The Complete Self-Storage Guide
When it comes to the variety of sizes, features, and different types of storage units, the sheer number of available options to choose from can be overwhelming. Our complete self-storage guide is designed to eliminate the guesswork by providing a comprehensive resource for understanding and better utilizing self-storage units in Canada. This guide will help you explore the different storage options available, identify scenarios where self-storage can be beneficial, and ultimately choose the right unit for your specific needs.
What is Self-storage?
Self-storage is a convenient and cost-effective service that allows individuals and businesses to rent space for the secure storage of household goods, ranging from boxes to furniture, and even vehicles. Unlike full-service storage options such as moving companies or warehouses, self-storage differs in its cost and ease of use. With full-service storage, where your access to your stored goods is restricted, both in terms of scheduling and how long you may be permitted or required to use the facilities, you will also be facing premium costs. Alternatively, when you use self-storage, it is completely self-serve, which gives you greater flexibility and control of when, how often, and how long you need to store, as well as lower storage costs. You transport your goods yourself, and you have unlimited access to your storage unit year-round including after-hours, so you won’t have to deal with scheduled access or extra charges. Self-storage leases are month-to-month, so it is possible to vacate on short notice without being locked into a contract.
Types of Self-storage
The type of self-storage you require depends on the items you’re storing, the degree of accessibility you need, and whether you want drive-up access, an indoor unit, or outside parking. By supplying a choice of storage options, self-storage facilities cater to diverse needs. Familiarizing yourself with these different unit types will help you find the most appropriate storage solution for your specific requirements.
Indoor storage units located within storage facilities offer advantages such as heightened security and dedicated temperature/climate control. These units provide protection against weather and environmental factors, making them ideal for storing both common household goods and temperature-sensitive items alike. Three common types of indoor storage are:
Residential self-storage units cater to homeowners and renters who require additional space for various reasons, such as storing seasonal items, decluttering, and home renovations or staging. These convenient units accommodate a range of typical household belongings, such as furniture, appliances, clothing, electronics, as well as possessions like books, media, and holiday décor.
Business storage units provide valuable space for small home-based businesses or offices in need of extra storage as part of inventory or records management. They accommodate documents, equipment, stock, and office furniture, enabling companies to better optimize workspaces, store seasonal items, or handle inventory overflow during peak times.
Lifestyle storage units cater to individuals seeking storage solutions for recreational items, leisure and hobby-related items, like sports gear, bicycles, camping equipment, musical instruments, art or craft supplies, or collectibles. This type of storage usage helps free up space in the home or garage, while ensuring regular, convenient access to stored items for the purpose of recreation.
Outdoor Drive-Up Storage
Outdoor drive-up storage units provide quick access and ease-of-use, allowing you to load and unload items directly from your vehicle. Although they typically lack temperature control, these units are a more practical choice for storing larger, bulkier items that would be difficult to maneuver, or for good that need to be stored and retrieved on a frequent access.
Vehicle storage offers options such as indoor garage-style drive-up units, or outdoor parking spaces to accommodate various types of vehicles. Drive-up units are fully enclosed for heightened security and protection from adverse weather, while outdoor parking spaces are suitable when you’re looking for temporary extra parking or for storing large vehicles like RVs or vans. These units are ideal if you don’t have access to dedicated parking for a seasonal or secondary vehicle; while traveling; or during a temporary change of residence.
Scenarios Where You Might Need Self-Storage
Self-storage provides a flexible and convenient option for various life situations, primarily the ones that affect your home. The versatility of self-storage makes using it an invaluable solution for adapting to such changes and managing space requirements. Here are some common scenarios that would benefit from the use of self-storage:
Regardless of the size of your home, decluttering to create more living space is often a necessity. Self-storage units offer a convenient and efficient way to store items you want to keep while maintaining a clutter-free home, providing easy access to your belongings whenever you need them.
