How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost? The Ultimate Guide

how much does a shipping container cost

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Shipping container cost is a significant factor in logistics or building container homes.

Many people overpay for their shipping containers because they don’t have the correct information, and that’s why I wrote this guide.

If you’re reading this article, you likely have these questions (and more) in mind.

  • How much does a shipping container cost?

  • How much does it cost to move a shipping container?

The most basic answer is: It depends on the size and type of the container and other factors.

If you want further details, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ll talk about standard shipping container prices and the difference between new and used ones. You’ll also learn the differences if you want to buy shipping containers for personal or professional use.

Let’s start.

Different Types of Shipping Containers

How much do shipping containers cost?

Before I answer this question, I’ll discuss the different types of shipping containers.

Aside from size, shipping container prices depend on the type of shipping container you’re getting.

How much does a metal shipping container cost? Again, it depends on the type of container.

Here are the different types of shipping containers.

Dry Container

how much does a shipping container cost

Dry containers are the standard containers holding dry items that aren’t temperature-sensitive.

These containers often come in sizes of 20 and 40 feet and are steel to resist rain and saltwater.

Dry shipping container prices depend on the size and sometimes the brand of the container. These containers are best for long-term storage and are cargo-worthy for transporting cargo overseas.

These storage containers are the most efficient option for building a container home.

Flat Rack Container

Flat Rack Container

The flat rack container is for transporting cargo with unique dimensions. It has open sides and roofs with most walls at the front and back of the container.

Flat rack shipping container pricing depends on its length. In the shipping container industry, these types of containers are for industrial purposes.

It’s rare for someone to buy a flat rack storage container for personal or project purposes.

Open-top Container

Open-top Container

The open-top storage container transports oversized or bulky items that need more security than a flat rack container.

These containers can carry livestock, industrial machinery, trees, marble blocks, and other large items.

Open-top shipping container pricing is higher than flat-top or dry container prices.

Reefer Container

Reefer Container

This type has the highest storage container price because they include refrigeration and power supply connections.

Reefer shipping container prices are high because of their sophistication. Unlike dry containers, the reefer container lets you control the temperature during shipping.

You can store perishables like fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Reefer containers aren’t recommended for container homes because of their cost.

Container homes usually take the container apart. With reefer containers, you’ll have to dismantle their cooling system anyway.

The reefer container’s cooling system is usually commercial grade and too much for personal use.

How Much Does a Shipping Container Cost?

How much is a shipping container?

If you want to buy shipping containers, it’s essential to know the range of pricing for new and used ones.

Used shipping containers often cost less but have advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on your project, it may be better to buy new shipping containers, even if they’re more expensive.

I’ll break down the difference in shipping containers based on price, use cases, and even different types of shipping containers.

How Much Are Shipping Containers

How much do shipping containers cost? Let’s look at the two options: 1) new and 2) used.

Here are their price differences.

Used Shipping Container Cost

The cost of a used shipping container varies depending on its size and condition. The smaller or more worn-down they are, the lower the price of the shipping container.

There are different types of used shipping containers according to their condition. They classify by grade, starting from Premium to Refurbished or Class A.

Here are the different used container grades and their costs for a 20-ft to a 40-ft container.

  • Premium $5,000 to $9,500 (between 2 to 8 years old and in more excellent condition)

  • Grade A $3,400 to $6,500 (over eight years old)

  • Grade B At least $3,200 (over eight years old and not certified to ship cargo)

  • Refurbished At least $3,000 (repaired used container)

  • As-is At least $2,800 (container without inspections or certifications)

Another thing to consider is the cost of transportation for your shipping container. If you don’t have a truck capable of carrying the shipping container, you must rent one to carry your used containers.

You must also spend on labor to help you transport the shipping container. If you buy a giant shipping container, you must rent a truck and a crane to carry your used containers into position.

Cranes could cost you $200 daily for smaller ones and $1,000 for more massive cranes.

For shorter distances, you’ll pay between $500 and $1,000 for 20-foot shipping containers (an estimated $5 per mile).

If you’re shipping from outside the country or state to state, you’d likely be paying thousands of dollars. If you’re getting a shipping container, look for one within your area to save on transportation costs.

We’ll talk more about moving shipping containers later in this article.

