Things you should think about before you rent a self-storage unit
Northeastern Massachusetts is growing and expanding. While this is great news for businesses, it can also put a strain on finding affordable services, such as self-storage options.
Here, we’ll guide you through the labyrinth of options available and what you should consider if you’re in the market for self-storage options. Our goal is to help you make the right decision whether you’re downsizing, moving, or just need extra space to declutter your home.
To start, let’s look at some of the things you should think about before you rent a self-storage unit.
What Should and Shouldn’t Go into a Storage Unit
When deciding what to put in a storage unit, it is important to remember that not all items are suitable for storage. Firstly, let’s talk about items that are appropriate for self-storage.
- Furniture: Whether it’s excess office furniture or pieces from your home, storage units are an excellent place to keep these items when not in use.
- Seasonal Items: Things like holiday decorations, seasonal clothing, and sports equipment are perfect for storage units as they are not needed year-round.
- Old and Unused Clothes: It can be hard to get rid of old clothes, but storage units are a great place to store them until you’re ready to part with them, use them again, or pass them down.
- Basic Electronics: If you have basic or old electronics that you don’t use frequently (such as an old TV, microwave oven, or record player), a climate-controlled storage unit can help preserve them.
- Old Documents and Files: Businesses often use self-storage units to store old files and documents that are required to be kept but are not needed daily.
Now, there are certain items that you should never keep in a storage unit.
- Perishable Food: Any type of food, especially those that are perishable, should not be stored as they can attract pests.
- Hazardous Materials: Anything that’s flammable, explosive, or toxic like gasoline, chemicals, or paint should not be stored in a unit.
- Valuables: Self-storage units are designed to be safe and secure, but highly valuable items like jewelry, expensive electronics, cash, and family heirlooms should be stored elsewhere. Some of these items would be more secure in a safety deposit box at the bank, for example.
- Tires: Storage companies often prohibit tires from being stored on-site because if they catch fire, they are difficult to put out. They can also be bad for the environment if they start to decay.
By understanding what should and shouldn’t go into a self-storage unit, you can ensure that you’re utilizing the space efficiently and responsibly.
Do You Need Insurance for Items in Self-Storage?
When renting a self-storage unit, one consideration that often arises is whether it’s a good idea to purchase insurance for the items you plan to store. It’s a common question with a not-so-simple answer.
The decision to insure your belongings in self-storage depends on several factors.
First, consider the potential risk factors at the storage facility.
It’s generally a good idea not to store valuable or irreplaceable items in a self-store unit. However, if you do, purchasing insurance could be a wise choice.
Even though most facilities aim to provide a secure environment, theft can occur. Natural disasters, fires, or water damage may also threaten to damage your possessions. Insurance can provide an extra layer of protection in these instances.
Your Existing Insurance Policies
Before you rush to purchase additional insurance, check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Some policies already cover items stored off-site.
If your existing policy does provide such coverage, make sure to understand its extent and limitations. For instance, some policies may cover theft but not water or fire damage in a storage unit.
Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember that not all stored items may be covered by your existing insurance. Certain items, like rare collectibles, may have limited coverage. If you’re storing such items, you might want to consider a supplemental insurance policy.
Lastly, let’s consider the cost factor.
The price of additional insurance is influenced by the value of the items you’re storing and the level of coverage you choose. If you’re storing high-value items and need comprehensive coverage, the cost of insurance will be higher.
Conversely, if the items are of lower value or replaceable, the repayment of an insurance policy might not be worth the expense in the first place. In such a case, the cost of replacing the items, if damaged or stolen, might be less than the ongoing cost of insurance.
Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider the cost-effectiveness of insurance for your stored items, as it adds to the overall cost of using a storage unit.
In summary, while insurance for items in a self-storage unit is not always necessary, it can offer peace of mind. It’s advisable to evaluate the value of your stored items, understand your existing coverage, and consider any potential risks before deciding. Always remember that the goal is to ensure you are appropriately protected without paying for unnecessary coverage.
What to Consider in Selecting a Self-Storage Facility
Choosing the right self-storage facility is not simply about finding the one with the lowest price. It involves a series of considerations that ensure the facility meets your specific needs and will provide a safe, accessible, and cost-effective environment for your stored belongings.
In this section, we will delve into key factors to consider that will guide you in selecting the most suitable self-storage facility for you.
You’ll have to spend some time at the storage facility loading and unloading your items. In some cases, you may find yourself at the location at night or at a time when no attendant is on duty.
