This is What Self-Storage Will Cost You

This article offers a detailed guide to self-storage cost and an overview of the industry rates. It explains in detail the factors that can make or break your budget. Here are some great tips you should know about self-storage costs

If you are interested in using self-storage for your belongings, you may be wondering how much it will cost you compared to other storage solutions and if it is worth the value. Surprisingly, the price of this additional space can be quite reasonable. 

Self-storage costs somewhere between approximately $25-$250 per month, depending on whether you seek out a small, medium, or large unit. Additionally, climate-controlled facilities will always cost you more than one that is not.

However, there is a lot more than meets the eye than the initial sticker prices. Storage companies offer many incentives for potential customers to choose their facility over their competitors. Read on to learn more about the specific incentives offered by these companies, as well as a list of ways to optimize this extra space and keep costs to a minimum.

What Does a 10×10 Storage Unit Cost?

The national average monthly cost to rent out a 10×10-foot climate-controlled storage space is $163 per month or $1,956 per year. The true cost of a storage unit in your area may be higher or lower than this. For example, the average 10×10 storage unit in Chicago is priced at $122. 

Storage that is not climate-controlled via either heating, cooling, or humidity control falls on the lower side of the nationwide average.

Facilities also frequently require deposits or additional application fees that may or may not be refundable. These will usually not be a high cost, but you can expect to pay a deposit fee like the $15 fee charged by this company

Are Smaller Storage Units Much Cheaper?

Smaller storage units certainly are significantly more affordable than the standard 10×10 size. A 5×5 storage unit in Chicago, for example, typically costs $47 per month; this is less than half the price of the 10×10 storage unit. 

A padlock on storage unit.
Smaller storage units certainly are significantly more affordable than the standard 10×10 size.

You can expect the prices of storage units in other cities to be relatively similar. At the very least, you can expect the cost ratios to remain much the same, regardless of whether the actual rates are higher or lower than the national average in your area.

Are Larger Units Worth the Extra Cost?

Storage units larger than 10×20 feet typically cost around $200 per month, with climate-controlled units approaching $250 per month. There are also storage units 10×30 feet in size capable of holding the contents of up to five bedrooms or a one-and-a-half car garage. These can cost above $250 per month, with facilities in high-demand urban areas asking for more than $400/month.

A lifting automobile.
Large self-storage units cost $250/month on average and prices can go even higher in popular urban areas.

You may ask yourself whether storage units this large are worth the extra cost. The answer could be yes—if you are looking to store large items such as recreational equipment like boats and ATVs. Many people simply do not have space at home to keep these vehicles in a garage.

Additionally, storing these items outdoors year-round can lead to a more rapid depreciation of their value. It’s not just winter weather that you have to worry about; if a vehicle is stored outdoors, the brakes will rust more easily, the paint may fade, and the upholstery may wear down more rapidly.

Is Self-Storage Worth It?

Self-storage can be rewarding for those who are looking to rid themselves of some headaches. As you perform your cost-benefit analysis for renting storage space, be sure to take into consideration the following benefits of self-storage:

Self-Storage Keeps Valuables Safe

If you can keep your antiques and valuables in self-storage, you will be able to maintain the space that they are kept in. 

Antiques collection.
To protect your valuables and antiques, it is better to store them in a self-storage unit rather than keep them at home.

Homeowners often make the mistake of leaving valuables in locations that can actually be poorly-vented, like the attic. Antiques, in particular, are particularly susceptible to damage from excess humidity, leaks, or other less-than-ideal conditions.

You can avoid the high costs of losing your valuables by storing them in the cool, dry environment that self-storage provides. 

Self-Storage Helps Businesses Save On Overhead Costs

Overhead storage can be a high operating cost for businesses that can easily be wiped out. The solution to the problem, in this case, is self-storage.

For your small business, there can be a stark difference between the leasing price of a small, compact facility and a larger one. Office space rental rates vary drastically from city to city, but as an example, you may expect to pay $85 per square foot in New York.

A pile of box.
Self-storage units allow you to store items that you do not need in your office and therefore, help you save up some money.

Cutting down on the amount of office space that you actually need can even save you thousands of dollars per month. One way to save money on overhead costs for your business is to invest in a storage unit. Here, you can store items that your business doesn’t need to access daily (i.e., extra desks, furniture, etc.).

