Are you considering purchasing a used shipping container, but not quite sure how much it will cost you? Look no further! In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of used shipping containers and explore the factors that influence their price. Whether you’re in the market for a container for storage purposes or looking to transform it into a unique living or workspace, understanding the pricing dynamics is crucial. We’ll provide you with valuable insights into the various factors that affect the cost of a used shipping container, such as size, condition, location, and any modifications or additional features. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of what to expect when it comes to pricing and be well-equipped to make an informed decision. So, let’s dive in and discover the exciting world of used shipping containers and their price tags!

Factors that Impact the Cost of a Used Shipping Container

Used shipping containers come in various sizes and conditions, and these factors play a significant role in determining their price. Here are some key factors to consider when it comes to pricing:

1. Size: The size of the container is one of the primary factors that affect its cost. Standard shipping containers typically come in 20-foot and 40-foot lengths, with the latter being more expensive due to its larger capacity. However, keep in mind that other sizes, such as 10-foot and 45-foot containers, may also be available, albeit less commonly.

2. Condition: The condition of a used shipping container can vary widely. Containers in better condition, with minimal rust and damage, will be priced higher than those in poor condition. It’s important to thoroughly inspect the container for any signs of structural damage, leaks, or excessive wear and tear before making a purchase.

3. Location: The location where you plan to buy the used shipping container can impact its price. Containers located near major ports or cities with high demand tend to be more expensive due to transportation costs and market demand. On the other hand, containers in less populated areas or regions with a surplus of containers may be more affordable.

4. Modifications and Additional Features: If you’re looking for a container with specific modifications or additional features, such as doors, windows, insulation, or electrical wiring, the price will be higher. These customizations can greatly enhance the functionality and aesthetics of the container but will come at an additional cost.

Understanding these factors will give you a better idea of what to expect when it comes to pricing. However, it’s essential to remember that prices can vary significantly depending on the seller and market conditions.

Understanding the Different Grades of Used Shipping Containers

Used shipping containers are typically classified into different grades based on their condition. These grades help buyers understand the quality of the container and its corresponding price range. The most common grading systems include:

1. Cargo Worthy (CW): Cargo-worthy containers are in the best condition among used shipping containers. They have been inspected and certified to be structurally sound and suitable for transportation. These containers may have some wear and tear but are generally wind and watertight. Cargo-worthy containers are often priced higher due to their superior condition and suitability for international shipping.

2. Wind and Watertight (WWT): Wind and watertight containers, as the name suggests, are structurally sound and resistant to wind and water infiltration. While they may not meet the rigorous standards required for international shipping, they are suitable for various applications, including storage or conversion projects. Wind and watertight containers are generally more affordable than cargo-worthy containers.

3. As-Is or “B Grade”: As-is or “B Grade” containers are typically in poorer condition compared to cargo-worthy and wind and watertight containers. They may have significant rust, dents, or other cosmetic issues. While these containers can still be used for storage purposes, they may require repairs to ensure their structural integrity. As-is containers are the most affordable option but may require additional expenses for restoration.

Understanding the different grades of used shipping containers can help you align your expectations with the corresponding price range. It’s important to carefully assess the condition of the container and choose the grade that best suits your needs and budget.

The Average Price Range for Used Shipping Containers

The cost of a used shipping container can vary depending on the factors mentioned earlier, as well as other market conditions. However, to give you a rough estimate, here’s an average price range for used shipping containers:

  • 20-foot Standard Container: $1,500 – $3,000
  • 40-foot Standard Container: $2,000 – $4,500
  • 40-foot High Cube Container: $2,500 – $5,500

Keep in mind that these prices are just estimates and can fluctuate based on location, container condition, and any additional features or modifications. It’s always recommended to research and compare prices from multiple sellers to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Where to Buy Used Shipping Containers

There are several options when it comes to buying used shipping containers. Here are some popular avenues to explore:

1. Container Dealers and Resellers: Container dealers specialize in buying and selling both new and used shipping containers. They often have a wide selection of containers in various sizes and conditions. Working with a reputable container dealer ensures that you’re buying from a trusted source and may provide additional services such as delivery and customization.

2. Online Marketplaces: Online marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist, and Alibaba offer a platform for individuals and businesses to buy and sell used shipping containers. While these platforms provide a wide range of options, it’s essential to exercise caution and thoroughly research the seller before making a purchase.

3. Shipping Container Yards and Ports: Some shipping container yards and ports may sell used containers directly to the public. Visiting these locations allows you to physically inspect the containers and negotiate the price in person. However, availability and selection may vary depending on your location.

When choosing where to buy a used shipping container, consider factors such as reputation, customer reviews, and the ability to inspect the container in person if possible. It’s crucial to ensure that the seller is reliable and transparent about the condition and history of the container.