Working from Home
As remote or hybrid work situations become more of the norm, creating a dedicated workspace in your home can be a challenge. Utilizing a self-storage unit to clear out non-essential items, household extras, and spare furniture is an easy and convenient solution to make room for a productive home office environment.
When it comes to home renovations, it’s important to safeguard furniture and household items from damaging effects of dirt, dust, and paint splatters. Renting a self-storage unit provides a convenient and secure solution for temporary storage, keeping your belongings safe and protected off-site for the duration of the renovation period.
Selling Your Home
Staging your home for sale is a great way to attract potential buyers, however, it requires a clean, clutter-free appearance in the home, both inside and out, to make it truly successful. Making use of a self-storage unit allows you to store excess items temporarily, so you can enhance your home’s appeal during showings and open houses, ultimately improving the likelihood of a successful sale.
During relationship transitions, like new cohabitation or separation, extra space may be needed to facilitate the change in living situation. Self-storage offers a convenient and secure solution for the storage of personal belongings while combining or dividing households. Self-storage can also come in handy for the purpose of estate management, or to accommodate a new additional member of the household.
Storage for Business
For small businesses operating from home, business self-storage can be a valuable solution when outgrowing available household space. It offers a flexible, cost-effective way to store excess inventory, documents, or equipment, ensuring that business growth is not hindered by limited storage capacity, while simultaneously eliminating the need to move operations to larger or off-site premises.
What Size Do You Need?
Choosing the appropriate storage unit size is essential for efficiently storing your belongings and managing costs. The size of the unit determines both the capacity for items and the price, with larger units being progressively more expensive. Consider your storage needs and evaluate common unit sizes to make the best choice for your requirements.
Read our article to get more information on how to choose the right size of storage unit for you.
5×5 Storage Unit
A 5×5 storage unit is equivalent to a large closet and offers approximately 25 square feet or 200 cubic feet of space. It is most ideal for storing a limited number of items, such as:
- 15 moving boxes
- Small furniture items, e.g. side tables, armchairs
- A twin-sized mattress set
- Air conditioner or humidifier
- Small kitchen appliances, e.g. microwave, toaster oven
- Seasonal clothing, accessories, and decor
In general, this unit size caters to individuals with modest storage requirements.
5×10 Storage Unit
A 5×10 storage unit is roughly the size of a large walk-in closet and provides approximately 50 square feet or 400 cubic feet of space. It is most ideal for storing the contents of a medium-sized room and can accommodate items such as:
- 25 moving boxes
- Contents of a studio apartment
- Sofa or sectional
- Queen mattress set
- HDTVs and electronics
- Small dining room set
- Seasonal items like a barbecue or patio chairs
- Gym and sports equipment
In general, a 5×10 storage unit a suitable option for those with moderate storage needs.
10×10 Storage Unit
A 10×10 storage unit offers approximately 100 square feet or 800 cubic feet of space and is roughly half the size of a single-car garage. This unit is suitable for storing the contents of about three bedrooms or an entire family room, accommodating a mix of large and small items such as:
- 50 moving boxes
- Contents of a 1-bedroom apartment or condo
- Major kitchen appliances
- King-sized mattress set
- Garden and lawncare equipment
- Seasonal items, e.g. Christmas lawn ornaments, patio dining set, tires
A 10×10 self-storage unit is a popular choice for individuals and families during a move or for home staging, renovation or redecorating, providing a flexible and convenient option for temporary storage needs.
10×15 Storage Unit
A 10×15 storage unit offers approximately 150 square feet or 1,200 cubic feet of space and is similar in size to a standard 1-car garage. This unit is ideal for storing a combination of larger furnishings or accessories, such as:
- 80 moving boxes
- Contents of a 2-bedroom apartment or condo
- Multiple large appliances
- Exercise equipment or home gym
- Home entertainment centre
- Small recreational vehicles like ATVs, a single watercraft, or motorcycles.
A 10×15 storage unit provides ample space for household contents, and is a perfect choice for when you’re relocating, looking for temporary storage during major home renovations, or when you’re between homes.
