How to Choose the Best Self-Storage Companies

Finding the perfect self-storage unit for your needs may not be as seamless as you’d like. And, if you’re moving on top of that, the whole task might seem overwhelming. What size of a self-storage unit do you need? Should you get a climate-controlled unit? How do you go about packing it? What about security?

How to find the right self-storage company for your specific needs

There are several factors to consider when you’re looking for the best self-storage company.

Type of storage. This, of course, depends on what you need to store. You’ll want an indoor unit for furniture and clothing, to keep them away from the elements. But if you’re storing an RV, an outdoor space should be sufficient.

Size of storage. There’s a wide range of options, from the size of a locker or a small closet to gigantic, warehouse-style storage spaces. Don’t pay for more space than you need. Most self-storage companies have size guides on their websites and can also guide you over the phone.

Climate control. Many units are temperature and humidity-controlled to preserve your more delicate and valuable belongings like art, antiques, wine, and so on.

Accessibility. Not all facilities are accessible 24/7, although that’s definitely a perk. Some will only allow access during business hours and won’t be open on major holidays.

Security protocol. Is the company transparent about its security measures? Are there multiple points of entry? Alarms? Is there in-person surveillance on-site? Video monitoring? Do the locks inspire confidence? Is it well lit? Does the facility feel safe and secure?

Pricing, contracts offered, and deals. Some companies have month-to-month contracts, which are ideal if you’re not ready to commit or just need a unit for a short term. And many offer discounts as a sign-on perk or after you refer someone.

The bottom line

There are countless self-storage options, from a simple storage locker to units big enough to pack a five-bedroom house. Your best option is to find a self-storage company near you with the most amenities and features, and an up-to-date security system. Extras like the free use of dollies and moving supplies available for purchase on-site don’t hurt either. The companies above check off all these marks, which puts them above their competition.