Tips for Inspecting a Used Shipping Container Before Purchase

Before finalizing your purchase, it’s crucial to thoroughly inspect the used shipping container to ensure it meets your requirements. Here are some tips to consider during the inspection process:

1. Check for Structural Integrity: Inspect the container for any signs of structural damage, such as dents, rust, or holes. Pay close attention to the corners, roof, and flooring. Look for any signs of repairs or welding, as these may indicate previous damage.

2. Test the Doors and Locking Mechanism: Open and close the container doors to ensure they operate smoothly. Check the locking mechanism to ensure it functions properly and securely locks the doors.

3. Inspect for Leaks: Examine the interior of the container for any signs of leaks or water damage. Look for water stains, mold, or musty odors. It’s crucial to ensure that the container is watertight to protect your belongings or future conversion project.

4. Evaluate the Flooring: Check the container’s flooring for any signs of damage or rot. Look for soft spots, cracks, or holes that may compromise the integrity of the container.

5. Consider the Age of the Container: While age alone does not determine the quality of a container, it can be an indicator of potential issues. Older containers may have more wear and tear, so it’s important to carefully assess their condition.

By following these tips, you can make a more informed decision when purchasing a used shipping container and avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line.

Additional Costs to Consider When Buying a Used Shipping Container

While the initial price of a used shipping container is a significant consideration, it’s essential to factor in additional costs that may arise during the buying process. Here are some costs to keep in mind:

1. Delivery and Transportation: Depending on the location of the seller and your desired delivery destination, you may incur additional costs for transportation. Consider the distance, logistics, and any permits or fees required for delivery.

2. Customizations and Modifications: If you plan to modify or customize the container, such as adding windows, insulation, or electrical wiring, you’ll need to budget for these additional expenses. The cost of modifications can vary greatly depending on the complexity and extent of the customization.

3. Foundation and Site Preparation: Before placing the container on your property, you may need to prepare the site and create a suitable foundation. This can involve leveling the ground, adding gravel or concrete pads, or other site-specific requirements.

4. Maintenance and Repairs: While used shipping containers are sturdy and durable, they may require occasional maintenance or repairs. It’s important to budget for any potential costs associated with maintaining the container’s condition, such as repainting or sealing.

Considering these additional costs will give you a more accurate picture of the total investment required when purchasing a used shipping container.

Creative Uses for Used Shipping Containers

Used shipping containers have gained popularity not only for their practicality but also for their versatility. Here are some creative uses for repurposed shipping containers:

1. Storage Units: Used shipping containers provide an excellent solution for storage needs. Whether you need to store personal belongings, equipment, or inventory, containers offer a secure and cost-effective alternative to traditional storage units.

2. Pop-up Shops and Cafes: Shipping containers can be transformed into trendy pop-up shops, cafes, or food stalls. Their unique design and portability make them ideal for temporary retail or food service businesses.

3. Office Spaces: With the right modifications, shipping containers can be converted into comfortable and functional office spaces. They offer a modern and eco-friendly alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar offices.

4. Residential Units: Shipping container homes have gained popularity as an affordable and sustainable housing option. Containers can be stacked or combined to create larger living spaces, providing a unique and environmentally friendly housing solution.

5. Art Installations and Event Spaces: Shipping containers can serve as eye-catching art installations or event spaces. Their industrial aesthetic and flexibility make them a popular choice for creative projects and temporary event venues.

The possibilities for repurposing shipping containers are endless, limited only by your imagination and creativity.

Alternatives to Buying a Used Shipping Container

If purchasing a used shipping container doesn’t fit your budget or requirements, there are alternative options to consider:

1. Renting: Renting a shipping container is a viable option if you only need it for a short period or don’t want to commit to a long-term investment. Rental fees vary depending on the duration and location, making it a flexible choice for temporary storage or projects.

2. New Containers: If you prefer a container in pristine condition or have specific customization requirements, you may opt to purchase a new shipping container. New containers offer the advantage of being in perfect condition and can be customized to your exact specifications.

3. Prefabricated Structures: Prefabricated structures made from shipping containers offer a convenient and efficient solution for various building needs. These structures are pre-designed and constructed off-site, significantly reducing construction time and costs.

Consider these alternatives based on your budget, timeline, and specific needs to find the best solution for your situation.


Purchasing a used shipping container can be an exciting venture, whether you’re looking for storage space or planning a unique conversion project. Understanding the factors that influence the cost, the different grades of containers, and the additional expenses involved will help you navigate the buying process with confidence. By conducting thorough inspections, researching reputable sellers, and considering alternative options, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and budget. So, go ahead and explore the fascinating world of used shipping containers and discover the endless possibilities they offer!