Everything that you need to know about self storage.

Self-Storage is utilized by renters, homeowners, small and large businesses, college students and military personnel. Renters and homeowners use self-storage to create more room in their residence, freeing up a closet or garage space. Also frequently used to store furnishings, appliances, clothing, sporting equipment, bicycles, sentimental items, holiday items, motorized vehicles and more.

Small or large businesses free up space by storing excess office furniture, file cabinets, electronics, records and business supplies. College students store their dormitory contents during summer breaks. Military personnel while on deployment store their belongings. Storage is also utilized by people when remodeling or renovating their house or to protect or secure their personal possessions when severe weather occurs.

1 More about self-storage

Storage units come in a variety of sizes ranging from small lockers that are 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep with a ceiling height of 3 to 4 feet high, to more typical storage units that start at 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep (5 x 5) to a medium unit 10 feet wide and 15 feet deep (10 x 15) to a larger unit of 10 feet wide and 30 feet deep (10 x 30) with ceiling heights between 8 and 10 feet high. You can also reference our Size Calculator to assist you in determining what size is appropriate for your use.

Self-Storage units are rented on a month-to-month basis. Your rental can be for a short or long period of time. There is no obligation to rent a unit for longer than one month, however, it is common that tenants keep storage units for several years. In most circumstances, monthly rent is due each month on the anniversary date, which is the date that you moved-in to the unit. Some storage facilities will pro-rate the rent for the first month, so that the anniversary date will be the first of each subsequent month. Upon signing your lease agreement you will have access to your storage unit during facility access hours.

Most self-storage facilities charge a one-time administration fee upon signing the lease agreement. This fee represents the initial documentation required. Storage facilities will also require that your stored goods are insured with some type of insurance. Sometimes your homeowner’s policy will cover the contents or the facility will offer insurance for your goods or give you the option to elect to be self-insured.

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2 Self Storage Basics

At some point, you may feel the need to de-clutter your home and/or office and find a clean, safe and secure spot to deposit your personal belongings. Whether you’re planning on downsizing, staging your house, relocating or making more room for other goods, a convenient self-storage option can become the best solution for you. Even though self-storage alternatives are not created equally and may vary a great deal in terms of price, square footage and features, there are a few basic things that you should know about storage units before renting one locally. "In hot climates like Miami or Houston, most renters prefer climate controlled units over drive-up to protect from mold and mildew.

Self-storage units can allow you to profit from the superior level of convenience ensured by a reputable storage facility located near you.

You can rent a storage unit matching your specific criteria in terms of size, features and price tag and use it to store your goods for as long as you see fit. There are several types of self-storage units that you may want to consider, including climate-controlled units that are perfect for goods that could be impacted by temperature variations, drive-up storage units granting easy access to your stuff, 24 hour access units and more.

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3 Do not Confuse Self-Storage Units with Portable Storage or Storage Pods

On the other hand, portable storage containers are a completely different story. Offering you a certain level of flexibility, convenience and security, these containers are suitable for DIY moving and could respond to the needs of people who want to rely on short or long-term storage after, during or before a relocation process. A POD or portable unit is a shell-like storage container that you can send to your home, fill it up and have someone take it to a warehouse or a storage facility.

Companies offering this type of service usually drop off the movable containers at the location indicated by clients and collect them when their customers’ storage needs have been fulfilled. Portable storage containers are more suitable for people who wish to deposit their goods in a safe spot for a short period of time, whereas self-storage enables them to find the best temporary home for their personal belongings and leave them in storage for the longest period of time, if needed.

Also, according to recent stats, the costs associated with renting a portable storage unit may be higher than the expenses triggered by a traditional self-storage unit. Furthermore, most modern self-storage units are climate-controlled, unlike portable containers, which do not ensure any additional protection for delicate merchandise that could be deteriorated by sudden shifts in humidity and/or temperature.

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4 Discover the Most Popular Self-Storage Options Tailored to Your Specific Needs

Self storage units are incredibly diverse and have been designed to address your specific necessities and demands. Here are a few of the most popular self-storage options that you should consider before renting your first unit.

Climate controlled storage:
these units are become particularly useful when it comes to storing valuable possessions that could be damaged by temperature/humidity variations. By preserving an ideal level of temperature and humidity, these units can help you keep your goods in excellent condition for the longest period of time.

