Self Storage Part 1 – When Paying to Store Your Stuff Is a Good Idea

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!


6 Responses to “Self Storage Part 1 – When Paying to Store Your Stuff Is a Good Idea”

  1. Emily Says:

    We’re going to be squeezing all our stuff into another room when we get going on the end of our renovation. I just can’t justify storage – and I hope the lack of space inspires me to get rid of more stuff. It’s really hard here in Florida though with no basements and we have no garage too. Bah.

  2. Patty Says:

    Makes sense to me. We have only rented one once, before J and I got married, he hauled 90% of our stuff to Florida when the govt paid for the move, then put it in storage while he lived in the dorm the 4 months before we got married.

  3. jillbeth Says:

    Great article; I’ll be watching for the rest of the series! Self-storage can also be an option for small businesses who lack sufficient storage space for inventory or equipment.

  4. Self Storage Part 2 - When Paying to Store Your Stuff Is a Bad Idea « Are You Going To Be This Way The Rest of The Time I Know You? Says:

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  6. kim Says:

    Why I got a storage unit and why it’s the best solution for me.

    I live in Houston Texas. Land of no basements, no attics. Homeowners associations that won’t let you put up a shed. Land of concrete slabs. I am not a hoarder.

    I own a small three bedroom home in Katy, Texas. It’s paid for. I rent out the small 2 bedrooms and bath to a roommate for 400 a month. (The roommate suite). This pays for the property taxes, insurance and miscellaneous annual expenses related to the house.

    In my “paid for” home, this leaves the remaining master bedroom/bath, the living area, and the kitchen – essentially a one bedroom apartment, for my space.

    Clutter drives me crazy.

    The garage is full of tools and garden implements. There is no room in this house for SCA/renaissance faire stuff and equipment, Christmas stuff, Christmas tree, seasonal clothes and seasonal stuff, home decorations rotated out/in, and furniture that is used to furnish the rented rooms if the current roommate doesn’t need the furniture. I store my sewing, craft stuff, and fabric there. I am in the unit at least once a week to pull stuff or to return stuff.

    I consider the room “moving prevention”. The house is paid for. Why move? I consider the 100 a month or 1200 a year a worthwhile cost in keeping my home neat and clutter free. I consider it my craft room.

    — and it is wonderful not to trip over stuff in the garage. totally worth it.

    There is a lot of shame “out there” associated with needed to rent storage space. I’m not going to buy into this. I am glad I did it.

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