Why Self Storage is So Cheap

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President George W. Bush just found out how cheap self-storage really is. Like many other things, he did not know that.

President George W. Bush just found out how cheap self-storage really is. Like many other things, he did not know that.

Many people who consider renting a storage locker dismiss it out of hand as being an unnecessary expense. And for some people, it undoubtedly is. Let’s be honest… some people just don’t need it. (You really think that LeBron James needs a storage unit? I think his two story closet answers that question.)

However, for many of us, self-storage really is a realistic option. Just think about how much we already spend on storage every month, and we don’t give it it a second thought. Here are a few examples:

DVR Storage: $145-$300 standalone unit or $30-$50 monthly fee

So many buttons... so many buttons...

So many buttons… so many buttons…

We love TV in this country, don’t we? So much so that we want to be able to watch whatever we want whenever we want. We used to do it by buying a VCR and a bunch of tapes, then watching the end of City Slickers to remind us that we really don’t understand how to use it.

In the last five to ten years, though, there’s been an explosion in digital recording technology. The technology from TiVo that was high-tech wizardry fifteen years ago has now punctured into every living room, family room, bedroom, playroom, and kitchen in America. And we gladly pay for this. Quite significantly, really.

I’m not looking down my nose at this trend. Not only am I currently watching a show that I recorded last week, but I have more than 260 recordings currently available to me.

Depending on where you live, the cost of DVR service can hit sixty or seventy dollars per month.

Smartphones: Depends on manufacturer and carrier

The one on the left comes with a grappling hook. Does yours do that?

The one on the left comes with a grappling hook. Does yours do that?

What will you pay for storage if it’s on your cell phone? Apparently, we will pay quite a bit. On AT&T’s website right now, you can order a Galaxy S4 with 16 GB of internal memory for $29.99 with a two-year contract. Or, you can upgrade to the Galaxy S4 with 32 GB of internal memory for $249.99. That’s two times the storage space for more than eight times the price. I would strongly consider making that deal. After all, you can only store 3,000-4,000 songs with 16 GB, but with 32 GB? Forget it! It’s a no-brainer!

Of course, I don’t listen to any of the music on my current phone, anyway. Why? Pandora. Which I also pay for.

Your Car: Tens of thousands of dollars

This is the only truck that would be built if eight-year-old boys ran car companies.

This is the only truck that would be built if eight-year-old boys ran car companies.

Don’t think that this belongs on a storage list? If we didn’t worry about storage, wouldn’t more of us buy motorcycles? I know that there are lots of reasons that people prefer cars over bikes (safety, families, distaste for bugs), but there’s no doubt that one reason is the fact that you can carry a lot more stuff in a car, even a mid-size car. I drive a Toyota Camry (not braggin’) and I have carried hundreds of pounds of soil in my trunk, while my 1-year-old daughter very comfortably hung out in the back seat. I felt like I was driving a low-rider (a lame one), but still, the car was fine. It’s hard to do that with a motorcycle. Another time, I folded down the rear seats and carried several full length boards home. And I’ve loaded the trunk, backseat, and front passenger seat to the ceiling with boxes while moving.

Those are tough to manage on a motorcycle. And what do we pay for this convenience? A new, cheap motorcycle can be had for around $5,000. And I’m not talking about an off-brand-destined to fall apart-piece of you-know-what… that’s a Kawasaki Ninja. That’s a good deal. Or, you can buy a Nissan Versa starting at around $13,500. One thing is clear: you will be significantly cooler riding the Ninja than you will be driving the Versa. However, you can’t buy a barbeque grill at Home Depot or Lowe’s, throw it in the back of your Ninja, then pick up your wife for a quick dinner before heading home. You can do that in the Versa. And they sell about 110,000 Versas per year.

The Ford F Series pickup, though, is the best-selling vehicle in America year-in year-out, and it starts at about $24,000 and can be optioned to well north of $50,000.

Your House: Hundreds of thousands of dollars

This guy probably needs more storage. And a rowboat.

This guy probably needs more storage. And a rowboat.

I know what you’re thinking… including this is a little bit silly. I (obviously) disagree. What is your house other than storage for you, your family, and your stuff? My wife and I bought a new house last summer. She was pregnant with our first child at the time, and we were moving out of a two-bedroom condo in the same neighborhood. So, with our first child on the way, why would we move out of a two-bedroom? The answer is obvious: we needed more space. But, with nearly 1200 square feet and two bedrooms, why would we need anymore space?

I’m assuming that everyone reading this finds that question as ridiculous as we did. Obviously we needed more space. So, we bought a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with a two-car garage and mostly finished basement. What is the space for?

Well, the master bedroom is for my wife and I, our clothes, nightstands, and everything else that goes into a master bedroom. The second bedroom is for my daughter and everything else that comes with a toddler. The third bedroom is an office / staging area for whatever we need. The fourth bedroom downstairs is a guest room / space I was given to “display” my trinkets that woudn’t have to be seen in the rest of the house. The living room is for watching TV, reading, and playing. The family room is for the same thing. And on and on and on.

So, why spend the money? Let’s be honest… it’s storage.

The point

We are willing to spend a lot of money to store things when it comes with other things, but we recoil at the idea of paying for storage directly. But why? When you spend thousands of dollars per month for your rent/mortgage, and your car, and cell phone, and your cable, and everything else, think about this… how much would you be willing to spend to enjoy those even more? If you could clear a bedroom or part of the garage, would your life be easier? If your living room no longer contained boxes stacked behind the couch, would you be happier? If you cleared out a couple of closets and could hang your coat, would that make you feel better when you come home from work?

Then, it sounds to me like storage might not be such a bad idea after all. And you might not realize how cheap it can be. In New York right now – not a city generally known for low prices – you can rent a 5 X 5 unit for less than $20 per month. In Chicago? Just a hair over $20. Dallas? Around $27.

Doesn’t seem so expensive now, does it?

Ken

Ken is the Director of Content and Promotions for the Online Self Storage Directory blog. He loves the St. Louis Cardinals, obscure historical trivia, and the incredible beards on Civil War generals.
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About Ken

Ken is the Director of Content and Promotions for the Online Self Storage Directory blog. He loves the St. Louis Cardinals, obscure historical trivia, and the incredible beards on Civil War generals.