How Much a Storage Unit Costs: Is It a Bad Idea?

Self storage room with boxes and home contents.
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Renting a storage unit short-term might make sense if you need a place to hold your belongings temporarily, but renting a storage unit long-term is rarely worth the expense. So, how much is a storage unit, and why is renting one long-term such a bad idea?

Here is a look at average storage unit prices and why this service is a waste of money for most people.

How Much Does a Storage Unit Cost?

The average monthly cost for a storage unit is $180, but prices may range between $70 and $300 based on unit size. Storage unit prices vary depending on availability and where you live, but the following are average storage unit prices:

Unit Size (in feet) Average Monthly Cost
5×5 to 5×10 $60
5×15 to 10×15 $140
10×20 to 10×30 $260

Climate-Controlled Storage Costs

The average price of climate-controlled storage units is $190 per month. Climate-controlled storage uses heating and air conditioning systems to keep your items within a specific temperature range, which can protect some items from humidity or extreme-temperature damage.

Some people may choose to use climate-controlled storage for antiques, books, electronics or clothing, among other things.

Vehicle Storage Costs

The average cost of vehicle storage is around $210 per month. However, prices can vary widely due to the different types of vehicles stored. For example, storage for an RV may be significantly higher than storage for a small car.

Why the Cost of a Storage Unit Isn’t Worth It

Here are several reasons why renting a storage unit is a terrible idea. Consider these carefully before paying someone else to hold onto your stuff.

Make Your Money Work for You

A Storage Unit Has a Steep Cost for Inconvenience

The biggest downside to renting a storage unit is throwing away money on items you can’t easily access. While some storage units offer 24-hour access, in many cases, you have to drive to the location, make sure you’re there during the facility’s open hours and probably pick your way through boxes or furniture to find what you want.

With storage units averaging $2,160 per year — depending on their size, location and other features — that’s a lot of cash to pay for things you aren’t using. Imagine investing that money rather than spending it on a storage unit. You’d be able to build a significant savings account.

Storage Units Often Have Hidden Costs

Actual storage unit fees often aren’t the numbers a storage facility displays on its website. Many storage facilities charge extra for things like climate control and security.

For example, you might end up paying $10 more per month for climate control. In addition, some facilities will charge a one-time administrative fee. Others have mandatory insurance you must purchase through them, and you will have to pay sales tax. These costs can quickly add up.

Storage Units Enable You To Store Things You Don’t Want for Longer Than You Need

When you first put your items in storage, you probably expect they’ll be there for a limited time only. However, many people often go on to keep them there much longer than they initially expected.

Make Your Money Work for You

Once possessions are out of your home and out of sight, especially if you’ve put your monthly storage fee on autopay, it can be easy to forget what you have stored. Don’t be surprised if you find you don’t want or care about half the stuff in the unit when you finally get around to cleaning it out.

Even if you think about cleaning out the unit every time you pay the monthly bill, it’s often easier to pay the bill each month than to clean out the unit. This is a case where procrastination can become costly. Unless you’re storing valuables, if you wait too long to clean out your unit, the cost of the storage unit will likely exceed the sale or replacement value of your stuff.

Items in Storage Are Typically Decreasing in Value

If you’re storing possessions to sell them at some point, the longer you keep them in storage, the less money you’ll likely get for them. The sooner you can get your stuff listed for sale, the more you’ll make on it — and the less you’ll pay for the storage unit.

Items in Storage Can Get Damaged or Stolen

When you store your valuables or belongings in a storage unit, you’re trusting someone else to watch over them for you. You have no control over how secure a facility is or whether there’s surveillance or security on duty. The quality of security and safety varies by facility.

If you decide you must rent a storage unit, determine if your stored belongings are covered by your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy so you can recoup any potential losses. Be sure to make an accurate list of everything you are storing in the unit for insurance purposes.

A Storage Unit Can Keep You From Getting Organized

People often rent storage units to create more space in their current homes. Meanwhile, they are paying to store old clutter while bringing additional new clutter into the house.

A storage unit is an expensive, ineffective way to get organized. If disorganization or more space is why you’re considering renting a storage unit, you’d be better off paying a professional organizer to come in and help you clear out the clutter.

Takeaway

For most people wondering how much a storage unit is, the answer is too much. Typically, the cost of the storage unit will be greater than the sale value or replacement value of the items being stored.

Rather than rent a storage unit, try to sell or donate your stuff. You may also benefit from improving your home organization to find that you can fit much more than you thought. Even if you have to replace things later, you’ll still likely come out ahead financially.

FAQ

Here are answers to common questions about renting a storage unit.
  • Are storage units a waste of money?
    • Very short-term, a storage unit can be an affordable means of storing belongings. Long-term, they are typically a waste of money, since most people end up paying more for the unit than the stored items are worth.
  • Is it worth buying a storage unit?
    • Consider the following questions to help determine if your possessions are worth a monthly cost of $70 to $300 per month:
    • How long do you think you'll need the unit?
    • Are you storing items you hope to sell that will be depreciating in value?
    • How much are your belongings worth, and what is the replacement value of the items?
    • Will you need to buy additional insurance?
  • How much does it cost to put everything in storage?
    • Depending on how many rooms' worth of belongings and how long you plan to store them, putting everything into storage could cost you thousands of dollars. You may be better off selling your stuff and buying new things when you need them.
  • How much stuff can fit in a 10x10 storage unit?
    • A 10 foot by 10 foot storage unit can hold roughly two bedrooms' worth of furniture, one full living room or three smaller rooms.

Taylor DeJesus contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Feb. 22, 2023, and is subject to change.

The article above was refined via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of our editorial team.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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