Shipping Containers: A Comprehensive Guide to Costs, Types, and Considerations

shipping containers cost to buy

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shipping containers cost to buy

Shipping containers are versatile storage and transportation solutions that have gained popularity in various industries. Whether you’re looking to purchase a shipping container for personal or business use, understanding the cost factors is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of shipping container costs, types, condition, modifications, and other important considerations to help you make an informed decision. So, let’s dive in!

Understanding Shipping Container Costs

When it comes to the cost of shipping containers, several factors come into play. These factors include size, condition, modifications, geographical location, and delivery requirements. While it’s challenging to provide a simple answer to the question, “How much does a shipping container cost?”, we will explore the general price ranges to give you a ballpark figure.

Size and Type

Shipping containers come in various sizes and types, each catering to different needs. Standard containers are 8’6″ high and 8′ wide, while high cube containers offer an extra foot in height. Lengths typically range from 20 to 45 feet, with the most common options being 20 and 40 feet.

The price of a shipping container can vary based on its size. For example, a used 40-foot standard container may cost approximately 34% more than a used 20-foot standard container[^1^]. It’s important to consider your specific requirements and budget when choosing the size of your shipping container.

Condition and Usage History

The condition of a shipping container is a crucial factor that influences its cost. Containers can be classified as new or used, but it’s important to note that “new” containers are often “one-trip” or “one-way” containers. These containers have been loaded and transported once from overseas to the United States[^1^]. Used containers, on the other hand, are typically 10 to 15 years old and can have varying usage histories.

Used containers are further classified based on their condition:

  1. Water/Wind Tight: These containers are retired from transporting cargo overseas and are suitable for storage and building purposes.
  2. Cargo Worthy: These containers meet the required standards for transporting cargo overseas but may also be used for storage and construction when a stronger container is needed.
  3. IICL-inspected: These relatively newer containers (2-7 years old) meet the same Cargo Worthy standards required for ocean export and are more expensive[^1^].

The price difference between a used standard container and a new, one-trip container can be around 77% for a 20-foot container[^1^]. Considering the condition of the container is crucial when determining your budget and specific needs.

Modifications and Customizations

Shipping containers can be modified or customized to suit specific requirements. Common modifications include adding refrigeration units, insulation, raised flooring systems, power outlets, air conditioning units, and exterior doors with built-in ductwork. The cost of modifications will depend on the extent of the customization and the condition of the container. It’s important to factor in these costs when budgeting for your shipping container purchase.

Geographical Location and Delivery Time

The location where you plan to purchase your shipping container can impact its cost. Market conditions and demand in certain areas can lead to higher prices. Additionally, delivery time plays a role in determining the final cost. Containers that require customization or are not readily available may have longer lead times, potentially affecting the overall price.

Delivery costs can also vary depending on the distance and the type of truck used for transportation. Tilt body trucks (roll-off) are commonly used for short-distance deliveries, while flatbed trucks may be required for longer distances. It’s essential to consider these factors when calculating the total cost of your shipping container purchase.

Saving Money When Purchasing a Shipping Container

Now that we have explored the various factors that influence shipping container costs, let’s discuss some ways to save money when purchasing a container.

Beware of Phony Sellers or Scammers

When searching for a shipping container, it’s crucial to be cautious of phony sellers or scammers. If a quote seems significantly lower than others, it’s essential to investigate further. Check the credibility of the company by looking for online reviews and customer references. A reputable seller should be able to provide satisfactory answers to all your questions and concerns.

Be wary of vendors that promise lightning-fast shipping, especially during peak buying seasons. Additionally, if a vendor offers a warranty, ensure you understand the terms, including who covers the costs of delivery to and from the repair facility. shipping containers cost to buy

Experience Equals Savings

Purchasing from an experienced seller can save you money and provide peace of mind. Container Sales Group, for example, has over 25 years of experience in selling shipping containers to major corporations, universities, and other institutions. By directly sourcing containers from Steamship Companies, they can offer cost savings to their customers. Requesting a quote from experienced sellers like Container Sales Group can ensure a positive buying experience and a high-quality shipping container.


When considering the purchase of a shipping container, understanding the various cost factors is crucial. Size, condition, modifications, location, and delivery requirements all play a role in determining the final price. By being aware of these factors and considering reputable sellers, you can make an informed decision that meets your needs and budget. Whether you’re looking for a storage solution or planning to repurpose a shipping container for a unique project, the versatility and affordability of shipping containers make them an excellent choice. shipping containers cost to buy