Your Home of the Future: A Shipping Container?

colorful cargo containers used...
ShutterstockAn example of shipping containers' adaptive re-use as dwellings: student housing in the Netherlands.

By Christine DiGangi

An Australian housing and recycling enthusiast is working to resolve the supply-and-demand imbalance in Sydney's property market by putting people in shipping containers. Yes, people are living in those corrugated-steel boxes you see on trains and semi-trucks, CNN reports. (Not while the boxes are on trains and trucks, though.)

Australia's The Container Group builds these living units in about three weeks, cutting windows, welding together containers to make multiple rooms and floors, adding insulation and installing solar-composting toilets.

"I started the business because I thought there was a need for affordable housing and a cleaner and greener option," CEO Jamie Van Tongeren told CNN. "I'd seen (containers being used) overseas and I think it's something that needs to be done and I'm doing it."

Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and there's not a lot of space there. The increasing popularity of micro-apartments led authorities to impose a 50-square-meter minimum (about 540 square feet) on living units in the city, because anything much less is absurdly tiny. Living in a literal box is cheaper than a theoretical one: An average Sydney apartment costs $7,626 per square meter ($706 per square foot), and the shipping boxes cost from $565 to $1,400 per square meter ($52 to $130 per square foot).

Shipping-box houses have popped up around the globe, but who knows if they're an answer to housing shortages in densely populated areas. There seems to be plenty of used containers available -- they're for sale all over the Internet -- but making a metal box into living quarters is no small project. Still, if that's the way to make it affordable to live in an outrageously expensive city, perhaps it's worth it.

Whether you're looking to live in a reclaimed box of steel or an urban high-rise, you need to check your credit before starting the house hunt. Not only do you want your credit in great shape if you're trying to buy a home, renters will want to have good credit, too, because landlords check credit reports and scores before approving potential tenants.

The last thing you want is to limit your options in an already tight market, just because your credit isn't up to snuff. Plan ahead so you can make any necessary improvements to your credit profile -- you can get free tips for doing so by looking at your credit data through -- so you can search for your box with confidence in your ability to get a loan approved.
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