John Egan is editor in chief at SpareFoot, an Austin, TX-based company that helps people find and book self-storage units online, offline and via mobile.
When it comes to shopping for a self-storage unit, size and price go hand-in-hand, much like when you’re shopping for a house or an apartment.
Before you even think about the price of a storage unit, you’ve got to consider how much space you’ll need. Are you going to be storing the contents of a bedroom? A one-bedroom apartment? A three-bedroom house?
Here, SpareFoot.com storage experts Robert Boler, Trey Crosby and Helen Sandel offer their advice for finding the right size and the right price for your storage unit.
Storage units are measured in square feet. For instance, a 5×5 unit measures 25 square feet; a 10×10 storage unit measures 100 square feet. But knowing the size doesn’t matter unless you’ve figured out what you’re going to be storing in the unit.
“Storage units are best compared to things in the home,” Crosby said.
For instance, when you think of a 5×5 unit, you should visualize a closet. Will the stuff you’re storing fit into a standard closet? If not, perhaps you need a 5×10 unit, which is the size of a large walk-in closet.
Still not enough space? Then you should jump up to a 10×10, which is the size of a small bedroom. This type of unit is recommended for the contents of a one-bedroom apartment.
From there, a 10×15 equates to a garage that would fit a compact car; this unit can hold the contents of a two-bedroom home. Typically, the largest unit you’ll find at a storage facility is a 10×20, which is the size of a standard one-car garage and can accommodate the contents of a two- or three-bedroom home.
“You may want a larger size than necessary if you need room to maneuver. This is important if you’ll be visiting the storage unit regularly,” Crosby said. “Those who just want to drop things off once and be finished don’t need extra space.”
Keep in mind that the average storage unit has a ceiling that’s at least 8 feet high, so you can easily stack boxes and put certain items of furniture on top of each other to maximize the space, Sandel said.
Is the Price Right?
Much like hotel rooms and airline seats, the prices of storage units can fluctuate from day to day and, of course, from place to place – even within the same neighborhood. You’ll likely find that a 10×10 storage unit in Denver rents for less than a 10×10 storage unit in Los Angeles, simply because real estate costs and the overall cost of living are lower in the Mile High City than they are in the City of Angels.
Here are Boler’s four tips for getting the best deal on a storage unit no matter where you are:
- Make sure you aren’t paying for amenities you don’t need. “Climate control, drive-up access and indoor parking spots are typically more expensive than their less fancy counterparts,” he said.
- To save money, be willing to use a lower-cost facility a little farther away from your home or office, and be willing to rent a storage unit on an upper floor. “Location – both within your area and within the facility – can affect price a lot,” Boler said.
- Compare rental rates online. “Facilities are more competitively priced when you aren’t a walk-in customer,” Boler said.
- If you need to start storing during the summer, reserve a unit as far in advance as possible. “Prices increase and availability plummets during the summer months,” Boler said.
For more storage tips, visit the storage tips section of SpareFoot.com.
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