How to find the right self-storage company for your specific needs


  • What types of storage facilities are available?
    There are indoor and outdoor options to meet many needs. Outdoor units are well suited for vehicles and other durable items that can be exposed to the elements, while indoor units in many sizes can store your other belongings. Any delicate items can be stored in a climate- and humidity-controlled unit. And specialty storage can be used for large items like boats and dedicated wine storage.
  • When do I need climate-controlled storage?
    Climate-controlled units are heated in the winter and have AC on in the hot months. They are also regulated for humidity levels. Any belongings that can be damaged by the heat, freezing temps or moisture should be stored in a climate-controlled unit. This applies to any valuables like art, antiques and fine wine.
  • What is the difference between full-service storage and self-storage?
    Full-service storage means that in addition to storing your stuff, the company will pack and move it too. Self-storage implies that you move your things to the unit by yourself.
  • How far in advance do I need to book a storage unit?
    It depends on the company you’re booking from. Some require between a week’s and a 30 days’ notice; others offer contactless online booking with an immediate move-in available. Check out our Self-Storage Checklist to follow the suggested timeline or to create your own.
  • How much is a monthly storage unit?
    As our self-storage pricing comparison table demonstrates, the average monthly rent on a small unit (5 x 5, 5 x 10 ft) runs between $50 and $110, the medium unit is about $250 (10 x 10, 15 x 15 ft), and the large unit averages $160 and $430 (10 x 20, 10 x 30 ft). Keep in mind that prices can vary greatly by location, the type and size of the unit, and any amenities you want. Units with temperature-controlled features and drive-up or ground-level access, for example, tend to be more expensive. Compare local self-storage facilities and costs.
  • Are there any fees besides the monthly storage fees?
    Yes, but not always. Those could include admin fees and deposit fees, but some self-storage moving companies waive them to attract more customers.
  • Where can I find discounts on self-storage?
    Look for the referral and sign-on deals on the company website, or call customer service.
    Where can I find discounts on self-storage?
  • How can I save money on self-storage?
    Look for the deals and discounts on the company website, or ask a representative. Organize your belongings the best you can, pack as efficiently as possible to fit neatly into the unit, and downsize before moving them into the unit. You can also find the smallest storage unit you can get away with or share the space with someone you trust.
  • What storage company has the most locations?
    Public Storage is the largest owner and operator of self-storage facilities in the world.
  • Can you store a car in a storage unit?
    Yes, most facilities can accommodate cars, vans, boats, RVs and motorcycles. You will typically have the option of both indoor and outdoor storage.
  • What safety features should I look for?
    There isn’t one single most important storage unit security feature, so we recommend that you look for any combination that you will be comfortable with, such as alarmed units, video surveillance, gated access, a well-lit facility, modern and sturdy locks, in-person monitoring on-premises, and so on.
  • What does 24-hour access mean?
    It means you can access your storage unit at any time of the day or night. Some companies only allow access during business hours, for example, from 8 am till 6 pm.
  • How do I find a 24-hour storage unit?
    That’s easy! Companies with thousands of locations across the country, offer 24/7 access. Contact a location near you to see if any units have 24-hour storage access.
  • What can fit in a small self-storage unit?
    A 5 x 8-foot unit is a great size for storing boxes, small furniture and home decor like lamps and end tables, plus sports gear. It will fit about 35 file boxes if you are interested in business storage. The next small size, a 5 x 10-foot storage unit will fit the contents of one room.
    What can fit in a small self-storage unit?
  • What can fit in a medium self-storage unit?
    You can fit the contents of a 1-bedroom apartment or a small office in a 10 x 10-foot storage unit and a two-bedroom apartment will fit into a 10 x 15-foot storage unit.
  • What can fit in a large self-storage unit?
    A 10 x 20-foot storage unit can fit the contents of a multi-room house, including king-size bedroom sets. Choose a 10 x 30-foot storage unit if you have a four- or five-bedroom house. It will also fit vehicles and large appliances.
  • Is it cheaper to rent a moving container or a storage unit?
    Pricing can vary from service to service, but generally speaking, it’s cheaper to rent a self-storage unit than a portable moving container. However, the length of time you need the storage for and whether you need access to the stored goods are the deciding factor. In the long run, and if you don’t access what you’re storing, renting a moving container is more cost-effective. Plus, you can move the container but not the self-storage unit. On the other hand, self-storage units come with more storage options, security systems, live office support, and more.
  • How long can I rent a storage unit?
    In most cases, pretty much indefinitely, for as long as you need it. Some storage companies offer month-to-month contracts, so you can always get out whenever you want; others may have a three-month minimum. When you’re ready to clear out, check the company rules regarding when you must give notice to avoid being charged for the next month.
  • Should I get insurance for the stored belongings?
    We do recommend that you get insurance. While the self-storage companies do their best to protect your stored things, damage, loss and theft do happen. It will give you peace of mind at the very least, especially if you are storing valuables. Good news, some self-storage companies offer free or affordable protection against loss and damage. For example, Simply Self Storage offers all its customers $2,000 in insurance coverage. Other companies don’t offer insurance but require it.

    Before buying insurance for your stored belongings, find out if they are already covered by your homeowners or renters insurance. “Insurance coverage for belongings in a storage unit is typically provided by the ‘off-premises’ personal property coverage in a homeowners policy. Generally, the coverage limit on personal property coverage is up to 50 percent of the policy’s dwelling coverage limit”, says the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners). Of course, coverage varies, so please contact your insurance provider.

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Our top five self-storage companies have been thoroughly vetted and researched. When assessing and comparing self-storage companies we looked at a number of key factors (in alpha order, below), including:

  • Accessibility
  • Accreditations
  • Affordable prices
  • Amenities
  • Climate-controlled options
  • Customer service
  • Number of locations
  • Overall customer reviews and experience
  • Price transparency
  • Security system
  • Services offered

We’ve found that these five companies have services and qualities that set them apart from the competition, such as a large number of locations, 24/7 accessibility, transparent pricing, excellent customer service, positive reviews, top-notch security, and more.

How to Choose the Best Self-Storage Companies
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