Should I Pay for a Storage Unit?
The short answer is maybe. If you need one, it’s estimated there are between 44 – 52,000 facilities in the country for you to store your things. Approximately 9% of households rent a storage unit costing an average of $91/month. (Sparefoot)
Paying for storage is a growing trend and can cause your household budget to be in the red. However, before I go further, I am not against renting storage units as long as there is for a good reason and the numbers make sense.
Anything you own must have a place to live
Owning anything – books, clothes, furniture, cars – requires a place for it to live. Books usually sit on a bookshelf. Clothes are hung in a closet or placed in drawer. Furniture is placed in a room. Cars need to be parked in a garage, on a driveway, parking lot, or on the street. Even if you don’t have room for an item, then it resides on your kitchen counter, your dining room table, the floor next your bed.
Consider your home is a limited amount of square feet. It costs money per square foot to own or rent. Not only are paying rent or a mortgage, you have to clean it, heat it, and cool it.
6 Reasons to Rent a Storage Unit
These are not listed in any particular order:
- Divorce or new marriage and need time to combine or reduce your household belongings.
- Fire, flood, or other natural disaster where you need to store your belongings that were unaffected while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
- Renovating your home.
- Job related:
- Change in your job and you need to move, but don’t have a place yet.
- Working at a temporary location and have moved out of your home, but don’t want to sell your belongings.
- Loss of a job and are in the process of relocating.
- College student who has a full apartment worth of items that need to be stored between sessions.
- Downsized and now require a place to store seasonal items.
Before Renting a Storage Unit
Like all financial decisions, you need to think about how renting a storage unit will impact your personal budget. You should have a prepared a personal income and expense statement to be clear about whether you can afford to rent a storage unit.
You need to decide what you will be storing, for how long, and how large or small of space will you require. Be aware: Once you decide to rent a space, there is a lack of inertia and you may find you are keeping it longer than you had planned. So, consider the decision to rent a storage space very carefully. Often it’s easier to pay the monthly fee than it is to clear it out or move to a smaller less expensive space.
Consider the Cost of Replacement vs Storing
You may be thinking of spending money on items that are not worth it. For example, while a couch is expensive, is it really worth paying $50/month? After 6 months that $500 couch has now cost you $800. Can you live without it? Owning less can be freeing and reduces stress.
You can’t replace it but you have never used it
This will work best for large items that require a larger storage space. Think – your grandmother’s curio cabinet or the set of china you have been keeping in a box for the past 25 years of your marriage. Now might be the time to part ways.
Consider the cost of moving the items
It may not cost you anything to move the items into your storage unit, per se. Even if you use your own vehicle, it still costs gas and your time. You may need to hire movers and or a truck. Don’t forget your friends who will do it for free but you still need to pay them in some manner. Pizza and beer, while inexpensive, still needs to be included when determining the cost.
How long do you intend to rent?
You need to have the exit plan in place before you sign the lease. Decide ahead of time how long you are planning to rent. If you are unsure, revisit it every 3 – 6 months. Don’t spend money renting a storage unit that is not worth it. If you see yourself getting stuck before you sign the lease, then don’t rent the unit. Figure out another way to store your extra things or perhaps donate and/or sell them.
Use the space wisely
Once you have decided that a storage unit is a good use of your money, then use the space wisely. Storage units come in all sizes. Spaces can be indoors, outdoors, or climate controlled. Only rent what you need and use the space allotted to the best of your ability. No need to pay for a larger unit than necessary.
It is not always bad to rent a storage unit. Like all financial decisions, you need to make sure it makes sense for you before signing the lease. It can be great way to address a temporary situation.
Have you used a storage unit and what was the reason? What lessons did you learn from renting it?