Your safety should be your first consideration in selecting a storage facility. Reputable operators will prioritize safety and security, maintaining a well-lit and clean environment.
Look for features such as 24/7 video surveillance, gated entry points with codes or key cards, onsite staff (for larger facilities), motion detectors, and alarm systems. Ask the manager what measures they have in place to ensure your safety when you visit the facility.
When making your selection, you should also consider the facility’s hours of operation and access methods. Most facilities offer drive-up units as well as climate-controlled interior units. Some have 24/7 access, while others may restrict access to certain times during the day or night.
If you struggle with mobility issues, look for a facility with elevator access and units on the ground floor. Also, make sure you can get your vehicle close to the unit, so you don’t have to carry heavy items a long distance.
The location of the self-storage facility is another key factor in your decision-making process. You should consider how far it is from your home, business, or other locations you frequent.
Ideally, the facility should be close enough to make it easy to access items when needed but far enough so that burglars are not tempted by its proximity.
As such, you also need to consider whether theft will be a risk of using the storage facility. Make sure the facility you choose isn’t in an area with high rates of property crime. Sites and facilities with theft deterrent systems should take priority.
To give you an idea of where to search, check out this interactive Massachusetts property crime rate map.
Since you’ll be renting a unit alongside other tenants, it’s important to ask about the facility’s policy for tenant screening. Find out how they decide who can rent and what type of people are using the facility.
Ideally, look for a storage operator that has strict rules in place regarding tenants. They should require their customers to provide identification as part of the renting process.
Determine whether the storage site or facility is at risk for environmental issues like mold, flooding, or fire. Poor circulation in a storage unit could lead to issues like mold and rot, for example. This is especially important to consider if you’re planning to store upholstered furniture, for example.
Ask the storage company if their storage units have good air circulation, are cooled, or have other environmental controls.
Some self-storage options are more expensive than others, but just because one facility costs more doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice.
Consider the long-term costs of renting a unit. Ask about any annual or monthly fees, discounts for committing to longer-term contracts, and special promotions the facility might be running.
Also, check if there are any hidden costs like late payment fees or additional charges for using the property’s amenities (such as dollies or carts). These can add up over time.
This self-storage cost calculator can help give you a good idea of typical long-term costs.
Good customer service at a storage facility can make a big difference in how satisfied you are with the overall experience.
Look for a facility that offers friendly, knowledgeable staff and customer service that is prompt and courteous when responding to issues. A good storage manager will be able to answer any questions you have about the facility and provide helpful advice on how best to store your items.
Reviews & Feedback
Finally, it’s worth looking at online reviews and feedback from other customers. This will give you a better understanding of the facility’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as any potential issues to be aware of before renting.
Things to Look Out for When Renting Self-Storage
When you rent a self-storage unit, you’ll usually encounter straightforward pricing. You may also have a clear idea of how long you’ll need to rent the unit and when you plan on emptying it.
However, there are certain things to look out for when renting self-storage. These can include hidden fees, rules that are not made clear in the contract, and discrepancies between what is advertised online and what you experience once at the facility.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for.
The Old Bait and Switch
Make sure to read the fine print of your rental agreement carefully; ask questions about any fees or charges that you don’t understand; and, if possible, compare the rate you are being quoted to other similar facilities in the area.
Look out for any hidden fees or charges that may be added on after signing your rental agreement. This is commonly referred to as “bait and switch” – a situation where an advertised price suddenly increases due to an unexpected fee or charge.
It could be that the self-storage company is marketing a “promotional” price to encourage people to rent—but that price may only be active for the first month or two of your contract.
Anyone familiar with subscription-based services, such as Netflix, is aware of auto-renewals. This is when you are automatically charged at the end of a pay period for more services.
Some self-storage companies may include auto-renewal language in their contracts, but they may not be upfront about it. Make sure to ask directly if your rental agreement will be renewed automatically.
If you only want to rent a self-storage unit for a specific amount of time, mark the end date on your calendar and set a reminder on your phone. Empty your unit and close your account before the auto-renewal date comes.
This will help you avoid accidentally paying for another month (or months) of storage when you don’t need it.
Expired Cards and Address Changes
If the credit card you use to pay for your storage unit expires in the middle of your service period, the self-storage company may attempt to bill you and fail. In a best-case scenario, they’ll reach out to you for another form of payment. But if they can’t get ahold of you, they may treat your storage unit as “abandoned.”
