A First-Timer’s Guide To Renting A Storage Unit

When it comes to finding the right storage solution, knowing the difference between storage units and storage lockers is key. Both options serve the purpose of storing your items securely, but they cater to different needs and spaces.

What Is a Storage Unit?

A storage unit is an enclosed space within a storage facility where you can keep your belongings for a specified period. Units come in various sizes, from small closets to large rooms, and can often include features like climate control and drive-up access.

How Do Storage Units Work?

Most storage units function in a standard manner. First, you locate a nearby storage unit and then enter into a lease agreement with the storage facility for a set duration to rent a designated storage space. This space is where your items will be securely kept. While certain facilities may have a minimum lease term of three months, the majority operate on a flexible month-to-month rental basis.


The specific rules and conditions can vary from one storage provider to another, depending on their particular offerings. You typically only pay for the duration you use the unit, provided you adhere to the terms of your contract. It’s important to note, for legal and safety reasons, residing or running a business out of a storage unit is strictly prohibited. There may be allowances for certain activities, like band rehearsals, within specific boundaries, such as noise level regulations and the prohibition of electricity use within the unit.

Reasons for Renting Self-Storage

People turn to self-storage for various reasons, reflecting the diverse needs and life events that prompt the search for extra space. Here are some of the most common motivators:

  1. Relocating: During moves, especially when downsizing or waiting for a new home to be ready, self-storage provides a temporary haven for belongings.
  2. Decluttering: Those looking to free up space in their homes use storage units to keep items they don’t need daily but aren’t ready to part with.
  3. Seasonal Storage: Seasonal clothes, sports equipment, and holiday decorations frequently find their way into storage units during the off-season.
  4. Life Events: Significant life changes such as marriage, divorce, or the arrival of a new family member can necessitate additional storage space.
  5. College Storage: Students often use self-storage during summer breaks or transitions to keep their belongings safe until the next academic year.
  6. Travel: Long-term travelers and those on work assignments abroad find self-storage useful for securing their possessions while away.
  7. Business Use: Small businesses and entrepreneurs use self-storage for inventory, documents, or equipment to avoid cluttering their workspaces.
  8. Vehicle Storage: From classic cars to RVs and boats, vehicle owners rent self-storage spaces to protect their investments during periods of non-use.

Types of Storage: Full-Service vs. Self-Storage

Choosing the right storage option between Full-Service Storage and Self-Storage depends on personal needs, convenience, and budget.


Full-Service Storage is akin to a valet service for your belongings. The storage company handles the pickup and delivery of your items. This option is highlighted by its convenience, often integrating an online inventory system for easy management. While it offers ease and time-saving benefits, it tends to be more expensive than other options.


Self-Storage requires a more personal involvement where you’re responsible for transporting your items to and from the storage unit. It is generally more affordable and provides a broad range of sizes for flexibility, making it a popular choice for many. Self-storage offers direct access to your belongings and fits a variety of storage needs, from temporary decluttering to long-term solutions.

Choose The Right Storage Option

For Urban Dwellers: Full-service storage suits city residents best, especially those without easy transportation or direct access to their building. The convenience of not having to physically move items is a significant advantage.

For Most Others: Self-storage tends to meet the needs of the majority, offering an affordable, flexible, and accessible way to store personal belongings. It’s ideal for a vast array of storage situations, whether short-term or long-term.

How To Rent A Storage Unit

Renting the right storage unit might seem daunting, but it can be simplified with a straightforward approach. Here’s how to start:

  1. Determine Your Needs: Evaluate what you plan to store to decide on the size and type of unit you need. Consider whether you require special features like climate control for sensitive items.
  2. Research Options: Use online search tools and directories to find storage facilities in your area. Look for customer reviews and ratings to gauge reliability and service quality.
  1. Compare Prices: Storage unit costs can vary widely depending on location, size, and amenities. Request quotes from a few facilities to compare pricing and find the best deal that meets your budget.
  2. Visit Facilities: If possible, visit the storage facilities to inspect the units firsthand. Check for cleanliness, security measures, and access convenience to ensure it matches your expectations.
  3. Read the Contract Carefully: Before signing any agreement, thoroughly review the terms and conditions. Pay attention to the lease duration, payment terms, and any penalties for late payment or early termination.
  4. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask the storage facility staff about any concerns or clarifications you might have. Understanding the facility’s rules and your rights as a renter is crucial.

