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Are Container Homes A Good Option For Older Adults?

container homes for seniors inpixio

Container homes are gaining popularity as a viable housing option for older adults looking to downsize.

These homes, made from repurposed shipping containers, offer a unique blend of affordability, sustainability, and flexibility.

But are they truly a good fit for older adults?

Let’s explore the various aspects of container homes to help you make an informed decision.

Benefits Of Container Homes For Older Adults


One of the most compelling reasons to consider a container home is its cost-effectiveness.

Shipping container homes can be purchased for as low as $10,000, making them an affordable option for those on a fixed income.

The reduced need for building materials and labor further lowers the overall cost, allowing older adults to allocate their savings to other essential needs.

Quick Construction Time

Container homes can be built by experienced contractors in under a month, which is significantly faster than traditional homes.

This quick turnaround is beneficial for older adults who may need to move quickly due to changing health or financial circumstances.


Container homes are highly customizable.

You can mix and match different-sized containers to create a layout that suits your needs.

This flexibility is perfect for older adults who may require specific modifications for accessibility, such as wider doorways or ramps.

Sturdy Architecture

Made from COR-TEN steel, container homes are incredibly durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions better than traditional homes.

This sturdiness provides peace of mind, especially for older adults living in areas prone to extreme weather.


Container homes are mobile, making them an excellent option for those who wish to travel or move closer to family.

The homes can be transported to different locations, offering a level of flexibility that traditional homes cannot match.

For information about container homes directly from a container company, contact

Challenges Of Container Homes For Older Adults

Building Permits

Obtaining the necessary building permits for a container home can be challenging.

The concept is relatively new, and not all municipalities have clear guidelines for container housing.

It’s crucial to consult with local city planning offices to understand the building codes, zoning restrictions, and permitting requirements.

Insulation Issues

Shipping containers do not have inherent insulating properties.

To make them comfortable for living, you will need to invest in insulation materials like spray foam, cork board, or wool.

This additional cost and effort can be a drawback for some older adults.

Noise Levels When It Rains

You may be thinking that because of all the steel, the house will be noisy when it rains. Well, you are correct.

However, there are several ways to mitigate the noise from rain in a container home:

  1. Insulation: Adding insulation is one of the most effective ways to reduce noise in a container home. Insulation materials can absorb sound, thereby reducing the noise level from rain. Spray foam insulation, for example, adheres to the walls and can significantly dampen the sound of rain. It also has the added benefit of improving the thermal performance of the home.
  2. Soundproofing Materials: Using soundproofing materials specifically designed to reduce noise can also be effective. Materials such as acoustic panels or soundproofing curtains can be installed inside the container home to absorb sound.
  3. Exterior Cladding: Adding exterior cladding to the container can help in reducing the noise from rain. Materials like wood or composite siding not only improve the aesthetic appeal of the container home but also act as an additional barrier to sound.
  4. Roofing Materials: The choice of roofing material can also impact the noise level inside a container home during rain. Materials that have sound-absorbing properties or designs that minimize the impact of raindrops can reduce noise. For instance, installing a green roof or using roofing materials with a textured surface can help.
  5. Strategic Placement of Rain Gutters and Downspouts: Properly placed and insulated rain gutters and downspouts can direct rainwater away from the container efficiently, reducing the noise created by dripping water.

It’s important to note that while these methods can significantly reduce the noise from rain, completely eliminating it may not be possible.

The effectiveness of these solutions can vary based on the intensity of the rain, the specific materials used, and the construction details of the container home.

Potential Hazards

Used shipping containers may contain harmful chemicals or materials.

They are often treated with zinc paint to prevent corrosion, which can pose health risks.

It’s essential to ensure that the container you choose is free from such hazards.

Making A Container Home Senior Friendly

Here are some tips for making a shipping container home accessible and senior-friendly for older adults:

Entryways and Doors

  • Install ramps or level entryways to avoid steps for easy wheelchair/walker access.
  • Always install handrails on all steps if the container home is sitting up from the ground.
  • Use wider doors (at least 32-36 inches) to accommodate wheelchairs/walkers.
  • Install lever-style door handles instead of knobs which are easier to grip.


  • Design a curbless, roll-in shower with a built-in bench and handrails.
  • Install a raised toilet (17-19 inches from floor) or add a toilet seat riser.
  • Place grab bars near the toilet and in the shower area.
  • Use non-slip flooring and include a shower seat.


  • Install lower countertops (around 30 inches high) with open space underneath for knee clearance.
  • Use pull-out shelving and lazy susans in corner cabinets for easier access.
  • Choose easy-grip handles instead of knobs on cabinets/drawers.
  • Ensure good lighting over countertops and cooking areas.

Flooring and Pathways

  • Use non-slip, low-pile flooring throughout to prevent tripping hazards.
  • Ensure wide hallways and pathways (at least 36 inches) for walker/wheelchair access.
  • Avoid raised thresholds between rooms if possible.

Other Considerations

  • Install grab bars along hallways if needed.
  • Use lever-style handles on plumbing fixtures for easier gripping.
  • Ensure good lighting throughout, especially in bathrooms and hallways.
  • Consider adding an emergency call system or medical alert buttons.
  • Allow for open floor plans and 5 ft turning radius for wheelchairs.

By incorporating accessibility features like these, a shipping container home can be customized to allow seniors to live independently and safely as they age.

Consulting an occupational therapist can also provide more personalized recommendations.

Real-Life Examples

Sally’s Story

Sally is a senior who decided to downsize into a tiny container home after retiring. As an assault survivor, she had struggled to feel safe and secure in her previous larger home.

By moving into the custom-built “SS Freedom” container home, Sally has finally found a sense of peace, security, and the ability to heal from her trauma.

The container home was built by the company Alternative Living Spaces, which specializes in constructing shipping container homes of various sizes for alternative housing needs.

Sally’s home is a single 20-foot container that has been fully outfitted with a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area.

Despite its compact size of around 160 square feet, the home provides Sally with all the essential amenities she needs for comfortable living in her retirement years.

One of the key benefits of living in the tiny container home for Sally is the sense of security it provides.

The solid steel construction and ability to lock down the home gives her a feeling of safety that she had been lacking.

Additionally, the low-maintenance and minimalist lifestyle associated with tiny living has allowed Sally to focus on her hobbies and personal growth outside of the trauma she experienced.

Watch her interview here.

Downsizing Tips For Older Adults


Before moving into a container home, it’s essential to declutter. Start by creating an inventory of your belongings to identify items you no longer need.

Consider using the KonMari method or the Four-Box method to sort your items into categories like “Put Away,” “Give Away or Sell,” “Trash,” and “Storage”.

Storage Solutions

Maximizing space in a container home is crucial.

Use multi-functional furniture, such as ottomans with storage compartments, to make the most of your limited space.

Consider off-site storage for items you’re unsure about keeping.

Financial Planning

Downsizing can lead to significant savings, but it’s essential to be aware of potential hidden costs.

These may include moving expenses, furnishing the new home, and possible higher property taxes. Make sure to factor these into your budget to avoid any financial surprises.


Container homes offer a unique and affordable housing solution for older adults looking to downsize.

While there are challenges to consider, such as obtaining building permits and ensuring proper insulation, the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks.

With careful planning and consideration, a container home can provide a comfortable, sustainable, and flexible living environment for older adults.

For more information on container homes and downsizing tips, visit Place to Call Home and FreightCenter.

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