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Self-Storage Lockers: Why You Should Never Rent One - Quicken Loans Zing BlogHave you ever watched “Storage Wars”? It’s a real-life series on A&E which follows professional buyers as they scour repossessed storage units for treasures. The buyers on the show will bid hundreds of dollars for the lockers without even knowing what’s inside. It’s pretty hit-or-miss. The lucky ones find a treasure trove and cash in on a hefty profit. The not-so-lucky ones usually just end up with a heap of old garbage. In my opinion, the show is completely mind-numbing, but there’s one element that really puzzles me: why the heck are there so many abandoned storage lockers?

It’s not exactly cheap to rent off-site storage. When I was looking up rates for self-storage in metro-Detroit, I was blown away by how expensive it is. One storage facility near me sells spaces that range from $50 a month for a 5×5 non-climate controlled unit to a 1701 square foot monstrosity (non-climate controlled) for almost $900 a month! With those kinds of prices, I can’t believe people would store anything for more than a month or two.

Yet, storage facilities have tons of renters who will secure spaces for extended periods of time. Many companies run specials offering “3 free months” or a similar perk for paying in advance for your extended reservation. That’s how they hook you.

Yes, renting self-storage is sometimes a necessity. People who are relocating or downsizing may need to use it for a short period of time. However, it seems that most people who rent storage are doing so because they need a place to store their excess junk. Those storage lockers you see on “Storage Wars” are not usually filled with things people actually need or use; they’re filled with junk, junk and more junk.

Still don’t believe that self-storage units are a bad idea? Here are six reasons (okay, so maybe a few less than a million!) that you should find a different place to store your stuff.

  1. You’re spending money to keep things you don’t need. If you don’t touch it for years, chances are you don’t need it. If you’re holding on to things because “they might be valuable one day,” you’re truly fooling yourself. By the time you’ve paid to store it “until it’s valuable,” you won’t be making money on it, since you wasted all that money on storage.
  2. Your stored items might be ruined. We’ve already established that storage lockers are expensive. Climate-controlled storage lockers can be even pricier. Do you think a non-climate controlled environment is the best place to store “valuable” antiques, collectibles, books, and furniture? Probably not. It won’t take long for extreme heat, cold, or humidity to rough up your possessions: you can expect an array of physical damage from warping and cracking, to mold and chemical deterioration.
  3. Storage fees are financially draining. Expect to pay at least $50 for a small unit. That $50 turns into $600 after one year. It’s $1200 after two years, and $3000 after five! Think of all the new things you could buy instead of spending money storing old stuff.
  4. Having extra storage allows you to buy more stuff. People find it necessary to rent storage lockers because they don’t have enough room at home to store their belongings. Storage units can be an enabler for hoarders since they prevent people from ever having to throw anything out. Storing belongings offsite allows you more room in your house to acquire stuff you probably don’t need. If you truly need extra storage space, take all that money you’re spending on storage, and invest it in a bigger house! If you disagree, check out this eye-opening article.
  5. It might get stolen. If it doesn’t get ruined by weather, it might just get stolen. Storage facilities don’t always have security personnel on hand, and depending on the construction of your storage unit, breaking in might not be that hard.
  6. Unpaid bills = repossessed storage unit. Let’s turn to that question I had earlier: why are there so many abandoned storage units? After doing a little bit of digging, I found that each state has different requirements for dealing with abandoned storage lockers. In California, for example, tenants must be given at least 15 days to reclaim “abandoned” property. Only after the rental facility has given the tenant adequate time to retrieve the items can they put the items up for sale. It’s important to consider that there are many unfortunate circumstances which can easily lead to unpaid bills, and therefore, cause your items to be sold without your knowledge. If you become severely ill, for instance, you might not be able to get your stuff out before it’s too late. If you pass away, your loved ones may not even find out about the locker before the items are sold. Long story short: you don’t have the same level of control over your possessions as you would if you stored them at home.

My best advice to those of you that rent storage lockers is to get out now! There might be some unique instances in which self-storage is a good idea, but for the average American, it’s just more money you’re sending down the drain. Evaluate your own circumstances and determine if self-storage is really a smart financial decision for you.


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  8. I remember I visited the Loma Linda California one time years ago. I had to clear a deceased house of valuable or sentimental items for later distribution to family.
    It was stowed at a local storage facility only a couple of months or so, and when I went to pick the items up the door was still locked with the lock that the office clerk had sold me, but the unit was completely cleaned out! Mind you, this facility had a passcode protected gate and cameras everywhere.
    I complained to the office and the clerk told me I should have double-locked the door, but I remember that I was told that double-locks would be cut off and you would be fined for doing that?
    I said to call the police, and this deputy shows up to basically talk me out of filing a report because as he put it, “your stuff is probably already being sold on the opposite coast; we’ll never find it”.
    Unfortunately I had to leave the country and this clerk and deputy knew that.
    If there was ever a situation in my life that smelled like a scam, this one stands out as number one.
    Since that time, I have not trusted another commercial storage facility, and I never will again.
    By the way, I don’t mind saying that this particular one was on Redlands Blvd near Waterman in Loma Linda California USA. not far from Loma Linda University.

  9. “Think of all the new things you could buy instead of spending money storing old stuff”

    And where do you plan on putting all this awesome new stuff?
    The rampant materialism and consumerism in this country makes me fear for our kids future.

  10. We are a packrat society now. I have two storage units myself. I have had them over 2 years, and at $560 a month it really adds up. In my case I have over $50,000 of furniture and vehicles etc… in my units. If you are going to rent one or two of them, you have to make sure in makes financial since. The average person goes into renting a storage unit with the idea that they will be there for 6 months. The reality, it is more like 15 months…

  11. As a student who lived about 2 hours away from college, I rented a storage unit every summer I moved home and it was vastly easier (and cheaper) than hauling all of my stuff home every time. I think storage lockers are a great idea if you don’t live close to where you go to school but still want to come home for the summer.

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