Self-service storage, also known as mini storage, is an industry that centers around the renting of storage units, which can be rooms, lockers, containers, or other such spaces, to tenants—either businesses or individuals—who need additional space to store merchandise or personal belongings. According to data collected by the Self Storage Association, an organization dedicated to promoting ethical business practices among member companies and providing industry-related information and educational resources, the self-storage industry has been one of the fastest-growing commercial real estate segments in the United States since 1984. Major credit rating agencies also project the industry will continue to grow in upcoming years, partly due to its ability to adapt to market changes as well as consumer demand. From a consumer perspective, rental units have become more popular due to downsizing trends in the housing industry and to newer generations seeking sustainable or minimalist homes.

Full-service storage is another type of storage solution that caters to individuals planning large or long-distance moves. Full-service storage providers arrange to pick up, transport, store, and deliver items for their customers, yet most do not include packing services or offer them at an additional cost. Full-service storage is ideal for those who lack the time or the means to transport their belongings to a storage facility and want to simplify the moving process. This type of storage solution tends to cost more than self-service storage but it includes features that self-service may have to factor in as additional expenses, such as renting a moving truck, hiring a moving crew, and transporting and unloading the items. Whether you opt for full-service or self-service storage should depend on your needs, as well as any physical limitations and time or financial constraints.

Regardless of type, storage spaces are an excellent option for individuals who are in the process of moving but are still carrying out renovations in their new property; business owners or contractors in need of additional room for merchandise or materials; people dealing with a separation, divorce, or the loss of a loved one and who cannot part with certain belongings as of yet; or those who are merely downsizing and need extra room for items they can't keep at home. Renting a storage unit can be a relatively inexpensive way to declutter your house and find a safe place to store artwork, instruments, vehicle, and other valuables intended for sale. Some have also found other, more creative uses for storage units, such as converting them into workshops, practice spaces, and even business headquarters. Whatever your storage needs, there's likely a storage unit that meets your exact requirements, whether its climate control or enough space to fit a recreational vehicle.

Most storage units are rented short-term on a month-to-month basis, which makes them a convenient option for those needing a temporary space to house their belongings. However, prospective renters should keep in mind certain considerations before signing an agreement. Again, self-service storage does not include moving costs, so the expense of hiring a crew or renting a moving truck must be factored in with the overall cost of renting. Also, keep in mind that, if you're moving long distance, you won't be able to check on your property as often, so it may be best to secure a unit that includes security features like 24/7 surveillance and gated access. If you're storing musical instruments, wooden furniture or any such items that may be sensitive to temperature fluctuations, consider opting for a temperature-controlled unit to ensure your property remains in the best condition. Finally, read your contract or agreement and make sure you can afford the storage unit you're renting. Some storage facilities take the belongings of clients who default on their payments and sell them in an auction. That isn't always the case, however, and some self-storage managers even allow their customers a grace period to catch up with rent payments.


Top 9 Companies

#1
Our Partner
9.7 / 10
  • The largest online storage marketplace in the United States
  • Find and compare storage facilities, read customer reviews, and book online
  • Full-service, self-service, and mobile container storage solutions 
  • College, car, boat, RV, wine, and military storage unit options 
  • BBB-accredited with an A+ rating and a 9.1 (excellent) Trustpilot score
#2
9.3 / 10
  • Thousand of locations across the US, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico
  • Well-lit, climate-controlled units and state-of-the-art security features
  • Custom tools to help you find the right unit size for your needs
  • Worry-free reservations and insurance options available
  • BBB-accredited with an A+ rating and a 9.4 (excellent) Trustpilot score
#3
9.1 / 10
  • Broad selection of air-conditioned, humidity and temperature-controlled units
  • Storage solutions for everything, from household items to vehicles and wine
  • Excellent customer benefits, like free moving truck usage for the first 25 miles
  • Enhanced security features include 24/7 digital surveillance and controlled access
  • Round-the-clock customer support and online payment options and reservations  
#4
8.6 / 10
  • Locations in 26 states, DC, and Puerto Rico
  • Wide variety of self-storage solutions 
  • Free online booking
  • $2,000 insurance coverage with Safeguard Program
  • Easy online payments
#5
8.4 / 10
  • Easy online rental process
  • First month free and no deposit
  • Stress-free automatic payments
  • Choose storage size from 20 to 301 sq. ft. and up
  • Total Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Find StorageMart Self Storage units near you online
#6
8.4 / 10
  • $10,000 complimentary protection plan for long-distance moves
  • Portable and weatherproof storage containers for business and residential use
  • Local, long-distance, and military relocations and nationwide secure storage
  • Standard containers convert into on-site environmental remediation units
  • 24-hour delivery of up to 15 containers for restoration customers
#7
8.2 / 10
  • Hundreds of locations in 33 states
  • Multiple sizes for personal and vehicle storage
  • Military discount available
  • 24/7 video surveillance at most locations
#8
7.8 / 10
  • Climate-controlled units for business and personal use
  • Convenient access hours and free online reservations
  • Multiple unit sizes to choose from
  • No long-term commitment
  • Extensive coverage area
#9
7.6 / 10
  • Convenient self-storage solutions for individuals and businesses
  • Store household furniture, business inventory, boats, and RVs
  • Temperature-controlled units and enhanced security systems
  • Purchase moving and packing supplies
  • Labor and moving services available for an additional cost
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How We Compare Storage Units

