To Self-Store or Not to Self-Store? : Clearly Written
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To Self-Store or Not to Self-Store?

by Dorothy L. Clear, CPO on 11/03/18

The self-storage business is a $38 billion dollar industry, and the fastest growing real estate investment at this time.1 Before you move your college memorabilia, furniture inherited from the death of a parent, old kid’s toys that you want your grandchildren to play with, or your collection of bobble heads into a self-storage unit, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do I really need this stuff?

  • Do I have a plan to use it in the future?

  • Am I keeping it out of obligation, sentimentality, or because I cannot make a decision one way or the other?

In addition to these questions, ask yourself how much you are willing to spend to store your stuff. Self-storage is a multi-billion dollar industry for a reason. Have you considered the effects short-term or long-term storage will have on your monthly budget? Consider the following three scenarios:

#1. When my husband and I bought a house we rented a storage unit in the neighborhood that we were moving into. The plan was to store some seasonal items, such as bikes, gardening tools, and holiday decorations, in the unit until after we moved. This was meant to ease the stress of moving day. Our plan worked out perfectly. The total cost was about $140 for two months rental.

#2. I worked with a client who owned a small manufacturing business. He thought he needed to move because he was outgrowing his space. Luckily, he consulted with me first. We purged old equipment, supplies, and documents. Then we rearranged the work flow pattern. The client rented an off-site storage unit to archive important, historic business information he did not need on hand. He did not have to move his whole business. He gained square footage by reducing what took up space and rearranging the floor plan. The extra bill for storage is offset by what he would have spent in time, additional rent money and moving expenses.

#3. On the flip side of this is the other extreme. I once had a client that paid for a self-storage unit for 30 years. THIRTY YEARS!!! Let’s do the math. Say this client paid an average of $50 per month for 30 years. That would equal $18,000. Then, ask yourself, “Is the stuff worth that much?” Especially, if she doesn’t use it!

Here are my tips:

  • Have a plan on how long you will need this added expense. Do you have a timeframe for using the stuff you will store?

  • Rent the right size unit to meet your needs. You don't want to pay for unused space.

  • Know the value and have an inventory of what you will store.

  • Include the contents of your storage unit in your last will and testament.

  • Visit your storage unit once a year to check on the condition of your stuff and decide if there is anything you can live without. If so, you may be able to stop renting or move to a smaller less expensive unit.

  • Store for yourself, not for other people. This means two things. Don’t save this or that because the kids might want it someday. And, don’t let others use your storage unit for their stuff.

In my honest opinion, if you don’t need it sometime between now and a year from now, you may not need it at all. Store responsibly!




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