Will you buy, rent, or lease?

New steel storage containers can range from $2,500 to $4,000 depending on the size and features you select. The cost could deter you from making a purchase, so use these brief guidelines to decide what's best:

    •  If you can afford the up-front expense and plan to keep the container on premises for one year or longer, you should buy the container.

    •  If you only need the container for a few months for a specific purpose (such as moving or storing excess inventory), it's best to rent.

    •  When you want to spread your payments out over time, you can lease for a period of time, and then decide if you want to purchase the container for a nominal fee or return it to the vendor for an upgrade at the end of term.

If you're interested in purchasing, used storage containers can be the way to go. Previously-owned steel storage containers are cleaned, refurbished, and tested for wind and water tightness. Used containers allow you to get a quality steel storage container for 20% to 30% below the cost of a new one.

With all options, you still need to account for delivery and setup charges and any customized features. Steel storage container vendors will also charge renters and lessors removal fees and may require a minimum contract length.