If you need a storage unit, there are many questions you should ask before you pick one. For example: What size unit do you need? How much does a storage unit cost?
Choosing a storage unit may seem daunting at first, but if you’ve reached that point where you’ve run out of space in your home for all of your belongings, it’s time to dive in. Here are some questions to ask to ensure you find the right storage unit for you.
What size storage unit do I need?
Before you begin your search for the right unit, make a list of all the items you’ll be storing. This way you can save time by focusing only on storage facilities that meet your needs in terms of size.
Storage units generally range in size from 5-by-5 to 10-by-25 feet, and some may be even larger. Wondering which size is best for you? Picture these:
- A 5-by-5 unit is the size of a small closet and could hold several small- to medium-size boxes, a dresser, or a single bed.
- A 5-by-10 unit is comparable to a walk-in closet, which could hold larger furnishings such as a queen-size bed or couch.
- A 10-by-10 unit could hold two bedrooms’ worth of furnishings.
- A 10-by-20 unit is equal to a standard one-car garage, and could hold the contents of a multiple-bedroom house.
Prefer not to climb over mountains of tubs and boxes to track down something stashed at the far reaches of that space? Choose a unit that allows entry on either side.
“How many times do you put something in the back of a closet only to find that you need it? The same thing happens with a storage unit,” explains Willie Dvorak, owner of AAA Storage in Mellette, SD. “Ensuring you can access your goodies from both sides of the unit makes it that much easier to find what you need quickly and safely.”
How much does a storage unit cost?
Unless you’re filthy rich (and then you probably have a big house with ample storage), you’ll want to know how much this unit will set you back each month. CostHelper.com breaks down how much you can expect to pay on average:
- A 5-by-5 unit costs about $40 to $50 a month.
- A 10-by-20 unit costs about $95 to $155 a month.
- A 20-by-20 unit costs about $225 a month.
Is this storage unit easily accessible?
What good is having a storage unit if it’s hard to access, both in terms of its location and its design? Dvorak outlines what to look for when selecting a facility.
“If you can’t get your vehicle close enough to the unit, you’ll be lugging your stuff feet—even yards—in both directions,” he says. “While it may not seem like a long walk as you look at the unit, imagine carrying all of your stuff back and forth all of that way. When you’re storing stuff, every step is a nuisance. And, when you are stressed, you’re more prone to accidents. Turning that rental truck around just adds to the stress. Be sure you can pull up the unit and get your vehicle turned around without any trouble.”
What are the storage facility’s hours?
Once you’ve unloaded your belongings, you still want to know that you can reach them in a hurry should you have the desire.
“It’s hard to predict when you’ll need that hiking gear you haven’t used for years, Grandma’s scrapbook, or that special award you want to show off,” Dvorak notes. “Don’t miss out because you think of it after they’ve locked things up for the night (or weekend). Make sure you can access your stuff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
What’s the payment policy?
Fred Levine, founder of Little Hard Hats, recommends reading all of the fine print of the contract to determine how long the price is guaranteed.
“They routinely get you in, then shortly thereafter, once you’ve moved all your stuff in, they sometimes raise the rates,” he cautions.
“Understanding the payment policy can also help you make decisions about a storage facility,” says Caitlin Hoff of consumersafety.org. “What is the late fee or policy? Some facilities will auction your storage unit if rent is not paid after a certain amount of time. Does your facility allow for online payments? If it doesn’t, do you have to pay in person? Knowing the full extent of the policy can narrow down a list of facilities.”
What type of security is used?
Ask how the storage unit facility is secured. Is there a guard? Video surveillance? Alarms? Is the area well-lit? Also, don’t assume the facility is going to cover damages to your possessions inside the storage unit in case of an accident. Check your homeowners policy, and purchase a rider if necessary.
Is it climate-controlled?
Depending on the items you are looking to store, you might debate whether or not you want a climate-controlled storage unit. A climate-controlled unit is better for items such as appliances or antiques that might be damaged in extreme temperatures.
How are pests handled?
No one wants to find that a family of critters has turned your family heirlooms into their home.
“If you are looking at an outdoor storage unit, you want to ask about pest control,” says Hoff. “Ask if they have had issues with any insects or critters, and find out how they handle these situations.”
Eric Hoffer, president of Hoffer Pest Solutions, suggests doing your own detective work when you preview the facility.
“Overgrown bushes, unkempt landscaping brushing up against the side of the building, and overflowing trash cans are not only a sign that maintenance may not be a priority for a storage facility, but these can be things that attract pests like rodents and roaches close to the building,” he says. “All it takes is a small crack or gap in the wall to allow pests inside.”
If you’re going to the trouble of storing your items for later use, you want to know they’ll be in the best shape possible when you want them. Finding the right facility can make all the difference.