Thoughts on Self Storage

Thoughts on Self Storage. Looking down the hall of a self storage facility.
Image by sarla Wu from Pixabay

Self storage is hot! The fastest growing segment of commercial real estate, self storage is estimated to have generated more than $48.2 billion in revenue in 2020. With five public corporations and almost 35,000 independent operators, there are reportedly over 50,000 facilities in the U.S. Today, approximately one in 10 U.S. households is said to rent a self-storage unit.

But is renting a self-storage unit a good option for everyone? The answer is “no.” More specifically, renting a unit simply because you can’t figure out what to do with your stuff can be a real waste of money. Self-storage is real estate, and you pay for the square footage. You may also be paying for climate control, security, and accessibility. Sometimes, this is a convenient and appropriate storage solution! Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it.

If you have been thinking about renting some off-site storage space, work your way through this flow chart and answer the questions.

(click to enlarge)

Self Storage Overview


Real estate is always costly, so make sure you spend your money wisely!

Do you have items in a self-storage unit? Will you keep items there in the future?

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37 thoughts on “Thoughts on Self Storage”

  1. I love the infographic! It simplifies it. I don’t see it applying to my house, but oh boy, my parent’s house and many others. We had to use a storage facility once when we were moving cross country but hadn’t found a home yet here, and we had our stuff in storage in California! Ugh, I hated that.

    1. Thanks for the affirmation — I decided to “go for it” on the info graphic and just give it a whirl. I thought it was more fun than another list… Having your stuff across the country is JUST NO FUN… hangs over you knowing you’ve got to go back and get it!

  2. I recently got some things out of storage and I was very disappointed. Outside of the furniture I had in one unit, I wasted my money. I stored a bunch of junk I ended up throwing out anyway.

    1. This is such a common experience! We so easily underestimate the cost of the space, and then when we finally retrieve our stuff, we wonder why we spent so much money to hold into it. I’m hoping to help a few people avoid this pitfall with this post! Thanks for sharing your story!!

    1. Exactly, Susannah. The best circumstance is a temporary need (like a military deployment or a renovation). It’s when we start thinking about a storage unit as an extra closet… one that costs a lot of money (!) that we can get into trouble!

  3. My husband actually bought and sold self-storage units for a short time. I cannot believe what people give up and lose when they just walk away. Kind of the opposite of what your post was about, but it’s what came to mind. I would make sure to get my stuff and pay the bill. 🙂

    1. I actually think that confirms my idea that people are paying to store items for the wrong reasons… and often even forget what they have! Self-storage is a wonderful solution for specific situations, but many people just stash belongings into them, and as you point out – forget! Thanks for this comment Crystal!

  4. Thanks for the tip! I absolutely agree with you. Most of the time it will cost more to have the storage unit than to replace everything that’s put in it. I had a storage unit for the first year after the Husband and I got married. It felt like a huge waste of money…but it was only while we were searching for a house, and definitely saved us on decorating money in the long run.

    1. That’s a great use of a storage unit, Leslie. Temporary, with a concrete reason, and an “end date.” There are definitely times when self-storage can be a convenient and affordable solution! Thanks for your comment:)

  5. We’re working on getting rid of stuff. I want to downsize in the next 5 years or so, and I think it will be easier to do it over the next few years than all at once! I don’t know how we accumulated so many things we don’t need!

    1. I know exactly what you mean. When my husband moved out here everything he owned fit in his Mazda. Now we look around and say “where did all this come from”? So smart to start chipping away at it bit by bit instead of waiting until you are busy with moving. Plus, all that stuff we give away can be doing someone else good right now!

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    1. It’s amazing how people can get locked up in these spaces and end up spending thousands. They are a wonderful convenience under the right circumstances, but as with so many things, you’ve gotta ask the right questions first:) Thanks for reading, Linda!

  7. Analyzing the flow chart, I realize that I probably need to get a storage unit. We have a lot of stuff and don’t really have any more storage space in our house. I know there are some things that we need to get rid of, but it would be nice if we could store everything and still have room at the house.

  8. It looks like you have some really helpful thoughts here, especially on the flow chart. I have been wanting to get some self storage because I have so much stuff. However, it sounds like the best thing to do in this case is probably sort it out, and then try to reevaluate if I need the storage. I think that it would be a good idea to try to find a nice facility, since that is an important factor in this flow chart. Once I sort everything out, I will definitely look into this! Thanks for the great post!

  9. I never thought of storage rental as real estate. That is a really interesting way to look at it. It is true that you pay for it like you do for an apartment or house. Thanks for telling me about this way of looking at the storage units. IT has helped me make a decision of whether to get it or not.

  10. My sister and her husband could probably use this info-graphic. They were living abroad in Brazil and had to move back to the states before their assignment was up. They left all their stuff in several storage units. I think that they could have whittled down their stuff into one unit rather than three.

    1. Three storage units is a lot. Not only a lot of stuff, but a lot of expense. Self storage is a wonderful option, but it can quickly get out of control and end up costing a lot of money. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  11. I like how you pointed out that it isn’t a good idea to rent a storage unit just because you can’t figure out what to do with your stuff. I also find the flow chart that you provided very helpful. It realistically deals with the reasons for considering a storage unit, what you would need, and tells you to prep and sort your stuff before even moving on. I think it’s a great chart to show anyone who is on the fence about getting a storage unit, because while storage units can be extremely useful in some situations, they’re not always for everybody. Great article!

  12. A personal self storage would really come in handy for storing particular items that are not needed daily. I am impressed that there are storage options of all sizes. The flow chart that you created is very helpful in understanding just what type of storage would be perfect for your own particular situation.

  13. I love that you offer a process in the self storage process. I think this would really be beneficial to both the renter and owner of a storage company. This way it weeds out unnecessary hassles and makes it so that they can get the greatest benefit from their rental. I am thankful for your suggestions for everyone and will use your questionnaire process for selecting my storage unit.

  14. I had no idea that self storage is the fastest growing segment of commercial real estate. It’s interesting that you say that renting a self storage unit is not necessarily a good option for everyone. Thanks for providing this flow chart to help determine if renting a unit is worth it for you or not.

  15. Such an interesting and amazing post to read! Analyzing the flow chart, I realize that I probably need to get a storage unit. We have a lot of stuff and don’t really have any more storage space in our house. I know there are some things that we need to get rid of, but it would be nice if we could store everything and still have room at the house. Thank you so much for this amazing post!

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