If you’ve ever seen those reality TV shows where they auction off items from an abandoned storage unit, you have a good idea of what can happen if you don’t pay your bill for several months.
The same thing could happen if you address changes. Credit cards are typically linked to addresses, so an address change with your credit card company could impact the self-storage company’s ability to charge you.
Make sure your self-storage company has your most up-to-date credit card and address information if these things change.
The Fine Print in Rental Contracts
There may be additional fine print in your rental contract that you need to be aware of, especially if major life changes are on your horizon.
What happens if your partner rents the unit and you put your furniture in it, but you end up breaking up?
What happens if a parent rents a storage unit, and they pass away? Will you be able to access their unit as their child?
Some of these scenarios may be unpleasant to consider, but they are worth asking if they are a possibility.
Types of Storage Units
Finally, you should consider what type of storage unit you want to rent. Here are a few parameters that may be options in your search.
Climate Controlled Units
Climate-controlled units maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level year-round. These units are ideal for storing sensitive items such as antique furniture, vintage clothing, valuable books, or artwork, which may be damaged by extreme temperatures or moisture.
Drive-up units are outdoor storage spaces that allow you to drive your vehicle directly up to the unit. They are ideal for individuals needing to store large items like furniture, appliances, or even vehicles. Their easy access makes moving and unloading items much more convenient.
Indoor units are located within a large building and provide additional protection from the elements. These units are a great choice for long-term storage or for storing valuable items that need extra security.
Keep in mind, however, that you won’t be able to drive up to your unit to unload items. Make sure the indoor facility you choose has tools like dollies to move your items, or an elevator if it has units on multiple floors.
Mobile Self-Storage Units
Mobile self-storage units are delivered to your home, where you can fill them at your leisure. Once filled, the company will pick up the unit and store it at their facility. This is a convenient option for those who need to set up their homes for sale or are undergoing a significant home renovation project.
Vehicle Storage Units
Vehicle storage units are designed to store cars, boats, RVs, and other large vehicles. These units are typically outdoor, but some facilities offer indoor or covered vehicle storage for added protection.
Business Storage Units
Business storage units are geared toward commercial use. They often offer features like shelving and electricity, making them suitable for storing inventory, files, equipment, and other business necessities.
Self-Storage Alternatives to Consider
If you’re storing items because you don’t have a use for them (but think you might need them in the future), it may be in your interest to bid them farewell instead. Even if your old couch has sentimental value, it may not be worth it to spend a sizable amount of cash each month just in case you might use it in the future.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get rid of extra items sustainably that don’t involve a lot of headaches or heavy lifting. Here are a few options you might consider.
Consignment provides an excellent alternative to self-storage, particularly when you have items of value that you no longer need or use. With consignment, you provide your items to a third-party store or dealer, who then sells the items on your behalf.
This arrangement can offer multiple benefits. It can save you the recurring expense of a storage unit and, instead, potentially provide you with an income stream.
It’s also consignment an environmentally friendly option, as it encourages the reuse and recycling of items, reducing waste and consumption.
There are plenty of consignment opportunities in and around the Boston area that cater to specific tastes. For example, Boston Consignment specializes in fine antique consignments. You can also check online for lists, such as this list of the 15 best consignment shops in Massachusetts in 2023.
Freecycling, as the name suggests, is a combination of “free” and “recycling”. It is a grassroots movement where people give away used goods or materials to others who want them, rather than throwing them away.
The purpose of the concept is to keep usable items out of landfills, but also to help people avoid buying new items when perfectly usable ones are available in the community.
One of the most popular freecycling groups out there is the Buy Nothing Project. You can download the Buy Nothing app for your smartphone to find potential giftees that way. However, many Buy Nothing groups still operate through social media sites (primarily Facebook).
To find a local group, simply log into your Facebook account and search “Buy Nothing” alongside your city, town, or county.
These groups are hyper-local, which means you may only be able to join a Buy Nothing group in your immediate area. That said, they are also immensely popular, and you can almost always find someone in need who is interested in a free item.
If you’re trying to give away large items and you don’t have a means of transporting them, make sure you mention that the people receiving them will need to pick them up themselves. Some people may be willing to rent a truck, use their vehicle, or enlist the help of a friend to bring the items home.
Donations to Charitable Organizations
If you can’t find someone locally who wants your items, you may be able to donate them to a charitable organization. Many charities, such as The Salvation Army or Goodwill, accept donations of furniture, home goods, and clothing.
