Renting vs Buying a Shipping Container: A Comparison Guide

Are you in the market for a commercial storage container? Then the next step you need to take is determining whether renting or buying a shipping container is right for you.

In this article, we cover everything you need to know when you rent or buy so you can narrow down your options. Continue reading below to discover the pros and cons of each.

Consider the length of time.

Firstly, ask yourself how long you will be using the shipping container. Owning a container means that you will have it forever, which is good for projects or needs without a foreseeable end.

Buying a container is worth it if the cost of purchasing will be offset within the timeframe of using the container. Plus, once you no longer need the container, you’ll have the responsibility of disposing or selling the storage box.

Two large red shipping containers sitting on the ground at a park

With a temporary rental, you only have the container for as long as you want. Rentals are a great option for businesses with a timebound project or seasonal business demands. Instead of paying for an empty container when it’s not needed, you can just stop renting the unit.

Unless you will be actively using your shipping container all year and for many years on end, a container rental will better serve you.

Do you plan on moving the container?

Will your containers be placed and kept at one location? Or, do you plan on shipping the container to another location or to multiple places?

A freight truck loaded with a shipping container pulling out of a loading dock

If you buy a shipping container, you have to get a truck or find an outside moving provider. Moving a container that you own is typically more expensive rather than moving a rental container through a portable storage provider like PODS. That’s because we include moving among our many services and solutions.

Simply put, bundling your container rentals with moving services from the same company saves stress and even dollars since you have less to manage.

Dimensions of a shipping container matter.

Shipping container sizes vary. You can find cargo containers on intermodal vessels that are over 50 feet in length, while smaller shipping container sizes can range under 10 feet in length.

Larger containers are great for huge quantities of cargo, but they require space to place them between moves. If you don’t have a large area of business property or a warehouse, this can be an issue. Smaller shipping containers are ideal if you have don’t have a large property, or only a parking lot area to spare.

More compact containers from PODS and similar providers are better for those situations, as our containers are available in 7-foot, 12-foot, and 16-foot sizes, and each container fits within a single parking space.

Multiple PODS all-steel commercial containers sitting in a parking lot
PODS containers can easily be placed in parking lots.

Keep in mind too that you can always mix and match shipping container sizes so you can get the right about of storage space for your needs. Getting multiple, smaller containers is an easy way to store large quantities of cargo.

Purchasing a container doesn’t give you the option to mix and match easily — which can become costly. Renting, however, allows you to easily order as many containers in various sizes as you need for a period of time.

What container conditions do you want?

Purchasing a storage container comes with the responsibility of having to maintain the container, whereas renting means you get a high-quality container from your provider.

Rust
Rust and outdoor elements can deteriorate the condition of a shipping container.

Wear can occur if your shipping container is frequently used or sits for a long time outdoors. Rust on the body, damage to exterior paint, and malfunctions to doors and locking devices are inevitable over time. It is your responsibility to care for and maintain your purchase.

Depending on what you intend to use the container for determines whether you should rent or buy. A storage container that is consumer-facing for your business should be in great shape so it leaves a good impression, whereas a container that will be used to transport freight cross-country doesn’t have to be as polished.

For example, if you plan to start a temporary pop-up shop inside a shipping container and you do not have the resources to maintain the structure, renting may guarantee that the container is presentable for your customers. Companies that rent out storage boxes usually provide newer container models that are in optimal condition.

Not buying a shipping container?

Now that you know the pros and cons of renting versus buying a shipping container, you can make an educated decision on what route is best for you.

Remember that purchasing a container means that more investment and maintenance over the long run is required. Plus, you will have to find and pay for outside resources to transport your container. Renting, however, offers a lower commitment, less cost, and more flexibility since shipping container rental companies often have services to move your container.

As an industry-leading provider for commercial moving and storage, PODS is an ideal choice for shipping unit rentals. With a nationwide trucking network, a fleet of over 220,000 containers, and more than 230 facilities across the U.S. and Canada, PODS is prepared to meet your shipping and storage demands.

Still interested in renting a container? Discover the options PODS for Business has to offer for shipping containers.

Get Your Free Quote Today!

RELATED POST: What to Look for in a Commercial Shipping Container Rental

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