24 hour access
units let you profit from unlimited visits to your self-storage units. In other words, while renting this type of unit you can access your goods 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without compromising the security of the site. A modern access control system enables clients to come and go when they want and how often they want, based on their own schedules, even outside of the regular working hours. No notice of your visits is required, so this type of self-storage option gives you all the freedom and flexibility that you may need when you have to leave your goods in storage.

Drive-up storage unit and electricity in the unit.
Drive-up storage units are incredibly popular these days because they let you access your goods easily and conveniently. You drive up to the door, unload your boxes and organize them rapidly and effectively without having to pass through hallways to reach your unit. This type of self-storage option is especially suitable for people who wish to store personal belongings that they would normally deposit in a garage, including gardening tools, lawn mowers, holiday decorations and more. Also, more than a few facilities available near you come equipped with outlets and have electricity in every single unit.

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5 Items That You Can Keep in Self-Storage Units

You may be wondering what type of items could you actually deposit in a self-storage unit? In this case, the list of goods that can be safely stored in such units is virtually endless.

Here are the main categories of products that can be deposited in a self-storage facility:




Non perishable food

Books, CDs, movies, toys

In short, you can store all the things that have ended up gathering dust in your home and office, from boxes of old shoes, no-longer wanted DVDs and paperwork to office supplies and tools, as long as they are not perishable and do not pose any safety risks.

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6 Items That You Cannot Keep in a Self-Storage Unit

You rent a storage unit to keep your personal belongings safe, secure and in excellent condition for as long as you want. On the other hand, there are certain categories of items that simply do not belong in a self-storage unit.

Here are just a few examples:




Live plants

Hazardous materials (gasoline, chemicals, fireworks)

Drugs/stolen items


Scented candles

There are more than a few pertinent reasons why you should never attempt to store such products in your unit. For example, plants could lead to mold, mildew and foul odors in your unit. Scented soaps and candles may attract different categories of pests searching for food. Goods considered “inherently dangerous,” such as fertilizers, pesticides, biological waste, gasoline and propane may represent a major hazard because of their flammability and/or toxicity. At the end of the day, when in doubt, it is extremely important to check the facility’s rules before storing any goods on its premises. Proper research can help you find the best storage facility in your ZIP code and get the most suitable unit based on the nature and particularities of your goods.

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7 Self-storage rentals are month to month, no long term commitments

When you need to rent a self-storage unit, you might not be sure how long you'll need to use it for. A lot of people rent these units when they're moving to a new place, or when they're doing remodeling on the home they already have. Having a home built or downsizing can be other good reasons to need space in a storage facility, as well. No matter your reasons for wanting to store some of your things, with a month to month rental you don't need to worry about having a commitment you aren't comfortable with. If you need to get your things out sooner than anticipated, or you have to leave them longer than you expected, there won't be any problems.

You can simply let the facility know if you need to get things earlier, and keep paying if you have to leave them longer.

Without the need to sign a big contract for a set period of time, you have more freedom with the storage facility and less to worry about while you're moving, remodeling, or otherwise needing to store your things. Some storage facilities offer more than just month to month options, so be sure you ask about that and know what you're signing before you agree to something. That can keep you from getting stuck in a long contract when you only needed to keep your things in storage for a little while.

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8 There are easier ways to find self-storage units

Finding the right self storage unit is important. Even the best units can be wrong for you, if they don't fit the criteria you need for your stored items. When you need to find a good storage facility, you can drive around looking for one, but that's time consuming and still might not really tell you what you need to know. Rather than do that, use the power of the internet to locate storage facilities that are close to where you are or where you want to be. Then, take a look at what they offer and the reviews they have, and, you can accomplish this in one place, USSelfStorage.com.

By learning about them online you can see objective opinions from people who have used their services and written about it, so you can make a more informed decision on whether you want to use that facility or whether it would be better to choose a different one. That can depend on what you're looking for in a unit.

For example, if you need climate controlled storage, you want to make sure you get a facility that's reliable and offers a fair price. Gated facilities that have controlled access can also be good choices to protect the items you're storing, so make sure you find one that's safe, good quality, and reliable. It's well worth the time and effort to locate a facility you feel good about, and using USSelfStorage.com to do that will help make your search much easier than it would be otherwise.