Storage Unit Facilities Offer Delivery and Pick-Up

Another bonus of self-storage is that these businesses commonly offer delivery and pick-up services so that you don’t have to worry about having to take multiple trips to and from home if you don’t have a large vehicle. You also won’t have to go through the inconvenience of renting a truck on your own.

A man loading the boxes.
If you cannot take your packages to or out of the storage unit yourself, you can request delivery or pick-up services.

Here is how it usually works:

  • You pack the items on your own time.
  • The company comes at an arranged date and does all the heavy lifting for you.
  • The company places your belongings in the storage unit of your choosing, taking special care to lay the objects out in a manner that both keeps them safe from harm and makes them easy to access later on.
  • You can always have your belongings delivered back to your home, provided that you meet minimum stay requirements. (For example, this company asks that customers agree to keep their belongings in storage for at least three months.)

Delivery services offer the potential to clear away many of the headaches that come with storage logistics. If you have to rent out a truck yourself, you may have to operate a heavy vehicle that you don’t feel 100% comfortable driving. It also means that people who don’t own vehicles will not be excluded from access to self-storage.

Self-Storage Keeps Your Home More Spacious

Investing in self-storage, at least seasonally, will help keep your home more spacious; this is undoubtedly safer, as a more cluttered house will always be more dangerous than a place that provides plenty of room for escape in the event of an emergency such as a fire.

A clean house.
Self-storage units allow you to declutter and organize your home by storing unwanted items.

You will also be able to enjoy the interior of your home significantly more than you would otherwise. Having a self-storage unit set-up for items you don’t immediately need can give you a chance to finally finish clearing out your basement. Perhaps you would like to be able to store your vehicle(s) in your garage.

This will also make your home easier to clean, as you will now have fewer items around that are simply just collecting dust. Many of these may be items that hold sentimental value and could never be sold.

Self-Storage Units Are Beneficial During Transition Periods

Let’s say that you are a recent college graduate who has had to move back home while you search for a job. Your parents’ house may not have enough room for any dorm/apartment furnishings. You do not necessarily want to sell your items, including any furniture, because you may be soon moving to your own apartment or house where these items will be needed.

A storage unit can save the renter money under these circumstances, as they will not need to sell their items and then quickly purchase replacements.

A group of person unloading the boxes.
Self-storage units enable you to store your stuff temporarily in the case of transition periods.

There are many other such transition periods in which it would make sense to have a temporary storage unit. For example, it is not uncommon for retirees to begin traveling all across the country after they have retired. A storage unit provides retirees with a safe and secure place to keep their belongings while they are out traveling.

Get Recreational Gear Out of the Way

Storage units are also an excellent place to keep all your sporting and recreation items that you don’t require instant access to. These are items that can otherwise get in the way of normal day-to-day activities around the house.

This way, you won’t have to give up some of your hobbies or make the tough decision to sell sports or recreation equipment that you don’t want to sell.

How Can I Save Money on Self-Storage?

The sticker price of self-storage doesn’t tell the full story—not by a long shot. There are many ways to save money on self-storage. For example, the industry has every incentive to offer customers extra storage at a rate that is competitive with the rest of the market. 

Look for Discounts

Storage unit facilities will often offer discounts, which may or may not be advertised at the gate. You may notice that there are numerous storage units just within distance of your own home if you look around. These facilities are always competing for new renters.

You may have access to discounts that you were previously not even aware of:

Go with the Most Suitable Size

The average cost of self-storage does vary significantly by size. If you happen to purchase a unit that is too large, then you will be wasting your money. The most popular storage unit size choice is the 10×10 option.

The 10×10 storage unit is ubiquitous with the self-storage industry because it is equivalent to the amount of square footage free for storage in one-bedroom and smaller apartments. These dimensions are suitable for the stowing away of many common items, including seasonal decorations only brought out for specific holidays or for power tools that are not regularly used year-round. 

Applicants looking to make enough room for one or more vehicles will need to invest in a larger unit that will cost $200 or more dollars a month. Many users only plan to rent this space seasonally due to the costs of the continual storage of vehicles at a third-party facility.

