When it comes to renting a storage unit, you might imagine a small, empty room. Fairly straightforward. However, finding the right empty room comes with more considerations than its dimensions.

The kinds of material you’re storing, the level of security you need, the degree of accessibility you want, and how and where you get other necessities—like insurance—are all factors that will change from facility to facility and even unit to unit.

To get you started, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about finding the right storage facility.

What’s The Difference Between a Temperature-Controlled and Climate-Controlled Storage Unit?

Temperature- and climate-controlled storage units are very different. Temperature-controlled units have heat and air conditioning to regulate the temperature of the space. This becomes more important when storing items that are sensitive to temperature (e.g. plastic anything).

Climate-controlled units take it a step further to regulate the moisture in the air. This is particularly important in damper, wetter climates and will provide maximum environmental protection for your things. Anything susceptible to mold and rust would benefit from a climate-controlled unit if it’s being stored for the long haul.

The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, so if you’re specifically looking for humidity control, be sure to double-check with the property manager before settling on a unit.

Do I Need a Temperature-Controlled Storage Unit?

Temperature-controlled storage units can be an important feature in extreme climates. Heat can be particularly damaging considering many materials will melt if left to sit in high temperatures for too long. Things like plastic storage bins, electronics, and musical instruments are all items that shouldn’t be exposed to extreme temperatures.

When Should I Use Climate-Controlled Storage Units?

If you need to store things in an area with a wet climate for a long period of time, climate control can be an important factor when choosing a facility. Wet climates can cause mold to grow in furniture, appliances, and boxes. It may be worth the extra investment to keep expensive or sentimental items from being destroyed by choosing a climate-controlled unit or facility. Humidity can also do damage. Books, art, photos, and other delicate items that can be damaged by water exposure will hold up better in climate-controlled spaces.

How Much Do Climate-Controlled Storage Units Cost?

Different facilities will charge different amounts for climate-controlled units, so it’s best to do your research and shop around before deciding on a place if it’s a priority for you. On average, climate-controlled units will increase the monthly price by about 30 percent compared to traditional non-climate-controlled units; increases of anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent are common. If you’re storing items that are sensitive to heat or moisture, the additional cost upfront might save you from the larger costs of repairing or replacing expensive items in the future.

What Does a 10’ x 10’ Storage Unit Hold?

A 10′ x 10′ storage unit is approximately the size of a small bedroom. At 100 square feet to work with, these units can hold the contents of a small home or shed. Beds, TVs, couches, appliances, and most reasonably sized pieces of furniture can fit in a 10′ x 10′ unit. Along with your furniture, most of the other things that fit in a one- or two-bedroom home or apartment—like books, bedding, rugs, games, and other things you live with—will fit, too.

For larger pieces or larger collections of furniture (like those that fit into three- or four-bedroom homes), a 10′ x 15′ or 10′ x 20′ might be a better bet. Check out Sparefoot’s Complete Guide to Picking The Right Size Self-Storage Unit for more comprehensive size suggestions.

Do I Need Storage Unit Insurance?

Many storage facilities require some kind of insurance. However, plenty of facilities accept homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, and some sell insurance if you don’t already have it. Insurance is always a good idea to have to protect against loss and damage. No matter how secure the facility you choose is, no space—owned or rented—is safe against unforeseen disasters like floods and fires.

What Kinds of Security Features Do Storage Facilities Offer?

Security will be a big factor when selecting the ideal facility. Different facilities will offer unique combinations of features ranging from electric gates to always-on-duty security guards. On-site security cameras, unit alarms, and well-lit facilities are other features to look out for when deciding on a place to store your possessions safely. Some of these features will either be offered for every unit in a facility or not at all (like electric gates and security guards) while other features will be optional depending on the unit and price point that you choose (such as unit alarms).

How Important is 24/7 Access in a Storage Facility?

Depending on the kinds of items you’re storing and the reasons for storing them, 24/7 access can be an important feature to look for. Tools, business files, and vehicles might all be needed at a moment’s notice. Without all-day, every-day access, you can get into a frustrating situation fast.

Additionally, if you split your time between two or more residences, it can be safer (or necessary in the case of dorm rooms and short-term apartments) to keep your things in a storage facility when you’re not in the area. If you’re storing living supplies in a storage facility, 24/7 access will make moving more convenient when you get into town during off-hours. From bedding to kitchen supplies, there are some things you don’t want to have to wait for. Choosing a facility with anytime access avoids these kinds of complications.

How Can I Find Out if a Storage Facility is Reputable?

Reviews from current or past unit-renters are one of the best ways to get an idea of what kind of company it is that you’re looking to do business with. Reading about others’ experiences with a facility will help you determine if a place really is all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s also one of the most important steps to take when looking for a place to store your things. This is, after all, the company that could be responsible for protecting everything from expensive furniture to sentimental photo albums, depending on what you need to store. In reality, most of our possessions have a mix of both monetary and sentimental value, so finding a place that has a validated track record of protecting others’ valuables is a good indicator that your things will be in good hands, too.

How Can I Make the Most of The Space in my Storage Unit?

Stackable bins, portable shelving, and other space organizers can help make the most of a smaller unit by taking advantage of its height in addition to its width and length. Shelving can also help keep your unit organized for easy access to important items that you don’t want to get buried under boxes you’d need to dig through later.

Can I Store a Boat in a Storage Unit?

Not having the space to store a boat doesn’t mean you have to give it up. Many storage facilities offer a variety of boat storage options to keep your boat safe and in great condition between boating seasons. Many storage facilities have space for RVs as well.

Storing your boat in a storage facility can be a less costly option compared to keeping it at the marina, and a more protective option compared to leaving it exposed to the elements—either at the docks or in your yard. Storing your boat in the backyard or driveway, while more affordable in the short term, can run up expensive repair and maintenance bills down the road. Not to mention the space you’ll save by keeping it off-site.

How Can I Make Long-Term Storage Unit Rentals Affordable?

If you know you’re going to be using your storage unit for a long time, it might be worth talking to some storage property managers to see if you can negotiate a cheaper price upfront. If you’re looking to rent for the long haul, it’s important to be aware that unit prices may increase over time. Be sure to check the contract for notification policies for price changes to avoid unexpected costs in the future.

Samantha Bagby