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Shipping Container Storage vs Sheds vs Self Storage Units

June 6th, 2024

Do you have a garage overflowing with tools? Maybe a basement bursting with seasonal decorations? If you're nodding your head, you're not alone. Stuff accumulates! 

But fear not, there are solutions to conquer your clutter. This article will guide you through three popular storage options: shipping container storage, sheds, and self-storage units. 

We'll break down the pros and cons of each, so you can find the perfect fit for your needs and budget. Whether you need a weatherproof haven for your motorcycle or a secure space for holiday decorations, let's find the storage solution that brings order to your life!

Shipping Container For Storage: Key Factors

Alright, let’s explore the battleground of storage options – shipping containers, sheds, and self-storage units. 

Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Budget: Shipping containers are less expensive than sheds of similar size. Self-storage comes with ongoing rental fees.

  • Storage Needs: Think about the size and type of belongings you need to store. Containers and some self-storage units offer the most space, while sheds might be suitable for smaller items. Climate control might be important for sensitive items.

  • Security: Steel shipping containers are the most secure storage. Wood sheds are flammable and easier to break into. Self storage units have security but lots of visitors.

  • Frequency of Access: If you need frequent access to your stuff, a shed or on-site container might be ideal. Self-storage might require trips to the facility at business hours.

  • Available Space: Consider the space you have on your property for a shed or container. Self-storage units offer flexibility in location.

By weighing these factors against the pros and cons of each option, you'll be well on your way to choosing the perfect storage solution.


Remember, the ultimate goal is to find a space that keeps your belongings safe and organized, giving you back peace of mind (and maybe even some extra garage space!).

What’s Better For Storage: Shipping Containers, Sheds or Self Storage Units?

Shipping Container Storage in Your Yard 

First, let’s talk about using a shipping container for storage. Shipping containers are super strong personal storage units for your backyard! These tough containers are made of weather-resistant steel, so they can stand up to rain, snow, and anything else Mother Nature throws their way. Plus, they come with secure locking mechanisms, keeping your belongings safe from prying eyes.

Now, there are various shipping container sizes, with some, like high cubes, even offering extra height for stacking bulky items like furniture. This can be a big advantage if you have a lot of stuff to tuck away. The best common sizes for home storage are 20 ft containers or 40 ft containers

Here's the best part: depending on where you live, you might be able to buy a used shipping container for a one-time cost, which can be cheaper than sheds and renting a storage unit for months on end. And shipping container rentals or financing are also available for low monthly payments.

However, there are a few things to consider before diving into the world of container storage. While they're super functional, they might not blend in perfectly with your backyard landscaping. 

Once you put it down, moving it around can be a challenge but they are portable. It’s best to carefully plan where you want to position your container in case it becomes a permanent fixture!

Pros: Onsite, durable, secure, portable, affordable, customizable, can be resold, less maintenance than sheds.

Cons: Less attractive than some sheds.

Storage Sheds Are Attractive With Some Drawbacks

Storage sheds are a familiar sight in many backyards. They come in all shapes and sizes, offering a customizable storage solution you can match to your needs. Sheds are typically made of wood but can also come in metal.

They can be a decent option if you're looking for something a little more aesthetically pleasing than a shipping container. A charming wooden shed tucked away in a corner of your yard is nice for storing your garden tools or pool equipment.

Like containers, sheds can be customized with shelves, pegboards, or even lofts to maximize your storage space. Plus, depending on the size and your DIY skills, you might be able to assemble a shed yourself, saving on some costs.

However, comparably sized sheds cost more than shipping containers, but they don't offer the same level of durability. Wood sheds require more maintenance to keep them weatherproof and prevent pests from moving in. And sheds are considered permanent and may require a permit in some jurisdictions.

They also tend to hold their value less well than containers, so if you think you might not need the storage space in the future, resale might be trickier than reselling a container Ultimately, sheds offer a familiar and potentially customizable storage solution, but keep in mind the trade-off between affordability and long-term durability.

