Temporary Storage Solutions: Which One Is Best for You?

Whether you’re moving to a new home or need a place to keep seasonal items, just about every homeowner will need temporary storage at some point in time. But what are the best temporary storage solutions for your storage needs?

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As you’ll soon see, there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But there are several factors that can help you decide whether to use a self-storage facility, moving containers, or another form of temporary storage. Read on for a better understanding of temporary storage solutions and the factors that can help you decide which option is best for you.

What is temporary storage?

Temporary storage is usually storage for three months or less. However, quite often, you can turn “temporary storage” into a longer-term storage option.

One of the biggest differences between temporary storage and long-term storage is that you can still easily access your items while they’re in storage. For example, a long-term storage company might put a military service member’s items in a warehouse while they are deployed overseas. The items in storage can’t be accessed until the end of the storage period.

With temporary storage, however, you can generally access your items even before the end of your lease period. You can add or remove items throughout your rental period based on your needs.

Temporary storage options

There are two main types of temporary storage services that most people will consider: self-storage facilities and moving containers. While they share some similarities, there are several important differences in how these storage options work and which situations they are best suited for.

Self-storage facility

Self-storage facilities offer onsite storage at a physical location, with easy access to the units and a variety of sizes to choose from. Self-storage units are generally available in either a non-climate controlled drive-up option or an enclosed climate-controlled storage facility.

Self-storage facilities offer a DIY approach to temporary storage. You are fully responsible for loading, organizing, and unloading the unit. As such, you must be careful how you package and organize your items to reduce the risk of damage.

Storage units are typically available with month-to-month contracts, allowing you to rent them for as long or as short of a period as you need. The best self storage companies frequently offer discounts and other special deals that can make this a very affordable storage option.

  • Tend to be more affordable than moving containers
  • Climate-controlled storage units offer protection against humidity and extreme temperatures
  • Wide variety of unit sizes available
  • Month-to-month contracts offer flexible storage options for both temporary and long-term needs
  • Easy access, with many facilities offering 24/7 availability
  • Cleanliness and security can vary by location
  • Depending on where you live, storage facilities may not be conveniently located
  • Only suitable for local uses (home renovation, moves within the same town)

Moving containers

Portable storage containers are another popular temporary storage solution that is often used as an alternative to using a traditional moving company. With moving containers, the storage container company drops off the container at your home, after which you have a set amount of time (usually three to 30 days) to load the container.

The storage container company does not provide movers to help with this but some of the best moving container companies can connect you with third-party labor at an extra cost.

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Once your container is loaded, the company will pick up the container and transport it to a new location. You don’t have to do any driving, removing the hassle of DIY moves that would require you to drive a moving truck. After the drop off at your new home is complete, you’ll have three to 30 days to unload the container, depending on the company. For example, U-Pack gives you three days while with PODS, you keep your container at your home for up to one month until you have it moved to your new residence or at a PODS storage facility.

These containers are weather-resistant, though they do not offer climate-control protection.

Alternatively, moving containers can also be used for temporary storage either on your property or at the container company’s own facility. Onsite storage is subject to local regulations and the size of your property. When the container is stored at the company’s facility, you generally will not be able to access your items while they are in storage.

  • Provide an easy solution for transporting items to your new home
  • Can usually rent multiple storage containers to fit all your possessions
  • Can keep items on your property for convenient access
  • You don’t have to be present for container pickup and drop-off
  • Fewer container size options than storage unit size options
  • Generally can’t access your items when the container is kept at the company’s facility
  • No climate-controlled options
  • Limited days to load and unload when using storage containers as part of a move

Which temporary storage solution is best for you?

There are several important factors to consider when deciding whether to use a storage unit or a moving container:

  • Your specific storage needs: The reason you need storage can directly influence the type of storage you need. For example, homeowners working on a home renovation project may be better served by keeping a storage container on their property. On the other hand, if you need seasonal storage (such as storing winter gear or college students storing items near campus for the summer), a storage unit will probably be the better option.
  • The amount of space you need: If you need to store a lot of items, a self-storage unit will usually be better suited to your needs. Self-storage facilities offer larger unit sizes, making it easier to fit all of your household items in a single space.
  • The type of items you need to store: Items that are sensitive to extreme temperatures or humidity should be stored in a temperature-controlled storage unit. Moving containers do not offer that level of protection.
  • Cost: Self-storage facilities are generally less expensive than using a moving container.
  • The distance of your move: If you need temporary storage solutions as part of your move, the distance of your move must be considered. For local moves, a storage unit that is conveniently accessible to both your old and new homes could work. For long-distance moving, a moving container is the more viable option since it can be sent directly to your new home.

Best temporary storage solutions

So, which home storage options are best for your needs? The following are some of our top picks for self-storage and container companies.


U-Pack is a popular moving container company with a strong industry reputation and competitive prices. Their services are available nationwide, including in some rural areas, making them a widely accessible moving and portable storage option.

