Find the best storage unit near you

Self Storage Resource Center

What is self storage?

Self storage consists of storage spaces in a designated facility that can allow people to maximize space at home or at work, depending on specific needs.

Used by more than a fifth of Americans, the service is increasingly popular in the U.S. It can come in useful in many instances, including during moving, downsizing or remodeling your home, as well as to keep interiors neat and tidy by removing and storing away items you don’t use every day. Self storage is also great for businesses that need affordable storage space for their business inventory, office supplies, documents, equipment, vehicles and much more besides.

Here are some key self storage considerations and useful tips on how the service can help you make the most of your space.

The cost of self storage varies based on factors including location, unit size and others. In places where demand is high, rates tend to be higher. Access to indoor units, climate control, video surveillance and other such attributes can increase rates. Check out a detailed overview of self storage unit prices here.

Selecting the right size is an important step when renting a unit. Storage unit sizes can vary from small lockers, such as the 5’x5’ type, ideal for storing a few boxes and some small pieces of furniture, to big storage units like the 10’x30’ type, large enough to fit an RV. See more about storage unit sizes here.

Types of storage

Self storage can serve a variety of purposes, and when you choose your unit you should make sure you pick the right one for your needs. See below a list of the most common types of storage and how each can help you solve your particular needs for extra space.

Non-climate-controlled storage is the standard option for anyone needing to store regular items that are not sensitive to excessive heat or humidity, including household goods, decorations and furniture. Non-climate-controlled units generally come with lower price tags than climate-controlled storage units. Check out the pricing for non-climate-controlled storage units in 100 US cities here.

Climate-controlled storage is ideal for many types of items that need protection from excessive heat, cold or humidity. People usually store leather furniture, documents, musical instruments and other sensitive items in a climate-controlled unit when their homes or spaces can’t accommodate them. See more about climate-controlled storage here.

With RVing picking up steam, many Americans turn to RV storage to keep their recreational vehicles in-between outings. There are plenty of storage facilities that offer RV storage including outdoor storage, covered storage and indoor storage. See more about RV storage here.

Boating enthusiasts can put their boat in storage at a self storage facility to keep it safe during the off-season. There are several options including both outdoor storage and indoor storage. Outdoor storage can be adequate for warmer climates while indoor boat storage offers maximum protection regardless of the climate. Check out boat storage specifics here.

Whether you own one or more cars, turning to self storage to keep your vehicle safe when it’s not in use can help during various circumstances. You might not have enough room in your garage or driveway to always have an extra car standing there. Or perhaps you only use your car for longer trips and street parking is not available. Check out how storage units can help with parking your vehicle.

Types of Service

Self storage comes with several types of service, based on the needs of the customers. Here is what you can expect in terms of services offered by many U.S. self storage facilities.

Classic self storage

With classic self storage, people come to the unit to drop off their items and come back to pick them up when they need them. Simple, convenient and affordable.

Moving and storage

Some moving companies also offer storage, a bundle that is convenient for many people when moving home. You can send your belongings ahead of your move and have the moving company drop them off at a nearby storage facility. Prices can vary depending on location and the type of storage you go with.

Valet self storage

Valet self storage is a service bwhereby the storage facility manages both the drop-offs and the pick-ups for customers. This can be especially convenient when you’re short on time. But you can expect an extra premium on your storage rate.

Unmanned storage

In the classic storage facility model, there’s usually a facility manager on the premises assisting customers with their storage needs. But there are also unmanned storage facilities which allow clients to enter 24/7, whenever it suits them. For top security, such places usually have keypad-based electronic entrance gates.

Overview of self storage amenities

Self storage facilities address a wide set of needs and come with many features that help you have the best possible experience when storing your items. Here are some of the most common features:

Climate control

Climate control is an in-demand amenity that helps protect the integrity of items stored. It provides an environment with regulated temperature and humidity levels that ensure furniture, electrical appliances, clothing, books and other types of items don’t get damaged while in storage. This is a very welcome feature in regions which experience extreme temperatures and high amounts of humidity.

Gated entry

Some facilities offer gated entry, allowing you to enter with an access card or by entering a code on keypad entry system. This ensures that only customers can enter the premises, and it’s an enhanced security feature many clients appreciate.


Renting a unit in a facility with up-to-date security features in place is generally a good idea. Video surveillance and keypad entry are a couple of the more common security features facilities offer. This will give you peace of mind that your items are safe while in storage.

24-7 facility access

Being able to get to your storage unit at any time can make your life easier, which is why many facilities offer 24-hour access. This can trickle down in terms of the price, so you could be paying a little more, but it’s a perk well worth the extra cost as it gives you the flexibility to visit your unit at your convenience.

Indoor vs. outdoor storage

Based on the way you access storage units, there are two types: indoor and outdoor.

Indoor units

Indoor units are typically accessible from the inside of the facility, and some may come with climate control. They’re less exposed to pests and can be better for storing delicate and valuable belongings as the weather is more at a distance.