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9 Storage auctions are not as common as you might think

If you watch TV at all, you've probably seen shows (or at least commercials for shows) where people go to self-storage units and bid on their contents. They often find a lot of treasures in them, and then they make a lot of money off of those treasures. For some of these people, the storage auctions are a fulltime business and their main source of income. Those shows may seem interesting, but they aren't as realistic as many people think. Storage auctions aren't really that common, and they usually aren't conducted with cameras all around. The idea of finding treasured, expensive items in them isn't really too likely, either.

Most people who do completely abandon their unit to the point that their items are auctioned off or disposed of leave those things behind because the items don't have any value.

The idea that they would leave expensive antiques in a unit and just quit paying isn't nearly as likely as many of the storage auction shows make it appear. However, that doesn't mean that auctions never take place or that items aren't sold or otherwise disposed of. People can and do buy storage units, and anyone interested in doing that can find information about it online or from their local storage facility. That way they can get their questions answered, and might have the chance of finding something worthwhile that has been abandoned.

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10 Don’t be late paying your rent

Paying your storage unit rent is vital to making sure the items you have in there aren't going to be sold at auction or otherwise disposed of. While storage auctions aren't really that common, a facility isn't just going to keep your things indefinitely when you're not paying for the space you have them in. Paying your rent on time is important to protect your items, and it can also help keep you from having to pay fees for late payment. Most storage facilities do charge fees if you're late with your rent, so make sure you set a reminder of some kind so you don't forget. Paying a few days early is a good idea, too, just in case you get tied up or busy on the day your rent is due and can't get to the facility before it closes.

When you pay a little bit early, you don't need to worry nearly as much about whether your items will be safe or whether you'll have to deal with any late fees.

That can help give you peace of mind, and ensure that your items will be there for you when you go to retrieve them. Facilities often have to deal with people who pay late, and you don't want to be one of them. You'll have a much better experience with the storage facility if you pay on time and adhere to the contract you signed when you rented your unit.

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11 Reservations are not required, but…

It's a good idea to make reservations if you know exactly when you'll be needing your storage unit, and what size you want to rent. If you show up without a reservation, the facility might not have any room for you. Most facilities do have vacancies, but if it's a great storage place in a good area, or if a lot of people are moving into or out of the area, there's the chance that it will be full. You don't want to show up with a truck full of stuff and be turned away. Having to drive a moving truck around to find another storage unit can be very stressful, and something you'll want to avoid as much as possible. It can also be time consuming and use a lot of gasoline. If you have people helping you move, you're taking up their time, as well.

Another problem with arriving at a storage facility without a reservation is that the size unit you need may not be available to you.

If you have to rent a larger unit, that's going to cost you more money – and you'll be paying for a bunch of space that you're not using, which is kind of a waste. A facility that only has smaller units available can also be a problem, because you may need to rent two units to get all of your items stored away. That can be frustrating, and can also lead to a higher cost for your storage needs. With a reservation, you avoid all of that and make things easier on yourself, the facility, and anyone who's helping you move.

Use USSelfStorage.com to view and compare storage units, prices, sizes and specials near you. Then you can book the unit you found for free, no deposit or credit card required.

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12 Documents needed to rent a storage unit

When you show up to make a reservation and rent a storage unit, don't forget that you'll need documentation. Fortunately, most storage facilities don't ask for a lot of specifics. They just want to make sure you are who you say you are, which can be proven with a driver's license or state ID card. If you don't have that kind of identification, there are other things you can use in many cases. A passport, for example, is often an acceptable method of identification. There may be other options you can provide, too, but that will depend on the storage facility and what it requires. If you're not sure whether your documentation is acceptable, make sure to call the facility first and ask about it. That can save you the trouble of arriving there only to be turned away because they won't accept your particular type of identification.

You also don't need to worry about a credit or background check to rent a unit. There are some New York City storage facilities that do criminal background checks, but these are not very common.

Unless you're renting a unit in NYC under an apartment complex, you probably won't need to consent to any kind of check of your background. You'll just need to make sure you have proper identification that the storage facility will accept, and a credit card or other method of making your first rent payment when you sign up to rent the unit. That can make the process much easier, and get you a unit that will hold all of your stuff and protect it until you're ready to remove it again.

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