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

Jan 29, 2020
Should You Rent or Buy a Shipping Container? 4 Questions to Ask

Here at Falcon Structures, customers often ask us if it’s better to rent or purchase a shipping container structure. The truth is: It depends on the structure and the circumstance. We respond to our customers by asking: How will your company utilize the structure? How long will you use it? What modifications are of interest to you? How you answer these questions is key to determining whether you should rent or buy a container structure. Here’s how to figure out which option is right for your company:

1. What kind of container structure do you need?

Shipping Container Office-1

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 purchase a structure. 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 have 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.

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 how the structure will be used.

2. How long will you use the structure?

Shipping Container on Foundation

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

The cost of renting a shipping container varies tremendously based on the containers 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 point of delivery. These fees range from $100 to $500. Some rental companies may be willing to add minimal modifications – like shelves or a new coat of paint to the exterior – if you will 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 clearly 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 period of 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?

Shipping Container Customized Office

From transportation to maintenance to branding, a company’s desire and ability to oversee the management of their structure plays a major role in the rent versus purchase decision. 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 own terms or make sure the exterior paint and logos reflect their brand. With a purchase, they 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 are also eager to help you set up delivery and guide you through future relocation processes.

If you’d like to learn more about the differences between renting versus purchasing a shipping container structure, 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

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