If you’ve never rented a storage unit before, you might not know where to start. Do you find one closest to you? Look for the cheapest one? The most expensive one? One with temperature control? Plus, how big should it be? What can I store there?

So many questions!

To help you out, here’s our guide to assist you in selecting the best storage unit for your needs.

First, ask yourself why you want to rent a storage unit. Are you moving and need a place for your stuff? Are you going to store small items or large items, like furniture? Do you just want to free up some extra space in your house? Are you doing home renovations? Will it be long-term or short-term? Once you figure all of that out, you’re ready to take the next step: finding the write storage space for you.

While the cost and how it will fit into your budget are important, these are the five things you should find out before you rent.

1. Self-service vs. full-service

Self-service is exactly that – you load up your stuff, haul it to the storage facility, and unload it yourself. You get your own key and have the freedom to access the unit when you like (depending on company policy).

Full-service storage companies will come to your location to pick up your stuff and take it to the unit. You’ll be able to access your unit, just not anytime you want. You have to make an appointment or come during their open hours. Before you think full-service might be too expensive, check into it first. It may be more affordable than you think. Or it may be well worth it for the convenience and lack of headaches … and back aches from all that lifting.

Shop around online to see if you can find special deals. Some companies may offer a free month, military or other discounts

2. Safety and security

Here are things to find out about regarding the security of your items and your own safety when visiting. Does each unit have its own alarm? Is there a video surveillance system? Is there a gated fence surrounding the property? Do you feel comfortable at the company’s location? How well lit is the property? What are the company’s hours? Is there a security guard on site.

Ask to take a tour of the site so you can see for yourself and ask all of your questions.

3. Unit size

5′ x 5′ … 6′ x 10′ … 10′ x 10′ … 10′ x 24′ … Which size is best for you?

You don’t want to under- or over-estimate the size of space you need, so it’s best to ask the experts for their advice. Make a list ahead of time of what you plan to store, then ask someone with the storage company to recommend the proper size for you.

You may also be wondering if they store vehicles. If so, how are they stored (inside or outside)? What kind of vehicles to they allow? Cars, motorcycles, trucks, boats, jet skis, RVs, etc. Also, what do you need to provide (registration, title, etc.)?

Tabby cat in a moving box looking out of a large rectangle cut out of the side
NOPE. It doesn’t matter how naughty Mr. Fidgets has been, you just CAN’T store him away. NOPE.

4. Storable and non-storable

What items can you put in a storage unit?

The usual suspects are things like furniture, clothing, musical instruments, paperwork, collectible items (comic books, record albums, etc.), antiques, rugs, bicycles,

Keep in mind, certain items you have may require climate control. Make sure they have it if you need it. Without climate control, your items may suffer from mildew or mold.

Now to what you can’t put in a storage unit.

Never store food. Not even dry goods. Why? Think rodents, insects, mold, bacteria, etc. Eat your food, don’t pack it away across town.

Anything that’s alive. This should go without saying. But just in case: NO pets, plants, or people. Whether it’s your favorite ficus, Henry’s hamster, or ornery Aunt Opal, they do not go into storage.

Your most-prized possessions. Even if you’re planning to store them in the most secure unit in town, keep your important valuables with you. These can include expensive items as well as items with sentimental value.

No guns or hazardous materials. Moving.Tips has a full list of restricted items, so check that out. Guns may be stored in gun shops but cannot be stored here.

5. Insurance and fees

Insurance is most likely to be required at any storage company. Check with your current car and homeowner’s insurance company to find out the rates. Some give you the option to get an insurance policy through them if you haven’t taken care of that yet.

Make sure you find out if there are extra fees involved. Many companies have an administrative fee (averages around $15).


If you’d like more information on the San Fernando Valley or Los Angeles, or to have help looking for your next home, please feel free to reach out! I’m happy to help, no obligation.

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