Don’t Use Climate-Controlled Storage If You Don’t Have To

You can also save some money by not using a climate-controlled storage unit when you don’t have to. A regular storage unit can cost as little as approximately $80 per month. This is surely reasonable compared to the $160 per month national average for climate-controlled storage units.

A thermostat.
You only need to use a climate-controlled storage unit if your stored items are not resistant to moisture, cold, or heat.

Climate-controlled storage units are designed to regulate temperature and humidity levels. If you are storing objects that could become damaged due to heat, cold temperatures, and high humidity, then you will need to get one of these storage units. 

This includes objects like books and antiques. If you simply have a bunch of tools and pieces of equipment that you would have in a standard garage anyway, then there is not necessarily a need to splurge on a climate-controlled storage unit.

Sign a Month-to-Month Contract 

You can save money by signing onto a month-to-month contract rather than an annual one. Storage facilities do tend to offer the choice of a monthly contract, as is the case with this company.

This helps you to avoid extra costs resulting from seasonally using a storage unit that you don’t actually need year-round. One example of this would be the seasonal storage of some patio furniture during the coldest months of the year.

Use Stackable Storage Containers/Boxes

Both at home and at the storage unit you rent, you can most efficiently use the available space by ensuring that most items are stored in stackable containers. Conventionally, cardboard boxes have been used for these purposes.

However, you might consider steering away from the traditional cardboard boxes as much as you can. Cardboard is sufficient enough for temporary storage, but it is generally not the most durable choice. It also has the unfortunate consequence of being an attractant for some common household pests.

You are encouraged to instead use containers much like these:

Use Shelving to Make the Most of Storage Space at Home

When homeowners or renters have to resort to using a storage unit or pod, it is usually because they do not have enough garage space. Even if your storage space is limited, you can still make use of what room you do have with some well-placed shelving units.

This can make your garage a convenient space to store tools, equipment, and gear that you would otherwise have to keep in a self-storage unit.

How Do I Make Garage Shelving Units?

Shelves in the garage must be strong enough to support a hefty amount of weight, as most of the items contained within a garage will be bulky power tools, hardware, and recreational equipment.

You can find instructions for making your own heavy-duty shelving units here. To increase their strength, you will just need to create an exterior framework with 2×4 studs for the perimeter of the shelves. From there, increase the strength of the shelves by ten-fold with Douglas fir board. ($9.92/foot

You can also find plenty of heavy-duty pre-made shelves for your garage space at reasonable prices:

Organize Your Storage Unit with Shelving

You could also benefit from shelving inside your storage unit. For one thing, it greatly aids in keeping the space tidy and organized. This means that you won’t have to waste a bunch of time digging around if you are looking for one specific item. 

Shelving units also maximize the amount of space in the storage unit. A 10×10 storage unit has 100 square feet of space. With tiered shelving, you may even be able to more than double that. All it would take is three shelving units with four levels of shelves measuring 2×5 feet, yielding an additional 120 square feet of space. 

Now you can begin to see how the possibilities are virtually endless when you introduce shelving to your storage unit. 

Do Storage Units Come with Shelves?

Self-storage units do not typically come with shelves built into the structure. Instead, these rooms usually exist as enclosed square or rectangular units with a concrete floor and bare walls. 

If you would like to enhance the unit you rent with shelving, you will likely need to purchase it of your own volition. 

Shelving for Storage Units

If you are going to buy shelving units for your storage unit, you will first need to ensure that these actually fit within the confines of your space. Storage units are often somewhere around 8 feet tall. Be sure to consult with the owner/manager of the specific facility that you plan to use.

Here some tiered shelving units that should be suitable for a storage unit:

Final Thoughts

Self-storage typically falls somewhere in the range of $25-$250 for storage units that fall within the realm of the most common dimensions: 5×5, 10×10, 10×20.

In the grand scheme of things, you can actually save money by going with self-storage because:

  • Many companies offer their own delivery and pick-up services, negating the need for you to rent a vehicle on your own.
  • There are usually special discounts of some kind.
  • Many companies offer month-to-month storage.
  • Your items will be significantly less likely to become damaged than they would if they were stored somewhere like a basement or an attic.

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