New Shipping Container Cost

The average shipping container cost of new containers differs depending on size, brand, and sometimes the brand or manufacturer.

Another essential consideration when buying shipping containers is their location. Sellers often offer to help you transport your shipping containers.

When buying new shipping containers, ask for a quote that includes transportation and installment.

Here are the different shipping container sizes and prices.

How much does a 10ft shipping container cost?

How much does a 10ft shipping container cost?

The average 10-foot containers cost $1,500 to $5,000, depending on whether they’re dry or reefer containers.

It’s uncommon to see a flat-rack or open-top 10-foot container.

These containers are suitable for small rooms and transporting smaller items. Still, when it comes to shipping container price, others prefer the 20-foot container because they get more storage space at only slightly higher container prices.

How much does a 20-foot shipping container cost?

How much does a 20-foot shipping container cost?

The 20-foot shipping container is more common for short-term transportation and personal trips than international shipping.

Here are the different types of 20-foot containers and their average costs.

  • Dry Container $2,360

  • Open Top Container – $4,906

  • Flat Rack Container – $6,049

  • Reefer Container – $18,036

How much does a 40ft shipping container cost?

How much does a 40ft shipping container cost?

The 40-foot shipping container price for the open-top container is around $400 more than a 20-foot container.

However, this isn’t the same as other types of containers.

Here are the different types of 40-foot containers and their average costs.

  • Dry Container –$4,320

  • Flat Rack Container $13,876

  • Open Top Container – $5,318

  • Reefer Container – $14,330

How Much Does A 40-Foot High Cube Container Cost?

How Much Does A 40-Foot High Cube Container Cost?

High cube containers have extra height to maximize storage value. High cube container prices still differ depending on the type of container.

There are no flat-rack containers.

Here are 40-foot high cube container types and their average costs.

  • Dry Container – $4,393

  • Open Top Container – $8,615

  • Reefer Container – $16,879

How much does a 53-foot shipping container cost?

How much does a 53-foot shipping container cost?

The most expensive type of container is the 53-foot one.

Delivery and shipping costs for these containers are also more expensive, and you can find a 53-foot used container that people turn into as office space.

Although some might purchase these for a storage unit, others buy two dry 40-foot transport cargo containers instead.

How Much Does It Cost To Move a Shipping Container?

Shipping your container costs from $500 to $1,000 locally and over $1,000 outside the state or country.

How much does it cost to ship a shipping container to Hawaii?

It can range between $4,500 to $16,000 (depending on location, weight, size, and contents).

Importing from Asia costs over $7,000.

If you transport actual products in the shipping industry, you should factor in insurance on top of the shipping cost.

Here are other cargo-related expenses.

  • Trucking – $300

  • Brockage (Demurrage) – $475

  • Packing Supplies $850

  • Loading $1,200

  • Offloading $1,200

  • Packing $2,500

  • Unpacking $2,500

  • Traverse $4,100

How Much To Buy Shipping Container Homes

How Much To Buy Shipping Container Homes

How much does a shipping container home cost?

Shipping container home costs can be over $20,000 to around $22,995.

The shipping container homes price is the same for conventional containers, except you’ve more opportunities to save.

Unlike industrial use, container homes don’t need to pass certificates, inspections, or standards for shipping. Instead, you can refurbish, repair, and remodel them for personal use.

Instead of buying a brand new container for a home, you can buy used dry containers to build on.

Buying other types of containers, like flat-rack or open-top containers, doesn’t always make sense for container homes.

Regarding container homes, your most likely choices are 20-foot and 40-foot dry containers, 40-foot high cubes, and 53-inch containers.

Although these are budget alternatives, larger shipping container homes can cost $100,000 to $175,000, while simpler container homes only range from $10,000 to $35,000.

How Much Does It Cost To Build a Shipping Container Home?

How Much Does It Cost To Build a Shipping Container Home?

How much does a shipping home cost?

The price of your shipping container home depends on your design and concept. However, there are common factors that affect pricing.

Aside from the cost of shipping and the cost of the used or new container, you need specific add-ons to make your container livable.

Unless you plan to use your container home as an extended storage facility, you must spend on necessities like a bathroom, kitchen, and flooring.

Here is the price of shipping container homes’ add-ons.

