Stuff. We all have it. But we don’t always have enough room for it. This is why we have storage.
But we’re not talking about your parents’ garage here. Real storage solutions aren’t free. So, whether you’re shelving your extra appliances because you’re moving in with your partner, storing furniture during a remodel, or just keeping that collection of avant-garde jazz vinyl in a safe place, you’re going to have to pay for it.
But before you rent a storage container or unit, make sure you’re paying the right price and getting the right service. We’ll help you figure it all out.
Types of storage
Before we start talking about dollars and cents, let’s go over the two main types of storage.
Self-storage is probably what you picture when you think of a classic “storage unit.”
Self-storage facilities come in two main styles: there are outdoor, drive-up units that are arranged in a row and then there are large buildings with many indoor units that can be climate controlled.
In both kinds of facilities you have to bring your stuff to the location and load it into storage there.
Portable storage companies, like PODS, can drop off a storage container at your home. You can load the container there, taking as much time as you need, either by yourself or with hired help.
Once the container is loaded, you can keep it at your house for convenient 24-hour access, have it taken to a secure storage facility, or have it delivered to a new location — or a combination scenario.
Now let’s take a closer look at the costs associated with these two types of storage.
Average Cost of self-storage units
Have you ever gone out to eat with a bunch of friends and picked up the tab? If so, you probably realize that a few $10 dishes can start to add up really fast when you calculate the tax, drinks, sides, and tip. Adding up your self storage costs can be a similar process.
The base cost to rent a self-storage unit varies by size, but it’s generally pretty reasonable. For example, the national average price for a basic 10-foot by 15-foot storage unit is $132.97, according to the 2020 Self-Storage Almanac. Keeping in mind that rates can vary significantly depending on your city and the season when you start storing, here’s a look at the average pricing for the most popular sized units.
Average self-storage unit costs
|Size of Unit||Monthly Cost to Rent|
(without climate control)*
|Monthly Cost to Rent|
(with climate control)*
|5’ x 10’||$67.94||$84.46|
|10’ x 10’||$107.11||$132.66|
|10’ x 15’||$132.97||$173.32|
|10’ x 20’||$156.41||$222.49|
But storage costs can add up quickly. For instance, according to research by the Self-Storage Almanac, about 29% of those renting storage also rent a moving truck to cart their stuff to and from the unit. That’s another $100, easily, plus some not-so-fun truck driving.
Your storage costs will also go up if you opt for climate control, extra security, expensive locks, or insurance.
|Not sure how much storage space you want? Our handy storage space guide will help you figure out just how many square feet you need.|
That’s the rundown for self-storage unit costs. But how much does storage cost with PODS containers?
PODS storage costs
If you’re not too keen on the idea of driving a rental truck with all your stuff to a storage facility, then you can get a storage container delivered right to your door. It’s kind of like ordering a pizza, but the box is a lot bigger.
Here’s a look at the average monthly storage costs when you use PODS. Just like with self-storage, PODS rates can vary quite a bit based on your city and the season. For a detailed quote for your specific storage project, visit PODS or call 877-350-7637.
Average PODS storage costs*
Monthly Container Rental**
(on-site on your driveway or property)
|Monthly Container Rental**|
(PODS Storage Center)
You can also factor in the extra savings that come with having a container delivered to your door: no rental truck fee, no driving to the facility, and no rushing your loading and unloading.
Now that you know the PODS storage costs and traditional storage unit costs, how do you figure out which one is right for you?
Getting the best value
It’s great to have a general idea of what storage costs so you don’t get ripped off. But every situation is different, so you’ll need to do some homework to find the monthly storage costs in your area (you can usually get a quote online).
While you’re looking for the best deal, it’s important to focus on the storage features that matter most to you. Here are some factors to consider:
Location and convenience
If you live in a dense urban area, finding enough space for your stuff can feel like a full time job. In the city, as in Star Trek, space is “the final frontier.” This also means it can be hard to find a good storage facility. For example, storage costs will also be considerably higher in L.A. than in Peoria, Illinois.
This makes the convenience of having a storage container delivered to you hard to beat (as long as there’s space in your driveway or property). Your storage costs may end up being a bit higher than with self-storage, but it sure beats driving a U-Haul through city traffic.
And while it may be easier to find a good storage facility in the suburbs, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Portable storage containers can be left in your driveway for a month or longer, allowing you to move things in and out at your leisure. It’s kind of like having an extra garage or room in your house.
There’s a big difference between storing stuff for a few weeks and storing it for a few years. Some storage facilities actually require a minimum rental period, like three months. Others will give you a discount if you store your stuff for longer. Be sure to ask about each company’s policies.
Storage costs tend to be higher from May through September, because that’s the busy season for moving, which is a big part of the overall storage market. If you have any flexibility with your own schedule, you can usually save on storage costs from October through April.
When storage is part of a move
If you’re getting storage because you’re moving to a new house, then portable containers are a fantastic option. You can shave off a lot of work and money with portable storage because you only have to load and unload your things once.
Think about it: You load your stuff into containers at your current residence, have it taken to storage while you work on the moving logistics — or renovation — and then have it delivered to your new home. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
You can even split your stuff into multiple containers: one to go into storage while you replace the old carpeting with new floors, one to go to your daughter’s home with all that stuff she left at your old house, and another one with essential items that you need to have delivered immediately.
Your precious belongings will always be safe in a secure facility. Well, almost always. There’s always a random chance of flooding, fires, theft, and other disasters. So, insurance is important to consider.
If you have homeowners or renters insurance, this may meet the requirement. However, you may want to purchase more coverage based on the value of your belongings. Storage companies offer multiple insurance options.
Climate control is kind of like kale. It’s a bit overrated (shots fired!). Most people don’t really need strict climate control for their stuff, and there’s no firm industry standard definition of what climate control even means.
But, if you’re collecting a bunch of priceless artwork or storing a collection of ancient, one-of-a-kind texts, then you should probably put them in a climate- and humidity-controlled environment (or maybe just give them to a museum).
It’s important to put a good lock on your storage unit or container. But the security shouldn’t end there. Be sure to ask the companies you’re considering what kind of gates, alarms, and video security systems they have in place.
Finally, you’ll want to consider service. The last thing you want to deal with when you’re trying to take care of your valuable possessions is some grumpy employee who seems to enjoy making your life harder. Read online reviews to see what other people have said about each company and, of course, trust your gut!
Making the choice
Hopefully this guide to storage costs has helped give you an idea about how to go about comparing storage costs and types of storage. Not sure what type of boxes are best to use for storage? Get tips with Choosing the Right Boxes for Storage.
Easton Smith works as a freelance writer and researcher, reviewing technology trends and the moving industry. He moved all around the continent, from New York to California, before landing back in his hometown of Salt Lake City.