for reviews- You can check the seller’s review on social media or on online forums. Check whether the business is registered with the Better Business Bureau or BBB.


The Delivery Fees

It costs to get your container safely to you. Apart from shipping costs, you may have to pay for special permits for the container. Getting your container from hundreds of miles away will be expensive, so you’re better off checking with a local shipping container office.


A Shipping Container Is Worth Every Penny

Hopefully, your question, “how much does a shipping container cost?” is now answered. Keep in mind that these are approximate costs, and actual prices will vary depending on your dealer.

Remember to inspect your container thoroughly before making your purchase and only get your container from a reputable source.

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