Storage Unit Questions

First, a question looking for a factual answer: what percentage of American adults rent a storage unit for their personal household belongings?

Then I’ll open a discussion of the merits of renting a storage unit long-term (over a year). I rented a small, unheated storage unit in anticipation of a move. The weather here is low humidity. It’s in a large building with a good roof, metal insulation and no dirt or gravel nearby. I have about half of my belongings in it including much of my CD’s, VHS tapes and books. I also have some collectible games, collectible video game boxes and magazines in it.

The move didn’t happen though I still plan to move somewhere. It may be years before I settle down in a particular home. Having the storage unit means I have roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the stuff to move, and it reduces the clutter in my apartment. Also, I may be living in moderate to high crime areas and don’t want all my valuables in a future apartment or trailer home.

There’s some drawbacks though. It costs over $500 a year. The air conditions are adverse enough that I recently moved a portion of my books back to my apartment because their pages were becoming wrinkled, although the wrinkles seemed to go away once they were back in my apartment. Someday, a rat or something could decide to take up residence in my unit and die inside a box or something like that. Each year that passes by, I stand less of a chance to recover the rental cost by selling some of it on Ebay. On the other hand, I may be able to live in cheaper places without worrying as much about theft since I’ll have less belongings with me, offsetting the rental cost.

I have two main options. Either parcel out my storage unit belongings, selling some on Ebay and remanding the rest to Goodwill, keeping a few things that I can’t part with. Or leave it all in there hoping that their appreciation in value will offset the rental cost and loss to damage. The latter option is the easier for me to the extent that I have quite a bit of sentimental attachment to many of my belongings in the storage unit. Plus, from my own experience, selling things quick on Ebay in lots usually results in selling below their fair market value. I don’t have the time or energy to sell everything in their own separate listings. Another possibility is selling to some kind of auctioneer or having it auctioned off, but I’m not familiar with that process and don’t live in a metro area. Also, a lot of my storage unit stuff is worthless, mundane stuff such as tools that I can see myself using someday. Also, I can put a few furniture items and TV set in there if the need arises.

Any thoughts on using a storage unit for long-term storage?

I fell into the storage room money pit for three years. It originally was supposed to be just temporary. But I never got around to cleaning out the stuff. Wrote that check month after month. For three years. It adds up. I finally moved from my apartment into a house. Then I finally had room to store things and got rid of the storage closet.

It is convenient. I put steel shelving in mine. I had it organized and could find stuff I needed easily. There were a couple drawbacks. Dirt and Dust gets in the units. Theres a lot of cracks. Especially around the door. My unit had no heat or air. Be sure to wrap clothing or other fabrics in plastic bags. We always stored our winter coats during the summer.

Roaches Brought in with other peoples stuff. They then spread into the other units.

Make sure the management uses a monthly pest control service. Otherwise the roaches will take over.

The management said they use some pest control, and it smells that way.

I have used a storage unit temporarily for about a month when I was out of town for a few weeks and coming back to a different apartment. In general for long term storage though, it seems to me that it’s largely a sign that you have too much junk.

You say you have CDs and VHS tapes in there. For me, both of those would be digitized (if I cared about them) and then sold or given away. I was never a believer in keeping magazines either: most they will have at a library if you later decide that you really really need to see some old article from when you were a kid. Does stuff like that really appreciate to any significant amount? In the case of VHS certainly the value has gone down, and I suspect the CDs will as well. What sort of tools do you have in there? Are they actually nice, expensive tools, or are they just whatever you have that you don’t want to get rid of? How often do you actually use them?

Really the commercial storage buildings aren’t any more dirty than a metal building in your yard. My storage building at my house has the same issues with dirt and dust getting in. Those metal (or todays plastic panel) storage buildingsjust aren’t that air tight.

Just remember. Out of sight, out of mind. Its easy to hang onto crap if you don’t see it. You have to make yourself go through a storage building occasionally and pitch out stuff. I’ve seen hoarders on A&E’s show that rented several units. They just kept filling them up and renting another one.

The storage unit was previously owned by a lumber supply company, and the walls aren’t just metal though the interior is lined with metal. I looked at what’s available locally, and it’s probably the best storage unit in town. It’s been a year, and I haven’t noticed much in the way of dirt or dust. Also, the units are accessed through a main door rather than opening up on the outside of the building.

I’m an old-timer when it comes to media storage. I don’t have any digital files for music. I like CDs because they have liner notes which often includes the instrumentation for each song, plus I just think they sound better than mp3s. I also have some vinyl, and a lot of the VHS tapes are for films or concerts that aren’t available on DVD or bluray.

On the other hand, I can get by on a daily basis without it, so I’m left with the feeling that I’m paying over $500 a year for stuff I don’t really need. On the other hand, whenever I go through it, each particular item has sentimental value and I paid good money for it. Moreoever, I got much of it at thrift stores, and wouldn’t want to pay full retail price to replace them. Also, the storage unit may be of use anyways when I move to store furniture, TV and computer. The video game boxes take up space, but retro video games are worth a lot more with the box than just the cartridge plus manual. Maybe if I could sell some of it this spring, I could move the rest back to my apartment though. There’s about four pallets of heavy boxes to shoulder height though.

