What It’s Like to Live in a Shipping Container Home
Living in a shipping container is not like living in a traditional house, or even like living in a traditionally-built tiny house. If you’re considering building a shipping container house and have never lived in one before, you likely have some curiosity about what daily life is actually like in this type of home. In this article, we’ll give you a glimpse, straight from the mouths of two happy shipping container home residents.
Brenda Kelly is an Australian native and is the perfect example of a person who lives with style and flair off the grid in a shipping container. She started in a 20 foot shipping container house and later expanded to add an additional 40 foot shipping container. Her home is gorgeous and relatively spacious, with a thoughtful layout and Brenda’s unique touches throughout.
Brenda loves the time she spends in her home, whether she’s relaxing on the glass-enclosed porch, dining in her outdoor entertainment area, or just taking in what she calls her “million dollar view.” Even better, her outdoor space has both heating and air conditioning, so she can use it pretty much year round.
Brenda’s kitchen is sleek and modern. She finds that she has plenty of room to whip up her favorite dishes and even entertain. The appliances are energy-efficient and also compact, leaving Brenda lots of space for storage.
Think one can’t entertain overnight guests in a shipping container home? Think again! Brenda can sleep at least six other people in her home. She has plenty of spare beds throughout the house, tucked ingeniously away. The living room features a trundle bed that pulls out. The office area features a “desk bed.” She has beds that fold out of the walls in almost every room. Brenda’s own bedroom is large enough to fit a queen-sized bed and lots of storage.
Brenda has made the choice to live as sustainably as possible. Her home is solar-powered, but is connected to the grid to allow her to draw from municipal electricity if necessary. If she has any excess energy left over, she can see it back to the energy company, so she definitely doesn’t waste any of her resources on energy. Brenda’s home also collects rain water, which powers the toilet in her bathroom and also her washing machine.
Brenda loves her shipping container home, which was carefully designed to make life both pleasant and eco-friendly for its residents. She lives comfortably, but also efficiently and sustainably.
Twenty-two-year-old Stevie Quinney was living in Vancouver and was sick of it. She was paying $700 every month to rent a basement bedroom and was burdened with student loan payments. After reading a book about tiny homes, she was inspired to consider moving into a tiny home herself. She started to do more research and eventually became convinced that this was the right move for her.
Her mother and stepfather were enthusiastic about the idea, especially when she told them she planned to move back home and build her new house with shipping containers on her parents’ property. For her birthday, they bought her two shipping containers, and she got started planning house.
Stevie loved the idea of living sustainably, without the distraction of excess possessions and clutter. She also loved the idea of owning a home outright, without a mortgage. And she loved being able to customize her shipping container home to fit her lifestyle. She came up with the floorplan herself and her stepfather helped her finalize it. Family and friends helped her with the plumbing and electrical. Just six months and $50,000 later, Stevie’s shipping container house was ready to move into.
It took some getting used to. Canadian winters are no joke, and Stevie’s pipes froze the very first week. She wasn’t able to install a wood stove before winter arrived, so she had to make do with a small electric heater. Now, though, Stevie is totally comfortable in her home. Like any house, sometimes it takes some time to settle in and get it the way you want it, Stevie says.
Stevie loves the security and accomplishment she feels in owning a home outright, and she cherishes the flexibility her shipping container home gives her and the experience she acquired from designing and helping to construct the home.
James Lee is a chiropractor and container home builder who has lived in Costa Rica for 18 years. He himself lives in a shipping container house and writes, “this steel box is hot, loud and small. But I love it.”
He pays almost nothing in rent and just $40 per month for electricity and water. And, although his home certainly gets warm in the midday Costa Rican sun, it cools down a lot at night. Lee decided not to insulate his home, but he did cover it with a roof and use high RV reflective paint, which helps with the heat.
According to Lee, the best part of living in a shipping container home is the downsizing. He says, “It made me focus on what stuff I really needed. Plus, I really do not buy anything anymore. No bread makers, exercise equipment or anything that would take up space.” He never has to worry about “climbing over that big purchase that you accidently made, or even worse, that Christmas presents you received and have no space for it.” So, for this shipping container home resident, life is good.