The Commuter Conundrum
Often referred to as the Insurance Capital of the World, Hartford has played host to many insurance companies (and insurance jobs) for years. However, while the job market in Hartford’s urban center has remained stable for the most part, the city’s local economy hasn’t seen much of a boost from it. So what’s the deal? Are people not going out for drinks after work? Are they not browsing the shops on their days off? That’s actually exactly it. Most jobs in Hartford are actually filled by employees who commute from suburbs and neighboring towns, so while a lot of money comes from Hartford, it just doesn’t stay there. And with a free downtown bus system, Amtrak service, easy —access to New York and Boston and a new commuter rail in the works, it doesn’t look like things are going to change any time soon.
Sadly, like most local businesses, the storage industry hasn’t been immune to the commuter effect. Even though Hartford is a decent size city of 124,927 people, there are only six storage facilities within city limits. If you’re in the market for one in the metro area, we’re willing to bet that it’s for commercial storage, otherwise, you might be better off renting in your own suburb. If you are looking at renting in Hartford, expect a mixture of facilities with scarce availability and wide availability coupled with low prices.
Regardless of where you live, keep in mind that storage unit prices traditionally follow apartment rental prices. While the average cost of a one bedroom apartment citywide is just over $1,200 a month, Hartford storage facilities are very aware of the fact that their city is one of the poorest markets in the country with three out of 10 families living below the poverty line, and they try to be sympathetic to that. In fact, the median household income in Hartford is only $28,931—a sharp contrast to the statewide median household income of $67,098. If you’re a Hartford resident who is struggling to pay for a storage unit, talk to your facility manager and be honest about your situation. Avoiding this will cause you to miss rent payments, go into default and potentially see your stuff in a storage auction. Your storage facility manager doesn’t want that to happen to you any more than you do. And be sure to sign up for the typical month-to-month lease that most facilities offer. This will allow you the flexibility to move out of your storage unit without penalties should it ever become a financial burden to you.
Keeping Your Storage Unit Safe
With crime in Hartford being 147% higher than the Connecticut average and 80% higher than the national average, we can’t not talk about the importance of choosing a facility that’s secure. For every 100,000 people in Hartford, there are 14.6 daily crimes, which means you have a one in 19 chance of becoming a victim. Those odds aren’t great, and while the city is doing everything it can to increase safety and quality of life, it can’t hurt to take a few extra steps when putting your items in storage. Make sure you facility has a fence that can’t easily be scaled as well as good lighting, good locks, security cameras and a staff that walks the property often (a dedicated security team is an added bonus but shouldn’t be expected). As many crimes are perpetrated by current and previous tenants, ask your facility manager how often gate codes are changed. If the answer is never (and it shouldn’t be), that means that former tenants can still get into the storage facility. You should also take note of what’s involved in the rental process when you’re going through it yourself. If the manager runs background checks or is thorough in making sure you’re a quality tenant, that’s a good sign. And if you’re storing an RV, boat, or car, take extra precautions, as there are an average of 750 vehicle thefts in Hartford a year. If you have a fifth wheel RV, you can buy a special fifth wheel lock which will prevent someone from towing it away, and if you’re storing any other kind of vehicle, look for a facility that offers indoor storage or at least double and triple check the security features we mentioned.
The always hot topic (pun intended) of whether or not you should get a storage unit with climate control is worth delving into if you’re planning on using storage over the summer. While Hartford is a four city season, one of those seasons experiences warm weather and relatively high humidity. Climate control is a great thing to have regardless of where you live or what season it is, but if you’re on a budget or looking at a city with less storage availability, it’s one amenity that you can occasionally get away with forgoing. While we certainly recommend it in Hartford, especially if you’re a college student looking for summer storage, it’s worthwhile to take a look at what you’re storing to truly determine whether or not you truly need it. If you’re storing a bicycle, artwork, a musical instrument, a photo collection or anything antique, you should absolutely have it. If you’re just storing your t-shirt collection and some beat up furniture that you’re planning on parting ways with in the next few years anyway, skip it (and maybe consider checking out our resources for places to donate that junk).