Services

35%

The storage unit industry is booming in the United States, with one in ten households currently leasing space from a storage unit facility. The abundance of storage units in the market can make shopping for the right company a daunting task. To assist consumers, we have evaluated companies on a series of service-related factors, including which states they operate in, as well as which types of units are available for rent, including mobile storage containers; self-storage units for car, boat, and RV storage; units for business use; units for students; and even wine storage. To help consumers assess which company is right for them according to the unit size they need, we also evaluated which unit sizes are offered by each company offers. We also looked at the availability of interior or exterior units and climate-controlled units. Moving belongings to a storage unit can be stressful, so we also judged companies on whether they offered other services, such as 24-hour access, moving services, moving supplies, and office space availability. Because figuring out how much space is needed is an important cost-saving factor, we also looked at whether companies offer storage calcluators or storage unit size guides on their websites.

Unit Location

Storage units that are located outside usually have drive-up access, which means renters can drive to the unit and may be able to back the car up to the unit to facilitate the unloading of items. Indoor units are accessed by elevator and involve navigating long, often narrow hallways, which may make the storage of very large items uncomfortable.

Climate-Controlled Units

Climate-controlled units may have air conditioning or heating, as well as dehumidification capabilities. Some units may even allow renters to regulate the temperature of their units separately from the rest of the facility.

24-Hour Access

24-hour access to your storage unit is important for people who may need to retrieve items in the middle of the night, such as business owners who store inventory.

Storage Calculator

Some self-service storage providers offer storage calculators to help users determine their storage needs. Most calculators of this sort ask the user to select items from a sample list. The calculator then estimates the size of the storage unit that can house said items and its price range.

Storage Unit Size Guide

Some self-storage providers offer helpful visual aids or guides to help prospective customers determine the size of the unit that can house their belongings.


Pricing

25%

Self-storage facilities can be costly and so pricing is definitely important in considering what company you choose. Renting one of the most popular-sized storage spaces, a 10' x 10' unit, can cost you approximately $2,000 a year, possibly more if you live in an area where rental rates are higher, like in New York or Los Angeles. Saving money is critical. Therefore, we evaluated companies on their pricing for self-storage units, vehicle storage units, and pricing based on rental terms. We also took into account whether companies offer cost-saving discounts, promotions, or referral programs. Finally, we researched companies to see if they offered free online quotes, which can save you time during your company search process, and on which payment options are available for online rent payments.

Self Storage Metro Price

For the purposes of more accurate comparison, the self-storage price reflects the cost charged for a 10' x 10' self-service storage unit intended to house everyday items of a variety of sizes. These items do not include motor vehicles.

Vehicle Storage Metro Price

For the purposes of more accurate comparison, the vehicle storage price reflects the cost of a self-service storage unit intended to house a compact car. However, various types of motor vehicles and watercraft, including cars, motorcycles, RVs, snowmobiles, boats, jet skis, etc., may be stored in these units, depending on the size.


Facility Features

25%

Whatever the reason for storing your belongings with a storage unit company, you want to have peace of mind that your items are safe and secure. In other words, you don't even want to think about your stored belongings during your move, home renovation, or while you are overseas. For that reason, we judged storage unit companies on the types of safety features they have at their facilities. Security features vary greatly between companies so be sure to determine which ones are most important to you and if a company offers those features. Among the key safety features we evaluated are on-site manager, gated access, keypad entry, lighting, fencing, interior and exterior video cameras, and whether the company offers new customers a free lock. Another critical facility feature is accessibility. The ease of loading and unloading your belongings, as well as getting to them when you need to during your rental period, is an important feature of a storage unit company's facility. We judged on accessibility features including elevator, loading dock, and drive-up access.

 


Company Reputation

15%

A company's reputation is very important when deciding which storage unit company you choose. To evaluate their reputation, we took into account their rating with the Better Business Bureau, as well as the number of positive and negative customer reviews posted on the BBB's company's profile. We also looked into their rating with TrustPilot.com. Finally, we searched for previous consumer litigation and regulatory actions taken against the companies by local, state, and federal governments. We also looked to see if the company is affiliated with any state or national self-storage associations or if it holds a Certified Self Storage Manager Association Certification.

BBB Rating

The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization that collects customer complaints and reviews and ranks businesses according to a grading system.

Number of BBB Positive Reviews

Number of BBB Negative Reviews

Trust Pilot Rating

TrustPilot is an online review community, in which consumers share their experiences with services and products. The website also provides a score, which gives a measure of average overall satisfaction.

CSSM Certification

The Certified Self Storage Management (CSSA) Certification Program is offered by the Self Storage Association (SSA), which attempts to set a standard for the industry through a code of ethics and a membership that guarantees access to continued education.

Date Collected

Litigation & Regulatory Actions

Litigation and regulatory actions refer to legal actions taken by government agencies, individuals or other institutions against a given company for such reasons as a breach of contract, misrepresentation, misleading statement, omission of material facts, etc.


