An inflated housing market

With home prices on the rise, inflation with little let up in site, many are looking to affordable housing alternatives to traditional homes. For a few thousand dollars, you could be the proud owner of a shipping container - but should you?? Let’s dive in.

Should I buy a shipping container to live in?

First of all, this is NOT INVESTMENT ADVICE and secondly “probably not”. TLDR - if you’d like to live in one, there are significant modifications to be made that will cost large amounts of money and time.



Do you know anyone that lives in a shipping container? The answer is unlikely to be yes as it’s more niche than traditional tiny homes. If not to live in full time, it would definitely be an experience to book a trip and stay in one- you can find some on AirBnb!


Looking to downsize? A shipping container is certainly small and an alternative to other forms of tiny homes. It could make for an interesting second home for those looking to get away.

Real world application

In April 2022, Ukrainians evacuating their hometowns were able to quickly find refuge in a shipping container town that was constructed in the town of Lviv. It was estimated that the 70 containers were capable of housing ~350 individuals


Structural integrity

Shipping containers may seem structurally sound due to the fact that they are often stacked many many layers high, but they are actually made from very thin metal with support points solely at the corners of the container. That means there is very little strength in the walls, floor, or ceiling. Any holes cut for doors, windows, etc. should probably be reinforced. Additionally, sturdy support mounts under the container will be required!

Housing code

Preparing a living space for habitation requires many things to be up to code. This includes electrical work, insulation, mounting, etc. While one or two of the requirements for compliance may not seem like a big deal, they will certainly add up considering the complete overhaul required to satisfy such requirements.

Fixed location

Unlike some other forms of small housing (select tiny homes, RV’s etc), shipping containers are not particularly mobile.


Shipping container housing, although largely impractical for most, is certainly a unique concept. At first glance, one could be convinced that this is the future, but upon further examination and research it doesn’t seem like the ideal place for humans. Let’s keep our shipping containers for transporting goods and look for affordable housing elsewhere.

Cover art provided courtesy of:
Gilda, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons