When, Why And Why Not To Use A Self-Storage Unit

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During our recent, devastating and historic floods in northern Colorado, over 20,000 homes were destroyed or damaged. Not included in this number were self-storage units, lined up like horse-race gates waiting for nervous horses to jump out and race down the track. Unfortunately, thousands of dollars of short and long-kept items and memorabilia, in paid storage, were lost to the rushing waters.

Amber Genova, of Spring Gulch, a neighborhood near Lyons, CO removes flood damaged belongings while clearing out her storage unit, Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, at Storage West Self Storage in Longmont. The Genova’s home near Lyons was not damaged by the flood. (Matthew Jonas/Times-Call Newspaper)


When is a good time to use storage facilities? Sometimes the answer is never, but sometimes the answer makes sense.

Before you start making monthly payments on self storage space (on items you don’t remember you even have and for decades!), ask yourself:

1. Why do I need to keep it in the first place?

DECIDE: Sometimes people use “storage” as a way to ignore items and put off decisions on what to do with their, or other’s, stuff and things.

Ask yourself, “If my house burned down, and this item was gone forever, would I even remember I’d had it or would I miss it?” If the answer is no, then just move it out now – donate, sell or give away.

EVERYTHING HAS A SHELF LIFE: Also, realize that some things, left too long in outdoor, non-controlled climate storage, don’t last that long. Rubber, plastic, wax, fabric, even wood changes, and not in a good way!

DON’T PACK YOUR EMOTIONS IN STORAGE: If you’re keeping it purely due to sentimental value, or emotions, maybe take a photo of it, but let the item go. Keep the photo, display it well to remember the memory.

So, if you reeeeeeeeally think you have to keep it, keep asking yourself more questions to decide.

2. Can I wait and just keep it in the basement or garage and make other decisions on it soon?

3. Is the cost–often $100 or more a month– justified for what I want to store?

Old furniture with little value, for example, can be replaced with new pieces for the cost of a year or two of self storage. If you have too much clutter in your home, consider getting rid of things rather than paying to keep clutter out of sight. However, self storage does make sense in certain circumstances.

4. Add up the numbers. How much will this have cost me in 12 months from now? Could I have used that money for something better?


1. You’re Between Houses or Work Being Done

  • Sometimes people must move out of one place before their new permanent residence is ready.
  • Maybe the new house is under construction.
  • You don’t have time to shop for a house before relocating.
  • You have a small fire or water break in our home and need to be out for a while to have it repaired, carpets torn up, etc.

While temporarily living in a small apartment, a hotel or with friends or family, self storage is an option that allows you to keep your furniture and belongings during the transition.

2. Someone Dies, or a Settlement of an Estate

  • When there is a death in the family, sometimes the deceased’s belongings need to be stored while the Will and legalities are settled.
  • Sometimes the home simply needs to be emptied to sell or be passed down, and the contents need a temporary place to go.

3. You Have a Small Living Space

If you don’t have a garage, attic or basement, storage can be a legitimate issue, especially if you have sports equipment and other items that are only used seasonally. If you are a long-term dweller of a small apartment, condo or house, self storage may be a worth the cost for keeping things that are used every year, such as ski equipment, bikes, surfing gear and holiday decorations. Self storage may even be a necessity if you have big toys such as jet skis, ATVs, RVs, boats, snowmobiles and motorcycles.

4. You’re Trying to Sell Your Home

Staging is always a necessity when selling a home. So, when your home needs to look like a model home, that’s inviting and not too “lived in,” it’s recommended that the contents of your home are reduced to a bare minimum so the space looks open and uncluttered. Prospective buyers will be looking at the basement and garage, too, so a temporary solution is to box toys, knick-knacks and small appliances and stash them in a self storage unit.


Sometimes storage units are helpful and maybe necessary. But really think it through so that you’re not just paying for nothing and dumping it all in the trash in years or decades to come, or worse yet, your stuff ends up on a TV show like Storage Wars and someone else makes money on it! That’s just kind of crazy!




2 Responses to “When, Why And Why Not To Use A Self-Storage Unit”

  1. Don Moller Says:

    Your article will sure help me convince my wife about what we should put in storage as we are moving in to a new home as our has moved out to a different city. She (my wife) has been trying to cling to all our belongings and it’s hard to cram it all in our new, smaller place. I’m very happy I found this!

  2. Kim Wolinski Says:

    Great, Don! Thank you for the feedback!

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