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Considerations When Choosing a Storage Unit


Considerations When Choosing a Storage Unit

There are many considerations when choosing a storage unit.  Your decision will ultimately be based on an amalgamation of factors important to you.  It is a decision that you will have to make yourself, but we can help you by outlining some of the factors you should be considering.


Your decision will ultimately be one of cost.  In evaluating the other factors affecting your storage unit decision, you will be considering which features are worth the extra cost they carry and which are not.  Storage unit cost is based on many factors, including:

  • Location;
  • Size;
  • Features.

Items to be Stored

There are different storage options for different needs.  For example, items such as boats, and other vehicles require larger units specifically designed for vehicles, while standard items fit well in a standard unit.  Some items might require specific storage unit features or necessitate enhanced security, while other items do not.  Consider what you’re storing and what specific unit features your items require.


You should consider location in two ways:

  • Facility location;
  • Storage unit located within the facility.

When considering the facility location, consider how convenient the facility is to get to, the costs of the location, and the risks associated with the location.  Storage unit costs vary by state, city, and even neighborhood.  Consider whether the facility location is worth the cost associated with it, and conversely, consider whether any downsides of the facility location are worth the discount.  To do this, consider the risks associated with the facility location:

  • If it is in a neighborhood, is the facility easily accessible to the public?  If so, what is the neighborhood like and what are the people like in the neighborhood?
  • Is the facility off a highway with limited access by people who don’t have units in the facility?
  • Is there a risk of damage associated with the location?  If it is by waterways or under sea level, is there a risk of flooding?  If you are in a place like California, is there a mudslide risk?  If the facility is close to other structures, what are they and is there a risk such as fire that they bring?

If your facility poses any risks, find out how they mitigate such risks and use this information in evaluating the facility’s location and cost associated with the location.

When considering your unit’s location within the facility, consider:

  • What floor is the unit on?  Units on higher floors are more difficult to get to, and to load and unload your belongings. Units on higher floors are also more secure, more difficult to vandalize, and pose less risk of flood damage.  If you are considering a unit on a higher floor, find out what amenities the facility offers to make it easier to load and unload your belongings, such as spacious freight elevators and high-quality dollies.
  • Where does your unit sit within the facility?  If your unit is in the back or otherwise inaccessible, you might be forced to cart your belongings down a long hallway.  Consider whether there is parking near your unit, and if so, how much space is available, how many cars fit, what size cars fit, and whether you can back right up to your unit.

Generally, units on the first floor or closer to the front of the facility are more expensive than those on higher floors or further away from the entrance.


Available security options include:

  • Cameras at the entrance and exit; in the exterior, lobby, and hallway areas of the facility; inside your storage unit.  Consider how many cameras your facility has, where cameras are located, which cameras you can monitor yourself, and how to access the video feed.
  • Codes to enter the facility, to enter your units wing of the facility, to enter your storage unit, and to enter areas of the facility containing important controls that can affect your unit.
  • On-site facility management or security.  Consider how many people are on-site, their capabilities, and the hours they are present.  Some facilities offer 24-hour on-site security while others only offer on-site security during certain times.  Also, consider law enforcement presence in or around the facility.
  • Alarms for the entire facility and for your individual storage unit.  Consider who is notified when the alarm sounds- law enforcement?  The unit owner?  The facility owner or management?

Security features are endless and can be very helpful depending on what you are storing and its value, but they come with a cost. This is a consideration you will have to balance when making your decision.

Unit Size

You should rent a storage unit large enough for all the items you need stored, but not so large that you have an excess of unused space.  Consider again the specific items you are storing and estimate the volume of items you will store.  If you pack items into boxes, they will fit more squarely than if unboxed, and small boxes will be filled more snugly than large boxes and can be stacked more easily.  Consider how big the room is that you are packing for storage and follow this handy room size comparison:

  • A 5X5 storage unit is about the size of a small closet;
  • A 5X10 storage unit is about the size of a small walk-in closet;
  • A 5X15 storage unit is about the size of a large walk-in closet;
  • A 10X10 storage unit is about half the size of a one-car garage;
  • A 10X15 storage unit is slightly smaller than a one-car garage;
  • A 10X20 storage unit is about the size of a one-car garage;
  • A 10X30 storage unit is about the size of a one-and-a-half car garage.


Climate is a separate consideration from that of natural disaster risk.  Consider the climate in your city and in what climate your items should be stored.  If you’ll be spending time in your storage unit, you’ll want to know in what climate you’ll be working.  If you don’t get a climate-controlled storage unit, the climate outside your unit will be the climate inside your unit.  Climate-controlled units will be 75-80 degrees, regardless of the outside temperature.  Climate-controlled units come with a cost, but may be worth it depending on your location and the items you are storing.

Additional Considerations

Consider what you are storing and for how long you are storing it.  Do the math and determine when you will have paid enough in rent to re-purchase the item.  Also, visit the facility in person.  Discuss your priorities with facility management and observe first hand the available units and features.

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