Pros and Cons of Living in a Shipping Container Home

Get rid of most of your stuff and decrease your Carbon Footprint

The pros and cons of living in a shipping container home are in regards to a tiny, little 160-sq/ft home.  Not a giant container home structure, 3 stories high and 3 wide. This is about a small living space. About downsizing, considering your carbon footprint, and getting rid of most of your ‘stuff’.

Container Homes in Costa RicaSo before you move into your new tiny-home, remember not to bring anything. No luggage, big empty boxes, or household stuff you really never use anyway, like your exercise bike or bread machine. There is no room for it. The tiny-home living is not designed for you to have all of your luxuries like a couch, and a chair, and a table.  You have to pick one of these, and then deal with it. Pretend that you are going on vacation, and your hotel has a kitchen but they only let you bring your own paintings for the wall.

My suggestion to most people considering the tiny-home living is don’t do it. Do not move into a tiny home.  It’s too small.  You’re not a kid anymore living in a tree house. Actually, I suggest living in your living room for 6 months as practice.   If you are OK with having zero space, then go for it.

But that’s OK. No space, no room for anything means you have to minimalize your living. You have to give your stuff away, throw it away, or store it away.  But away it goes. Which can be good for most people with tons of stuff. With less stuff, there is less to think about and worry about. Everything you own and use on a day-to-day basis is right there in front of you, or underneath you.

Here is the list of Pros:

  • Container Homes in Costa RicaYour new shipping container “tiny home” will have no roof problems or leaks for about 100 years. The solid steel roofs are built for ocean travel, and are basically impenetrable to water.
  • The size of the container is perfect for your car if you need to store it for long periods of time.
  • You can create extra storage space underneath the container once it has been set down on its foundation; which is a perfect place for yard equipment.
  • The top of the container can be used as a roof-top deck and/or stack a second box on top. The deck on top doubles the amount of living space at a fraction of the cost.
  • If you are not living in the container home all year long, then you can lock up your steel box and feel safe while you are gone. Or, put it on a truck and ship it somewhere else.
  • The re-sale value on the container home is very high because of its ability to be transported anywhere on the planet.
  • The container home can be moved at any time. If you decide to sell, or if you want to place it on a different part of your land.
  • Because the container is metal, you can weld all over it. Weld shelves and hinges and steps. On the outside of the container, you can weld a fence to your container or even a swing-set playground for kids.
  • The containers can be used like building blocks, like Legos. So you can continue to add onto your home, as your budget seems fit.
  • The availability of used containers is high as there are hundreds of thousands of these containers for sale worldwide.
  • Container Homes in Costa RicaContainer home construction has limited requirements for permits in many locations. So your construction process and timelines can be cut in half.
  • Your Carbon Footprint is minimal. You are doing a great thing for the planet by living in a smaller home.

List of Cons:

  • It’s very small, with limited space.
  • It’s very hot and very cold. So insulate, put a roof over it and paint it with a white reflective paint.
  • It’s very loud if not insulated well. It amplifies the surrounding sounds.
  • The container home conducts electricity very easily. So hire a good electrician.
  • The container home roofs collect water, and will rust and then leak. You will need a roof or a new container.
  • No room for your washer and dryer, or ironing board.
  • There is not a lot or actually any storage space in the container home. Therefore, build your beds on top of draws, and maybe buy a second container for all your storage needs and laundry room.

The author, James Lee has lived in San Ramon, Costa Rica for 17 years.  He is a Chiropractor, and Container Home Builder. He has built over 27 projects in the past 11 years. Located in La Union, San Ramon de Alajuela.  Contact James at

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