To store or not to store? The ins and outs of self storage

Renting a self storage unit is a necessity for many movers

Renting a self storage unit is a necessity for many movers - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

For many of us, renting a storage unit is a solution to a space shortage at home – but might we be better off getting rid? Tracy Ross of Blissfully Organised considers the options

Tracy Ross

Tracy Ross - Credit: Archant

My clients often rent a storage unit following home renovations or a house move, then continue to find it useful to store things that don’t fit into the space at home. They also book storage units following a divorce until they are ready to decide on what to do with these items. Each client and their situation is unique.

Here are my top tips on how to decide if you need a storage unit or how to manage a rental that you already have.

When do you need a storage unit?

Short term

My advice is to only plan to store items that you will use in the foreseeable future and only if doing so is cheaper than replacing them. If you are storing items to get them out of the way you are better off selling, donating or recycling them.


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Often small business owners find it useful to rent out a unit to store key equipment and stock. Alternatively, you may choose to live in a smaller space (rather than move) and rent a storage unit to store a small number of seasonal items that you need to access less frequently, such as ski equipment, camping gear, a kayak or bicycles.

Things to think about before getting a storage unit

1.What are you planning to store?

Don’t rent a space with the idea that you’ll just fill it up as time goes by. Make a list of the items that you want to store and what it would cost to replace these items.

2.How much space will you need?

As an approximate guide you will need the following:

• Transit van: 35-50 sq ft

• 20 foot removal van: 140 sq ft

• Studio flat: 50 sq ft

• Two-bed flat: 75-100 sq ft

• Three-bed house: 25-150 sq ft

3. Cost

Calculate the total cost for your full rental period, for example £100 a month may sound reasonable but that’s £1,200 per annum. Assess your needs and stick within your budget.

Savings: Prices vary widely. There are often discounts offered for paying in advance or booking larger units i.e. 25 sq ft for a short term let costs £12 per week while a 50 sq ft unit will be £18 per week. Compare the cost of the items that you would like to store with the rental costs. It may be more cost effective to sell or donate items instead.

Extras: Don’t forget to budget for transporting your items to/from the storage unit, packing materials, any deposits, access charges, use of lifting and carrying equipment, insurance and VAT.

4. Timeframe

Decide on how long you need to rent the unit for. The longer you are planning to rent a unit the cheaper it becomes i.e. 100 sq ft for up to 3 months may cost £34 a week but if booked for a year goes down to £25 a week

5. What kind of space do you need?

If you want to access items during the rental period, consider getting slightly more space than you need so that you have space to walk around. If you are simply storing items for a set period until you move, a space that fits perfectly is fine. If you are storing photos or electronics, you might want a climate-controlled unit

6. Location

If you want to access your stored items regularly you may want to rent a unit close to your home. For longer term rentals it may be cheaper to consider locations further away


Gather quotes based on your specific needs. To save time you can use comparison websites such as

8. Labels

Label everything going into the storage unit. It’s also useful to take photos of all key items and keep an electronic inventory

9. Single item storage

If you only need to store a small number of things there are also companies such as Love Space who will collect your items and delivery back to you when you need them (

Managing an existing rental

If you already rent a storage unit and are thinking about downsizing or terminating that rental space I would recommend the following:

1. Calculate how much you have spent on the storage unit during the rental period

2. Ask yourself: do you know what is stored in the unit and the value of each item?

3. Create an audit list of all items in the unit

4. Assess if you need to reduce the size of the rental unit; find out if you are on the best rate for your current storage unit and compare that with other suppliers

5. Decide if you will continue to rent a unit or terminate the rental

6. You can then decide which items you will keep in storage, move back to your home or dispose of entirely (sell, donate or recycle).

If you need support in planning to put items into storage or auditing items that you currently have in storage please contact me at