Whether you’re putting your house on the market, refinishing the basement, or wanting a separate space for extra belongings, one thing is certain – you need a place to put your stuff! So, you start the hunt for a storage space and realize there is no “standard” size or price.
So how much do storage units cost? A dollar amount doesn’t exist until you’ve considered many other factors that have an affect on the overall cost of a unit. Here are key considerations to factor into your search to find the answer you’re seeking.
Nothing affects cost quite as much as location. Have you ever searched Starbucks on your GPS and found four locations within a mile radius and wonder how they all coexist? Storage can be a lot like this. In densely-populated urban areas, self-storage facilities can seem like they’re on top of each other. Then you look at rural areas and find maybe one if you’re lucky.
Picking a convenient location will save time, money, and energy—but only if you’re planning on visiting the unit frequently. If you’re unloading everything and not coming back until you’re ready to move it again, the location may be less important and you’ll want to widen your search radius to find the least expensive one available.
Once you determine how often you’ll visit, you’ll also know what location within the facility will best suit your needs. For example, If you’re using your access daily, like a business or second garage, you should explore the most convenient units which tend to carry a price difference from the economy units. If you’re using a moving company, they may charge more for being further away from the loading dock. If you are dropping everything off and rarely coming back to access the unit, you can probably save some money by going to the upper, back part of the building where the economy units live.
The size of the unit will significantly change the price range no matter which facility you choose. Some storage websites have helpful size guides (see our size guide link here) to give a general idea of what size you might need. If you’re using a moving company, they will tell you what size truck they are planning on using. This will give you an idea of the max size you should need.
Once you have 1-3 sizes in mind, it’s best to see the unit in person. Almost all storage facilities will let you come by to tour the space. Just be sure to call ahead or look on their website for availability on those sizes. Some spaces at the nearest location may be sold out.
Climate-controlled units regulate the temperature and humidity, year-round. This prevents your items from being exposed to extreme climates that may cause permanent damage. Items like wood furniture, electronics, tools, canvas artwork, collectibles, and more are especially sensitive to extreme hot or cold weather. Because climate-controlled facilities are so much better for your belongings, you pay a premium when using these facilities. Sometimes you pay as much as 30-50% more for this type of storage.
The necessity for climate-controlled storage really depends on the items you’re storing and how valuable they are to you. You may also want to consider the cleanliness of climate-controlled units versus the alternative. Indoor, climate-controlled units are easier to control pests and dirt because of the single entry/exit and limited access to the outdoors. It’s a harsh reality, but not all storage facilities are created equal. You’ll want to factor in possible damage expenses if you choose to save some money by storing temperature-sensitive or pest-favored items outdoors.
Storage high and low seasons are closely related to the real estate market. People who are relocating make up a large portion of the storage clientele. This can mean that prices fluctuate upward during the months that most people put their houses on the market. April through September may have higher rates than October through March. You may also see less aggressive discounts offered during these months. This helps operators control the supply and demand of their facility.
Almost every facility honors a “new customer” special, discount, or promotional rate (see our current promotion). But heed this warning—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Often when you are introduced at an extremely low monthly rental rate, hundreds of dollars less than the nearby facilities, it’s because your rate will likely have a large increase in a shorter-than-expected time frame. Eventually, you will be paying closer to the market value.
It’s helpful to ask about rate increases to see if you’ll be subject to one and in what time frame that will be. Rate increases help the facility cover much-needed improvements and upkeep to keep your items clean, safe, and well taken care of.
Insurance or a protection plan not only provides peace of mind in storing your belongings in uncharted territory but is also typically required. It’s worth asking the prospective storage company about their policy on insurance or an in-house plan. Sometimes they will accept your homeowner’s or renter’s policy when the policy has storage coverage. It’s a small but necessary addition to your overall cost. To see what this would look like, see our protection plan options by following this link.
Sometimes there are admin fees and/or deposits that add to your start-up cost. Usually, when you see a $1 move-in special, you don’t actually move in for $1.
There is no standard on this so you will want to ask for all start-up fees. Some facilities charge an extra fee for auto-pay and it may be called an admin fee. Depending on where you’re looking at storage, you may be subject to taxes. These may be with each charge or only merchandise charges.
Locks are often required unless you choose a high-tech facility that uses a smart entry system (see our Noke SmartEntry). These are specific to each facility so don’t waste time shopping around for the lock because you will likely need a specific type. They range from $15-$30 and add to your start-up cost.
Do you have large furniture and appliances that aren’t easy to move? You’ll want to see if the storage facility offers a moving truck and what their rates are (see our Free Move-In Truck). If they don’t offer one, you will have to call around and factor that into your cost at the beginning and end of your stay.