This is the first in a three part series on Self Storage. Look for Part 2 and Part 3 over the next two days.
Nearly 1 in 10 US households currently rent a self storage unit. That’s 10.8 million of the 113.3 million US households, an increase of approximately 65 percent in the last 12 years.
Wow. Americans have a lot of stuff !
So when is does it make financial sense to rent storage, and when is it a waste?
When it makes sense:
1. If you must return to the nest. I’ve rented storage space twice in my life. Both instances were in my twenties after misguided attempts to flee South Florida that turned out not-so-great (though I’m confident that my next exodus will lead me to the Promised Land, or at least Georgia) . Both times I’d had to shack up with a parent temporarily, so placing my stuff in storage made sense. I figured I’d spend less in storage rent than I would have to replace the items that I stored.
2. If you are putting your house on the market. We currently store a few things at a hangar rented by my in-laws, and they generously don’t ask us for money. We’re getting the house ready to go on the market, so I’ve packed up some items I want for the new house (the one that at this point is just a twinkle in our eyes) but don’t need here in a clutter-reducing move. I also had stored some garage sale items there. Storing them there makes the garage less cluttered, but if we needed to, or if my in-laws needed the space, we could store the items here. All of the real estate experts say to get rid of clutter to make the home more attractive to buyers and sell quicker. In this market you need every edge you can get, so a few months in storage fees could save you time and get you more money.
3. If you are renovating. Home renovations are stressful enough without trying to squeeze the target room’s furniture into every available nook and cranny elsewhere in the house. It also protects the items from damage.
4. If you are relocating. If your house won’t be ready when you get there, or if you want to rent first to get a feel for the area before committing to buying a home, renting a smaller, less expensive apartment and storing all but the necessities can help you save for your dream house. Oh, I just remembered a third time I paid for storage: when I was in college the local storage company always did $99 Student Summer Specials. I’d store all my furniture and stuff for the summer break. It would have cost me way more to schlep it all home and back…
5. If you are traveling. Taking the family for a year-long trip around the country in an RV or circumnavigating the world in a sailboat? Yes, storing your household items makes sense.
6. If you are experiencing family challenges. Death and divorce are emotionally exhausting, tumultuous ordeals. We often don’t make our best decisions when we’re still raw. Placing your stuff and/or inherited items until you’re ready to make good decisions about what’s next can save you from making a decision you’ll regret later.
When the idea for an article on self storage first came to me I was sure I was going to write an article with a very negative slant; that paying to store stuff is mostly a bad idea. But as I began composing the piece in my head I kept coming up with situations where it’s a good idea, or at least one that makes sense. Hence a series was born.
But don’t worry. Tomorrow’s article covers when it’s a bad idea. Check it out!