Why Does Self Storage unit Cost So Much?

Self storage facilities can be used for much more than just extra storage space. Businesses utilize them to store their excess inventory, or as an alternative room for their office. They are also useful for the consumer who may own too much "stuff". Here's how to find cheap self storage units and keep your costs down.

Research shows that there are approximately 58,000 self-storage units in the United States. This is more than the number of Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Subways in the country combined. Canada has around 3,000 self-storage units, while the rest of the world outside these two countries has approximately 10,000 units. The statistics show that only a few individuals can afford to have a self-storage unit.

So, why does self-storage cost so much?  The truth is that the cost of self-storage units varies greatly. A typical unit can cost anything from a few dollars every week to hundred or even thousands of dollars. Some of the critical factors that influence the prices include the size of the self-storage unit, amenities such as climate control and location. Units located near the city tend to be more expensive than those far away from densely populated areas. Typically, the higher the demand for self-storage, the higher the cost.

In this post, we discuss everything you need to know about the cost of self-storage units and why some of them are so expensive. So, let us get started.

What Is the Average Cost of Self-storage?

Before we dive deep into discussing why self-storage costs so much, let us figure out the average price you will pay for self-storage and some of the critical factors that will determine the figure.

Typically, the average cost of storage will depend on a wide range of factors such as size, location, availability of storage space at the time of booking, security, convenience, and so much more.

So, you need to keep in mind that the prices mentioned in this article are only averages based on what you will pay in different locations.

Generally, self-storage is usually charged per square feet. Therefore, the amount of money you pay for the storage will mostly depend on how big or small it is. For instance, for an average 50 square feet storage unit, you will pay approximately $150/cm, which breaks down to approximately $3/square feet.

And if you are wondering what is included in the price, here is a quick summary of what you will get from almost all self-storage unit renters:

  • Use of trolley to transport your stuff safely.
  • 24/7 uninterrupted access to your unit. The reasoning behind this is that these are your things, so you should have access to them any time you please.
  • Ample parking.
  • A covered loading bay to ensure adverse weather conditions don’t interfere with your activities.
  • Your own personal keypad code that allows you to access your self-storage unit anytime you wish.

Almost all self-storage companies offer the services mentioned above. However, don’t assume anything during your search. Ensure you ask questions to determine exactly what you are being offered and whether it will meet your needs.

You should also check to ensure that there are no hidden costs and extra services/features that you will be required to pay for in the long run.

As long as you have figured out the cost of storage per square foot, it should be relatively easy to figure out how much money you will pay for the space for the specified period.

Some companies have hidden costs such as storage unit set up fees and mandatory insurance fees that may drive up the final cost of storage. These costs will always be hidden in your self-storage rental contract’s fine print. Read it carefully before you sign it.

There may also be some extra services and features that the self-storage company will try to upsell to you to increase the cost of storage and their profit margin. Some of these features include paying extra money for a better location or secure locks.

The bottom line is that you should ask as many questions as possible and read everything in the contract before you sign up. If anything doesn’t make sense, ensure you ask for clarification.

Other Factors That Determine the Cost of Storage

Besides the cost per square foot, there are other factors that determine the cost of storage. They include:

1. Location

Location is a critical factor that you must consider when renting a self-storage unit. It is also one of the factors that will drive the cost of storage up or down.

Typically, the closer the unit is to residential areas or densely populated areas such as the city, the higher the price. The logic used here is that real estate prices tend to be more expensive in densely populated areas such as cities and their outskirts.

A map display on the laptop.
Generally, storage facilities near residential areas cost more than those away from large cities.

Typically, prices in big cities will be far higher than prices in small towns. For instance, the cost of a small storage unit in New York or Washington may pay for a relatively large storage unit in a countryside setup.

That is why it is highly recommended that you get a self-storage unit situated closer to you only if you want to store items you will need to access regularly. If not, you should consider getting a self-storage unit located far away from a densely populated area for lower prices.

2. Amenities

Not all self-storage units are created equal. While some only offer storage space and nothing else, others are designed with a wide range of additional amenities that often come at a price.

For instance, some storage facilities feature 24/7 security and monitoring, while others have climate-control features to ensure your belongings are fully protected and that you enjoy peace of mind. Others contain kitchen facilities and post-handling services to make your life relatively easier.

A thermostat.
Although climate-controlled storage units cost more, they offer superb protection for your belongings.

All these features come at an extra cost, though. Therefore a good tip is always to write down what you need from a self-storage unit before you start searching for one to ensure you are ticking all the boxes.

3. Length of Time

Thirdly, how much storage space costs will also be determined by the length of time you want to use the unit for. Generally, self-storage rental companies have set fees for a week, month, three months, six, months, one year, etc. Most facilities that offer long-term storage will mostly have a discounted annual fee.

Generally, the storage cost will be relatively cheaper per month if you sign a long-term contract with the rental company. For instance, a year-long contract will be relatively cheaper per month than paying for a month-on-month fee.

Therefore, it is always good to know how long you need the storage space and go for the best deal possible.

4. 24/7 Accessibility

If you are storing items that you need to access regularly, it makes sense to rent a self-storage unit with 24/7 accessibility. However, the pricing may be slightly higher because the renter has to ensure that you can take out your belongings any time you want without encountering issues.

So, before you pay for your self-storage unit, ask yourself if you need this feature. If you are storing old books, apparel, and furniture, you probably don’t need 24/7 access.

In such a case, you can choose a storage unit located slightly far away from where you stay and only open during normal business hours to lower the storage cost.

A storage unit facility.
Having 24/7 access to a storage unit also makes it cost more.

However, if you are storing cooking equipment, bottles of wine, and other items that you need to access regularly outside the normal business hours, you need to ensure the renter offers 24/7 accessibility, but you should be prepared to pay more money.

The primary goal of self-storage is to provide you with peace of mind and convenience. If it adds to your stress, then you probably don’t need it.

5. Value

Lastly, you have to consider the replacement value of the items you want to store in a storage unit and whether it is worth it. If you are storing things that you don’t need at all, you may be better off if you donate them than spending money on renting a self-storage unit to keep them safe.

A self-storage space should add real value to your life and help you achieve certain goals. It means that not everything can be stored in the unit. You don’t have to waste your money storing things that don’t add value to your life.

Kids smiling.
If the items are not valuable enough to you to pay extra money for storage, consider donating them.

Self-Storage Unit Special Offers and Deals

When looking for a self-storage unit, you can easily be tempted by some mouth-watering discounts and special deals. However, you need to be careful not to be misled by different marketing gimmicks to accepting a facility that doesn’t meet your needs.

Sometimes, you have to reason beyond the price and focus on finding a good self-storage unit that provides convenience and peace of mind.

Some renters offer 50% off the first two months and even state that you will get one month free, but when you try to analyze the overall storage cost, you will realize that it is still a rip-off in the long run.

A padlock on a storage unit.
You need to be careful not to be misled by different marketing gimmicks to accepting a facility that doesn’t meet your needs.

Calculating storage costs on the basis of weeks and months can sometimes be confusing when you are trying to compare prices from different facilities.

For instance, if one company presents its prices in weeks while another presents theirs in months, you may find yourself in a difficult position where you have to work out the exact amounts yourself.

Final Thought

That is it about self-storage costs, and we hope you have learned a few things that can help you make an informed decision.

Have you used a self-storage facility before? How much money did you pay for the period you used it? Did you get value for your money?

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