How To Prepare Your Items for Storage

Properly preparing your items for storage not only helps in maximizing space but also ensures your belongings stay in good condition. Follow these steps for effective storage preparation:

  1. Clean and Dry: Make sure all items, especially appliances and furniture, are clean and thoroughly dried to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  2. Disassemble Furniture: Break down large furniture pieces such as beds and tables. This makes them easier to transport and store efficiently, reducing the risk of damage. Keep all screws and assembly hardware in labeled bags so reassembly is straightforward.
  3. Protect Fragile Items: Wrap glassware, dishes, and other fragile items individually with packing paper, bubble wrap, or foam. Store them in sturdy boxes, clearly labeled as ‘Fragile’.
  4. Use Plastic Bins for Long-Term Storage: While cardboard boxes are fine for short-term storage and easy to obtain, plastic bins with secure lids offer better protection against pests and moisture for long-term storage.
  1. Label Everything: Clearly label each box or container on multiple sides with its contents. Consider creating a master list of boxed items for easy location later on.
  2. Pack Strategically: Place heavier items at the bottom of boxes and the unit itself. Distribute weight evenly to prevent boxes from collapsing and keep frequently used items near the front of the unit for easy access.
  3. Avoid Plastic Bags: Resist the urge to store items in sealed plastic bags, as they can trap humidity and cause mold.
  4. Prevent Fabric Damage: For clothing, draperies, and upholstered furniture, consider wardrobe boxes or specially designed covers that allow fabrics to breathe while protecting them from dust and pests.
  5. Use Pallets: If your unit isn’t climate-controlled, placing pallets on the floor before loading your items helps with air circulation and keeps belongings away from potential floor dampness.

Easy Storage, Easy Life with My Storage!

Seeking effortless storage solutions in Toronto and the GTA? Opt for My Storage and enjoy secure, climate-friendly units with round-the-clock access. Our top-notch security ensures a smooth and stress-free storage experience. Expand your living space effortlessly with My Storage – Your go-to for all storage necessities.

FAQs About Renting a Storage Unit

The size of the storage unit you need depends on how much you plan to store. A small unit (5’x5′) is perfect for boxes, small furniture, or seasonal items. A medium unit (10’x10′) can typically hold the contents of a one-bedroom apartment. For larger needs, such as storing furniture and appliances from a multi-bedroom home, a large unit (10’x20′) would be more suitable. Consider listing your items and consulting with the storage facility to ensure you choose the right size.

Storage units can often be rented on a flexible basis, with many facilities offering month-to-month rental agreements. However, if you know you’ll need the unit for an extended period, some places offer the option of longer-term leases at a reduced rate. Always check with the storage provider for their specific terms and options.

Key factors to consider when choosing a storage unit include security features (such as surveillance cameras and gated access), cleanliness, pest control measures, ease of access, and customer service. Additionally, assess the facility’s location and whether it’s convenient for you to reach when needed.

If you’re storing sensitive items like electronics, antiques, musical instruments, or important documents, a climate-controlled unit is advisable. These units maintain a steady temperature and humidity level, protecting your belongings from extreme temperatures, moisture, and the potential for mold and mildew growth.

Yes, insuring your items in storage is highly recommended. While storage facilities often have security measures in place, insurance provides extra protection against unforeseen events such as theft, fire, or water damage. Check if your existing homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers items in storage, or consider purchasing insurance from the storage facility if available.

Share Now