Tiny Homes, Big Possibilities- The Shipping Container Movement

These days, everyone’s looking for their ideal side gig. Instead of becoming an Uber driver or picking up stranger’s groceries with Postmate, many are becoming Airbnb hosts—which, according to a recent study from Priceonomics, is the most profitable side gig by far. The average Airbnb host makes more than $900 a month on average, compared to almost $400 for Uber drivers and less than $200 for Postmates shoppers. But instead of buying a unit or letting strangers into their homes, some Airbnb hosts have a bright idea: shipping container homes.

Mini Homes, Major Demand

Since “Tiny House Hunters” and “Tiny Houses, Big Living” premiered on HGTV in 2014, people just haven’t been able to get enough of tiny homes. Not only does a tiny home cost less to build, it also promises a an alluring nontraditional lifestyle. Shipping container homes embody that resourceful, adventurous attitude by using existing structures to build creative and highly functional tiny homes that are sturdy, well-designed, and aesthetically pleasing.

But for those who are looking for the perfect side gig, the low cost and exotic appeal of a shipping container home offers a unique opportunity. Airbnb hosts who rent out shipping container units are seeing excellent returns, capitalizing on the interest in tiny homes and the fun of staying in a unique location, while not shelling out as much to create a private and unique experience.

Statistically Speaking

While successful television shows featuring tiny homes is a good indicator of their appeal, new research from sheds some light on the phenomenon. Luckdrops is a company that builds all-inclusive, precision-crafted homes built from up-cycled shipping containers, so their research offers some compelling data points on the interest in such a product.

In their survey of over 300 respondents from around the globe, 69% of the respondents thought the idea of a custom shipping container home was exciting, and half found it relevant to them personally. It’s clear that the idea of a non-traditional custom home has broad appeal across many demographics. When asked what words described the product, “innovative” and “modern” topped the list.

When it came to how the respondents envisioned themselves using a shipping container home, the answers varied. 61% said they would live in a shipping container home as a primary residence, and 62% said they would add one as a guest house to a conventional home. But almost two thirds (65%) said they would stay in a shipping container Airbnb.

With almost seven out of ten respondents charmed by the idea of a shipping container home, and almost two out of three specifically interested in a shipping container Airbnb, the market for these tiny homes is enormous. The only question is how to best capitalize on the demand.

Airbnb Allure

The economics of Airbnb are relatively simple: renters desire a prime location, unique appeal, and privacy. For instance, renters will pay more a small room in a popular city than one in a nondescript town. They’ll shell out more for a charming bungalow with appealing furnishings than a lurid basement unit with the bare necessities. And they’ll pay a premium for an entire unit to themselves, much more than for a room in a larger home that they would have to share with other occupants.

Shipping container homes are the perfect response to all of these desires. As far as location goes, shipping container homes can be dropped onto a beachfront propertya picturesque wildernessa lakeside viewor a backyard in a major city. Shipping container homes are ideal for these situations: compact and, through companies like Luckdrop, able to be delivered almost anywhere, fully constructed, within three to six months.

And when it comes to the charm factor, shipping container homes are the polar opposite of threadbare basement apartments. As the data attests, an overwhelming majority of people find the idea of staying in a nontraditional home appealing, even exciting. Many will pay more for an Airbnb that offers a one-of-a-kind experience and shipping container homes, like treehouses or castles, are an adventure for most. Renters will pay top dollar for such a memorable stay.

Finally, shipping container homes, by virtue of being self-contained, offer the longed-for privacy for which Airbnb renters are happy to pay top dollar. Having to share a kitchen or bathroom with strangers could ruin anyone’s vacation experience. Even for renters who are traveling for work, being able to come home and truly relax is a luxury worth a higher price tag.

With the median home value in the U.S. as of March 2018 just over $200,000, according to data from Zillow, buying a traditional home just to rent is out of the question for most. Even for those who could afford that, the cost of buying a traditional unit in a prime location and spending the money to decorate it to appeal to vacationers would be prohibitive. However, high-end 320 square foot, rent-ready shipping container homes, purchased in the US start at around $30,000, less than a quarter of the cost of a traditional home. For anyone who’s looking for the perfect side gig, a shipping container Airbnb is an out-of-the-box option that checks all of the boxes.

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By Amin Brodie Yakubu, founder of Luckdrops – All-inclusive, precision-crafted homes
built from up-cycled shipping containers.