When you have the need to use a self storage facility, you also need to make sure you ask the right questions in order to make the best decision on a self storage facility that will meet your requirements.  Whether you are storing your household goods, precious belongings or need extra storage space for your office or business, making an informed choice at the start can save you headaches later on.  Your first step in making the choice best suited to your needs is to either speak in person or on the phone to the manager of the self storage facility and find out some facts against a checklist of questions.

What are the critical elements you need to consider in a self storage facility?
There are five critical areas that you should think about when you are choosing a self storage facility.  These are:

1. Size
2. Security
3. Costs and insurance
4. Environmental control
5. Access

Do the size options at the self storage facility meet your needs?
Size matters, especially when you are looking at placing things that are valuable enough to pay for storage.  Self storage units come in a variety of sizes, so the first thing you need to find out is the size of the units available at a particular facility.  Picking the wrong size unit can either cause you headaches on the day your moving things in or be uneconomical if what you’re storing is much smaller than the unit size.  Here is a quick guide on common self storage unit sizes and their storage capabilities:

Self Storage Unit Size

Typical Storage Capacity

5×5 – size of small bathroom
30 file boxes on shelves or a few bits of furniture

5×10 – size of large closet
84 file boxes or furniture from one room

5×15 – size of a walk in closet
130 file boxes or furniture from three rooms

10×10 – size of a mid-sized bedroom
180 files boxes or furniture from four rooms

10×15 – size of small garage
295 file boxes or furniture from fives rooms

10×20 – size of car garage
379 file boxes or furniture from 2 bedroom house


504 file boxes or furniture from 2-3 bedroom house

10×30 – size of a 1.5 garage
Contents of 3 bedroom home plus misc items

If you’re still not sure, make an appointment with the self storage facility manager to come and view the options available.  As a double check to your own assessment, ask the manager what size unit they recommend.  It is best to take along a floor plan/size estimate of your items so the manager can help you decide on the size you need.

Ensuring your goods are secure at all times while in a storage unit
The levels of security that different self storage facilities have on offer also differ along with the size.  This may be because they specialize in the types of goods they store.  The level of security that you need for your household belongings and goods will also differ depending on their value (both sentimental and replacement cost).  Ask the manager of the self storage facility what their security arrangements are for the facility as a whole along with the individual units.  You can also check to see if you can add your own security, such as padlocks to the unit.  Lastly, ask who will have access to the units and if the facility can also gain access (in an emergency) which personnel would hold the key or access information.  As the levels of security will probably also impact on the costs, you want to make sure that your not over or under valuing the goods you are storing.  If your storage needs are for a business, most likely you will require a facility that runs state of the art security across its site.

Comparing costs and insurance options to fit your self storage needs
Whether your self storage needs are short or long-term, the costs will need to fit your budget.  Some factors that will impact on the costs at each self storage facility are size of the unit, security of the unit and facilities and whether or not the unit is climate controlled.  Each contributing factor that adds to the cost should be balanced against the amount of goods you need to store, value of the goods and level of risk your willing to accept during the storage.  When you’re interviewing self storage facilities to determine the best value for your needs, find out the following:

1. Your size requirements
2. Your security requirements
3. Costs for each size of unit available, if you require more than one unit will the facility offer you a discount?  Check to see if two smaller units are more economical than one larger unit.  Are there different costs for climate controlled units?
4. Short and long term rates, also if you can rollover and reduce costs if your goods are stored longer than expected
5. Are there any costs for accessing the facilities?  Are there any extra costs for accessing the facilities after hours?
6. Is insurance covered in the lease or do you need to buy a separate insurance policy?  If insurance is included check the fine print to ensure it covers events such as fire, floods and natural disasters.
7. Does the storage facility offer moving services as well?  Will this reduce the overall costs of storing your goods?

Environmental control of your self storage unit
Each type of climate comes with its own problems for goods in storage.  Too damp and your goods can be exposed to mold and mildew, too hot and dry and your goods could crack and warp.  When your discussing the options available at a self storage facility, be sure to ask whether or not they have climate controlled units available and if they do, will you be able to have control over your particular unit/s with an independent control.  The other kind of environmental issue you may face are pests such as rodents, ants and cockroaches.  Ask the facility manager what their pest control measures are or whether you will be responsible for any pest control in your own unit?  Do they have a facility wide pest control procedure in place? Check also with the types of goods that are NOT allowed to be stored at the self storage facility.  This may include any flammable or hazardous materials.

Access when you want it at self storage facilities
Even with the most careful planning, sometimes there is something you need urgently and find that it’s in storage.  Ask the self storage facility manager whether or not you will be able to gain afterhours access in an emergency along with what their normal and weekend operating hours are.  This way you know that if you are caught short – you can get what you want, when you want it.  Lastly, ensure that you will be able to get hold of personnel who can help you on the day that you are moving your goods into the facility.  Ask for the managers cell phone number as part of the contact information you have for the facility.

Knowing what your needs are and what self storage facility options are available to you, ensures that your goods can be stored safely, securely and that you have peace of mind during your lease.