The Loch Ness Monster…plucking your eyebrows makes them grow in thicker…’irregardless’ is a real word…unicorns fart rainbows…. Many myths have been circulating for years, and most of us believe them—or at least some of them. And let’s face it, who hasn’t secretly wished that Mr. Smith in Nigeria really did need to deposit $50 million into your bank account for safe keeping?
Myths about storage facilities are no exception. So let’s flush some of these folk tales about self storage right down the toilet for good (like that lady who got sucked down the airplane toilet).
Aren’t self-storage units really expensive?
Well, that all depends on what you’re storing. Some storage facilities charge as little as $5-$15 a month for small, plain, closet-like spaces. And maybe that’s all you require if you just need to stash your Quidditch broom and ball for the winter. If you have a lot of stuff to store while you’re away on a cozy island resort just off the coast of San Francisco, you’ll pay more for a larger space. And if you have to stow certain items like your midlife crisis-friendly Porsche Boxster convertible, your Aunt Elizabeth’s art and jewelry inheritance (would be nice if that were Queen Elizabeth, but no, it’s just Aunt E from Austin), wine or other valuable items, you’ll want to pay more for extras like climate control and additional security. Many self storage facilities offer all kinds of discounts, so shop around until you find a good deal.
My friends say self storage facilities aren’t secure—what’s your take?
Crime happens everywhere—cars, homes, purses, hospitals, manholes, Waffle Houses…everywhere. But MiniCo Insurance Agency LLC—an insurance agency specializing in insuring goods in storage facilities—recently conducted a study published in the Self-Storage Almanac that showed security at self storage facilities is making significant improvements in the right direction. In 2010, the reported break-in/theft rate was 18.2%, but by 2012, the rate had fallen to 7%.
But don’t take the manager’s word for it when he says he’ll “keep yer crap safe.” Before you rent, always investigate the surveillance cameras, alarm systems, gates, locking mechanisms, and – perhaps most importantly – reviews from other customers.
Aren’t all self storage units dirty?
Only when they’re storing topsoil. Put it this way: self storage facilities want your business, so they’re going to make sure that their units are swept and cleaned out. In fact, it’s in the contract of the vast majority of self storage facilities that renters have to thoroughly clean out their unit upon vacating it—and if it’s not spotless, they will send you to your room without dinner. Or charge you a fee. (Check the fine print. It’s definitely either a fee or the dinner thing.) But you will never know for sure unless you take a look for yourself and see if it meets your cleanliness standards. Nevertheless, storing your possessions in secure boxes is always a good idea.
But do I really need a storage unit? Maybe if I just declutter more effectively…?
That’s a good one! So how long have you been saying you were going to clean out the spare room/garage/kitchen/basement/? Exactly. Sometimes you just need more storage space no matter how well you organize because you never know when your mother-in-law will show up on your doorstep. Too bad self storage facilities don’t allow you to store people in them….
Can I get away without insuring my stuff in storage?
Sure, if you’re a gambler whose addiction is so strong you can’t even fathom the dire consequences of your behavior and don’t mind being homeless and penniless. But that’s just us. The vast majority of storage facilities do not insure anything stored on the premises unless you purchase supplemental insurance, and we suggest that you do. Because even if you made sure that you didn’t store any fireworks in your unit, the guy renting the one next to yours might not have been quite so thoughtful. And then…KABOOM!
While many storage facilities do offer supplemental insurance that you can purchase on top of the rent, do not buy this until you first check with your own homeowners’ insurance agent. Your agent may be able to add this into your existing policy—quite possibly for a much lower price than what the local storage facility wants to charge you.
Must I really read the small print on the contract with the self storage facility?
Yes. Unless it’s A-OK with you when the storage facility raises your rent after the first month because the owner needs a new set of porcelain veneers, you’d better make sure you know exactly what your contract states before you sign it.
So… do you think I can squeeze my car into self storage?
Hey, if the storage unit fits, why not? Just keep in mind two things. One, you’ll need to rent a specific vehicle storage unit because facility managers aren’t usually too obliging when you’re trying to drive your souped up Civic up the stairs into a regular storage unit. And two, there may be rules and preparations you need to make before you put your ride in storage, such as topping up all the fluids to prevent rusting. Check with dmv.org and your facility manager for details.
I’ve heard that you can’t negotiate the price with a lot of self storage facilities—rumor or reality?
To quote that classic Timex Social Club song: “Stop, stop, stop spreading those rumors around.” The reality is that most self storage facilities offer a multitude of deals, such as military discounts, discounts for long-term storage, first month free deals, refer a friend discounts, etc. Let potential storage facility managers know that you’re shopping around for the best deal, and they will woo you like a college boy looking for love. And if they don’t offer any deals, ask. The worst that could happen is that they say no. The best that could happen is that you win a free trip to Hawaii with a team of supermodels. Though I probably wouldn’t get your hopes up for the Hawaii-supermodel thing.
Are there really self storage units that go for $1.00 a month?
Absolutely. And we have some prime beachfront property in Kansas you may be interested in, too. Those $1.00 deals are often saddled (remember the fine print…always read the fine print) with hidden fees, insurance riders, locks, sudden rental increases, etc.
So, I can just slap any old lock on my storage unit, right?
Only if you’re not emotionally attached to anything in it. Most regular padlocks are as easy for a thief to figure out as the password: “password.” Your best bet is a disc locks especially made for storage units.
Now that we’ve debunked all those myths about self storage units, we’re off to Scotland to find ol’ Nessie….