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U-Pack offers both smaller ReloCube containers and freight trailers, though only ReloCubes can be used for storage. It’s also worth noting that ReloCube containers must be stored at the company’s facilities, so you can’t access your items until you are ready to unload them at your new house.

Because of this, U-Pack is more widely used for long-distance moves. The company offers fast delivery times, online tracking, and instant online quotes. The ability to store your ReloCube containers until you are ready to move into your new home can help streamline your moving process.

However, U-Pack only provides three days to load and unload your containers. They also do not help with local moves.


PODS is perhaps the best-known name in the moving container industry. PODS cost includes 30 days of storage, regardless of container size.

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You can also rent PODS containers on a month-to-month basis for storage, keeping the containers at either your own property (if property size and local regulation allow) or at a PODS facility. Like U-Pack, you are responsible for packing and unpacking the container yourself, while the company’s professionals provide the transportation.

The company offers weatherproof containers in three sizes, though only their eight- and 16-foot containers are available for long-distance moves. Long-distance moves must also be booked by phone.

Extra Space Storage

If you’re looking for a self-storage facility, Extra Space Storage is an excellent option. Available in 43 states, this company offers a variety of unit sizes and options for both temporary and long-term storage needs. The company does not provide service in Alaska, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wyoming.

Extra Space Storage provides both indoor climate-controlled units and outdoor vehicle storage. You can rent units on a month-to-month basis or book them for an extended period. Elevator access also makes it easier to load and unload second-story units at many facilities.

Extra Space Storage is known for its strong security measures, such as onsite managers, 24/7 video surveillance, alarm-protected units, and access gates. However, they sometimes have significant price hikes if you use them for more than a year, and late fees can be rather costly.

Temporary storage cost

Temporary storage is generally affordable. For example, the average storage unit prices for a standard 10 x 10-foot self-storage unit are around $115. While moving containers tend to be more expensive, they are less expensive than using full-service movers if you need temporary storage as part of a move. Some of our picks for best moving companies also provide temporary storage as part of their full-service relocations.

You should get a quote from at least three self-storage facilities or moving container companies in your area. A variety of factors can influence your costs, so getting free quotes from multiple providers will help you find the best option for your budget.

Temporary storage cost factors

The following factors will have a direct impact on your temporary storage pricing:

  • Unit sizes: The larger your storage unit or moving container, the more you can expect to pay. Depending on how many items you need to store, you might need to rent multiple moving containers if you use a moving container company.
  • Location: Your location will directly impact your pricing. Storage facilities in big cities with more demand tend to be more expensive than those in rural areas. Moving container companies may charge different rates if you store the container on your property as opposed to their warehouse. Conversely, living in a rural area can make moving container rentals more expensive due to the added transportation costs for the company.
  • Seasonal demand: There tends to be more demand for temporary storage during the spring and summer when more people are moving. As a result, storage prices go up.
  • Climate control: A climate-controlled storage unit will always be more expensive than a standard unit of the same size.
  • Security: Self-storage facilities with added security features like 24/7 video surveillance and gated access may also charge more.

Other temporary storage solutions

While self-storage facilities and moving containers are the most common short-term storage options, there are a few other alternatives that you could consider, depending on your situation:

  • Storing with full-service movers: Some full-service moving companies offer storage in-transit. The moving company will store your items at their own warehouse until you are ready to move into your new home.
  • Maximizing your property’s storage space: You might be able to create additional storage space on your own property. For example, adding a shed to your backyard or extra shelving to your garage can provide additional storage space. Of course, this depends on how much available space you have at your home.
  • Help from family: Family members with extra space might be able to help store some of your items. Make sure you work out the details in advance to avoid potential misunderstandings!

FAQs about temporary storage options

What are the benefits of renting a storage unit?

The benefits of renting a storage unit include giving extra storage space to help you declutter, store seasonal items, and temporarily store items while renovating part of your home. Storage units offer affordable pricing and a variety of unit sizes to accommodate your specific storage needs.

How long can you rent a pod for?

The length of time you can rent a portable storage unit — or pod — (not to be confused with the company PODS) varies depending on the company. You can typically rent a pod container on a month-to-month basis.

How long can you store items in a temporary storage unit?

Self-storage facilities offer month-to-month contracts, allowing you to keep your items in the storage unit for as long as you keep paying your rent. Many moving container companies also let you rent a container indefinitely, though some have limits.

What is the most secure storage option?

The most secure option is an indoor storage unit. Such facilities typically require a keypad code just to access the building, after which you will use your own key or code to unlock your unit. Look for facilities that offer additional security features, such as 24/7 monitoring and onsite security staff.

What should I use for long-term storage?

Generally speaking, a climate-controlled storage unit will be the best solution for long-term storage. These storage spaces will provide much-needed protection against extreme temperatures and humidity, keeping items in good condition even if they are kept in storage for several months or even years.

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