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

Aug 25, 2021
Should You Rent or Buy a Shipping Container? 4 Questions to Ask

Here at Falcon Structures, customers often ask us when to buy and rent shipping containers. The truth is: It depends on the structure and the circumstance. We respond to our customers by asking:

  1. What kind of container structure do you need?
  2. How long will you use the structure?
  3. What’s your budget?
  4. 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.

1. What kind of container structure do you need?

Shipping Container Office with two windows and green stripe on bottom

While Falcon only offers containers for purchase, other companies provide rentable containers. Most of these rental companies only offer two types of container structures – offices and storage units. If you’re looking for something different, you’ll need to buy a shipping container.

For the most part, rentable containers are modified in a cookie-cutter fashion. 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 modifications options

More modification options

Office or storage unit

Office, storage, living space, industrial enclosure, and more

Need the structure for less than a year

Need the structure for more than a year

Pay per month + delivery costs

Pay flat rate + delivery costs

Less control over the structure (defer most maintenance to the rental company)

More control over the structure (add branding, relocate as necessary, etc.)


We’ve helped many companies create equipment enclosuresworkforce housingmilitary 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.

2. How long will you use the structure?

modified shipping container on foundation with six windows

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 the way ECI Group plans to transport their sales and leasing office, or you can move it within a single job site or location, just like the check-in facility and office on the Melrose Air Force Range.

3. What’s your budget?

shipping container storage unit with one open cargo door and Styrofoam insulation

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 rental price tends to range between $50 to $500 + per month, based on your needs. In addition, the total cost will include transportation fees, based on the distance between the rental company and the point of delivery. These fees start at around $100 and increase from there. Some rental companies may be willing to add minimal modifications – like shelves or a new coat of paint to the exterior – if you pay to return the structure to its prior state. This extra expense may be added to your monthly payments or billed at the beginning or end of your rental period.

The cost of purchasing a shipping container also depends on the type of structure you purchase. At Falcon, 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.

4. Can you manage the structure on your own?

red modified shipping container leasing office with wooden deck next to an apartment building

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 Falcon, we provide our customers with all the important information needed to care for a container structure. We also help you set up delivery 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 877-704-0177 or email us at Sales@FalconStructures.com.

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