Donating your items to a charity can help you declutter your home without having to resort to self-storage. It’s also an environmentally conscious choice since your items will be reused by someone else rather than ending up in a landfill, and you may be able to write off your charitable contributions on your taxes.
Some of the most popular charitable organizations to donate items to include:
- AMVETS (American Veterans)
- Habitat for Humanity
- Local churches
- Local thrift stores (Beverly Bootstraps, LifeBridge Thrift Shop)
- The Salvation Army
Before donating, contact the organization to make sure they accept donations of furniture or other items you wish to donate. You may also be able to get a receipt for your donation, which you’ll need as proof if you intend to do a tax write-off.
Yard sales can be a lot of work, but they’re a great way to get rid of items you don’t need and potentially make some money in the process.
You can advertise your yard sale with posters and flyers around town, as well as through online classifieds such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Additionally, local newspapers often have classified sections where you can list your upcoming sale.
Flea markets are similar to yard sales, but they’re usually larger and attract more buyers. If you have a lot of items that you’d like to get rid of in one go, this may be the best option for you.
Most flea markets will charge a fee for setting up your booth, so make sure you research your local options before committing.
Selling Items Online
If you just need to get rid of one or two items, or if yard sales and flea markets will take up too much of your time, you can always try selling extra items online. Some of the most popular online marketplaces include the following:
- Craigslist (good for selling locally)
- eBay (best for small, shippable items)
- Etsy (best for hand-crafted items)
- Facebook Marketplace (good for selling locally or selling small, shippable items)
- OfferUp (good for selling locally)
When pricing your items, be sure to research the market value first so you can increase the chances of a sale.
Throwing Things Away
If you haven’t had any luck with donating or freecycling, you don’t want to store your items, and you just need them out of your space, it may be time to consider simply throwing them away. Nobody likes filling up landfills with extra stuff, but you shouldn’t have to pay your hard-earned money to store an item you don’t want either.
Take your items to the dump: If you don’t have a way to transport your items, you can always hire someone with a truck or van to do it for you. It may cost more than some of the other options on this list, but it could be worth it if you need to get rid of large items quickly.
Hire a junk removal service: If your items are too big to fit in your car, a junk removal service may be the way to go. You can usually have them pick up items from your home and take them away for you.
Rent a dumpster: If you’re dealing with large amounts of clutter, renting a dumpster might be the most cost-effective option. Since it will remain in your driveway or front yard for a few days, you can take your time to fill it up with all your unwanted items.
Remember to dispose of hazardous materials like paint and cleaning products properly, as they cannot be thrown away in the regular trash. Check with your local environmental agency for instructions on how to do so.
Use Bagster: Bagster is a convenient waste removal service that allows you to fill up a flexible bag with all your unwanted items and have them picked up from your house by WM. If you feel like you’re too busy to manage a yard sale or donate your stuff, the Bagster could be the best option for you.
You can also pick up Bagster bags from the Home Depot.
Northeastern Massachusetts Self-Storage Facilities
If you’re still set on self-storage, there are plenty of options in Northeastern Massachusetts to choose from. Here, we’ve created a comprehensive list of self-storage services to help you find the best option for your needs.
The following self-storage companies can be found in Essex and Middlesex counties in Massachusetts. For your convenience, we’ve broken them out by the counties in which they are located.