Outdoor units

Unlike interior units, outdoor units tend to come with the perk of drive-up access, allowing people to get their vehicle close to the door of the unit. This makes the drop-off and pick-up processes much more convenient. Outdoor units are perfect for storing vehicles and large equipment.

How many people in the US use self storage?

In 2023, 18% of Americans reported using self storage, according to the most recent StorageCafe survey on self storage preferences. Additionally, 14% indicated plans to rent a storage unit in the future, amounting to a third of Americans interested in storage space away from home.

Reasons for using self storage

The self storage industry is driven by what’s commonly referred to as the 4D’s: dislocation, divorce, downsizing and death, with a 5th D making itself more and more at home — decluttering. Essentially, self storage responds to people’s need for space, whether to maximize square footage at home or as a temporary solution for keeping personal belongings. Here are some of the most common reasons people turn to self storage.


Self storage is often associated with moving, as people who relocate typically use the service. Renting a self storage unit is particularly useful when you’re on the move, as it helps you better manage your belongings at a critical juncture. If you’re moving to another city, you can send the contents of your home ahead of your moving day and have them sit in a nearby storage unit until your arrival.


As downsizing has caught on, self storage has become an integral part of the process. While moving to a new place, perhaps to another part of the country, not all your belongings will be able to fit into a smaller home. Excess items can stay in a storage unit until you find a new home for them.

Lack of space

Besides during moving and other moments of transition, self storage is useful in helping you manage home space, especially when you live in cities where apartments and houses have smaller sizes. In these cases, placing seasonal and bulky items in storage is a viable solution to the challenge of trying to juggle your living space.

Even when you live in a larger home, you may feel like you don’t have enough space. More square footage generally accommodates the more complex needs of larger households, and a storage unit can serve to house your less-frequently used items as you’re trying to create a comfy space for your new baby or your elderly parents. With remote work here to stay, home offices are putting an extra strain on living spaces – but this can be eased by taking your extra stuff to a storage unit away from your home.

Many life events raise the need for space away from home, but the service is rather inexpensive and can be a convenient way to hold on to your valuable belongings for a fraction of the price you’d pay for getting extra residential space.

Storing for business purposes

Many businesses have discovered the benefits of using self storage as a way to maximize office space or deal with excess stock. Whether you’re a contractor looking for a place to store equipment or an event planner that needs to keep party supplies in between gigs, a storage unit is often the most cost-effective solution. If you’re storing valuables, paper-based products, leather furniture, electric tools, and other sensitive items, you can choose a climate-controlled unit so that your belongings are safe from humidity and/or excessive heat.

Most commonly stored items and how to store them

Household objects, garden tools, vehicles and business-related items can all frequently be found in self storage units.

Furniture is very commonly stored with wardrobes, beds, cupboard, desks, tables and chairs often kept in a unit. If you’re planning to store items of furniture, you can either disassemble them or stack them carefully. Clothes, books, records and paperwork are also frequently stored. If you are having a clear-out or someone close to you has passed away, perhaps you are asking, “How do you store old things?” Any items that have become fragile due to age would benefit from being kept in a climate-controlled storage unit.

It’s also important to know what not to put into self storage. Anything perishable is generally not allowed in a unit, including food, plants and fishing bait, and certainly never put live animals of any description in there. Dangerous substances such as corrosive fluids and explosives should also not be put in a storage unit.

How do you prepare things for storage?

Putting belongings in self storage involves transporting them there and, at least as importantly, making sure they remain in the unit in pristine condition. For both purposes, specialist storage supplies can be used.

The most common storage packing items are cardboard boxes, which are useful for holding a wide range of items. These can be purchased from storage or moving companies, or online. Some people save money by getting second-hand boxes from retailers, but these may not be so strong. Specialist boxes are available for items such as fragile crockery and for clothes that should not be folded, and then there are air-tight plastic boxes which offer greater protection. Storage unit supplies will also include strong tape to seal and further strengthen boxes and also labels to put on them.

How to maximize space inside your storage unit?

After having transported your belongings to the storage facility, storage unit organization is your next key concern.

Boxes should be stacked carefully, with heavy ones at the bottom, so you can utilize the unit’s height as much as possible. Arranging items inside any wardrobes and cupboards that you put in the unit can be a good way of organizing storage room, and free-standing racks or shelving could be used in a similar way.

One key element involved in how to organize a storage unit is giving yourself enough access space — especially in a large unit, make sure there is an aisle you can walk down to get to all the items in there.

If you are thinking of renting self storage space, you might have some questions you would like to ask to ensure you get the storage unit that is ideal for you. Our StorageCafe experts address some of the most common questions here on this storage FAQ page, including the security and sizes of units, what sort of things you can and cannot put in them, how you can lease them and approximately how much that might cost.

Ready to find your stuff a good home? We're dedicated to making your storage unit selection a breeze. With our extensive list of storage units across the U.S., finding the perfect fit for your needs is as simple as one, two, three. SORT IT. PACK IT. STORE IT.