Planning to rent a self storage unit, but need more details? Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about self storage, including unit sizes, safety, amenities, the things you can and cannot store, and more.
Most storage facilities feature security measures such as restricted entry, electronic gates, security personnel patrolling the perimeter, video surveillance, alarm systems, and so on. On top of that, you secure your unit with a lock and maybe a password too. All in all, storage units are quite safe. However, before renting one, feel free to ask the facility manager for details about the types of security they provide.
Some storage facilities require you to purchase a lock from them or to use only a certain type of lock. Others leave this decision up to you. It’s important to use a solid, high-quality lock and to make sure the unit’s door is fully closed before you lock it. For a roll-up door, you should slide the latch all the way inside its slot before securing it with the lock. There are storage facilities that provide password-protected electronic lock systems for the units – set up a password that you’ll be able to remember easily and keep it to yourself.
It depends on the items you intend to store, for how long you plan to store them, and the climate in your area. Climate-controlled units keep their temperature levels stable all year round, generally between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity in the storage unit is also controlled and is typically set around 50-55%.
If you’re storing items such as important papers, valuable books, photos, electronics, expensive furniture or clothing, and not just for a month or so, it’s wise to get a climate-controlled unit. Also, if you’re storing long-term and you’re living in an area prone to extreme temperatures, you should consider renting a climate-controlled unit.
A 5x5 unit is the size of an average home closet and can hold a dresser, a small mattress, and a few boxes. It’s the unit size you need for storing sporting equipment, garden tools, office supplies or some miscellaneous items. It doesn’t hold a motorcycle — a very small scooter, maybe!
Check out our Storage Unit Size Guide to get a better idea of what fits inside a unit and to determine the amount of space that suits your needs.
The monthly rent for a storage unit varies a lot depending on where you live, the size of the unit you need, and the amenities provided by the facility. STORAGECafé’s sister division Yardi Matrix, which tracks self storage street rate evolution, puts the national average rent for a 10’x10’ non-climate-controlled unit at $118. For specific information about self storage prices in your area, check out the STORAGECafé listings portal.
You can’t store perishable items like food, flammable or explosive substances (gasoline, propane tanks, kerosene, fertilizers, paint, and so on), toxic or biological waste, or live animals. Also, you shouldn’t put wet items (clothing, equipment, mattresses, etc.) in a storage unit. The humidity will create the right conditions for mold to grow, which will damage the rest of your possessions. Sleeping or living in a storage unit is also forbidden.
Most storage facilities have a minimum renting period of one month. That doesn’t mean you have to leave your possessions in there for a whole month. You can pick them up anytime you want, but you’ll still pay the full monthly rent. You can try to negotiate a different deal with a storage facility manager, if you only need a unit for a few days; however, generally speaking, you’ll have to pay for at least one full month.
The smallest standard units in most storage facilities are 4x5 square feet or 5x5 square feet. There are also some facilities that provide micro-storage units (perhaps 5 square feet or 10 square feet), which are ideal for people who only want to store a few select items (skis, golf clubs or seasonal decorations, for example).
Some of the largest storage units are 10x20 square feet or 10x30 square feet, which can hold a large vehicle or a small boat with some room to spare. Certain storage facilities also offer covered, uncovered or enclosed units that are up to 50’ long and can be used for storing RVs, trailers and even mobile homes.
Storage units are private for as long as you pay your rent. The storage facility’s personnel don’t have a key to your unit, and only you (or other people you specifically designate) can enter it. If you stop making the monthly payments, the contents of your unit can be sold at an auction, depending on the terms of your lease. The facility owner will retain any unpaid rent, fees and other costs resulting from the auction process. If any net proceeds of the auction remain after that stage, they will be paid to you.
We gathered the answers above based on our expertise and communication with our customers, and we aim to be as accurate as possible. This is the state of things in the industry to the best of our knowledge. However, changes we cannot prevent or predict might also occur.