What it is Like Living in a Container Home

Container Homes may be best for singles and couples. Unless one purchases several containers, this can then accommodate a bigger family. However, these need to be carefully inspected and treated well to make for comfortable living conditions. Most people take advantage of container homes as emergency shelters, temporary housing, satellite offices or as quaint accommodations in remote locations.

Image from The Realities Of Buying And Living In Container Homes – The Good Human

Safe from the Elements

These containers were made to withstand several days up to weeks at sea, crossing oceans, exposed to salty air, filled with tradable goods and stacked on one another! To undergo this, these boxes were certainly made robust.

Therefore, shipping containers are also frequently used as emergency evacuation centers, making them extremely great candidates for a safehouse from calamities.

The primary material used in container homes is CorTen Steel or Weathering Steel. This is a type of steel that rusts but does not rot. This metal is what allows these boxes to undergo extreme weather on sea. This makes them very strong, being typhoon and earthquake resistant. They are also built for stacking, therefore as a structural shell it is stronger than what typical home frames would be made of. Their corrugation also adds to their rigidity and strength. (1)

“They’re probably one of those durable products on the planet,..Container homes are designed to have up to 60,000 pounds on the inside, and up to 400,000 pounds stacked on top of them.”

– Tony Lopez, CEO and founder of Alternative Living Spaces (2)

Noisy and Hot if Untreated

These kinds of homes are just flat out wrong but several live in these conditions today. You must always treat the container homes well by professionals to avoid this. People living in container homes that were not well treated suffer from intense heat and can get rashes, headaches, or just can’t sleep. (3)

Also imagine the noise if you’re living in a complex with the containers stacked up. Any sounds from your neighbors would be clanging across the metal, ringing up the walls. Even if you lived in a one storey standalone container home, rain pouring on your home would just be echoing inside. (1,3)

Avoid this at all costs, because it can lead to a terrible living experience that will not be worth your money, time and health.

Treat all interior and exterior surfaces with a CFC free polyurethane foam spray, or any insulation your local building professionals recommend. Also consult them on how to insulate the container home from noise. Treating your floor by pouring in a concrete slab for example might help. (1)

Image from What is it like to live in a converted shipping container? – BBC News

Leading a Minimalist Lifestyle

Due to the constraint in size, you might end up leading a minimalist lifestyle. One would then clean less, own less items and naturally the cost of living lowers. Imagine the benefits as you would a Tiny Home. (4)

Be mindful of your family’s lifestyle. If you have too many things or need more space to cook, or for your kids to play, this can lead to feeling too claustrophobic and quite literally boxed in.

This makes container homes most suitable for young couples or couples without kids and people living alone. Once your family hits three members it may begin to feel overcrowded and uncomfortable.

Keep in mind that shipping containers have a fixed width of eight feet. With layers of insulation this will reduce a bit. That’s just four large tiles, or a little over the length of your bed or door. To attain a wider room width, you’ll need to do some heavy work in cutting through and combining containers. (5)

The Struggles and Perseverance Needed

You’ll find you may need a lot of D.I.Y. skills when living in a container home. You can’t just put holes in the walls for shelving as it might compromise the container’s structural strength. It’ll require much more effort or steps than an ordinary wooden home to simply put up decor. What’s great is you can add in any upgrades and customizations if you have the skill (or budget to outsource) and build it in the future as your savings grow. (2)

Besides treating noise and thermal insulation, you’ll also need to undergo a deep cleaning of your container. Remember these were heavily treated for industrial goods. This means strong chemicals such as Radaleum FHP-60, were used to prevent vermin and pests. Be cautious and make absolutely sure your container has been stripped and washed of these chemicals. Most of these are fume-less and unnoticeable, therefore can pose great health risks if living in it. (2)

The land permits are also tricky to obtain for container homes. Your state, county and municipality have to all agree on having the container on a residential lot. More on this in our article on “Can I Put a Container Home on My Land?”. Just bear in mind that it isn’t as simple as buying the home and plopping it on site. (6)

Given the size constraint, you may have to shop for modern, compact appliances. You’d also need to work with specialized electricians, plumbers and builders who’ve had experience with container homes. All this specialization in labor and equipment might drive up the price of your quaint home to more than you initially expected.

But hey, shipping container homes with the right amount of love and attention, containers can be made into something phenomenal. It can even surprise you with the new lifestyle and streams of income it’ll make. Take a look at this lovely shipping container home and see for yourself their potential!. Living in an Ultra-Modern Shipping Container Home – Built with 4 x 20ft Used Containers – YouTube

Image from Black Box Studio with a river view! – Shipping containers for Rent in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada – Airbnb


  1. Young, S. (2020, December 4). The truth about container homes. YouTube. Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Be_W5XIolac
  2. Suarez, J., & Desai, P. (2022, April 19). Container Homes are becoming the new norm – here’s why | nextadvisor with Time. Time. Retrieved August 2022, from https://time.com/nextadvisor/mortgages/shipping-container-tiny-homes-new-norm/
  3. Cannon, M. (2019, August 22). What is it like to live in a converted shipping container? BBC News. Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-49426924
  4. explorealternatives. (2020, October 10). Living in an ultra-modern shipping container home – built with 4 x 20ft used containers. YouTube. Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvUI3-0QkI0
  5. Barber, M. (2020, April 10). Everything you need to know about shipping container homes. Curbed. Retrieved July 2022, from https://archive.curbed.com/2020/4/10/21165288/shipping-container-house-build-cost
  6. MasterClass. (2021, June 8). Shipping Container Homes: Understanding the pros and cons – 2022. MasterClass. Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.masterclass.com/articles/shipping-container-homes-understanding-the-pros-and-cons#5w5eiW8A2Z6YzMzKBvyMvC