What's important to know about Storage Units?


How much does a standard self-storage unit cost?

The cost of a self-storage unit will depend on the particular features of the unit, including its size and location within the facility. The smallest self-storage units can range from $30 to $150 a month, while large storage units can cost twice as much. The price will usually increase if the unit is climate-controlled, if the facility is located in a major metropolitan area, and if the unit is located on the facility's ground floor. If you choose renters' insurance or if your state requires it, the premium will be charged separately from the rent and will vary depending on the coverage selected. Administrative fees charged by the facility may also apply.

What happens with my stuff if I can't pay?

Defaulting on your storage rent payments does not necessarily mean you will lose your belongings in an auction. Depending on the state in which it's located, the storage facility may have to wait 30 days before placing a lien on your unit. If you do not pay your rent during this period, the company will break your lock and put its own lock on the unit. Since storage auctions are not particularly profitable to the storage facility, they will make every effort to get in touch with you and recover the rent owed. After 60 to 90 days, depending on state laws, the company will auction off your unit and everything inside. Generally, you have until the day before the auction to pay back what you owe. Otherwise, the lot will be sold to the highest bidder.

Once the auction takes place, the default could go on your credit history, which would affect your credit score and your ability to obtain credit in the future. Some storage facility administrators may be willing to give your information to the winning bidder so they can return important belongings--like legal documents and medical files--but this is not required by law. If you think you won't be able to pay the monthly rent for your storage unit, speak with the facility manager to work out a solution; perhaps you could move your things to a smaller unit or remove your items from storage as soon as possible to avoid losing them.

Do I need insurance for my storage unit?

You don't necessarily need separate insurance for your storage unit. While it's true that storage unit facilities are not responsible for any damages the things you store on their premises suffer, most renters' and homeowners' insurance policies already include a personal property coverage. This coverage protects your belongings from losses caused by fire, lightning, smoke, vandalism, and theft, even if they are located in a self-storage unit outside your home. Make sure the replacement cost or actual cash value of your items is accurately reflected in your policy, and that any high-priced items like expensive sports equipment, antiques, or jewelry are included in your personal property coverage.


Some storage facilities require proof of insurance, but most don't. Nevertheless, if the things you are storing have monetary or sentimental value, an insurance policy may be a good idea. If you don't already have a renters' or homeowners' insurance, you may consider purchasing a policy that will cover your home as well as your stored items. If you're only interested in covering the things in the storage unit, then you may ask if the storage unit facility offers storage insurance. This feature is not available in all states since a license is required to sell insurance. But, as of 2014, storage facilities in 16 states were able to get a license to sell storage insurance policies to its tenants. These include Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Before buying storage insurance, read the terms of the agreement thoroughly to make sure the policy covers all your valuables.

What are the different storage unit sizes?

The smallest units are usually 5x5 (all sizes in feet). That's about the size of a walk-in closet and is ideal for people who want to store seasonal decorations and free up garage space. A medium-sized unit may measure 10x10, or 100 square feet, which is enough to fit the contents of a small apartment. These units are perfect for people who are moving out or renovating and need a space to store their belongings while their new place is ready. A medium-sized unit measuring 10x15 could fit one compact car or several motorcycles and have space left over for some boxes. Larger units may measure 10x20 or even 20x20, enough to fit a large truck and the contents of a medium-sized home. Businesspeople and entrepreneurs looking to store materials or merchandise may look into one of these supersized units for their commercial storage needs. To get an idea of what size of storage unit you need, look for a storage calculator on the website of many of the companies we have reviewed.

Can I get a military or student discount?

If you are a military member or veteran, you can receive a military discount from storage companies that want to show appreciation for your service. You may be asked to show your military identification to obtain a discounted rate.


If you are a student, a common problem you may face when heading home for summer break is what to do with your stuff. For that reason, storage companies in your area may be willing to offer you a student rate. We recommend that you ask for a 10% discount at the very least.


If a military or student discount is not listed on a company’s website, be sure to ask about either before making your storage unit reservation, they may offer them but haven't yet updated the information on their site.

Can I store my vehicle (car, boat, RV)?

If you do not have extra storage space at home for your classic car, boat or RV, leasing a space from a self-storage facility can be a wise choice. Two key factors to consider are the proximity of the facility to your home and their hours of operation including 24/7, 365-day access. You never know when you may want to use your vehicle.

Not all storage facilities offer vehicle storage so you will want to shop around. Look for storage facilities that provide ample, climate-controlled, well-secured indoor storage space (especially for your car) that will protect your vehicle from outside elements and theft. If a facility does not offer indoor vehicle storage, check if the facility has outdoor covered spaces or parking spaces for your boat or RV.

What types of storage units are there?

Both full-service and self-storage companies offer different kinds of storage solutions to meet your short or long-term storage needs. The types of storage units available include household, vehicle (car, boat, RV), business, student, and wine storage. Not all companies offer all of these services so you will want to do your research to find the storage facility that has the kind of storage space you are looking for. Shop around and take your time. You only want to pay for the amount and type of space you need.