Man taking boxes out of an outdoor storage unit

Renting a Storage Unit and How to Choose the Right Type

Renting a storage unit is a common practice whether you own or rent your home. In fact, 10% of households use rental storage options, and it’s estimated that the storage industry generates $39 billion each year. There are a variety of reasons you may decide to rent a storage unit. But determining what type of unit meets your needs might be a challenge. If this is your first experience renting a storage unit, you might be surprised to find there are a variety of facilities and units to choose from. To find the best type of storage unit for your situation, read this guide. It will help you learn about specific unit options with consideration to what you’re storing and how long you expect to keep your belongings in storage.

Types of Storage Facilities

Before choosing the type of storage unit you need, it’s a good idea to decide what type of storage facility you’re most comfortable with. There are two main types of storage facilities, and both have a variety of options for renters. Compare the benefits of full-service storage vs. self-storage to decide what type of facility best suits your style for renting a storage unit.

Full-Service Storage

Full-service storage takes a lot of the work off your hands and can be a valuable asset if you don’t have the resources to move your own belongings. A full-service storage facility will pick up your belongings and take care of all the details of storing them for you. You can schedule pick-up and drop-off times. Also, many of these facilities create an inventory of your belongings with photos. With this option, you’ll likely be able to take care of all your storage details and access your inventory list from your smartphone.


Self-storage puts you in charge of moving, documenting, and storing your belongings in a secure rental unit. This is the most widely available and most popular method of storage. A self-storage unit provides you with an affordable space to store your belongings if you don’t mind taking care of all the work. When you choose a self-storage facility, you’re responsible for delivering, documenting, and picking up your own belongings.

Need a self-storage solution without the high cost? Find cheap self-storage units near you.

How to choose between full-service vs. self-storage units

Most often, your personal situation will dictate your storage choices. Self-storage provides the most affordable option and the ability to do everything at your own convenience. For most individuals with easy access to a vehicle, this is the obvious choice. Still, for some people, the benefits of full-service storage go a long way. Residents in urban areas often depend on public transportation and live in high-rise buildings that require the use of elevators or stairwells when moving belongings. In these situations, the convenience of full-service storage can quickly make it worth the added cost.

Types of Storage Units

After you’ve settled on your choice of full-service or self-storage, it’s time to consider the type of unit that will best protect your possessions and suit your needs. Not surprisingly, there are many options to cover the various types of belongings that spend time in storage. These are the most common types of storage units available:

Climate-Controlled Storage Units

While all indoor units are climate controlled to a degree, they don’t promise the use of heat or A/C — or any guaranteed temperature range. Climate-controlled units are insulated. They also guarantee that temperatures will be above freezing and below 80-90 degrees. Some units also offer humidity control. While indoor storage is sufficient for most items, you might want to consider the added protection of climate control if you’re renting a storage unit for sensitive items like:

  • Fine art
  • Musical instruments
  • Antiques
  • Wood furniture
  • Electronics
  • Important documents

Need a temperature-controlled storage solution? Check out climate controlled storage units near you.

Indoor Storage Units

Indoor storage units are located within a building without direct access from the outdoors. While you can’t drive right up to an indoor unit, they often provide more protection from the elements. Indoor storage units offer some climate control, the advantage of not worrying about the weather, and no exposure to outside elements when you open the door.

Outdoor Storage Units

Outdoor storage units are still located within a building, but they offer direct access from outside. Instead of needing to enter a building to access your unit, you can drive your car right up to the door. This provides convenience when you’re moving a lot of stuff or paying movers by the hour. However, outdoor storage units may have limited climate control. Also, opening the door exposes your belongings to outdoor weather and the elements, making your possessions more vulnerable to dampness and dust.

Portable Storage Containers

Also known as mobile storage, this option provides you with a storage container at your home or business. This is a common option for individuals who are in the process of moving and wish to put some belongings in storage for a short time. Portable storage containers are stored at a commercial warehouse after loading and only allow limited access to your belongings while in storage.

