How to Choose the Right Self-Storage Unit for Your Short-Term Storage Project

Short-term self-storage is a popular option for many different projects. Whether you’re in between homes during a move, in the middle of a renovation, subletting your home while away on travels, needing extra space while friends are visiting from afar, or a myriad of other situations, self-storage proves time and again as both an economical and safe solution.

While self-storage is likely your best solution, there are many things to consider when determining the type and size of unit appropriate to your short-term needs. At Real Storage, we house items for numerous short-term tenants, and have taken the time to put together the best tips and considerations for you to keep in mind when deciding on the self-storage right for you.

First, the space

Regardless of whether it short- or long-term, it’s additional space you’re in the market for when you come to a self-storage facility. Most facilities offer a wide variety of unit sizes, and in order to choose the one best for you, you’ll need to first determine what exactly you are storing.

The way to do this best is to create an inventory of your items. Once you have your belongings all in one place (on a list), then you can start imagining the amount of space required. Moreover, you will need to plan for the sort of storage you intend on utilizing. In other words, will you require access to items on a regular basis, and therefore require extra space for aisles and movement within the unit, or will you not need regular access, and, therefore, can load the unit tightly?

Once you know the answer here, then you should be utilizing a storage calculator to estimate the appropriate size, and then speak with the facility, getting a second opinion on your space requirement from them before making any formal arrangements.

Next, the type

Once you know the size required for your items, the next step is to determine whether you should be renting an outdoor, drive-up unit, a climate-controlled unit, or a mobile storage container.

Each is good for various uses, but the first item on the docket is to know whether you have items that are sensitive to fluctuating temperatures and/or humidity:

  • Artwork,
  • Antiques,
  • Musical instruments,
  • Collectibles,
  • Fine fabrics,
  • Electronics,
  • Vinyl records,
  • Classic car, etc.

If your belongings are susceptible to temperature fluctuations or humidity, then the decision has really been made for you: you require a climate-controlled unit.

Otherwise, the advantage to a drive-up unit is the very fact that you can, of course, “drive-up” to the unit. These are great options for anyone who will require access to their storage unit on a regular basis.

While convenient, the drive-up unit is not quite as convenient as the mobile container. If you have room on your property for this, then this is super-convenient: you won’t have to leave your property to access the storage belongings you require.

The mobile unit is convenient in another way as well though: because the storage unit comes to you, you only have to load it once, rather than (as is the case with a climate-controlled or drive-up unit) loading a truck and then the storage unit at the facility. Skip the second load with the mobile unit. Plus, if you don’t have room on your property, the mobile container can be picked up and stored at a proper storage facility (in this case though, you will need to arrange visits to your container with the facility).

(For more information on unit types, read this article.)

The best location

If you’re needing access to your storage unit on a regular basis and you have not rented a mobile container that remains on your property, then a big consideration for you is the location of the facility you will be frequenting. You do not want a facility that is too far away, such that a visit to it is a time-consuming activity – you likely want quick and fast access. When investigating facilities, keep their access hours in mind, and try to choose a facility that is not only close to home, but also allows you to get to your locker during times you know you’ll often be needing access to it.

Utilizing a moving company

There is in fact another option available to you if you are hiring a moving company. Some moving companies offer storage in transit, loading your items on their truck, holding them in their facility for a short duration, and then bringing them to you when you need.

This is of course more expensive than a self-storage option, but if you are going to hire a moving company anyways, look into this option with them to determine what is best for your needs and budget. Do make sure though to enquire about their storage facility, especially if your items require climate-controlled environments.

Flexible contracts

Short-term storage can often be difficult to predict a proper end date for. Given this fact, we strongly suggest working with a self-storage company that is flexible with their contracts, allowing you to continue your lease easily, or ending it early without additional fees. A month-to-month lease agreement is what you need to be sure you are agreeing to, in other words.


Relying on a self-storage facility to protect your personal belongings takes some trust, and the best way to have the peace of mind that your facility will keep your items protected is to be sure the facility is outfitted with proper security measures.

Visit facilities in advance, and take note of things like security cameras, electronic access locks, a gated property, and both interior and exterior lighting. This is only all the more significant if you are storing particularly valuable items, such as artwork and antiques.

At Real Storage, we have many options for sizes and types of units, secured by state-of-the-art security systems. Our staff are experienced and from the local area, and will be happy to assist you on your short-term storage project. Speak with your Real Storage agent today for more information on the best short-term storage options for your project.