Pros: Onsite, attractive, customizable.

Cons: More expensive than containers. Less durable and secure. Not portable. Requires more frequent maintenance.

Self-Storage Units: Convenience with a Catch

Storage facilities with rows and rows of units are accessible by you with a swipe of your card. These facilities offer a wide range of unit sizes, from closet-sized lockers to spaces large enough to hold the contents of an entire house. 

Many even have climate-controlled options, which can be a lifesaver for protecting furniture or sensitive belongings from extreme temperatures.

When it comes to convenience, self-storage units are hard to beat if you can’t have a container or shed at your property. They're typically located in easily accessible areas, and most facilities offer extended access hours, so you can swing by to grab that camping gear or box of winter clothes whenever you need it. Plus, you don't have to worry about maintenance or security – the facility takes care of those for you.

However, there's a catch: renting a self-storage unit comes with an ongoing monthly cost. While this can be a good option for short-term needs, it can add up over time. 

Additionally, you won't have the same level of control over access compared to having a shed or shipping container on your own property. You might need to travel to the facility to grab something, and there might be limitations on how often you can access your belongings.

So, self-storage units are a great choice for convenience and flexibility, but keep in mind the ongoing cost and slightly less direct access to your stuff.

Pros: Relatively secure, climate controlled, no maintenance.

Cons: Offsite, expensive over time, access may be limited, less private than home storage solutions.

Personal Storage Cost Comparison 

The cost of shipping containers, sheds and self storage units can differ greatly depending on sizes and styles. Containers are cheaper to purchase per square foot than sheds. But both are cheaper than self storage units if you need them for longer than a year. 

And both containers and sheds are available to purchase with payments that are comparable to monthly cost of self storage units.

The main difference is that you own the container or shed after the payment term is complete, whereas storage units can only be rented.

Personal Storage Cost Comparison 

The average cost for a 20ft shipping container (160 square feet) is around $2500, or about $150/month with our rent-to-own option

Shed Storage Cost

The average cost of a 12ft by 12ft wood storage shed (144 sq ft) is about $4200 (installed), or as low as $200/month with extended payment plans.

Self-Storage Unit Cost

The average rental cost of a 10ft by 15ft self storage unit (150 sq ft) is around $220/month ($2,640/year).

Shipping Container Storage Ideas and Modifications

Standard shipping containers for sale are designed to protect your stuff since that’s what they’re used for in shipping. However, there are a few container accessories and modifications that make containers much more convenient for storing things at your property. 

The cargo doors on a container with a lock box are supremely secure. However, adding a roll-up door or man door makes accessing your stuff much more convenient. And more ventilation helps to climate control the container. That's why those are some of the best selling shipping container parts.

You can even completely finish your container with doors, walls, lights, air conditioning and more with our container office conversion kits. And full container garages can be built using a bit of creativity. 

Other popular shipping container storage ideas include adding shelving racks and totes to keep things organized. Racks on wheels can be useful for businesses using storage shipping containers to warehouse merchandise and inventory.

Bonus Option: Portable Storage Containers

In addition to shipping containers, sheds and self-storage units, there are portable storage containers. These are attractive light-weight containers made from weather-proof materials like corrugated steel. They’re sometimes referred to as moving containers or moving pods as popularized by moving companies. These containers come in lengths of 12 feet, 16 feet and 20 feet with standard 8-foot width and height.

The cost for a brand new 20 ft portable storage container (160 sq ft) is around $4650 delivered to your property. So it is a bit more expensive than shipping containers and sheds of similar size. However, it can be assembled and disassembled on site, making it much easier to move than any of the other onsite storage options.

There you have it, a comprehensive overview of personal storage options. Whether all your stuff doesn’t fit in your home, or you have a side hustle that requires a mini-warehouse, shipping containers, sheds and self-storage units provide unique solutions. Which one best fits your needs?

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