Living in a Self Storage Space is a Bad Idea, Here’s Why

Jon Fesmire |
Homelessness is a big problem in the United States. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, approximately 568,000 people in America were homeless in 2019 with 200,000 of them living outside or in spaces not meant for human occupancy. Others live in shelters or couch surf from one friend or relative’s home to another. COVID has only increased this number, though the exact amount of people without a permanent home is hard to track. Though the situation is dire, staying in a self storage unit is not the solution, and there’s two major reasons why.

It’s Illegal

To start, living in a self storage unit is illegal. You can get immediately evicted, with your stuff thrown out with you, or even arrested. If you’re desperate, you may think of it as a victimless crime, and it may seem necessary, but that’s not the case. People sleeping in storage units make facilities look irresponsible. It can lead to other tenants wondering about the safety of their stuff and if the facility is safe. It also hurts the person living in the unit. Cities don’t zone storage units for human habitation. In fact, the vast majority of self storage facilities won’t let people use their units for anything but storage, let alone a place to sleep. Also, the management will catch you. Even if the facility workers don’t notice, tenants will and might report you. Facilities also have security cameras covering all hallways and outdoor areas. Keep sneaking in and at some point they’ll spot you. If you have children, this is a tremendous problem. The police can charge you with child endangerment and Child Protective Services may take your kids.

It’s Unsafe

A storage unit has no running water. They let in no natural light and have no windows, and the air will get stuffy fast. Even if you stay in a climate-controlled unit, you won’t have control over the temperature. In the summer, the unit’s internal temperature will probably hover around 80 degrees and in the winter 50 degrees, which is far from ideal for people. Storage units don’t have electrical outlets. You may think you can run a cord from the hallway to your unit. However, the management or others will notice this. It can also cause a fire hazard, especially if you decide to set up a heater or something to cook with, like a microwave or toaster oven.