|Mimi’s Moving & Storage Services||Not Listed||(781) 496-1003||Open 24 hours||https://www.mimismoving.com/||4.4/5|
|Advantage Self Storage||97 Rantoul St Beverly, MA 01915||(978) 267-1061||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 5 pm
|Life Storage (Beverly)||130 Sohier Road Beverly, MA 01915||(855) 419-5888||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 8:30 am – 5 pm
|Sohier Road Self Storage||130 Sohier Rd Beverly, MA 01915||Phone number(978) 515-2457||Mon – Fri: 8 am – 5 pm||https://sohierroadselfstorage.com/||N/A|
|Stor-U-Self||12 Kent Way Byfield, MA 01922||Phone number(978) 465-9377||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 8:30 am – 5 pm
|Cranney Self Storage, Inc.||24 Water St Danvers, MA 01923||(978) 777-9193||Mon – Fri: 8 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 8 am – 4 pm
Sun: 9am – 1pm
|Essex Mini Storage||221 Western Ave Essex, MA 01929||(978) 768-7445||Mon – Fri: 9 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 2 pm
|North Shore Mini Storage of Essex||73 Eastern Ave Essex, MA 01929||(978) 768-3863||Mon – Fri: 8 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 8 am – 2 pm
|Groveland Self Storage||15 Nelson St Groveland, MA 01834||(978) 400-9807||Mon – Fri: 6 am – 7 pm|
Sat: 6 am – 7 pm
Sun: 6 am – 7 pm
|Cape Ann Storage (Ipswich)||19 Mitchell RoadIpswich, MA 01938||(978) 356-8868||Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 3 pm
|Cape Ann Storage (Manchester)||1 Beaver Dam Rd Manchester, MA 01944||(978) 526-1327||Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 3 pm
|AEL Mobile Storage Group||108 Newburyport Tpke Newbury, MA 01951||Phone number(978) 465-8877||Not Listed||https://www.mobilemini.com/||N/A|
|Rowley Self-Storage||150R Newburyport Tpke Rowley, MA 01969||(978) 432-6121||Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 4 pm||http://www.rowleyselfstorage.com/||N/A|
|Extra Space Storage||1701 Osgood St North Andover, MA 01845||(978) 327-6430||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 5:30 pm
|Life Storage (North Andover)||1171 Turnpike St North Andover, MA 01845||(855) 419-5888||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 8:30 am – 5 pm
|CubeSmart Self Storage (Peabody)||137 Summit St Peabody, MA 01960||(978) 595-1900||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 5 pm
Sun: 11am – 3pm
|EASI Self-Storage||392 Highland Ave Salem, MA 01970||(978) 741-4774||Mon – Fri: 9 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 4 pm
Sun: 10am – 2pm
|Public Storage||12 Goodhue St Salem, MA 01970||(978) 219-9318||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 9:30 am – 5 pm
Sun: 9:30 am – 5 pm
|Life Storage (Salisbury)||167 Elm St Salisbury, MA 01952||Phone number(855) 972-5019||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 8:30 am – 5 pm
|Acton Self Storage||4 Post Office Sq Acton, MA 01720||(978) 631-2485||Mon – Fri: 9 am – 6 pm||https://www.10xselfstorage.com/location/USA/MA/Acton/acton-1689/||2.3/5|
|Arlington Self Storage||12 Brattle Ct Arlington, MA 02476||(781) 648-6655||Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 4 pm|
Sat: 8:30 am – 2 pm
|126 Self Storage||162 Pond St Ashland, MA 01721||(508) 881-8550||Mon – Fri: 9 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 2 pm
|Ashland Mini-Storage||11 Nickerson Rd Ashland, MA 01721||(508) 881-7923||Mon – Fri: 9 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 3 pm
|Life Storage (Ashland)||81 W Union St Ashland, MA 01721||(855) 419-5888||Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 8:30 am – 5 pm
Sun: 12 pm – 4 pm
|Castle Self Storage||39 Old Colony Ave Boston, MA 02127||(857) 250-3410||Mon – Fri: 8 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 8 am – 5 pm
Sun: 11 am – 4 pm
|Charlestown Self Storage||50 Terminal St Charlestown, MA 02129||(617) 241-5550||Mon – Fri: 10 am – 6 pm (varies)|
Sat: 9 am – 3 pm
|3E Moving & Storage||7 Doris Dr North Chelmsford, MA 01863||(978) 251-1444||Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm||https://www.3emoving.com/||4.6/5|
|Chelmsford Storage Solutions||296 Littleton Rd Chelmsford, MA 01824||(978) 212-9032||Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 5 pm|
Sat: 8 am – 3 pm
Sun: 9 am – 1 pm
|Extra Space Storage (Everett)||2050 Revere Beach Pkwy Everett, MA 02149||(617) 655-9399||Mon – Fri: 6 am – 10 pm|
Sat: 6 am – 10 pm
Sun: 6am – 10pm
|EZ Storage||501 Cochituate Rd Framingham, MA 01701||(508) 270-4500||Mon – Fri: 9 am – 6 pm|
Sat: 9 am – 6 pm
|Hopkinton Storage||89 Hayden Rowe St Hopkinton, MA 01748||(508) 589-4630||Not Listed||N/A||N/A|
|Extra Space Storage (Hudson)||54 Cherry St Hudson, MA 01749||(978) 254-2545||Mon – Fri: 6 am – 10 pm|
Sat: 6 am – 10 pm
Sun: 6am – 10pm