I have one to store our Christmas stuff, and to store stuff that will eventually go to the kids when they have their own houses.
I’ve never had problems with pests, or mold, or anything like that. it has been better than the garage. Our problem is that California houses do not have basements.

However, unless you have collectibles, I think that paying for storage in the hope that the value goes up is a bad deal. For nostalgic value is something else again.

We used such units a couple of times. Once when we moved aboard our boat for about a year. We knew we’d have a house eventually, and it was worth it to store our furniture and excess stuff until we moved ashore again.

The second time, we were moving from Florida to Maryland, doing the move ourselves gradually. We didn’t know when we’d find a house (it ended up taking about 3 months.) We were then able to move into the house on our terms - bringing in things as we were ready.

When I drive by the storage places and wonder how many people just fill them with stuff they’ll never touch again.

Does anyone else store books, games and other personal belongings long-term? It seems as though most storage units are used for larger items such as furniture.

I watch the TV show Storage Wars. People seem to store about anything in those units including books, DVDs, CD, clothing, books, games, computers…just about anything that will fit.

If you don’t pay your monthly rental fee for awhile, the storage unit company will eventually auction off the stuff. Could I use a similar auction company to auction the stuff myself? I guess they wouldn’t want the auction to take place there at the storage unit.

I guess the OP knows that VHS will deteriorate over the years? The colors wash out and its not as sharp. youtube has a lot of washed out vhs video that got captured and uploaded. I have a box of VHS tapes that I recorded in the late 80’s and early 90’s. They still play but they are looking pretty washed out. Thankfully they were recorded in SP mode and not EP. I store them in my house with climate control (central air and heat).

I’m not sure how well any tape (cassette, vhs, reel to reel) would do in a garage or storage shed. Temperature extremes may be an issue.

I have a storage unit chock full of books and bookcases that I put there because the realtor told us to declutter in order to sell the house. A couple years later, I’m still stuck with the same house and a storage unit to boot. I probably would have been better served financially to toss all my prized books in a dumpster and set aside the storage money to buy replacements.

Storage units are a big mistake unless you have a firm exit strategy or use it as business storage.

Probably not.
There are video & access controls to the property (gate code). By all means, bring your friends to help you move in/out, but inviting random strangers in to wander around the place & management has the right to throw the whole lot of you out. Also, auctions are typically for a whole storage locker, not the individual components there of. I’d find an estate auctioneer to sell off your Monopoly, Operation, & marble backgammon sets, etc. piece by piece rather than storage box/lot by storage box/lot.
Some storage facilities are mom-&-pop operations; however, the best of them are multi-location corporations, as there is much economy of scale & therefore more profits by doing it this way over a single location. I worked for one for a while that was the latter type. They were a publicly traded REIT. Unit price was based upon a few things:
[li]Size of unit.[/li][li]Type of unit - everything from outdoor & uncovered (for RV/boat parking) to indoor & climate controlled.[/li][li]Location - distance from entryway / elevator (if not on first/main floor), high or low if a small, stacked unit, etc.[/li][/ul]
We also had a whole list of discounts & optional charges to adjust the base price.

If you don’t use the stuff that often & are willing to put some sweat equity in, you could possibly find a less expensive unit at the same facility. If you want to go a bit further, most facilities have newcomer’s discount (first month free, etc.) but this requires a vehicle to get your stuff from facility A to facility B. From the description of your contents, you could probably do this with your car as it doesn’t sound like you have bulky items like furniture.

I think you should consider storing the stuff at your apartment: think for example of shelves from floor to ceiling covering the whole width of a room and a couple feet deep. That would hold a whole lot of stuff–in contrast to the small amount in most furniture.

Actually, in many cases you can do just that. Storage auctions often have units listed as “private sale”, which means the owner is selling the unit. They are scheduled to take place at the same time as the non-payment auctions so they don’t disrupt the business. Check with your storage company to see if/how they handle private sales.

One note: you sell the entie unit at once, not piece meal, and you sell to the high bidder, less any fees charged by the storage company and/or auctioneer. You may or may not get what the contents are worth.

Just watch the price carefully. I had my stuff in a shed at a very reasonable price. Then moved a couple thousand miles away and had a hell of a time getting back to get my stuff out. The price at the end(6 years later) was 4 times the monthly cost it started at, and all said ended up spending probably nearly 10 times the real value of the stuff in there.

Once when I was young and dumb, I moved cross-country to be with my LDR boyfriend. Put all my stuff into storage. This included not-very-expensive furniture and art. Thank god, I was smart enough at the time to put all my valuable possessions (photos, personal effects) at my parents house. Anyway, being young and dumb I stopped paying, and lost some really cool stuff.

Few years later, I needed a storage unit again. I had got all new stuff, and made sure not to lose it, but that shit is expensive!! Got it all back eventually, but at a high overall cost.

Storage units serve their purpose but never ever put priceless stuff in there (ie photos).