How to Save Money on a Storage Unit

Written by: Editorial Team - Published: May 20, 2024


Nearly 10% of American households rent a storage unit, paying an average of around $90 a month depending on the size and nature of the space. If you’re looking into leasing a storage unit, tacking on another monthly expense can feel burdensome. So, it’s helpful to find ways to cut costs and avoid paying for more than you need. This money-saver self-storage guide will teach you seven ways you can reduce self-storage expenses before you sign a lease. If you’re already renting a unit, most of these tips can work for you too!


Top 7 Ways to Save Money on Self-Storage

1. Rent the smallest space possible

Honestly evaluate how you plan on using your storage unit. In order to maximize your space and money, you need to pare down your items to the absolute essentials. Anything you deem as unnecessary should be tossed, donated, or sold.

Before choosing the size of your unit, you can ask the manager to see all available sizes in person. This will give you a chance to visualize how all of your items could be arranged and stacked to fit. It can be hard to determine exactly how much space you need beforehand, so keep in mind that you can usually downsize within the same storage facility if you find that the space you initially rented is too large.

2. Organize your items efficiently

Once you decide how you’d like to be able to access your items, it’s time to get in there and organize. Arrange everything in a way that will best meet your needs during your lease. Remember, utilize your space well — all the way up to the ceiling, if possible, by stacking your boxes and items vertically.

If you’re in the middle of a move and storing things on a short-term basis, the best approach is to stack your boxes in the order you’d like them on and off the moving truck. If you want to move and downsize at the same time, place everything you know you’re going to keep in the back of the unit and everything you need to go through or donate in the front of the unit. 

For long-term storage, your organization strategy will depend on how you plan to use your unit and how often you intend to visit. If you’d like to be able to get to certain things during your lease, organize your boxes and items into sections. Creating an aisle or two makes it a lot easier than unstacking and restacking boxes.

3. Choose an option with fewer features

You may not need all the features a storage facility offers, so it’s important to determine your must-haves versus your “nice to haves”. Any extra features will undoubtedly run up the cost of unit pricing, but it’s for good reason. Storage companies must pay for these amenities, so you can expect it to be reflected in how much you pay in rent.

Self-storage facility owners must pay thousands of dollars for a team of security guards, and to keep the climate-controlled units at steady temperatures, the facility pays a high monthly utility bill. These are both extremely helpful features, but they may not be necessary or worth the cost for you. Here’s a list of features that increase unit prices:

  • Climate-controlled units
  • 24/7 access to the premises
  • Manager on-site at all times
  • Security guard teams
  • Individual unit door alarms
  • Sprinkler fire alarm systems
  • Security card access

4. Expand your search area

If you’re having a hard time finding affordable prices in your city, you may need to expand your boundaries. Storage lots within city limits will often be more expensive because owners will charge more for the prime location. Widening your search to include places 15 to 30 minutes away can help you find lower prices. 

Not only will you be able to find potentially better monthly rates, but there will likely be a better selection of unit sizes. The further you move away from urban areas, the less demand there is for storage units. If you don’t plan on visiting frequently, being 30 minutes away from your home may not be too big of a compromise, and there’s a good chance the area’s crime rate will be lower too.

5. Share your storage unit

If you don’t mind sharing space with others, consider going in on a storage unit with friends or family members. It’s likely that some of the people you know already rent their own units and would be interested in sharing to split costs. Or, you could team up with someone else who is also looking for new storage space. Depending on how many people get involved, you could be saving up to 50% on monthly costs or more. 

Combining forces creates the opportunity to lease a unit with nicer features like climate control or improved security. You may even be able to afford a storage facility that’s located in a better area or closer to your home. Also, you would be able to rent a larger unit for the same price you’d pay if you were going solo and have the same amount of space or more, depending on how much stuff the group has. 

6. Look for discounts

Contact all of the storage facilities you’re considering and talk to them about their pricing. Often, companies will run sales throughout the year around specific seasons or holidays. These discounted rates will save you anywhere from 10% to 25%, but there may be restrictions. Sometimes a discount is only applied to the first month of your lease, so be sure to clarify with the manager how long the discount lasts and if they have a price lock.

Outside of seasonal sales, storage companies will often provide special discounts for certain groups of people. They may not advertise that they offer additional discounts, but all you have to do is ask. Common discounts you should ask about include:

  • Military
  • Student
  • Referral
  • Senior

7. Negotiate rates

As with most other leases, you can attempt to negotiate the monthly price of your unit. Again, it’s okay to ask about discounts and lower pricing. If you’re planning on renting a unit for longer than a year, the manager may be willing to cut you a deal, but be ready to commit to a 12-month contract.

Managers are often more than willing to work with people who want to be long-standing customers. Most storage facility contracts are month-to-month, meaning their potential for customer loss each month is high. If they can get you locked in for a year at a price that works for you, it guarantees the company continuous revenue for the length of the contract. It’s a great deal for both of you!