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The High Cost of Self-Storage Units

The High Cost of Self-Storage Units

The radio host who interviewed me recently wanted to know why self-storage units seem to be popping up on every corner. I did some quick research and discovered that the off-site storage industry has experienced an 81% growth over the last decade. Is it hard to believe that it is a 22 billion dollar industry? Not really. People have a hard time getting rid of their stuff; now more than ever, we have a lot of stuff! And moving it out of our home seems to give us the freedom to buy new stuff. It’s a vicious and expensive cycle.

Don’t get me wrong – I think these facilities are a god-sent for people who need short-term or seasonal storage; for example, when relocating to another city for a short time or storing your winter tires when you live in a small apartment. But I don’t see the wisdom in storing items simply because we can’t bear to toss them. Many people who rent self-storage units in fact have a large home and want to declutter it quickly, so they move all the things they’ve accumulated into their ‘second home’ because they “might need it some day”. But the problem is that out of sight is out of mind; besides, it’s usually easier to buy a replacement than drive to the facility and dig through the boxes to try to find what you need.

The average unheated unit rents for about $80 a month; over 2 years, that’s almost $2,000! The items are usually worth less than what we pay to store them in the long run. We are better off selling or giving away the items now (before they lose their value) than paying to store them indefinitely. And all those ‘just in case’ items – it would likely be less expensive to go out and replace them if (and when) you needed them. Eventually, most of those items will end up being tossed or going to charity anyway (if not by you, then by your grown children when they inherit it). Many items in storage have been inherited, so people keep them out of guilt or obligation. Would your deceased loved ones really want you to keep something that has become a burden or would they be happier to have you donate it to someone who will treasure it? I know you can’t put a price on sentimental items, but if they mean that much to you, why are they sitting in a storage space miles away from your home? Renting these units can become addictive; once the storage unit is full, many people just rent another one. No wonder this is a booming business!

As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of using off-site storage as a long-term solution for decluttering your home. If you are currently renting one for this purpose, I encourage you to do a major sort and purge. If you can’t wean yourself off this addiction, at least create an inventory of the contents so you won’t forget what you are paying so dearly to store. If you are considering moving some of your things into a self-storage facility because you can’t let them go, I encourage you to invest in the services of a professional organizer who can coach you through the process instead. It will save you time and money in the long run.