Whether you’re clearing a garage to make extra space for a new car or downsizing from a 3-bedroom house into a one-bedroom apartment, self-storage will likely be part of the equation.
Rental rates for public storage units can vary greatly based on a number of factors, like:
- How long your items will be stored
- Whether it’s ground-level or upstairs
- If it’s standard or climate-controlled
To ensure that you’re not wasting money on storage space you won’t use, it’s wise to determine what size storage unit you need before shopping around.
You’ll also have the option of booking directly with the facility or using an online service like SpareFoot that allows customers to get competitive quotes from multiple providers instantly.
The latter is usually more convenient, but in some instances, you’ll pay more.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll likely find that there’s no shortage of mini-storage facilities across the country.
In places like New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, demand is high, so prices may be double or triple what you’d pay for a similar unit in rural Texas or Kansas.
|Unit Size/Type||Standard Unit||Climate-Controlled Unit|
|5 x 5||$57||$79|
|10 x 10||$98||$152|
|10 × 20||$188||$224|
|10 × 30 |
*Sizes may vary
*Not all first floor units
*May include promotions
Average storage unit prices were calculated in October 2020 using online quotes from multiple facilities in rural and metropolitan areas. With so many storage options and factors, these figures may not reflect what you’ll pay. Getting a number of quotes based on your specific situation is the best way to get accurate pricing.
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|5 x 10 Unit||10 x 10||10 x 20|
|Los Angeles, CA||$171||$278||$473|
|New Orleans, LA||$109||$172||$280|
|Kansas City, MO||$71||$120||$186|
Storage figures for the above cities are from Life Storage.
Though size is a big factor in storage unit cost, location is often more important.
You may be able to rent a 10 x 30 climate-controlled unit in a tiny Rhode Island town for less than it would cost for a standard 5 x 10 unit in Chicago, Miami or Washington DC.
If you live in a large metropolitan area with a high cost of living, finding a unit outside city limits may save you big bucks.
Depending on your needs, a larger self-storage unit will almost always cost more than a smaller unit within the same town or city.
However, a small climate-controlled unit may cost more per month than a larger standard one.
The items you’ll be storing will dictate what kind of unit you need, and therefore how much you’ll pay per month.
Sensitive items like musical instruments, antique furniture, and electronics may require renting a unit at a facility that regulates both temperature and humidity, especially in areas prone to extreme conditions.
Type of Unit
Storage units come in all shapes, sizes, and types to fit most needs and budgets.
Indoor units located within a larger building offer more protection from the elements.
Outside units with roll-up doors may be more affordable and convenient because they offer drive-up access, but they’re generally best for hearty items like tools, outdoor gear, and patio furniture.
Climate control is another issue that warrants close attention when screening prospective storage providers.
Likewise, you’ll want to consider other features like which floor the unit is on, how high the ceiling is, and if elevators, loading docks, and carts are available.
Access and Security Features
If you’ll be setting out on a year-long world tour after your items are safely stored, 24-hour access won’t be an issue.
For most families, however, it’s a necessity.
Many storage facilities are open round-the-clock, but others keep banker’s hours.
When storing work or recreation items you use regularly the former is definitely the way to go.
“We’ve found that our customers value having access to their items around the clock. Life happens and you never know when you might want to get access to that recreational vehicle, camping supplies, or things needed around the house. We also have a lot of customers rent their unit outside of business hours when they aren’t at work.” says Nick Huber, owner of Bolt Storage.
Also, consider if the facility has:
- Security guards
- Staff on-site at all hours
- Traditional locks, keyless entry and automatic gates
Is It an Independent Facility or Part of a Chain?
Both independent storage facilities and those affiliated with national chains may have big disparities in price and service.
Branded storage providers may offer seasonal discounts, special promotions like first month free and reduced rates on a moving truck, as well as easy credit card and online bill-pay that you may not get with local companies.
If you’ve got the time it’s best to visit each facility you’re considering in person.
The Facility’s Age
In many metropolitan areas, the self-storage market has reached saturation.
