Shipping Container vs. Storage Unit: What’s Right for You?
May 2020

Shipping Container vs. Storage Unit: What’s Right for You?

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Many situations may arise in your personal, family, or business, where you need additional storage space. Whether you’re moving, clearing some space for a new project, removing old furniture and equipment, or looking for a place to keep your surplus inventory, shipping container rentals can give you the extra space you need to work effectively and efficiently. Or, would self-storage units serve your needs better?

Unlike portable shipping containers that are moved and placed at a location of your choice, self-storage units comprise hundreds of spaces with individual doors—at a central location—that are leased within a large storage facility. To access your items from a self-storage unit, you need to be granted entry to the storage facility first and then find your storage unit with a unique lock. Conversely, shipping containers are steel boxes that are rented from a vendor for an agreed period to sit outside your home, office, job site, or property until the time expires, after which it’s collected and returned to the vendor’s premises.

Both options can be used for storage, but each is better suited for certain types of projects.

Self-Storage Units

When you require temporary storage space, such as when you need to store surplus items from your retail store or clear out a room for remodelling, you can choose to take your items to the nearest self-storage facility. Your storage unit will be amongst many other storage lockers within a building or mini-storage facility, where you drive up and unload your items. You may need a dolly to load/unload the unit if you cannot drive up to your unit. It may be a suitable option for long-term use; otherwise, you will have to travel back and forth anytime you want to access something in your storage unit.


  • There is no wait time before starting to use your storage space.
  • The first line of security is the facility’s own security system to access the premises, as well as video surveillance and security guards.


  • You may need to hire movers/transport services and use dollies to get your items in storage.
  • Some facilities may not offer 24/7 access to the facility, preventing you from getting your items from storage.
  • You need to drive to the facility to retrieve your belongings in storage.
  • There are only a few unit sizes to choose from, and there are no customization options, which makes it unlikely to get the best storage space for your needs.
  • There is a constant monthly fee for renting storage regardless of the duration.
  • They require a minimum number of days/weeks commitment, with additional fees needed to cancel your contract.
  • They have rigid cancellation policies.

Also, keep in mind that the sealing around your storage unit door may not be airtight unless it is a specialized or climate-controlled unit. This means that your items in storage may be at risk of damage from insects, pests, as well as deterioration due to warm and moist conditions. The safety of your items will be largely dependent on the habits of the owners of the adjacent units at the facility.

Shipping Container Storage

More often than not, renting a shipping container is usually the more practical short-term solution than a self-storage unit. You won’t be required to drive to/from your home or business to the facility whenever you need to retrieve items. Since a shipping container is located on your property, you can access it any time without travelling or using transport items, such as dollies.

With a storage unit at your home, site, or property, you can ensure cleanliness and optimal security to your satisfaction. At storage facilities, your neighbours may attract insects that crawl into your storage space and harm your items. Without proper security measures, thieves may break into your facility and steal items.

Even with CCTV and security personnel, storage units can still be easily broken into because their doors are not that secure. Shipping containers, on the other hand, boast state-of-the-art security features with a sturdy shield placed over the heavy-duty lockbox system to protect against thieves using heavy bolt cutters.


  • There are multiple storage container sizes with customized units to fit your needs.
  • Availability of accessories to add shelving and other features at virtually no cost.
  • Your container is delivered to a location of your choice and positioned as you want it.
  • You can enjoy discounts for longer-term storage contracts.
  • You can pay month-to-month as your needs change.
  • There is constant and unrestricted access to your items, 24/7.
  • Shipping containers are weatherproof and insect-proof, keeping your items safe.
  • There are portable units available to move your belongings anywhere.


  • It may be inconvenient for the unit to take up space on your driveway or property.
  • You need to book the unit and schedule a delivery date, so you have to wait before it’s accessible.
  • You will incur delivery and pickup fees.


While self-storage units can be used for short-term and long-term storage, they may not be the best option. Before renting a self-storage unit or shipping container, ask yourself:

1. Am I planning to move anytime soon?

If you need storage to facilitate your relocation, simply load up a container and get it transported to your new location.

2. Do I need long-term storage?

Storage container providers offer great discounts for long-term storage. You can compare this with the constant fee in a self-storage facility near you.

3. Are the items going into storage heavy or bulky?

Unless you get a drive-up storage unit and use dollies, moving your items into a storage facility can be quite a hassle. Instead, get a storage container delivered to you and load it up at your own pace.

4. How frequently will I access the stored items?

Consider driving to a storage facility that may be on the outskirts of town, to access your items. Moreover, if the facility doesn’t operate 24/7, then it may be inconvenient for you. If the storage container is on your property, you will have unlimited access. If the container is at the provider’s property, you can arrange it with them when you want to access the unit.

5. Do I want to store a lot of items?

Storage units are usually small, and even the biggest size may not fit your needs. On the other hand, shipping containers have a wide range of sizes to accommodate all your space needs, including up to a 4-bedroom house.

6. Are there any valuables?

Shipping containers offer more security.

Final Note

Shipping container rentals offer a safer, cost-effective, and more convenient storage solution. Also, they’re portable! So if you’re moving, you can simply load the container and ask your provider to move it to another location of your choice. This is much easier than travelling back and forth to remove your belongings in a self-storage unit. And with the container on-site, you can load and unload the items at your own pace.

For more information, please call Sigma Container Corporation at 1-877-225-7762 or contact us here at our website.

Tom Bray is a freelance writer with over five years experience writing for online publications and over ten years in business and sales. He studied journalism and media and has written for various online outlets on multiple topics. His specialty subjects are shipping containers and transport logistics.

Tom’s passion for writing and transport logistics motivates him to provide frequent direct marketing content that can show you how a shipping container can be effectively utilized and modified to each person’s needs.

You can connect with Tom via email at