Updated: February 28, 2023

When it comes to renting a self-storage unit, you might imagine it as a small, empty room. It’s fairly straightforward. However, finding the right empty room comes with more considerations than its dimensions.

The kind of items 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 self-storage unit or 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 storage 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 damp, wet 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 storage space that offers humidity control, be sure to double-check with the property manager before settling on a self-storage 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 storage 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 cost of repairing or replacing expensive items in the future.

What Is The Difference Between an Indoor Storage Unit And an Outdoor Storage Unit?

Indoor storage units are typically located within a building and offer protection from the elements, including extreme temperatures, moisture, and direct sunlight. They may have climate control features such as temperature and humidity regulation, which can be important for storing sensitive items like electronics, artwork, and furniture.

Outdoor storage units, on the other hand, are typically located in a fenced, open-air area and may be covered or uncovered. They offer easy access for large items like vehicles, boats, and RVs, but may not offer protection from the elements or pests. Outdoor units are generally less expensive than indoor units and are suitable for items that are not sensitive to temperature and humidity fluctuations.

What Are The Benefits of having a drive-up accessible storage unit

A storage unit with drive-up access provides numerous benefits, especially if you plan to store large, heavy, or bulky items. With drive-up access, you can park your vehicle directly in front of your unit, making it easy to load and unload your items without the need for carts or dollies. This convenience can save you time and energy, particularly if you need to make multiple trips.

Moreover, drive-up access allows you to transport items that may be too large or heavy to carry over long distances. You can park your vehicle right in front of your unit, which eliminates the need for long walks or the hassle of navigating through hallways or elevators.

Finally, storage units with drive-up access often have wider doors and higher ceilings, making it easier to store larger items such as appliances, furniture, and vehicles. This type of unit can be particularly beneficial if you plan to store items for an extended period, as it offers easy access whenever you need it.

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

A 10′ x 10′ storage unit is approximately the size of a small bedroom and 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 is that you choose, no space—owned or rented—is safe against unforeseen disasters like floods and fires.

What Kind 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-Hour Storage in a Self-Storage Facility?

Depending on the kind of items you’re storing and the reasons for storing them, 24-hour storage 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, everyday access, you can get into a frustrating situation fast. If you need to store inventory in a self-storage unit, you may want to check into business storage options. 

Additionally, if you split your time between two or more residences, it can be safer (or necessary for renters 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-hour storage 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 24-hour storage and drive-up 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.

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
Samantha Bagby grew up in California's sunny Central Coast and moved to Arizona in 2020 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. In her free time, Samantha loves learning new things, exploring new places, and enjoying the Arizona desert.