10×20 Storage Unit
A 10×20 storage unit offers approximately 200 square feet or 1,600 cubic feet of space and is similar in size to a large 1-car garage. It’s ideal for storing:
- Over 100 moving boxes
- Contents of a 2- or 3-bedroom home
- All major appliances
- Passenger vehicle
This unit size can accommodate a small to mid-sized car, with additional room for belongings such as garage or basement extras. A 10×20 storage unit is perfect for those with larger storage needs, like storage for the contents of a three-bedroom home or vehicle storage.
10×25 Storage Unit
A 10×25 storage unit provides approximately 250 square feet or 2,000 cubic feet of space and is slightly larger than a 1-car garage. It’s suitable for storing major appliances, full-sized furniture sets, and various other larger items. This unit size is perfect for storing:
- Over 100 moving boxes
- Contents of a 3- or 4-bedroom home
- Office furniture
- Commercial tools and equipment
- Passenger vehicle
A 10×25 storage unit caters to the needs of those with extensive storage requirements, including both residential and business purposes.
10×30 Storage Unit
A 10×30 storage unit, with approximately 300 square feet or 2,400 cubic feet of space, is similar in size to a 2-car garage. It’s ideal for storing a vast array of items, including:
- Over 150 moving boxes
- Contents of a 4-bedroom home and up
- Boat on a trailer (no mast)
- Canoes or kayaks
- Business inventory
- Passenger vehicle
This unit size caters to those with substantial storage requirements, providing ample space for various belongings, commercial purposes, and for watercraft or vehicles.
The cost of a self-storage unit depends on several factors, including unit size, location, type of storage unit, and rental duration. Prices can range as low as $50 – $100 per month for a small unit to several hundred dollars for larger, climate-controlled units. By understanding the factors that influence pricing, you can make an informed decision that suits your budget.
Factors That Affect Storage Unit Prices
Storage unit pricing depends on factors like unit size, location, type (climate-controlled or drive-up access), and rental duration. The cost will generally be higher for storage units in areas with higher real estate prices. To find the best storage solution within your budget, consider these factors:
Storage Unit Size
The cost of a storage unit is directly influenced by its size, with larger units generally costing more than smaller ones. To save money, assess your storage requirements and select the smallest possible unit so you won’t end up paying needlessly for unused space.
Storage Unit Location
The cost of a storage unit can vary based on its location, with units in dense urban areas typically being more expensive than those located in suburbs or remote areas. Additionally, factors like accessibility within the facility can impact the price. When choosing a unit, consider how to find a balance between cost and convenience to find the best solution for your storage needs.
Type of Storage Unit
The cost of a storage unit can be influenced by its type, with temperature-controlled and ground-floor units typically being more expensive than standard or upper-floor units. Additionally, drive-up access and enclosed garage-style units for vehicle storage can also raise the price. Carefully consider your storage requirements with respect to your belongings, so that you can select the most cost-effective unit with the appropriate level of accessibility or climatization you need.
Storage facilities often provide discounts or special offers for new customers, long-term rentals, or pre-paid agreements. When searching for a storage unit, be sure to inquire about any available promotions, as they can lead to considerable savings over the course of your rental period regardless of length of stay.
Finding the Right Self-storage Unit
To find the ideal storage unit for your needs, consider the following:
- Determine the items you’ll store to estimate the required unit size.
- Set a monthly rental budget
- Locate the storage facility nearest to you
- Assess the benefits of purchasing storage insurance
- Consider accessibility and frequency of visits
- Think about the unit’s location within the facility (drive-up vs. indoor, ground floor vs. elevator access)
- Decide on the storage duration, taking into account the benefits of indoor and/or temperature-controlled units for long-term storage
- Rent the storage unit while a promotion exists for your desired unit size or type.
Evaluating these factors will help you choose the best storage solution.