Warehouse/Commercial Storage

Typically meant for commercial use, warehouse storage is suited to the large-size storage needs of various businesses. These commercial storage units usually have loading docks to provide ample space and easy transport for large items. Due to the large amount of space required, warehouse storage units might not be as easily accessible as other types of storage units, forcing individuals to travel further to access stored items.

Need a commercial-sized storage solution? Find available warehouse storage units near you.

Types of Vehicle Storage

When you need to store a vehicle for more than a day or two, you need to find a place that’s secure and will be properly monitored. Depending on how you need to care for your car, you may seek options that provide protection from the elements. These are the three main types of vehicle storage:

Indoor Vehicle Storage

This option provides the most protection and means your vehicle will be parked in a completely enclosed building. One indoor option — enclosed vehicle storage — provides a single unit that will essentially act as a personal garage, while the more common vehicle storage option places your vehicle in a large building with other vehicles.

Outdoor Vehicle Storage

This is the least expensive type of car storage. It’s essentially a parking space in an open area where you can safely leave your car. However, this type of storage leaves your car completely vulnerable to the elements. Potential security risks may also be an issue.

Covered Vehicle Storage

A form of outdoor storage, covered vehicle storage provides a roof-covered space where you’ll park your vehicle alongside other vehicles. Some of these structures have three walls, and others have less protection. Still, this option provides a roof to offer protection against the worst of nature’s elements.

Need an affordable solution to store a vehicle? Check out nearby car storage units, larger RV storage units, available garage spaces, vacant driveway parking, and more.

Factors to Consider When Renting a Storage Unit

Open indoor storage unit filled with boxes and tools

Storing Duration

Most storage facilities rent from month to month, but some may have minimum renting periods. The cost of storage adds up over time. It’s also essential to consider that your possessions are more vulnerable to the elements when stored for long periods of time.

Size of the Unit

The square footage and ceiling height of storage units can vary widely. Upon measuring total square footage, you generally want to rent a unit that provides a little more space than you think you’ll need. This gives you a buffer for potential miscalculations and just in case you decide to add more items to the unit. However, larger units are more expensive, so you want to avoid getting a unit significantly larger than the space you need.

Cost of the Unit

It’s essential to consider cost in your decision, and pricing among storage units varies widely. After all, there’s no point in securing a storage unit you can’t afford. Weigh the costs of storage against the features that are most important to you, and always make sure you factor in any fees, insurance costs, and potential consequences of late or missed payments.

Storage Features and Amenities

Indoor storage doesn’t necessarily mean climate controlled, and a climate-controlled storage unit doesn’t guarantee humidity control. Don’t assume you get features that aren’t in your rental contract when you’re renting a storage unit.

Also, consider storage features that meet your needs regarding accessibility before you make a commitment. Some facilities have 24-hour access, while others have limited access.

Storage Insurance

If your possessions aren’t covered by homeowners insurance, renters insurance, or another type of coverage, you’ll want to learn about the insurance options that may be provided by the facility and if their policy meets your coverage needs. Possessions in storage should always be protected with sufficient insurance coverage for replacement.

Need help navigating insurance coverage? Use our storage insurance guide to help you ensure your items are protected.


Storage facilities have different levels of security and surveillance on the premises. Determine if the level of security on the premises meets your standards for your property.

Facility Maintenance

The space where you’re considering renting a storage unit should provide sufficient protection from damage. Ask the facility manager how they approach pest control, smoke damage, and mold prevention.

Customer Reviews

Previous customers can tell you a lot about how a company conducts business. Search out recent reviews to see if other customers are satisfied with the facility you intend to use.

Renting Storage Space With Neighbor

Finding and renting a storage unit that meets your needs is too often an overwhelming process that’s more difficult and more pricey than expected. With this in mind, Neighbor is your modern solution to self-storage. Neighbor is a revolutionary company that connects residents who have extra storage space with the renters who need storage units. Neighbor provides local storage solutions that are up to 50% cheaper, 14x safer, and more reliable than traditional storage facilities. A variety of storage types and storage locations are available, and renters are provided with a $25,000 renter’s guarantee.

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