Self-storage is a convenient way to keep your belongings safe, be it short-term or long-term. However, renting a self-storage unit adds to your monthly expenses. You need to make sure that the cost is both affordable and justified.

From carefully sorting the items that are worth storing to shopping around for the best offer in your area, there’s plenty you can do to optimize the bang for your buck. Here are a few suggestions that will help you save money on your self-storage unit:

Only Store Useful and Usable Stuff

One of the main reasons people decide to rent a self-storage unit is because they no longer have enough room at home for all their things. However, don’t simply move stuff you haven’t used in years from your home into storage! You’ll end up spending money on a storage unit larger than necessary. Take time to go through your things and keep only what’s truly worthwhile.

You know that leather jacket you wore throughout college and you absolutely loved? Yeah, it doesn’t fit you anymore and the only reason you’re keeping it in your closet is because it reminds you of fun times. Don’t worry, you still get to hold on to those memories even if you ditch the objects. There’s a lot you can do with such items instead of dumping them into storage: organize a garage sale, put them for sale online, donate to charity or recycle.

Know Your Purpose

Are you renting short-term, because you are moving or remodeling? Then it’s better to opt for a month-to-month contract that gives you the ability to give up on your unit as soon as you don’t need it anymore. On the contrary, if you’re renting long-term, it’s wiser to choose a long-term contact (that probably also comes with better monthly rates) and to set up an automated payment method.

Know the Size

Once you’ve finished sorting and deciding what goes into storage, it’s time to select the size of your unit. You need to be in the “Goldilocks zone”: not too big, not too small, but just right. You certainly don’t want a unit where it’s all boxes, one on top of the other, and you can’t even get inside to retrieve something. But neither do you want to pay for a half-empty storage unit.

Keep in mind that a 5X5 provides enough room for a few boxes of stuff – it’s about the size of a large walk-in closet. A 10×10 can hold the furniture from a two-bedroom apartment, while a 10X30 storage unit fits the furniture and the rest of the things from a medium-size house. There are several other intermediate unit sizes, so do the math and pick the one that is most suitable for you.

Organize Your Storage Unit Around Seasons

People store stuff depending on season. During winter, you’ll be storing items like patio furniture and gardening tools. In the summer, you take those out and replace them with winter clothing and boots, sky equipment and your snowblower. Hence, you don’t actually need space for all your stuff at once – only for about half of it. If you plan your pickups and drop-offs carefully, you’ll be able to halve your monthly rent.

Shop Around for the Best Offer

Check out all the storage offers in the neighborhood before renting a unit. You can easily do that on StorageCafe, which lists the storage facilities in your area, allowing you to compare prices and amenities.

The cheapest offer is not always the best offer. If, for a little bit more money, you get some good value – like a climate-controlled unit, for example, that keeps your stuff in tip-top shape – it might be worth it. Some storage facilities offer special prices for new customers, so you might want to ask around about those as well.

Take all distance factors into account before committing – not only the driving distance, but how busy the roads are. Sometimes it makes more sense to pick a facility that’s a little bit further away but in an area with lower traffic.

The preliminary steps detailed above ensure that you don’t overpay for your storage unit – on the contrary, you’ll be able to use it at its full potential and get your money’s worth.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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