Innovative Shipping Container Homes

Question: What’s been a world traveler, goods transporter, and residence all in the same lifetime?

Answer: Shipping container homes

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YMCA Container Homes dubbed mYPads

Shipping containers–think the big boxes being loaded by cranes in shipping yards–are designed to be easily stackable for transport on ships and for storage on land. That means that you can create a multi-story building that’s also watertight and fire-resistant. Throw in some interior and electrical work and you’ve got a cheap, comfortable, efficient living space. Builders in London and Washington, DC have done just that.

In London, a chapter of the YMCA set up a group of container homes (dubbed mYPads) for their young residents, who typically don’t have a ton of money to blow on rent. Per the Daily Mail, these homes cost £75 a week, which comes out to £300 a month. Compare that to London’s average rent–£1,160 per month as of September 2014–and you can see why mYPads are attractive to those on tight budgets. And the mYPads aren’t just affordable; they’re also functional and comfortable, boasting their own bathrooms, air conditioning, and flatscreen TVs.

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24-unit apartment building in D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood

Across the Atlantic in Washington, DC, shipping containers are also being used as creative building solutions in the city’s Brookland neighborhood. Per the news station WTOP, the apartments contain “sustainable engineered wood interiors and incorporate other energy-conserving designs.” Like their aforementioned counterparts in London, the creators of this complex are aiming for young residents.

Standalone, more upscale homes have also sprouted from shipping containers, as highlighted by the website Digital Trends. One in Flagstaff, Arizona, was built in under a year and sports a rooftop terrace. Another serves as a guest house in San Antonio, Texas.

There’s a glut of out-of-service shipping containers, meaning they’re relatively cheap to come by:

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Container Guest House, by Jim Poteet

Digital Trends estimated the price for one at $1,500. Combine that with the versatility of container apartments, and you’ve got a trend that’s not likely to ship out any time soon.

Of course, containers are also great for storage. If you’re looking for some more room for your belongings, check out our storage map to find a self-storage option near you.