This article originally appeared on Sparefoot.com

You need a temporary place to stash your stuff. You don’t have enough room for some things in your own home, or maybe you need some extra space for your business inventory.

Whatever your reason for needing a self storage unit, you definitely want to make sure you are paying a fair price. Storage unit prices can vary widely, even within the same market. There are many factors that contribute to the prices offered by any given storage location.

The good news is for the first time in several years, the cost to rent self storage unit is actually going down.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Storage Unit?

The average monthly cost to rent a self storage unit is $88.85. That is a 2.5 percent decrease from the average price in 2017. The average includes all reservations for all storage sizes and types made on our network last year.

The average price per square foot is also dropping. In 2018, the average price per square foot was $0.96, compared to $1.01 per square foot in the previous year.

A major factor in falling prices has been a surge of new storage construction across the country. As the supply of storage units rises to meet demand, prices in many markets are on a downward trend. In other words, storage operators are lowering prices because there is more competition now than there has been in recent years.

Average Cost by Size

The table below shows the average cost for the five most popular storage unit sizes. As you can see prices fell across the board for all unit types:

Unit Size Average monthly cost (2018) $/sq.ft. Year-over-year change
5x10 $64.91 $1.25 -2.5%
10x10 $97.59 $0.98 -2.3%
5x5 $47.01 $1.88 -2.6%
10x20 $138.06 $0.68 -2%
10x15 $126.07 $0.84 -6.5%

Factors Affecting the Cost of Self Storage

Keep in mind that the average prices above include both climate-controlled and units without climate control. Climate-controlled units are generally about 30 to 50 percent more expensive than units without climate control.

There are several other factors that can affect the price of storage units, even within the same market. For example a facility in a rural area will typically be cheaper than a facility in an urban area. When shopping for a storage unit, it is important to consider these additional factors.

Climate Control

Climate control offers better protection for your stored items, as it regulates air temperature and humidity all year-round. Because of the additional costs required to install, maintain and power these systems, you can expect to pay a premium to rent a climate-controlled storage unit.

You can save money by renting a unit without climate-control, however your items will be susceptible to extreme temperatures and high-humidity. This may be fine for the short term storage of durable items, but climate control is strongly recommended when storing valuable and delicate items for long periods of time.

Seasonality

You can expect to pay more for a storage unit from May to September than you would during the rest of the year. During these months is when most Americans move to new homes, which is a major driver for the storage industry. With the increased demand, storage operators are able to increase prices on their storage inventory. Renting a storage unit during the off-season can save you more money than renting during the peak season.

Storage Sizes

Perhaps the greatest determinant of self storage costs is the size of the unit. Smaller units naturally cost less than larger units. However, larger units should cost less per square foot than a smaller unit.

To find the price per square foot, multiply the size of the unit (10×10=100) to find the total square footage. Then divide your monthly rent by the total square footage. This yields the price per square foot, and can be useful way to make sure you aren’t being charged more than you should for a larger-sized units.

Special Storage Offers

Promotions and specials are very common in the storage industry. Some companies offer the first month free, for example. When shopping for a storage unit, these promos should be factored into the overall price of a storage unit. Be sure to read the fine print, however, to see if there is a minimum commitment required.

Other times facilities will offer discounts to professional organizations and club members, so always be sure to ask. For example, AAA members can get one month free and get a $20 gift card when they reserve a unit through SpareFoot.

Insurance Coverage Cost

It is important to remember that insurance is not included with the price of storage. Most storage facilities require that your items are insured, and some may ask for proof of insurance. Often times your homeowners or renters policy will cover your items, but not always. You can typically purchase storage coverage from the facility you are renting from.

Generally speaking, $2,000 of coverage will cost around $10 to $12 a month. Policies can go up to around $30 a month and provide up to $5,000 worth of insurance coverage.

Facility Type and Location

Another major determinant is the type and location of the storage facility. A facility in a dense urban area will cost more than a facility in a rural area, as there is more consumer demand inside cities and suburban centers.

The type of facility will also affect cost. Age and condition of a facility could also be a factor. Newer, multi-story indoor facilities typically will command a higher price than an older outdoor facility with drive up access.

In addition to climate-control, other amenities can add to the monthly cost of renting a storage unit. For example, a facility with extensive video cameras throughout the property might charge more than a similar facility without video monitoring. Depending on the market, you might also pay a bit more for 24-hour access.

There has been a recent trend towards unmanned facilities that use a kiosk system to handle rentals. These may cost slightly less to rent from than facilities with an onsite manager, as there is less overhead in the form of employee wages.

Other Facility Charges

Depending on where you live, there might be local taxes applied to your monthly storage rent. Also, some facilities might charge a small administration fee on top of the quoted monthly cost.

Full Service Storage vs Traditional Storage

Recently there has been a new storage concept available in some cities called full service storage. Also known as on-demand or valet storage, these new providers advertise that they offer a more convenient option than traditional mini storage. Full service storage companies will pickup your items from your home and place them in a shared warehouse with other customers’ stuff. When you are ready to receive your items, the company will deliver them to your home.

These companies try to price their services to be comparable to the cost of traditional self-storage. However, there is sometimes a delivery fee and a minimum commitment required.

Popular traditional self storage companies include Public Storage, U-Haul, CubeSmart, Life Storage and Extra Space. However the majority of self-storage facilities are operated by small and medium sized operators.

Average Cost by Location

Storage prices widely depending on where you live in the United States. One major factor is the square foot of self storage per capita available in a market. The lower amount of square footage available per capita, the higher prices you can expect to find.

SpareFoot recently examined self-storage reservations made on our network for the top 200 markets across the country to find the cheapest and most expensive places to rent storage in America. Find these lists here.


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Alexander Harris

Alexander Harris is a reporter covering the business of self-storage. He obtained his degree in journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University. He loves reading Elmore Leonard novels and listening to classic country music. You can call him Al.