Storage Mistake #3: Choosing a Facility Based on One Single Factor

Selecting a self storage facility on one single factor alone, such as price or location or if they have paved drives or cameras, for example, is not a solid approach.  Instead, making the decision for the “perfect storage »”>self storage facility for you” requires a decision to be based on a combination of several factors, all at once. Sure, this complicates things a bit, but not too much. It simply takes a bit of planning and research.


Location may very well be the most important consideration when selecting a storage facility.  Consider from where and when you’ll most likely be accessing your storage unit and begin there. You will want to be able to access your unit with as little hassle as possible. Consider this first to save you money and time in the long run.

Of course, “location” actually has several aspects to consider.  You’ll want a convenient location (from your home or work or convenient to the lake where you launch  your boat,) a safe location (in a desirable part of town), a location away from a flood plain to lessen the risk of flood damage, and a location that has easy access in and out, especially if you are coming and going with a large vehicle such as an RV or large moving truck.

Managers Live Onsite:

While usually considered one part of the over-all security system for a facility, the presence of Onsite managers represents a very important selection criterion for choosing a storage facility.  Experience has proven that when a storage facility has live-in managers, much less “bad stuff” happens. And much more “good” stuff happens.  It only makes sense. Onsite managers keep an eye on the property 24/7.

Available Access:

(Note: Be sure to read “Mistake #1” for our opinion on “Free 24-hour Access”.)
Your goal is to be able to gain access to your storage unit when you need it. So the question that begs asking is, “What access do you really need?”

The fact is, available access and site security are tied closely together, but in reverse.  Greater access weakens site security, and greater security restricts access. The trick is to find a blend of access and site security that works best for you.

Most facilities provide some lever of unrestricted access, during a set number of daytime hours.  This full access (hopefully using a computer-controlled electronic gate and a security PIN for each tenant), offers access for between 12 to 15 hours each day, 7 days a week. Hours usually range from 6am to 9pm or 10pm.

For 90% of all tenants, this level of access is usually quite acceptable.

And for the remaining 10% of tenants that require more lenient access hours, such as businesses or vehicle parking tenants, extended access hours are usually available upon request (sometimes for a small fee.)

A final thought…Many facilities will offer free 24-hour access for the first 5 to 7 days after you rent your unit.  This gives you the freedom to come and go as you need, while you’re moving your items in, without any restrictions.  But once you’ve moved in, your access will return back to “normal” access hours. This is a very nice compromise between access and site security.

Variety of Unit Sizes and Storage Types:

“Variety” is the key word here.  You’ll want to find a storage facility that offers a variety of both unit sizes…and unit types.

Unit Sizes:  Storage unit sizes usually start with small 5’x5’ units (25 square feet), and increase from there, in increments of 5 foot lengths and widths.  (i.e. 5’x5’, 5’x10’, 10’x10’, 10’x15’, etc.)   A greater variety of sizes is better for you, the prospective tenant, as you’re able to rent precisely the size you need, without being forced into a room too small or without having to pay for a room larger than you need.

Unit Types:  Unit types fall into the following common categories:
Standard Units, also called Non-Climate Controlled (NCC) units
Hallway NCC units
Tall-Door NCC units
Climate Controlled (CC) units
Climate Controlled units with commercial Dehumidifiers
Outdoor Storage (usually for parking vehicles)

Uncovered Parking (on pavement or grass)
Partially Covered Parking
Covered Parking
Fully Enclosed Parking

Again, variety here is the key. You may find yourself choosing to rent two or more smaller units, but of different types, allowing you to receive the benefits of different types of storage units, to more precisely fit your storage requirements.


Feeling that your belongings are secure should bring you peace of mind.  And while no facility can absolutely guarantee that their facility is 100% secure, smart storage operators will put in place a “system” or grouping of security features, that when all taken together, can dramatically improve the overall safety and security of both you and your belongings.

This “system” is a combination of the features listed below.  And when grouped together, this causes “the whole to be much greater than the sum of its parts.” And even if one or another of these items is missing, as long as “most” of these items are present, you can rest assured that your interests are as well protected as possible.

  • Managers that live onsite (the #1 security feature for any self storage facility)
  • Full Security Parameter (either high Fences or the buildings themselves)
  • Security Lighting
  • Security Gate(s) controlled by electronic PIN Code selected by the tenant.
  • Security Cameras
  • High-quality Tempered Steel locks on the storage unit.
  • Solid, steel roll-up doors

Climate Control Units:

While climate controlled units represent only one “type” of the many storage unit types available, this one type does represent the most “protective” of them all.

Extremes in temperature can be very destructive to nearly everything “important” that we own and store.  From antiques and photographs to electronics and musical instruments, temperature extremes can be very damaging. And it is not just the “hot” or the “cold” by themselves.  It is the fluctuation from hot to cold, and back again, often times in the same day, which can be the most destructive.

Of course heat causes expansion and cold causes contraction. And when a cool or cold spring night leads to a warm or even hot spring day, this constant expansion and contraction of your most fragile (and valuable items) can be the most damaging.

And humidity is also a factor.  While CC units only claim to moderate the temperature, it seems logical that when air conditioners are cooling the air, that at least some of the humidity is being removed from the air, as well.

It would be wise to carefully consider if the added cost of renting a CC unit for what you will be storing, will be worth the risk of damage.

And a final note about climate controlled units.  As you would expect, climate controlled units will not have “drive up” access.  It’s just not possible.  These units will be located inside a large building, and your unit opening will be down a hallway.  So be sure your facility offers free Carts and Dollies to assist you when moving items in and out.


As there are so many important factors to consider when renting storage, we do suggest that it would be a miss-step to select or to reject a storage facility based on one single factor alone. Instead, make your decision for the storage facility that meets your requirements based on a combination of these several factors, all at once.


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