People need storage for all types of reasons—from downsizing and decluttering to moving or remodeling. Traditionally, storage meant renting a unit at a nearby storage facility.
However, the availability of portable storage provides consumers with another increasingly popular option.
This article examines the pros and cons of both traditional self storage and portable self storage. By the end, you should have a better idea of which type of storage is best suited for your needs.
Traditional Self Storage
Traditional self storage involves renting a unit at a nearby storage facility. Although the facilities themselves may vary widely in the amenities they offer, the basics are the same.
You lease a unit and move your stuff in—usually doing the packing, loading, and unloading yourself. You have a lock and key for the unit and can access it at your convenience or during allotted hours designated by the facilities operating and access hours.
Storage facilities might include single-story “garage-type” units that you drive up to or units located in an indoor multi-story building. Regardless of the type of construction, typical features include:
(some facilities even have units for storing wine!)
such as cameras, gated access, key codes, on-site managers, and extensive lighting.
Variety of unit sizes...
ranging from 5’ x 5’ units to 20’ x 30’ units to accommodate as many items the space will allow because there are so many possible reasons someone would need storage.
to store large vehicles such as RVs and boats due to the seasonal use of these items
Traditional storage facilities have the potential to be locally owned or be a part of a national franchise. Most U.S. residents will be able to choose from several facilities located within a few miles of their home.
- Been around long enough to have standard and competitive pricing
- Wide variety of unit sizes
- Frequently climate controlled – ideal for antiques and other delicate items
- Can be readily accessed (depending on facility hours)
- Requires driving to and from facility to load and unload and manage
- May require frequent trips to the facility (depending on vehicle size and needs)
- The ability and time of access is in control by the facilities regulations and rules
- Sharing space and location with other renters
Portable Self Storage
With portable storage, the storage unit comes to you in the form of a large, weatherproof, metal box. You can have the storage container delivered to your home (usually in the driveway or street) and leisurely load it however you see fit. Once the container is loaded, there are a few options for next steps. Moving forward:
Store the container on your property for a temporary or extended amount of time (depending on the rental period).
Have the container retrieved by the company then delivered to a new address.
Have the container retrieved and the company will store the container at their depot, warehouse, or facility.
The storage containers are easy to load—offering ground-level access. (By contrast, moving vans or trucks are usually several feet off the ground and require ramps for loading.) Unit sizes can range from mini units (7’ x 7’) to larger sized containers.
Typical portable storage containers are usually 8 feet high by 8 feet wide, and anywhere from 12 feet to 16 feet long. A 12-foot container is ideal for 500 to 1000 square feet of space. A 16-foot container can usually accommodate a 1,200 square foot space or smaller.
Portable storage is available from a variety of companies both local or nationwide brands, with PODS being one of the oldest brands in the industry.
Self storage facilities may also offer portable storage as an additional service for their customers. These are the type of operations that will pick up a filled container and return it to their facility for storing.
- Deliverable to a particular location
- Can be loaded on site and at whatever pace needed
- Can be shipped to a new place, and repeated until the contents are at their final destination to be unloaded
- Doesn’t require any travel
- Extremely versatile and private
- Portable storage is subject to delivery fees depending on distance or time
- Might not be able to store the container on location for long-term (depending on local regulations or city ordinances)
- Typically not as climate controlled as traditional storage
- Difficult to access belongings if you decide to have the company store a filled container on their property
Which Option Is Best For You?
The decision of whether to use traditional self storage or portable storage will depend on your unique situation and specific storage needs.
If you’re moving across town or cross-country, portable storage is usually the better option. In fact, mobile storage is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional moving companies.
Many people also choose to use portable storage during home remodeling or renovation projects—keeping their belongings in the storage container where they are easily accessible but out of the immediate area of renovation.
Portable storage containers can be the preferred option if needs are highly location specific or for a short amount of time. However, more people are trusting portable storage rentals for more extended periods to add extra and readily accessible storage to their home or set up a makeshift workshop.
To make the best option, it is crucial to find all the places and ways that traditional and portable attempt to solve problems about storage. By looking at all the different storage options in your area, you’ll be sure to find the best solution for your storage needs.
For more self storage articles, take a look at:
- Self Storage Websites that are Fast, Modern, and StoragePug-Managed
- Getting Started with Portable Storage Investing
- How Many Portable Storage Containers Do I Need As A Starting Investment?