Should You Rent or Buy a Shipping Container? Here are 4 Questions to Ask.

Here at Container Source, customers often ask us when to buy and rent shipping containers. The truth is this. It depends on the structure and the circumstance. We respond to our customers by asking a few simple questions.

What kind of container structure do you need?

How long will you use the structure?

What’s your budget?

Can you manage the structure on your own?

How you answer these questions is key to determining whether you should rent or buy a container structure. Read on to figure out which option is right for your company.

What kind of container structure do you need?

For the most part, rentable containers are modified very cookie-cutter with other companies. Offices tend to come with an added personnel door, a window, climate control, and finished walls, but rarely do they include a bathroom or additional modifications. A storage unit may include operable cargo doors and climate control, but likely little else.

We can easily add features to purchased office and storage units. Modifications may include multiple windows and doors, custom walls and flooring, bathrooms, and kitchenettes. Units can also be combined or stacked to create multi-container structures.

Rental Experience Purchasing Experience
Low modification options
Office or storage unit
Need the structure for less than a year
Pay per month + delivery costs
Less control over the structure (defer most maintenance to the rental company)
More modification options
Office storage, living space, industrial enclosures, and more
Need the structure more than a year
Pay flat rate + delivery costs
More control over the structure (add branding, etc)

We’ve helped many companies create equipment enclosures, workforce housing, military and first responder training facilities, and a variety of other unique structures. Purchasing a container allows you to work closely with the modifier to create the perfect structure for your business, no matter the intended use of the structure.

How long will you need the structure?

If you need a container structure for weeks, months, or around a year, it’s typically better to rent a shipping container. If you need the structure for more than a year, it’s usually better to buy a cargo container.

Of course, if you plan to permanently install your container structure in one spot, you’ll need to purchase it. Rented containers are more akin to traditional travel trailers, where you don’t install them anywhere permanently. Although, if you do plan to relocate your structure, purchasing is still a viable option.

Owning the container will allow you to reuse the structure for many years and different projects. Most containers offer a 25-year lifespan! You can move the container to new cities, or you can move it within a single job site or location.

What's your budget?

The cost of renting a shipping container varies based on the container’s age, size, and modifications. If you need a newer, larger container with several modifications, you will pay more than an older, smaller, unmodified container. Keeping this in mind, storage units usually cost less than container offices because offices require more modifications.

The cost of purchasing a shipping container also depends on the type of structure you purchase. At Container Source, we list the prices of our standard floor plans. We then add any costs associated with customizations to the flat-rate cost of the structure.

If you compare the cost of renting a container over multiple years to the price of purchasing a container, it usually makes the most financial sense to rent containers you need for a short time. Conversely, purchasing a container may cost less over time if you plan to use it for more than a year.

Can you manage the structure on your own?

From transportation to maintenance to branding, a company’s desire and ability to oversee the management of its structure plays a major role in the decision to buy and rent shipping containers. For example, renting makes more sense for companies that prefer to hand off the responsibility of the structure. In many cases, renting allows you to return the container and defer most of the maintenance responsibilities to the rental company.

Other companies prefer maintaining complete control over their containers. Perhaps they want to transport the structure on their terms or make sure the exterior paint and logos reflect their brand. By purchasing, companies also have the option to sell the structure once they no longer need it.

Here at Container Source, we provide our customers with all the important information needed to care for a container structure. We also help you set up delivery with our certified CDL drivers and guide you through future relocation processes.

If you’d like to learn more about the differences between buying and renting shipping containers, and want to discuss your options further, we’d be happy to assist you! Give us a call at 979-830-5350 or contact us below!

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