In order to entice customers away from newer competitors, older facilities often resort to dropping their rates.
In many cases older facilities are still in perfectly good shape, making them hidden gems for cost-conscious consumers.
Length of Storage
Storage companies rely heavily on promotions, and they commonly give significant discounts to those who sign long-term contracts.
What Time of Year You’ll Be Renting
Like their moving company counterparts, public storage facilities often experience big spikes in demand during the peak season which typically lasts between May and September.
If you’re flexible, storing your items during the fall and winter may equate to big savings.
Most self-storage facilities require their customers to have insurance, and it’s something they often ‘forget’ to mention until you’re ready to sign the contract.
Of course, their policies are usually pricey, and frequently add between $5 and $35 dollars on top of the storage cost.
Insurance policies are usually available with a number of deductible options, but they’re often very limited in scope, so read the fine print carefully to know exactly what is and isn’t covered.
Even within the same city (Baltimore, Maryland in this case), prices for similar or identical storage units can vary drastically.
|Company||Size / Features||Monthly Rates||Public Storage||10 x 10, interior, roll-up door, climate-controlled||$122|
|U-Haul||10 x 10, 1st floor, interior, heated||$149|
|Sparefoot||10 x 10, upstairs, interior, climate-controlled||$89|
|CubeSmart||10 x 10, upstairs, interior, climate-controlled||$88|
|Life Storage||5 x 15, 1st floor, interior, standard||$72|
The above figures are for units in Baltimore in early October 2020. According to storageseeker.com, the average monthly price for a 10 x 10 self-storage unit in Baltimore over the past 6 months was slightly less than $70. Keep in mind that figures may exclude charges for one-time administrative costs, insurance, and other fees.
Though storage is most commonly used for household goods, it’s increasingly becoming a necessity for many small businesses as well.
Storage facilities that are open 24-7 are the most popular with business owners looking to store everything from displays and documents to sales material and surplus inventory.
Drive Up Storage
Drive-up units are similar to garages because they’re at street level, feature roll-up doors, and allow vehicles to get within just a few feet.
They’re often relatively inexpensive and are convenient storage options for those dealing with heavy and bulky items that would be a hassle getting into and out of elevators and upstairs units.
Portable and Container Storage
Moving container and storage companies have made big market share gains in recent years.
They’re flexible, relatively inexpensive, and offer way more options than traditional brick-and-mortar facilities.
With portable storage, customers can choose to have their items stored on-site, at the company’s facility, or have them transported to another city or state via container.
If your significant other has been bugging you to get that old boat, RV, or spare car out of the driveway once and for all, outdoor storage may be a cost-effective option.
Outdoor storage may be covered or uncovered, and sometimes feature handy amenities like electrical and water hook-ups and washing stations.
1. Which is a better storage solution, a regular storage unit or a moving container?
For some, regular storage is better, for others, a moving container makes more sense, we break it down here.
2. Where are self-storage units the cheapest and most expensive?
According to sparefoot.com, storage units are cheapest in places like Oklahoma City, Springfield, Missouri, and Newark, New Jersey.
Not surprisingly, some of the most expensive cities for storage are Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Dallas.
3. Why are storage prices so different?
Storage prices can vary greatly even for similar units within the same town or city.
Remember, prices are dependent on a number of factors like storage locations, season, size, and the type of unit you’ll need.
But keep in mind that one facility may appear less expensive than another only because they’ve omitted certain items, or have based their price on a promotion that you may not qualify for.
Read the fine print and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before signing on the dotted line.
4. What are the most common storage unit sizes?
Storage units come in a variety of sizes to accommodate renters and homeowners of all stripes.
Uhaul’s storage unit size guide lists units ranging from 5 x 5 and 5 x 10, all the way up to 10 x 25 and 10 x 30.
Most of their competitors have similar sizes, though they can vary slightly.
5. How much is a small storage unit?
5 x 5 and 5 x10 units usually cost between $50 and $70 per month and are best for studio and 1-bedroom apartments.