  • Add a bathroom $5,000 – $35,000

  • Add a door $500 – $1,600

  • Add a kitchen $100 – $300 per square foot

  • HVAC and ventilation $5,000 – $12,500

  • Install insulation $4 – $16 per square foot

  • New flooring $3 – $22 per square foot

  • Wiring for electricity $600 – $2,300

The cost of your shipping container is not the only expense you’ll pay. Before buying, you must examine the land, foundation, insulation, and amenities.

Let’s study these factors.


Although some people build container homes in busy places on land they own, others venture into farmlands to create a house around nature.

If you already have land, skip this step.

If you want to buy farmland, the average cost per acre in 2021 was around $3,380.

The land would cost more the closer you are to the city.


Some people make the common mistake of not laying a solid foundation for their container home, putting the home at risk of damage from bad weather or other circumstances.

The average cost of a foundation is $4,500, with trench foundations being the most affordable.

Pier foundations are the most expensive but are also the best option to protect your container from water damage, elevating it off the ground.

Here are the different types of foundations.

  • Trench Foundation – holes dug into the ground and filled with concrete.

  • Slab Foundation concrete on top of the ground with the container on top of it.

  • Pier Foundation – concrete with columns to elevate your container above the ground.


When you buy a shipping container, it doesn’t automatically come with insulation. Insulation is essential to keep the temperature of your container balanced.

It keeps your container warm in the winter and colder in the summer.

Insulation costs $2,000 for 2000 square feet or around $1 per square foot.

A 20-foot container measures 146 square feet, meaning it would cost you around $146 with additional costs for labor.

How Much For A Storage Container?

The price of a shipping container also depends on the industry you buy it from.

There are three industries where you can buy or rent storage containers.

  1. Self-storage

  2. Shipping storage

  3. Pod storage.

While you can only buy shipping containers unless you rent space to transport items, you can rent self-storage or pod storage units.

Aside from storing extra things, you can use storage space for inventory, essential items, tools, or other items you want to keep but don’t have room for.

How Much Are Cargo Containers Per Industry?

How much does it cost to rent a shipping container per industry?

The cost of shipping these storage containers depends on your location. Delivery services could charge you $100 to $500 for delivery within the area or over $1,000 if it’s hundreds of miles away.

Although these prices still depend on the condition, location, or modifications, these are the general prices per industry.



Self-storage is a low-price rental with a 10-by-10 unit for as low as $100 monthly.

Depending on indoor facilities like climate control, the price of self-storage containers can go up to $130.

Renting a self-storage unit is sort of like renting a house. Except, these aren’t inhabitable or customizable, and you can only store certain items depending on your contract.

Shipping Storage

Shipping Storage

Shipping storage consists of containers that some businesses let you rent when your items are at the dock or port.

Depending on your items and customs, your container could sit at the port or dock longer. In these situations, you rent shipping storage.

Although you get allotted free days, you must pay extra if you exceed the free days.

For example, the Port of Long Beach is free up to five days. Beyond six working days, you’ll pay $14 and an additional $28 per twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU).

Pod Storage

Pod Storage

Pod or portable storage is a flexible alternative to the self-storage model, and you can deliver it to your house or site.

Depending on your location, the pod costs $155 to $175 monthly and includes additional delivery and pickup fees.

These storage containers are primarily for construction sites or industries requiring more space without adding a physical fixture.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Much Can a 40-Ft Container Hold?

A 40-foot container can hold up to 59,200 pounds. You won’t always have a full container (depending on how you fill it). Some items, like pure iron, industrial machinery, and certain minerals, are smaller but heavier.

How Thick Is a Shipping Container Floor?

The floor of a shipping container is at least 1.1 inches thick or 27 mm. The underside clearance of a shipping container is approximately 6 inches or 150 mm.

Can a Car Fit in a 40-Foot Container?

Yes. A 20-foot container can hold one to two cars, while a 40-foot container can hold three to four cars.

The Bottom Line

I hope my guide taught you everything you need to know about shipping containers, including a rough estimate on how much you can expect to pay, and consequently save money on container prices.

Do you need shipping containers for selling directly to customers? Look at eBay as an alternative and learn how much it costs to sell on eBay.

Written by: Omar Deryan

Founder of OJ Digital Solutions

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