Everything You Wanted to Know About Renting a Storage Unit (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Krista Diamond | February 15, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Thinking about renting a storage unit? You probably have a lot of questions. But if you’re like most people, you might not ask every single one of those questions when the time comes. Maybe you think your concerns about self storage are too basic, maybe you’re worried they’ll make you look dumb, or they’ll offend the storage facility manager.

Whatever the case may be, fear not. We’ve got the answers to the most common—and uncommon—self storage questions right here.

Is self storage expensive?

The answer to this one is based on where you live, what size storage unit you need, what amenities you want and of course, your budget. In other words, the answer is: It doesn’t have to be. Check out this size guide video to determine what size you need, and opt for climate control if you’re storing long term or are storing antiques, musical instruments, artwork, leather, electronics or any other item that is temperature or humidity sensitive.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $40-$100 for a basic 5x5 storage unit. Factor in an extra 25% for climate control. You should also factor in $20-$50 for fees, such as an administrative fee or security deposit, which will be one-time payments made up front.

Do people really live in storage units?

By now you’ve probably heard about this guy who lived in his storage unit for months. People do attempt to live inside storage units, but it is not so common that you should assume every single unit has a live-in tenant when you visit yours. Tenants are not allowed to live in storage units, and doing so is dangerous.

Are storage facilities sketchy places?

Blame horror movies for this one. A good storage facility has surveillance cameras, high walls, gated access and a staff dedicated to keeping you and your belongings safe. Some even run background checks on tenants before renting to them. Sure, a storage facility that allows 24-hour access may seem eerie at 3 a.m., but don’t most places?

Is my stuff going to get stolen?

Choose a good storage facility and you will never have to deal with a break-in. Look for a storage facility with excellent security features and take the time to read online reviews. Steer clear of places with numerous reviewers complaining about robberies. You should also choose a disc lock over a padlock, and place the most valuable items that you’re storing towards the back of the storage unit.

Is my storage unit going to end up on an episode of Storage Wars?

Nope. The biggest myth about storage facilities is that facility managers enjoy auctioning off your stuff. In truth, most storage facilities do everything they can to avoid auctions. The entire process costs time and money and is almost never profitable. If you’re behind on rent, communicate with the storage facility. You can also expect plenty of communication from them in the form of letters, emails and phone calls. A storage facility will never delight in giving your storage unit a starring role on Storage Wars.

Will employees enter my storage unit?

No. Unless you’re doing something super illegal (in which case the police would enter your storage unit) or there’s a safety issue, there’s no reason for a legitimate storage facility operator to enter your unit. The only people who can enter it are you and whoever else is on your lease. If you suspect that a storage facility’s staff is messing with your stuff, move out.

Is self storage insurance really necessary?

In most cases, yes. Your storage facility may even require it. Homeowners insurance may cover your items in self storage, but it rarely covers all of them, and it might not apply in every circumstance. Self storage insurance is low-cost (it’s about the same cost as apartment renters insurance) and is worth having if you’re storing items of value.

Can’t I just go with the cheapest storage facility?

Think about what criteria you looked for when you searched for a storage unit. Probably price and location, right? If you’re deciding between a storage unit that rents for $30 a month or a storage unit that rents for $45, it’s tempting to choose the cheaper option. Do your research before you commit. A cheaper storage facility might mean less security, no climate control or it could include a lot of hidden fees. Read online reviews, and read the fine print on that lease.

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