How Long Do Shipping Container Homes Last?

Rose Morrison

Mar 21, 2022


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There are mobile homes, tiny homes, log cabins, brick houses and many other types of homes. Some people have even made their home out of a van to travel across the country while working remotely. One new trend in housing, however, has taken place over the past few years. That trend is shipping container homes.

People build homes with the hope that they last a lifetime or more. Many of the homes you may see while going through a neighborhood may have been built decades ago. People move in and out of houses all the time, and others choose to build new homes meant to last generations. 

Home-seekers all around the world are interested in ways to save money on a home, but the question remains — how long do shipping container homes last? If you’re investing in a home, you want to ensure it’s going to last for a while and that it holds up long enough until you were to move. 

What are Shipping Container Homes?

Shipping container homes are exactly as they sound — they’re homes fabricated out of those large steel shipping containers on trains, boats and semi-trucks. The military used these shipping container homes for emergency housing. However, they’ve become a standard housing option for many people.

Shipping container homes can be anything from a single shipping container meant for minimalistic living, or they can be stacked and soldered together to make a shipping container mansion. These homes comprise of recycled containers. However, some people would rather have their homes built from new shipping containers, which is also an option. 

Other uses for homes built from shipping containers have included apartment complexes and even student housing. Perhaps sometime in the near future, there will be communities of shipping home containers.

The Lifespan of a Shipping Container Home

There’s really no definite answer to the question of how long shipping containers will last. It depends on the type of container you have and where you live, plus other factors that either limit or expand their lifespan.

Shipping containers are generally very sturdy and stable. They’re built to withstand all kinds of conditions while holding items to be shipped throughout the world. On ships, they experience rough waves and salty air. On trains or trucks, they may experience all kinds of weather and also intense ultraviolet rays. 

Water on steel mixed with sunshine often results in rust. People who are interested in purchasing a shipping container home often worry about this the most. They don’t want their homes to rust over a few years.

Those shipping containers that have experienced harsh weather can still be used for a home, and it’s great to repurpose them as a part of sustainable living. Just make sure to treat it for rust and that it’s still sturdy.

Other storage containers are only used in warehouses to hold items, so they’ll last much longer since they aren’t exposed to the elements, usually around 25 years. If you intend to purchase a shipping container specifically designed for home use, you can count on it lasting approximately 50 years. 

When purchasing a shipping container, especially if you will use it as a space where you’ll sleep, eat and work, you want to ensure that it will last. That’s why you need to make sure that you buy it from a reputable supplier. 

Pros of Shipping Container Homes

Shipping container homes have become a sought-after way of living. Here are just a few of the advantages of purchasing and living in a shipping container home:

Eco-Friendly Option

For those who are looking to be eco-conscious, you can purchase a used shipping container. You’re repurposing something that would otherwise be sitting idly. Rather than using all new materials, the shipping container is already ready to be made into a home.


The cost of shipping container homes can vary just like any other home. They come in multiple sizes, and some homes are recycled while others are brand new. Depending on the age and the wear of the shipping container, it can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. On top of that, you will need to add in all of the furnishings, but you can make it relatively inexpensive.


Shipping containers were built to move. You can move a shipping container almost anywhere to make it your home. Once they arrive at your destination, they’re simply set onto a foundation. 

Cons of Shipping Container Homes

Although shipping container homes are great for the environment, affordable and easy to move, there are a few cons:

Prone to Rust

Let’s face it — shipping containers are made of steel. Steel is a metal that is prone to rust over time. Although the steel used for the containers is more rust resistant than most other metals, that doesn’t guarantee that it won’t rust. 

Not Always Structurally Sound

Used shipping containers have been near and far. They may have been on the rough seas or even through the mountains on a train. There may be some dents and dings in the container when it arrives to you if it’s a recycled one.

A Home Shipped to You

There’s a lot to consider if you’re thinking of getting a shipping container home. Shipping containers are available almost everywhere, and they’re relatively affordable. They would certainly make a great starter home. You can start small and slowly expand to make your home a shipping container mansion. 

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