If you’re sick of keeping your sweaters in your oven and your Christmas decorations in your guest bedroom, you might be looking for a storage unit. The self storage industry is huge right now—that’s why it feels like there’s a storage facility on every corner—and it’s easier than ever to find a storage unit near you with the amount of space and amenities you need.
Whether you’re renting a storage unit for the very first time or it’s been awhile since you needed one, today’s modern world of self storage is designed with the customer in mind. You don’t have to settle for just any storage unit; find the best storage unit by asking the following 10 questions.
You need to know when you’re going to be able to drop off and pick up your stuff. Most storage facilities are open during normal 9-5 business hours. Some may open earlier and close later, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be someone in the office should you need to speak with an employee. It’s less common to find a 24-hour access storage facility, but this feature does exist if you’re someone who needs to get to your storage unit at 3 a.m.
Most storage facilities offer climate control nowadays. This feature keeps your belongings at a safe temperature and humidity level. It’s important if you’re storing items in an extremely hot environment (think Phoenix) or an extremely cold environment (like Alaska) or if you’re storing in a very humid city (Houston, for example).
A storage facility should keep your stuff safe. Basic security features include gated access, surveillance cameras, good lighting and high walls. More advanced security features include individually alarmed units and an actual security guard. On-site management can also help with security.
You don’t want bugs and rodents in your storage unit. A great storage facility will contract a reliable pest control service to spray the property, set traps and take the necessary steps to keep the creepy-crawlies out of your stuff.
Be wary of a storage facility that offers rental rates that are drastically lower than their competitors—you may get stuck with hidden fees. Normal fees include a security deposit and an admin fee. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect, so you know how to tell when you’re being ripped off.
Pro tip: Always look on the storage facility’s website and social media pages for online-only deals. Additionally, ask about discounts and specials. A storage facility may offer a student or military discount as well as seasonal and new renter specials.
If old-fashioned checks aren’t your thing, ask about online bill pay and auto pay. These services make paying rent so much easier.
Yes, you already pay car insurance, health insurance, and homeowners insurance, but believe it or not, self storage insurance is a thing too. Some facilities even require it. Find out if your storage facility offers it, requires it or if you can go without it.
Self storage is a renter’s market, so it never hurts to ask this question. Storage facilities are often trying to compete to stand out, which can result in some pretty cool amenities. You might find a storage facility with an RV wash bay, state-of-the-art wine storage, a business center or an on-site retail store.
If possible, visit the storage facility in person before booking a unit. You’ll be able to see how clean it is, what level of customer service you can expect and what a 5x5 unit really looks like.
In addition to answering these questions, be sure to look at online reviews and take a look at our storage tips to get an idea for exactly what works for you.