Storage Facility Features
When choosing a storage facility, look for features such as after-hours access, on-site management, and clean, well-maintained premises. These amenities can enhance your storage experience and ensure a positive interaction with the facility. Additionally, facilities with friendly and knowledgeable staff can help answer questions and address any concerns you might have during the rental process. Some notable features to consider when deciding to use self-storage are:
When choosing a storage facility, prioritize security features such as gated access, alarm systems, 24/7 surveillance, and sprinkler systems. Additional elements like temperature control, security lighting, and restricted floor access can also be of benefit to you. It is important to inspect the facility’s security measures and protocols to ensure that your belongings will be well-protected to provide you with peace of mind.
Access to Your Storage Unit
When choosing a storage facility, consider access hours to ensure you can retrieve your stored goods as needed. Access periods vary, with some facilities offering after-hours gate access, while others have access restricted to office hours only. Understand the facility’s access hours before renting a unit to accommodate your schedule and anticipated frequency of visits.
Drive-Up Storage Unit Access
Drive-up access storage units offer convenience by allowing you to load and unload items directly from your vehicle to the storage unit. This feature is especially helpful for storing large or heavy items, as it simplifies and speeds up the process by eliminating the need for facility amenities like elevators or loading bays. Drive-up access is also a recommended feature if frequent storage unit access is required.
Ground-Level Storage Units
Ground-level storage units offer convenient access without stairs or elevators, making them ideal for those with mobility issues or for storing large, heavy items. Available with both indoor and outdoor access, these units can save time and effort during loading and unloading, with some offering temperature control for added protection.
Storage Unit Temperature Control
It’s essential to consider whether you need a temperature-controlled storage unit, as they maintain consistent temperature ranges that offer greater protection against potential damage from temperature fluctuations. Most indoor units offer temperature control, while outdoor units typically don’t. However, the majority of household items don’t require temperature control for short-term to intermediate storage durations. Always check the storage facility’s features before renting to ensure you choose the right unit for your needs.
Storage Unit Climate Control
Climate-controlled storage units maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels, making them ideal for storing sensitive items like antiques, artwork, and certain chemicals. These units are less common and often more expensive than temperature-controlled units due to higher construction and operating costs. Bear in mind that items truly requiring climate control may need specialized facilities, which might not offer the same convenience and affordability of conventional self-storage. Always consider your items’ specific needs before choosing a storage solution to best ensure their protection.
Storage insurance is an important consideration when renting a self-storage unit, as it can provide coverage for your belongings against potential risks of loss or damage for the storage duration. While some facilities offer third-party insurance options on site, others may require you to secure coverage through your existing homeowner/tenant insurance. Be sure to verify your insurance needs and options before renting a storage unit for both peace of mind and security.
Read our article to learn more about the benefits of storage insurance.
Let me start by saying how wonderful the entire staff was… They didn't treat me as just a customer, but as a friend… and guided [me] through the process very professionally… Overall, I didn't feel like I was renting a storage unit, but maybe purchasing a fancy car or staying at a nice hotel. [T]his place is extremely affordable, much better pricing than competitors, and for the quality of service, you will never find anything like this in the area… Walk around this brand-new building, which is astounding. Extremely clean, classy, just beautiful. This is a 5-star hotel for [your] items.
Mostafa (source: Google)
Chloe was very nice and helped me in creating my lease. She was very professional and answered all my questions as I filled out the forms. When I emailed questions about the locker they called me back promptly. Since then, everyone has been incredibly friendly and helpful. Definitely recommend!
Christopher (source: Google)
I have rented two units in two different locations, the second one having been recommended by the first as being less expensive. The staff in both locations were friendly, helpful, and informative. I heartily recommend this business, largely because of its employees, but the units themselves are easy to access and well-lighted. They've done everything they can to make the unwelcome task of storing one's belongings as painless as possible.
Joan (source: Google)
I'm a long-term customer and very satisfied with the service - just got another unit the other day. The facility is very clean and dry and the hallways are bright. Staff are very easy to deal with if you have any questions or need another unit. The location is easy to get in and out of too. Highly recommend!
Anita (source: Facebook)